Tunes of the Town: The Silver Liners | The American Word

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Tunes of the Town: The Silver Liners

Mary Hamula | 1/24/14 3:32pm

(Photo Credit: WGTB-Georgetown University Radio)

Tunes of the Town” is an interview series with local bands and musicians conducted by Mary Hamula. Fill out the contact form below with any questions or interview suggestions.


The Silver Liners are a indie pop group from the D.C. area. Their lineup includes Jay Nemeyer on vocals and guitar, AU alumn Rose Davis on vocals and keyboard, John Patton on guitar and Matt Heartenau on drums.

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Why did you pick your band name?

Jay: Rose joined the band, she started playing shows with us in March. We’ve been a band for four years so the name came before her. I guess the name is sort of a result of the type of style of music that we play, with is indie-electro-rock with like a pop feel to it. There’s lot of pop cord progression. I guess the lyrics are somewhat uplifting or something, they’re not negative. It comes from the phrase “every cloud has a silver lining”. Honestly we went through so many terrible band names that we just decided to settle for the one that made the most sense for the type of music we were playing.

How did you form?

Jay: John Matt and myself all knew each other from college, and we all moved back to the DC area and we recorded an EP with a local producer and we got a few people to play bass and keyboard and this was back in 2010 when we officially first started, so we’ve been a band for a while now. We’ve had members come and go because of other commitments, Rose has been playing gigs with us for a year now and she’s on the EP that we released in March but she’s been recording with us since September.

What genre of music would you describe your band to be?

Rose: I think there’s been an evolution over the life of the band and it’s gone from indie-pop-rock to more indie pop, electro pop.

Jay: It’s way more dancey now, there’s more electronic stuff going on, more synthesizers. When we first started out it was way heavier than it is now.

Why do you think that evolution occurred?

Jay: I think we all just started listening and enjoying different types of music, and just took note of what was going on musically and outside of DC because that’s not the only music we listen to, and just trying to incorporate electronic elements. I think we just kind of got bored with the kind of stuff we were playing, and I think it’s important for us to like what we’re playing because it was having a negative effect on the band. I think it’s the inclusion of electronic events and making what we believe to be good pop music, and that’s what was on the EP we released in March.

Rose: I think it comes with within, not just external elements. It’s been fun to include more electronic dance elements, it’s fun to see people dance in the audience instead of just head nodding, which is nice too but not the same thing.

Jay: It is much more fun to play live because you there’s more concert interaction.

Do you write your own music and what inspires you?

Rose: Yes.

Jay: Yes, for live shows we play some covers and we also put a couple of covers on our Soundcloud for fun, there’s a cover of a Rihanna song on there that I did. I don’t know what inspires me, i’m the main songwriter. The way it works is that I send out a demo and then we work on it and turn it into a song. But in terms of creating that demo, I kind of use an instrumental direction I want the song to go in and then draw on real life experience. I want it to be cohesive and sound like it flows. But once I send it out everyone has their input.

Rose: Sometimes we change things if they don’t work live, sometimes we add fun things that are easier to do in a recording or on a stage. A lot of the songs have continued to evolve, even some of the ones that are older, that predate me, are different from their original versions.

Who or what would you say has the greatest influence on your musical style?

Jay: I think we all kind of, well because I’m the main songwriter on the recordings themselves I guess, I participated in all the mixing and editing sections that we went through with the editor we worked with so he and I were heavily involved in that part. But I think live everyone puts their own personal spin on it. I think they all sort of influence how that sounds. I love when there are editions or cuts to the songs I send out because it means that we’re all working together to make a really good product.

Rose: For me on keys, I used to listen to a lot of Doors, so I think to do a lot of fast, high key parts.

What’s your favorite part about being in a band?

Rose: I think for me, it’s just constantly challenging myself and improving my skills and also being in tune with other musicians and projects people are working on and also just listening to music from a musicians perspective is very stimulating.

