Interview with Brian Tichy and Pete Shoulder of Silverthorne

Even if the band name Silverthorne sounds new to you yet, the three musicians behind it are no newbies to the scene. On vocals/guitar we have Pete Shoulder of Winterville and The Union. Bass duties are handled by Daniel Spree, who also plays with Phil X, the current guitar player of Bon Jovi, in Phil’s own ensemble called Phil X & The Drills. And last, but not least, there’s s man behind the drum kit… But do you really need any introduction at all, if your resume ranges from Ozzy Osbourne and Billy Idol to Foreigner and Whitesnake? With Silverthorne being a newest addition to the trio’s long and fruitful careers, I caught up with Brian Tichy and Pete Shoulder to discuss the trio’s founding, their first EP Tear The Sky Wide Open, their early-`70s-meeting-the-early-`90s sound… and a lot more. 

Alexandra Mrozowska: A power trio formula might have been utilized by just a handful of acts, but on the other hand, we talk such Rock staples as as Cream, Rush, Motörhead or Budgie here. How the fact of Silverthorne being a three-piece contribute to your music, if it does at all?

Brian Tichy: It just seemed like it would work so we went with it. We wanted to start out as a trio as Pete plays guitar and sings. When Pete and I got together, it was just the two of us doing everything; writing, engineering, recording, playing all the instruments, producing and mixing. So when it came time to complete the live picture, keeping it simple and adding only a bassist (Daniel Spree), neither of us said no the trio idea.

Pete Shoulder: To be honest we didn’t really think about it too much. I suppose we liked the simple idea of being a trio to get the band off the ground. But saying that, we’re not averse to having another guitarist to fill out the sound live. In fact I think we’ll probably end up drafting someone in eventually.

AM: What were the circumstances of founding the band?

BT: I had a project with the DeLeo brothers from Stone Temple Pilots. We recorded a batch of songs and needed a singer. STP didn’t have a singer either so they were unsure of STP’s future. Through a “who knows who” thing, they were turned on to Pete Shoulder. The four of us made an LP together. But soon after they found their new STP singer and had to make a decision. They chose STP, putting our project on indefinite hold. While Pete and I were bummed, we understood as the guys deserve to continue the amazing band they started decades ago if they have the opportunity. I had gotten to know Pete and saw he was not only a great singer, but a great lyricist, guitarist, overall musician, a great guy and we were cut from the same cloth. Pete and I talked soon after and I asked him to come back to LA and try our hands at some writing in recording. This was 2018. We wrote about an LP’s worth of music then. A bunch of time was taken up with new mgmt that didn’t really get anything going. But by the beginning of 2019 we signed with Golden Robot, added Daniel Spree on bass, and got the EP together in the Spring. I was gone on tour all Summer so we released the first two singles in August and November with the EP released in February.

PS: I was asked to audition for Stone Temple Pilots a few years ago when they were looking for a singer. After the audition I had a call from Dean and Robert Deleo saying that they had another project in the works with Brian Tichy on drums and they thought my voice would be more suited for that band rather than STP. They sent me some music and asked if I’d be interested in joining. I loved the music and told them I was in. So I started writing lyrics and melodies to some of the tracks they’d recorded together. I then went back to L.A and we wrote and recorded a full album. They started getting a lot of offers for STP that they rightly couldn’t really turn down, so our project got put on ice. We were disappointed of course but we understood because if the shoe had been on the other foot, we probably would have made the same decision. A few weeks went by and I was trying to figure out what to do next when Brian called me and suggested I go back to L.A to stay with him for a while and just write some songs together and see what happens. I thought it would be fun if nothing else so I flew out there. We wrote over an albums worth of material in the space of a month and we were really excited about the music. We then drafted in Daniel Spree on bass and we were a band!

AM: Your respective resumes burst with household band names. How does all the experience contribute to Silverthorne in artistic aspects and beyond, if it does at all?

BT: We have all been doing this a long time. We are lifers as musicians. It’s what we do and that’s that, so we don’t have any illusions of grandeur. We are realists and know what it takes to make a brand new band happen. But with that, none of that is too important if people don’t dig your music. We just hope the music gets out there and people like it. From there you do what you can to keep the momentum rolling.

PS: I think you learn from every project you’re involved with. Sometimes you learn new tricks, other times you learn what not to do! Which is all positive in the long run and hopefully helps you make better music. But it really all comes down to chemistry I think. I really enjoy writing and recording with Brian, I’m always excited about how a song will turn out because the end result is always better than I first expected. Working with lots of different people in the past has taught me that finding a chemistry like that is very rare.

