11 Questions: Brendan Silk
interview by Brent Cole
photo by Tommy Calderon
Brendan Silk is one of the hardest working musicians and engineers in town – recording bands, playing in STFU Robot (suddenly on hiatus), Candysound and Hippopautomus Hot Tub as well as filling in for other bands. All of this while he works a straight job! But to describe what he does falls short of what Brendan is about – he’s one of those guys that seems to bleed the Bellingham music scene, which makes him one of my favorite people around. Plus he understands how awesome Joel Plaskett is, which puts him in rarified air.
Ladies and gentlemen, may I present Brendan Silk.
Who are you and where did you come from? Please tell us about yourself.
I’m Brendan Silk, a regular Bellingham 20-something. I play in a few bands and make recordings. I enjoy both of those things a lot.
I’ve lived in Bellingham for the last six years. I came here from Bainbridge Island, in fall of 2010. It’s a strange place – maybe don’t go there. It is beautiful, though.
What is it about Canadian pop music that makes it so fantastic? Sub-question – what is your all-time favorite Canadian pop song?
I’m not sure what the formula is, but it works. Actually I was talking with a friend not too long ago about what it must be like to be an independent musician in a country with a social safety net. Maybe that’s part of it – you can make music without living in fear of crippling debt, from medical expenses or something. I do think a lot of Canadian music feels less self-conscious, but maybe that’s different.
As Canadian pop songs go: usually I would say it’s Sloan’s “Fading Into Obscurity” from Never Hear The End Of It (and really, am I even answering this question right if I don’t mention Sloan?) but these days it’s definitely Grimes’ “Kill v. Maim.”
Conversely, what is it about Phish that you like so much and do you think you’ve tried hard enough to get non believers into the band?
I think anyone who loves a widely reviled band knows that there’s something special about that. In the case of Phish, it’s hard to describe, but a big part of it for me is the spontaneity. Every show is different and every moment presents its opportunities. People who call this “noodling” should listen more closely. As for the non-believers –you can never try hard enough.
Seemingly, your musical partner in crime for the last several years has been Charlie Walentiny. What is your favorite musical memory of playing with him?
There have been many good ones so far. Andrew and Rachel Beer’s wedding reception comes to mind – that was one of the best nights ever. That or the slide guitar solo he played during our first extended version of Slow Ride. I had no idea he could actually play slide guitar, but he can.
If you didn’t live in Bellingham, where would you reside?
That’s tough. I’ve thought about Seattle, as a lot of people do. But I’m pretty attached to Bellingham.
If you found out you had to move out of Bellingham tomorrow, what would you do the night before?
Summon all my favorite people (most of them live here) and dance on the grave of the Wisco. I bet we could totally get some bands to play on the new parking lot or whatever.
What was the last great book you read and why was it so fantastic?
I definitely don’t read enough. It’s been a while. Actually, I started this book – “The Art of Practicing” by Madeline Bruser – a few months ago, and got most of the way through it. I need to finish that. Lots of good stuff in there, mostly about loving yourself and remembering to stretch.
You just wrapped up a full length record for Hillary Susz (formerly Bellingham-based). How did the recording process go, and did it turn out how you hoped?
This album was a lot of work, and I learned a lot of “what not to do.” Biggest takeaway: pre-production makes a huge difference. Working out tempos, arrangements, extra practice. Stuff that isn’t fun but makes the end result so much better. All in all I’m happy with how it turned out. Hillary is an amazing artist and I think these songs are among her best. The album is called The Heart Will Jump (With Nowhere to Fall) and it’s out July 22! Shameless plug, shameless plug.
What local musician do you look up to the most and why?
One of the things I like most about this town is that many of my favorite musicians are also some of my closest friends. Of those, Andrew Beer is definitely near the top. One of the kindest and most supportive people I know. Of folks I’m not as close with, it’s hard to not look up to the guys in Wild Throne. They’ve worked hard for a long time and it’s definitely paying off.
What has been your favorite Bellingham release of the last five years?
I really tried to pick one and I can’t. I think the new Fallopia EP (pre-Babe Waves) is really good. I’ve listened to Harvest of Darkness a lot this year – that one rips. And the last Bright Weapons album, before they broke up. I miss that band. I’m also real attached to any and all Girl Guts, but that’s cheating.
If Charlie had done these 11 questions, what one question would he have asked that would’ve been hilarious?
I asked him. He says, “Radiohead or Muse?”
Any last thoughts?
(Editor’s note: No).
Published in the July 2016 issue of What’s Up! Magazine