What are your names?
Wallace Dietz- rhythm guitar, vocalsJohn Suchocki- lead guitar, keyboardsMichael Click- bassJohn Morand- drums
What is your genre of music?
Jangle-pop/rock, indie pop, alternative-pop/rock, C86
Give us a little bio about you and the band.
The Silent Boys were born in a fraternity house at Hampden-Sydney College when I strummed bits and pieces of The Feelies songs and Tom Bowling, the original Silent Boys drummer, beaton a set of metal Kool-Aid cans with plastic tops.
Lead guitarist John Suchocki entered the picture by happenstance. He was rooming with a high school friend of mine while completing his doctorate in chemistry at Virginia Commonwealth University and heard our first studio recordings. Fascinated and enthused, John met up withme to “jam.” I played him songs by Echo & The Bunnymen and New Order to give him a senseof what I was looking for to add to the Silent Boys mix, and something magical happened—John immediately absorbed the post-punk guitar riffs with his own style and twist. With various line-ups (me being the only constant) the Silent Boys played many shows in thealternative rock clubs of Richmond, Virginia and recorded about 40 songs from 1985-1991.When lead guitarist, John Suchocki, left in 1991 to teach at a community college in Hawaii, Iplayed a few more shows with a new cast of players, but It just wasn’t the same without John’slight-fingered surf/jazz/pop touch on my songs, so I put my guitar to rest for about 8 years.Then the indie pop world started to show some interest in our music. “Saturday” was releasedby Tweenet/Kindercore on a CD compilation called Seven Summers in 1998 and “PeopleChange Like the Weather” appeared on the Morgan Leah compilation titled Will There Be TimeFor Tea?
With the renewed interest in the Silent Boys, I started writing songs again. I sent John a tape ofmy new songs, and in the summer of 1999, he flew in from Hawaii to play lead guitar and bass for the new batch of songs. We recorded seven songs during the “Princess by the Sea” sessions.In 2003, John moved back to the mainland, and we were back in business! Since then we haveself-released 5 full length CDs and a retrospective CD of the best of the Silent Boys’ 85-91period. Today the band consists of me on rhythm guitar and vocals, lead guitarist John Suchocki,drummer John Morand, longtime Silent Boys sound engineer who took over drums in 1991, andbassist Michael Click who has been with us since the Roadside Flowers album.
What made you go into music?
Well, I didn’t start playing guitar until college. By then basketball injuries had destroyed the pinky on my chording hand, so playing all those fancy barre chords was out of reach. Moreover, Neil Young has always been a favourite, and since he often uses open chords, I naturally gravitated to learning his songs as a beginner. Immersed in a steady diet of Neil Young, I then heard the first Feelies album, Crazy Rhythms. I was immediately hooked by the frantic strumming and the quirky New Wave rhythms. It made me think that despite my limitations as a guitarist, I could write songs by speeding up folkie chords and maybe even start a band!
Are you a signed?
Hopelessly obscure and independent
You released your new single ‘Tilt-A-Whirl’, tell us more about the single. What is the meaning behind ‘Tilt-A-Whirl’.
In “Tilt-A-Whirl” (release date 02/21/20), I am comparing falling in love to the thrill of an amusement park ride, a sometimes dizzying and exhilarating rush. As a youth, I would walk excitedly along the Chesapeake Bay to the now extinct amusement park at Buckroe Beach, home to a Tilt-A-Whirl and other rides that go up and down and spin around. Years later, I can remember my girlfriend and me dragging our feet along the sand at Nagshead Beach, twirling and kicking up sparks of glowing phosphorus at night. My once girlfriend, now wife, has recently transformed herself into an artist. Every painting reveals an intimacy with colour. Our universe is still expanding. ….if you keep learning and exploring, and share those experiences with each other, the thrill ride is just beginning.
Describe the track in two words.
What was the writing process like?
“Tilt-A-Whirl” started with two simple chords that just sounded so pleasant together. These two chords make up the intro and every instrumental section of the song. The verse part is a variation of these chords. I was aiming for an Ian Curtis meets Frank Sinatra singing style, and once I crooned the verse line “Could this be a dream that lasts forever,” the rest of the lyrics and tune fell into place.
What was the recording process like? Who did you work with on the Single?
Both John Morand and John Suchocki are sound engineers so I flew back and forth between John Morand’s Sound Of Music Studios in Richmond, VA and John Suchocki’s home studio in Boulder, Colorado to record “Tilt-A-Whirl.”
Will we see an EP or Album this year?
Our album, also titled Tilt-A-Whirl, is set to be released 05/15/20
Do you have any shows coming up?
No shows scheduled as John Suchocki lives in Colorado, but figuring out a way to play live shows is the next step for us.
What else can we expect in Early 2020?
We will be releasing two more singles- “The Last Time” on 03/20/20 and “Lawrence Of Arabia”on 04/17/20 so stay tuned.
Would you be up for collaborations if other musicians wanted one with you? and who would they have to contact?
Probably not. I’m likely not the easiest person to collaborate with as I am limited in my musical ability. In the Silent Boys, I am fortunate to be surrounded by superior musicians who are happy to “colour in” the outlines that I create, and, furthermore, they permit me to orchestrate their parts from time to time. I don’t think that there are too many people out there who would put-up with that foolishness.
Do you play any instruments?
Who are your influences?
Neil Young, the Feelies, and REM were my earliest musical influences. By the mid-’80’s I was becoming an avid music collector, keeping up with the Sound, NME, and Melody Maker tabloids on a weekly basis. Aztec Camera, The Pastels, and the Smiths were already on my radar, and then Sarah records arrived on the scene with its stable of bands churning out Byrds/V.U.inspired songs with a child-like innocence. Despite the onslaught of reviewers slagging jangle-pop bands with names like The Sea Urchins and The Field Mice, I could read between the lines and tell that I was going to fall in love with bands of this ilk and some harder edged C86 pop bands like The June Brides and The Brilliant Corners.
How do you get inspiration to write songs?
Sometimes I jump into a sea of chords and imagine a certain band as I’m strumming and singing gibberish. It might be REM, The Smiths, or The Cure. Keep in mind that I really have no knowledge about the chord structures of these and other bands, so what comes out of this exercise is usually far removed from the bands I’m trying to emulate. For me, tunes always come first, then words, and my past career as a high school counsellor has directly influenced my lyrics.
Where do you see yourself now in 5 Years?
Hopefully, doing the same thing I’m doing now- writing and recording songs for the Silent Boys, performing as Ian Curtis in Unknown Pleasures, a Joy Division tribute band, and playing live shows in my recently formed indie rock band, the Steam Train Hearts. Debut STH album will be issued later in 2020.
When you’re not doing music, what do you do?
I am a partner at Sound Of Music Studios and the manager of the building that houses the recording studio and multiple tenants (artists, businesses, & musicians). The building includes a warehouse space with a stage, so I also assist with booking bands and running shows.
What was the song you listened to most that influenced you to go more into the music scene?
In my case, it wasn’t a singular song, it was the whole Feelies debut album that sent me down the “rabbit hole.”
What’s the best advice you have ever been given?
You never finish a mix- you abandon it.
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians not about the industry and just as an artist?
I am always writing songs for an audience of one- me. I’m not sure that’s the best advice for an aspiring artist.
What quote or saying do you always stick by?
“Life is an echo. What you send out comes back.”
Where in your hometown is a must go to visit?
I never thought I’d say this in my lifetime, but Richmond is going through a cultural renaissance. Over the last 8 years, I have seen a creative explosion in restaurants, breweries, music, theatre, and the art world. If Austin isn’t weird enough for you anymore then come to Richmond top lay!
When you are at a gig, what are 4 things you cannot forget?
Extra strings (some nights I’m hard on them!)
Towel for wiping the sweat off my face after mimicking Ian Curtis’ flailing dance moves
Making sure monitors are turned up loud enough so I can hear if my voice is going flat
2 beer minimum pre-show to overcome stage fright and awkwardness