’09-’14: Sound Over Silence

Six Years That Changed My Life 603918_10151530091517506_1991064977_n

Sound Over Silence live at Bannerman’s, Edinburgh, November 2012.

January 2009 marked the point where I started to really switch gears back into creative music practice. I was playing in a tight band, my song Only One had won a national radio competition, I had become increasingly involved in the Glasgow scene as a promoter, and I had kick started the academic path I should have followed in nearly a decade earlier.

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Immersing myself in the ‘scene’ as a participant, promoter, and fan, it became very easy to slip into new social circles. Forming these new relationships with other musicians served to inform my taste in music, similar to the process of tastemaking I described as a network acting as mutual consciousness in my dissertation. Rentfrow and Gosling (2006) note that “when individuals become acquainted, they often use music preference to manage social impressions, evaluate each other’s similarity, and subtly acquire a social perception about the personality and values of the person they meet”. I would entirely agree with their assessment; I valued the contributions of peers like Dave (Tempercalm), and my drummer Adam, based on our initial similarities in taste. Most of 2011 was spent listening to Mustasch and Vintage Trouble because of Dave’s power of suggestion. Sharing our influences and new musical discoveries were made progressively easier because of social networking’s ability to facilitate direct links to the songs.

Throughout this period I was open to experiencing a great deal of new music, especially through the folk and trad identity that developed through my music studies and the formation of Heart o’ the Run in 2012. Artists like Cedric Watson, The Rambling Boys, and Leon Hunt ‘n-tet left a lasting impression having experienced them live at the Shetland Folk Festival and grabbing the opportunity to jam with both hands… it was a steep learning curve! I managed to fit this in around my rock persona, still engaging with and indulging in heavy rock and metal music. 36 Crazyfists, Godsmack, and Red Fang influenced my songwriting and arrangements with Sound Over Silence, whilst Dave was a constant source for the latest buzz in Scandinavian hard rock and metal. There’s something about that geographic area; the population seem genetically predisposed to creating incredible melodic hard rock and metal.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt as alive as I did on stage with Sound Over Silence. We focused heavily on our live performance. We didn’t just want to turn up and deliver our material like robots. We were there to have fun and tear shit up. The raw DIY ethic of which I have so often declared my admiration, rooted in my love of punk rock, grunge, and bay area thrash, had to be on show. Our performances acted like a window into the soul… if the audience could see we were loving the moment and living it, they were far more likely to buy into our no-nonsense riff laden heavy rock. Diving into the crowd and dancing with them, entering pits during breakdowns, and taking the show to them allowed us to engage directly with our fans. It was cathartic. It was powerful. It was fun. It was therapeutic. 

We rapidly built long standing associations with bands from around Scotland that would go on to form a touring collective. We all had the same objective; to make great music and have a good time.

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Sound Over Silence and Millsyeck on stage at the Doghouse, Dundee, circa 2011.

Reflecting upon my journey to this point, Sound Over Silence probably saved my sanity. It gave me somewhere to focus  my creative flow, a structure to live within, and a vehicle for releasing my energy. I’m not saying it was easy, sometimes tensions were frayed and the cause of that can be apportioned to me as much as anyone else; I’m not the easiest person in the world to work with when it comes to combined creative vision.

Adam, Michael, Euan, Matt, and Michael, I’d like to thank you all for putting up with me. I know we’ve not always seen eye to eye, and that we’ve driven each other mental over the years, but I treasure the experience and memories of working with you. Simply put, I don’t think I would have got as far as I have done without you. We will always be brothers in riffs.

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Past members of Sound Over Silence at Adam’s farewell party, Jan 2016. L-R: Euan, yours truly, Adam, Michael, and Michael.

As for Heart o’ the Run, maybe the Best is Yet to Come…

2009  –  2010  –  2011  –  2012  –  2013  –  2014

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