AM: Given all that experience of yours, is all the material on the EP newly written, or are any of the songs some older ideas that you kept shelved until now for some reason?

BT: The songs themselves are completely new, but some of them did stem from riffs that either Pete or I had lying around for a while, while others were created and written either when Pete and I were hanging out writing, or since we started this up. 

AM: You guys cite influences such as Led Zeppelin or Free, whereas there’s a certain Grunge vibe to your music as well. Do you think the future of Rock music is to blur boundaries between genres and styles?

BT: To us it’s all related. We knew we didn’t care to have a “style” so to speak. We just knew we both love loud, guitar driven rock whether it be Zeppelin and Sabbath, or Soundgarden and Alice In Chains, and we also love acoustic based folk, metal, blues and funk. It all comes down to if we agree we both like what we are working on regardless of what it might sound like genre-wise.

PS: I have no idea about the future of Rock, but that’s the way we like to make music. Take bits that you like from all sorts of places and throw them into the mix and see what comes out! We have quite a wide range of influences that goes far beyond Rock so we have a lot to draw from.

AM: How would you actually label Silverthorne genre-wise, and do you approve of applying labels to music whatsoever?

BT: I’d say we are a loud rock band that is tight enough to take chances, and works well at a backyard barbecue or an arena! (laughs) Labels are fine. As a band, there’s no need to get all wrapped up worrying about that. When someone tries to describe a sound or style to someone else, they need to compare it to present it to the person who hasn’t heard it. So they put a label on it or say “it sounds like”. We all do it. We don’t care what the label is. We just hope people dig what they hear and want more!

AM: Also, the surroundings of the studio where recordings took place seem to influence the sound you crafted…

BT: Yes, we are out in the canyons. No distractions. We can record 24-7. We don’t have to book a studio or an engineer. We can jump on inspiration whenever it may come. That creates less stress and worry in many ways. We can literally record a song the same day it was written, in the same location. When you have that, a lot of time consuming planning and scheduling is omitted, and you can solely focus of the creative side.

PS: Te landscape there is pretty spectacular. Some parts feel like you’re on a completely different planet! It’s right in the middle of the Santa Clarita Canyons and a long way from any distractions. It allowed us to focus on the music all day everyday.

AM: Silverthorne is far from silly rhymes when it comes to lyrics. What is your songwriting process like? What aspects of the song do you focus on more?

BT: Most of the songs stem from guitar riffs..And the riff dictates where the rest of the song goes. And the sound of that music creates images to roll with. Pete comes up with most of the lyrics. Sometimes, as in the case of “Movin’”, he literally just started humming that over the riff while we were recording. I liked it and said, “just go with it, it’s simple and catchy”. We then agreed the verses should be more blues based and gritty, and a bit tongue in cheek/old school rock as the guitar sound we got has a quirky element to it. But mostly Pete takes the demo and sits alone knocking out ideas. I always look forward to what he comes back with. It’s like a Christmas present! You know you’re gonna get something pretty cool! Sometimes after that we tweak ideas together, and sometimes I may have a melody that pops in my head that he takes and tweaks. That’s why I love writing with Pete. There is no one way about it. It’s a totally open playground where we both bring all our toys to be taken advantage of!

PS: We focus on all parts of a song in equal measure. I usually write the lyrics, but Brian helps out here and there and I bounce ideas off him. The lyrics were always written last after we’d nailed the music. I would let the music guide me when it came to the lyrical subjects. I’d try and hear what the music was saying and see if it conjured up any images in my mind. Sometimes I would just start writing down those images with no real direction or solid idea what the song was about and eventually a meaning would reveal itself and I would finish the song with that meaning in mind. That happened with “Tear The Sky Wide Open” and most of the others to be honest. On “Movin’” it was Brian who suggested the lyrics should be kind of tongue in cheek and be about a crazy girlfriend who you’re leaving, almost a Steven Tyler kind of vibe. So I took that and ran with it.

AM: What were the circumstances of writing and recording the band’s EP Tear The Sky Wide Open? Are you happy with the results and what’s the feedback from the critics and the listeners so far? 

