SILENT DESCENT (from l-r): Kodi Bramble (drums), Paul Hurrell (keyboards), Tom Watling (vocals), Jimmy Huang (bass), Jack “Jaco” Oxley (guitars/vocals), Tom Callahan (guitars)
INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
From Dartford, a small town around 20 miles east of central London, six-piece Silent Descent have constantly been honing their sound since their formation in 2005.
Once described as “Enter Shikari for sweaty goths“, the band have now shaken off that tag, having developed a style of metal containing synths and huge, catchy hooks, which has led to Metal Hammer hailing them as “The trance metal juggernaut the world has been waiting for!”
Having recovered from a rather large setback a few years ago, the sextet have returned stronger than ever, and eager to share their new album, ‘Turn To Grey’, with their devoted fan base.
I recently spoke with the outfit’s frontman Tom Watling about the forthcoming release, and the journey they have been on over the last twelve years.
How did the band form originally?
The original Silent Descent was formed in a garage in Dartford. We had a rubbish EP, but huge enthusiasm on stage. We disbanded within the year and myself and guitarist Tom Callahan went round poaching all the talent from other bands in the local area off the back of our undeserved reputation.
With this line-up, the dream team of what Dartford/Gravesend had to offer, we wrote our first album ‘Duplicity’.
How did the name Silent Descent come about?
The classic ‘list of band names’ that came from ex-bandmate Dan Amos. He showed them to another ex-bandmate, Nik King, and he said I liked ‘Silence’ and ‘Descent’, so they simply combined the two.
We didn’t get rid of it when we reformed as, a) we had a name for ourselves in the local area, and b) I personally loved the imagery you get from it and had loads of ideas I wanted to execute using Silent Descent as the centrepiece.
The bird of prey on the front of ‘Duplicity’, Vikki Blows on the front of ‘Mind Games’, and finally ‘Turn to Grey’. All images of what I think Silent Descent could represent.
What would you say was your approach to songwriting?
Originally, it was to lock ourselves in a shed over a weekend and not leave until we had something. We wrote and produced the whole of ‘Duplicity’ in Callahan’s back garden and that exploded when we released it.
We’re quite selective with our song choices that make it onto the album. We tend to write a whole heap of songs which never make the cut.
What inspires the band lyrically?
Social observations. I created a character called Matt Wignol, and talk from his perspective throughout each album. This allows me to say things I wouldn’t normally say or keep in a line that I think I should reword because technically, it’s not from my point of view, it’s from Matt’s.
Matt’s pretty twisted. He’s the voice behind the smile that everyone fakes day in, day out, whether it be at work, or with family or friends. Matt is you without the bullshit.
Later this month, you have a new album coming out, ‘Turn To Grey’. How has the recording process been?
Horrible. It’s taken forever to get this bastard finished, but it’s here and I’m really proud of it. I love writing and recording new music and I honestly can’t wait to start the process again.
The hardest part of the recording process is the last part, the mixing, sending out demos etc. Also, having people give their opinion on something which is quite personal, tweaking it line by line and layer by layer.
What can be expected of the forthcoming release?
Like I say, I’m massively proud of it. It’s easily the best album we as a band have ever put out and for myself on a personal level, it’s one of my greatest achievements. This album has highs and lows, laughs and upsets, and in some places, just balls-out heaviness.
Check out the opening riff in ‘Gravesend’, it makes me want to fight walls with my face. Then, there’s the huge epic outro of ‘Break the Skies’ and Jack Oxley’s Michael Bolton-esque vocals which brings the whole album together. The album takes you on a journey, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
The band has played the Download and Bloodstock festivals, as well as supporting the likes of Skindred. How is the experience for you of playing live and touring?
The big shows and festivals are insane. I’d call them “larger than life” moments. I’m a bum from a small village called Eynsford, then we go and play a massive show and I’m that guy with the mohawk from Silent Descent.
When we first played Download, it was huge, we played one of the best sets of our lives to a tent crammed full of old fans and new listeners. Crowd surfing on that audience made me feel like a Roman emperor or that Persian dickhead from 300.
After that weekend, I went back to my job tearing tickets at Bluewater cinema. I don’t know what point I’m trying to make. Maybe it’s that I love playing live shows, but I’ll always be a bum from Eynsford.
What are your plans for after the album comes out?
Probably have some dinner, play some Xbox and go to bed.
The band formed back in 2005. How do you think you’ve all developed musically, and as people, in that time?
Musically, we’ve refined our craft. This is our style of music that we pioneered and it has evolved along the way to what it is now. As people, we’ve matured from the angry, angsty teenagers we once were to bitter, cynical bastards in their mid to late 20’s.
Combine the two and you’ve got one hell of an album. Help us out and buy it. Thanks for listening.
YOU WILL BE ABLE TO STREAM, DOWNLOAD & PURCHASE ‘TURN TO GREY’, THE NEW ALBUM FROM SILENT DESCENT, FROM NOVEMBER 30 ON SPOTIFY, AMAZON MUSIC, DEEZER, iTunes & GOOGLE PLAY.
PRE-ORDER IT NOW FROM THE BAND’S OFFICIAL WEBSITE www.silentdescent.com
FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THESE SITES: