By: Robert Stinson | Photos By: Jennifer Martinez
At NUG Magazine, we pride ourselves on seeking out up-and-coming talent in an industry that is saturated with artists looking to make a name for themselves. Silence Betrayed â€“ with their unique brand of in your face, angst ridden metal â€“ has garnered themselves a San Diego Music Award nomination. Four years of endless touring and promotions has culminated with the release of their self-titled album, an anthology that encompasses the raw elements of classic metal with Joe Laâ€™s razor sharp lyrics. The band has managed to stay humble, despite the barrage of criticisms from the blogosphere.
The band welcomed me up aboard their tour bus, which was parked outside The Ruby Room in Hillcrest. As we passed around the peace pipe, we chatted with Joe La (lead vocals), Danimal (guitars/vocals), and Cresus Jeist (drums) of Silence Betrayed.
What have been the greatest challenges you guys have had to face as a band? How has your sound matured over the course of those years?
Joe La: Our challenges have been balancing day jobs and financial planning with getting our music out to as many people as possible. Itâ€™s a matter of getting out to the right spots. There are tons of gigs waiting to be filled, but it takes dedication and networking to be successful. Bands like MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e and Van Halen did it the right way up in Sunset Blvd during the â€˜80s. We try to carry on this tradition of guerilla marketing through posting up fliers and by word of mouth. So the ultimate challenge is to get people to the show, because the economy is shit right now.
What was it like when you were just starting to go see (or play) shows as teenagers? What basements, garages, or holes-in-the-wall venues particularly stood out? Give us a picture of the music scene that you were a part of in high school?
Joe La: I did half of my high school up in Kodiak, Alaska, so we played in hollowed out armories that had cement walls. 300 kids from the school would come out to see us. I was also up at Mammoth Mountain playing backyards and music shops. Itâ€™s difficult when youâ€™re a kid because, unless youâ€™re extremely talented and in the right city, youâ€™re not going to make a big splash. Plus, music is so disposable these days; itâ€™s very hard to develop a loyal following. You have to really shove it down their throats.
What experiences do you draw from when channeling the raw aggression that is apparent in your sound?
Joe La: I write the lyrics and I try to capture everyday life as I experience it, so it stays relevant and fresh in my mind. If it doesnâ€™t work, we move on to the next idea. For us, itâ€™s not about sticking to a certain formula.
On that note, what was the songwriting process like during the making of your self-titled album? Were all the tracks carefully laid out or was it more organic with a lot of room for improvising?
Joe La: It kind of went by feel. The whole thing was a collaborative process. We were recording â€˜Older,â€™ which is the third track on our album, and once CJ laid out the drums, it completely changed the direction of the song, because we didnâ€™t initially rehearse it that way. We like to call our creative process â€˜shotgun writing,â€™ because we knew it was time for us to get our act in gear and start making an album.
How do you guys feel about the district attorneyâ€™s crackdown of local dispensaries? What can we do as a community to prevent the needless closure of facilities that provide vital medicine to chronically ill patients?
Joe La: Right now, California is very flexible when it comes to its laws. Just think; the majority of the state is catering to medicinal marijuana patients. San Diego County has decided to bow out of the deal; I really feel like an outcast. I went to Food 4 Less this week and a canvasser was all up in my face with his anti-collective campaign. It really made me feel like an outcast in this town.
Danimal: What it boils down to is proper representation and proper usage by patients. The most important thing we can do is be responsible about it. You know there are a lot of people out there offering fraudulent cards and running shady operations, making the whole community look bad. Collectives should be there to offer safe access to patients, so respect it. Collectives should enforce rules that keep the whole operation legit. Unfortunately, none of this will be possible unless marijuana is decriminalized on a federal level.
Joe La: California is a Petri dish for the rest of the country. Overall, I think our state is leading the way. â€“To think that with proper taxation we could be building like Dubai. Another political issue is that a lot of counties in this state are rising up against the whole gay marriage issue. Thatâ€™s not right, especially when the majority of the state is already for it.
Danimal: Get out there and vote!
You know I have to ask it. Are there any particular strains you guys like to smoke after a performance to chill out?
Joe La: Being from Alaska, my favorite will always be Alaskan Thunder Fuck. But here, I like any strain of Sour D.
Cresus Jeist: Itâ€™s all about the Kush!
What advice would you give to aspiring bands who want to enter the sometimes cutthroat music industry?
Danimal: Never give up and never burn bridges, because you never know who youâ€™re going to run into out there. Show up early to your shows, network, and most importantly, be yourself and love the music youâ€™re making.
Joe La: These days, with social networking, everyone has a band, so it makes it that much more important to get out there and promote yourself in person. That is why the band is going places, because weâ€™re all pretty humble and just going along for the ride.
Check out Silence Betrayed online: