The first thing that Joshua Zimmerman asked me was, “How did you hear about us?”
We were sitting on an old, beat-up couch at the rear of a saloon and I thought to myself, “My gosh, I’ve been wanting this interview forever.” However, I kept my composure and told him that I discovered his band, The Silent Comedy, through consistent word-of-mouth.
With the interview finally in place, it seemed like covering topics already discussed in other press clippings may be redundant for the musician. Do we talk about mustaches? World travel? Growing up as the son of a preacher man? Or better yet – whiskey?
The band taking the stage prior to The Silent Comedy’s set made chatting difficult, so we brought the interview to their van. Joshua was cool and relaxed, and as we sat there and chatted, I met his counterparts – his older brother, Jeremiah (keys, guitar, vocals), Justin Buchanan (banjo, guitar, mandolin), Timothy Graves (guitar, harmonica, vocals) and Chad Lee (percussion). Joshua plays bass guitar and co-leads on vocals.
“We’re a close-knit family. Who’s better looking?” asked Joshua.
Tough call. With Joshua’s long hair, Justin’s awesome mustache and the band’s fair share of facial hair, the band is a good-looking group of guys. Their smiles come complete with suspenders, ties, and bowler hats, too. They appear to not be of present time, but rather as gunslingers from the Old West.
“It is important to have a unified look. It’s our natural way to dress, especially when out on the town,” said Joshua.
At the time of our interview, the band was currently on the road. Throughout the months of October and November, they hit towns such as Monterey, Fresno, Sacramento and Los Angeles. While on this tour, they performed a sold-out show at The Casbah in their home base of San Diego, and their latest record, Common Faults, sold out in Avila Beach.
It is amazing to see the type of following that the multi-instrumentalists develop in every town they visit. People who have never heard of them subconsciously find themselves making their way to the front of the stage, face-to-face with the Brothers Zimmerman, and rocking out like there is no tomorrow. The band loves to connect with locals in various cities because it gives them the inside scoop on the best venues. They can also build solid fan bases in smaller towns.
The Silent Comedy hits the road with a van, trailer and loads of equipment. The band meets new fans and reconnects with old acquaintances at every tour stop. They create and maintain many circles of friends.
Joshua and Jeremiah were fortunate to have the experience of travel in their roots. After traveling the world with their parents, they have taken the skills that they developed in their youth to their present day occupations.
“We are uniquely prepared for a touring lifestyle,” said Joshua.
What sets them apart from other bands is their passion, drive and ability to draw people in. Every Casbah show sells out and they are extremely thankful to be part of San Diego’s growing musical community. The appreciation and support from their home base was truly evident at the San Diego Music Awards in September – they took home the award for Best Pop Album for Common Faults.
“We actually wanted a band who were really pop to win the award. We were surprised we won the category and it was a nice compliment from people in town,” said Joshua.
Joshua and Jeremiah split songwriting duties 50%, and although their songs are catchy (a few might engage you in singing along), their songs are hard-hitting, beautifully composed, and are based on lyrics that Joshua calls, “a unified narrative.” The band is not exactly “pop”.
They are not interested in writing typical love songs, as good love songs have already been written by others. Although their subject material tends to be on the darker side, Joshua and Jeremiah are passionate about lyricism and great storytelling.
“If one of our songs happens to sound sweet and pretty, it is probably not,” said Joshua.
Joshua and Jeremiah are the sons of a Pentecostal preacher and the great grandsons of a traveling vaudevillian. With these family influences, each and every Silent Comedy performance is based upon some strong theatrics. These theatrics have “disturbed” even their closest friends.
“We’re on a journey or ride when performing… on our own train. No matter how big or small the crowd is, we definitely take on different personas. We’re not the same people every time,” Joshua said.
Although things may seem to get a little crazy and out of control on stage, they are businessmen once the show is over. Extremely organized (they load and unload equipment faster than any other band I have ever witnessed), The Silent Comedy may share a drink or two, but they remain approachable and polite. Putting tours, awards and merchandise sales aside, these guys are extremely down-to-Earth.
“We are whiskey-fueled gentlemen. We are relatively passionate about alcohol and have a philosophical take on booze. We are nerdy about microbrews and cocktails… but we are not a wild, party band. It’s not the ‘70s anymore,” said Joshua.
Despite what is trendy or popular today, The Silent Comedy offers more than just a live show – what they offer is an experience. Those fortunate enough to catch them live eagerly look forward to their next show. For those who have not witnessed a live show yet, be ready when the band hits the road again in February 2011 supporting Oscar winner Ryan Bingham, and his band The Dead Horses on the west coast.