BT: Pete and I got together at my studio and went for it. We are happy but, as in most cases, we both probably hear things overall that could be better. But overall, it’s a solid representation of where we were at at the time. And the feedback has been great all the way around! We care what fans think and what the reviews are like. We are a brand new band so yeah, if we didn’t receive any type of positive feedback, it would not give us the reassurance that we are doing something worth continuing…

PS: Exactly. We sat in a house for a month and lived and breathed these songs until they were done. I’m really happy with the results, but I’m more excited about what songs we’re going to write next. So far we haven’t had one bad review, which is crazy because you normally have at least a few that don’t like it! We’re also getting loads of really nice messages and comments on social media from people who are really enjoying the EP. That’s great to hear. It’s taken a while for this to be released and we had a lot of obstacles in our way, so much so that I think people wouldn’t have blamed us if we’d called it a day. But we never did because we thought we had something special here. So to be getting such an overwhelming positive reaction from people is very validating.

AM: Tear The Sky Wide Open seems to have made quite a buzz among the reviewers and radio hosts, guessing by the number of write-ups and features in radio shows. Do you think Rock music receives enough media coverage these days, mainstream media in particular?

BT: Yes, there are plenty of outlets for rock of all kinds these days. That goes for mainstream media too. Rock bands like Metallica, Foo Fighters, Guns N’ Roses, AC/DC, and many more are filling stadiums!

PS: Still, I  don’t think it receives anywhere near enough coverage in the the mainstream media. There are millions of rock fans out there, you just need to look at all the people who go and see the big bands play as well as all the big rock and metal festivals around the world. But new rock bands just don’t get the support anymore and there’s hardly any new blood coming through. They don’t have the chance to become as big as those older bands. It’s sad to see and I fear for the rock world in the future.

AM: As reported via Facebook, in November there’s been quite a dangerous situation around the band, the fire breaking out in Brian Tichy/Silverthorne studio. What is the aftermath of this unfortunate turn of events in terms of band gear and especially the mentioned recordings planned to be released as the Silverthorne’s first LP?

BT: It sucked but it could have been a lot worse. Luckily the hard drives and recording gear are mostly ok. Some drums and guitars were trashed and everything has excessive smoke and heat damage, so it’s been a lengthy clean up process. The house is uninhabitable so everything went into storage while I cleaned out my family house garage and set up in there. It took hundreds of hours getting it all together, and there’s still a lot of clean up needed for everything that was in the fire, but the garage studio (Headley Garage) actually sounds great so we can continue writing and recording without a problem!

PS: Yeah, that was a horrible and scary thing. It could have been a lot worse though, nobody was hurt but the house got wrecked along with a lot of instruments. It was the night before our first ever show too! It’s really lucky that, as Brian said, the hard drives with the material for our album didn’t get destroyed.

AM: Speaking of the full-length Silverthorne album which I believe is in the works, is it going to be a continuity of the EP style-wise, or do you actually plan to surprise your listeners a bit? Can you reveal anything?

BT: What we have recorded and are ready to record is pretty badass! I’d say it’s a natural progression from where we were. We always write, so ideas are always coming up. I don’t think there will be any crazy surprises, I just hope that we equal and top what we have already done.

PS: I think we’ll explore a few different avenues seeing as it’s a full album rather than an EP, such as using some acoustic instruments here and there but I don’t think it’s going to be a shocking change of direction. We just want to make it stronger and better than the last batch of songs!

AM: What else does the future hold in store for Silverthorne, especially in the face of a current situation that we have all around the globe?

BT: Well, with everything at a standstill with this virus stuff, we have to now wait and see when things get back to normal. We had plans of touring that had to be postponed, and we want to take advantage of the time, like most musicians, by writing and recording.

PS: Yes, we’ve had to postpone some touring that we were busy lining up indeed, which is a shame but everyone is in the same boat right now. So we’re just getting our heads down and continuing to write the album.

AM: Any last words?

BT: Thanks for the interest and support! And thanks to anyone out there that has taken the time to check our Silverthorne! We appreciate all the great feedback we’ve gotten. We want to continue growing and getting out there playing to as many people as possible! Check us out on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for all updates and anything going on! And very soon, we are putting out a little audio clip (with some separate video added) of a one off cover song jam we did at our last band rehearsal. I had recorded the rehearsal but we hadn’t really listened to it for months. It’s raw and loose but pretty cool overall as far as the vibe of the three of us going for it. Thanks!

PS: We hope you’re enjoying the EP and we hope to see you at a show soon. Thanks for all the support!

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