Blending elements of ‘60s British classic rock, post punk, grunge, and psychedelia, New York-based art-rock outfit Silver Relics have never been the type of group to paint themselves into a corner.
Silver Relics was formed in 2017 by Alex Sepassi and the group’s former drummer Justin Alvis. Sepassi started singing and writing songs at the tender age of ten, and has an uncanny ability to incorporate his unique assortment of influences into his writing while maintaining a distinctly modern post-digital sound.
On their newest single, “Tails”–a brooding ode to primitive animal instincts produced by Brian Young (Fountains of Wayne)–Silver Relics echoes the grittiness of Alice In Chains while pushing themselves far down the Nine Inch Nails spiral (Trent Reznor is a personal hero of Sepassi’s). The song marries the psychedelic overdrive of Spacemen 3 with undulating guitar riffs that sound like a B-side off of Throwing Muses’ The Real Ramona.
I spoke with Sepassi about the recent single, working with the evolution of the band, his most omnipresent influences, and much more!
What is the first song you can remember learning to play when you started out as a musician?
“Tom Dooly” by The Kingston Trio. It was the very first song in this vintage guitar learners guide book I had. I think there are about four chords in that tune. I still remember it.
What was it that initially drew you to the psychedelic realms of classic and indie rock?
When I was in college I started to understand what psychedelic music really meant to me. After listening to bands like Pink Floyd and The Zombies, I knew there was plenty of space to experiment with tonality along with expression and composition. After that, there came a point where I just started to define it for myself.
Not long after your first European tour you’ve worked with legendary talents like Mark Crozer and Brian Young. What was collaborating with them like?
Brilliant! We’re in the process of working on our sophomore album together. It’s been an amazing experience honestly. We all work well together. We have gone through a big and lengthy adjustment period, but Mark, Brian, Hitomi and I have all aligned on the soundscape, which has allowed for a great deal of fluidity in and out of the studio. And I’m thrilled to work with such strong talents.
What are some of your favorite periods or eras in music history?
So many. I’ve grown attached to the late ‘60s and the ‘70s. There were so many new bands sprouting in America and the UK. It’s all encompassing when you think about the number of genres that were created during that time. I believe that template is still prevalent in music today among rock bands. It’s a history lesson any way you look at it. Punk is a great example of what evolved/unfolded towards the back end of the decade. What’s not to like about that?
Your music echoes many of the great periods in rock history, but it is also very modern and current with the digital elements you incorporate in production. Would you say that maintaining that balance is a strong priority for the band?
First off, thank you. That’s exactly it. Brian’s production style is strong and unique. We bind the two together and put the emphasis on the songs. In other words, the songs dictate the style and production. And yes that does call for modern and digital elements at times. Especially in post-production.
If you could collaborate with any artist (living or dead) who would it be?
I would absolutely love to write with Trent Reznor. I’ve always appreciated his style and the way he approaches his songs and production. And how they tend to have a prevalent cinematic quality to them. Anyway, just let us know, Trent!
In “Tails” you explore the abilities that humans have to identify “the instinctive aspects of humanity and the nonverbal communication we use daily.” I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit more about this concept and how it unfolded in writing sessions?
“Tails” explores the possibilities of forming an understanding of another individual/person/animal/stanger through our own and unique body language. It’s important to have the lyrics and music interact and also fit in the same space, and it became a collective effort rather quickly once the lyrics were finished. Mark’s bass articulates the depth of what the bottom end can really be. And Brian’s emphasis on certain phrases truly accentuates those moments.
If you were to go on a trip to another planet and could only bring one record what album would you take with you?
Ah! I’m glad you asked. I’d like to take The Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour” to Neptune if they’re accepting visitors. Thanks so much for having us!
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Listen to “Tails”