Jay: I guess meeting people, playing live, recording, like Rose was saying challenging, challenging people around you would be better. I think another thing you weirdly learn when you’re in a band is how to give respectful criticism, you sort of learn over time which I think has been a really valuable piece of information for me.

Rose: And always just seeing the finished product, whether its a recording or a show, and whenever everyone gets the song right for the first time together, it’s always like a big feeling of achievement.

Jay: It’s also cool to see the progression, you’re constantly getting better because you’re constantly practicing and playing shows all the time and you’re getting more comfortable on stage and everyone around you is getting better.

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What’s your least favorite part about being in a band?

Jay: For me, it’s like all the BS internal stuff that goes on. And also, we don’t have a manager right now so I’m doing most of the logistical stuff, Rose is helping me out. So like booking and getting press and all that. I’d prefer not to be doing that but it’s not like we’re going to be able to book an expensive manager.

Rose: It’s a logistical challenge a lot of the time, whether it’s within the group or balancing your job and band stuff. And it can get expensive really fast. That’s probably my very least favorite thing. Because it costs a lot of money to really make a go at it.

Jay: Having quality gear, it makes a huge difference. The amp i’m playing with right now is not the amp I want to be playing with. Also sometimes it’s hard to schedule practices because everyone is really busy.

What is a typical band practice like?

Jay: We usually come in and do our warm up, we don’t really have an organized warm up, but basically mess around for five or ten minutes and then go right into the set. If we’ve been working on new songs we start with those and try to perfect those and try to do everything in order.

Rose: Because we have so little time together, our practices tend to be really packed and goal focused, which is probably not what a typical person’s idea of being in a band is like.

Jay: We’ve been practicing more though, it’s been more relaxed.

Rose: Sometimes.

Rose: I really liked playing at DC9. The band has played at more places since I’ve been with them. Obviously playing at the 9:30 club was amazing, so I guess that’s the obvious favorite but it;s not our typical experience. There’s some other great smaller places, and when I think of smaller places DC9 has been my favorite so far.

Jay: I like Rock and Roll hotel and DC9 because the people that work there are usually pretty competent. The 9:30 club is amazing, nothing compares to it, it feels like you’re a rockstar. We’ve played the Black Cat backstage before.

Rose: But seriously, playing the Dav is really fun for me being an alumn. I think it’s really fun to connect with college students who won’t always be able to go to our other shows that are 21+.

What is the strangest venue or gig you have ever played?

Rose: So we played at this mexican restaurant in Columbia, Maryland. There was nowhere to even sit except near the tables, I was trying to do my makeup in the bathroom and people were knocking on the doors. The sound guy…I’m not sure where they found him. Afterwords I couldn’t even get served at bar. It was ridiculous.

Jay: The backstory behind this is that we had a show on March 15th with a bunch of really big bands. The show sold out and we knew it was gonna sold out, and we hadn’t really performed these new songs live or performed live since like July.

Rose: My resume was basically church.

Jay: We played two gigs, one at a TexMex resturaunt and one at GW that were fine. Also we played at this really fancy resturaunt in Georgetown at a private event, we got paid a set fee and it’s like a legit fancy resturaunt with a ballroom and everyone was sitting down and they sat us upstairs at like the kids table and didn’t want us to be seen until we performed. A lot of the private events we’ve played have been interesting. We played a tech conference with Nate Silver recently.

Rose: Nate Silver and the Silver Liners.

Jay: It’s not like playing at a venue because no one knows what’s going on, you just kind of roll with it.

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If you could play a show with any band, who would it be?

Rose: I think I’m go with Queen. Like classic Queen.

Jay: I’d go with Led Zeppelin then if we’re gonna do that. Current day, I’d do a show with Jack White. He’s like my musical hero person.

Is there anything else you would like to share (i.e. merchandise, tours, new releases)?

Jay: We have some upcoming shows, we’re playing at Comet with a band called the Lonely Forest. November 16th we’re playing GW with The Sea Life.

Rose: Our Bliss EP is on Spotify, that and more are on Soundcloud.

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