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Leaving Its Trails: An Interview with Joshua Zimmerman of The Silent Comedy

After ringing in the new year in a giant shell at the Lafayette Hotel in North Park, The Silent Comedy have kick-started 2012 with a handful of local shows, introduced some terrific new music live, and traveled away from our beloved city to parts unknown. Or ya know, other cities. Selling out the Belly Up Tavern with other hometown heroes The Howls and Dead Feather Moon last month, TSC has solidified their position as San Diego’s musical  sweethearts. I coerced singer, bassist, and foot stomper, Joshua Zimmerman into answering a few questions while out on the road. Hope this tides y’all over until the boys return on June 16th for Oysterfest on the Embarcadero with Iration, little hurricane, Vokab Kompany, and more.

© Photo courtesy of Rebecca Joelson - Find more at RebeccaJoelson.com

The Silent Comedy have spent a lot of time playing for hometown crowds and now you’ve gotten a good chunk of time out on the road, what are the major differences, if any, between playing a show in San Diego and playing elsewhere?

Shows in San Diego used to be our craziest. Now, there are a lot of towns that have become as sweaty and wild as our Casbah shows used to be. It’s awesome for us because we look forward to a “hometown” crowd in lot of the places that we travel to.

Your music and stage performances are referred to as “cabaret rock.” Is that a label you’re comfortable with or something you’re trying to move away from? If you had to boil down your sound to a two-word genre, what would it be?

Someone used the term “cabaret rock” to refer to us on a website once, and several people have picked that up. We completely disagree with that label being used to describe us. Cabaret rock refers to stuff that is more in the vein of Dresden Dolls. We don’t really think we sound like that at all. I think we’ve given up on trying to label our sound. I tried to call it “terror folk” when we first started, but it never caught on.

You’re a former film student and you’re in The Silent Comedy… what did you think of “The Artist”?

Honestly, I haven’t seen it. I’ve heard that it’s great. All of us in the band, myself included, have really diverse film taste, so I think we would all find something to love in The Artist.

While we’re on the subject, is film something you’re still interested in pursuing, either in your downtime or in the future? If given the option, would you rather win a Grammy or an Oscar?

I am definitely interested in pursuing film still. It is one of my absolute favorite artistic mediums. I wish that I had more time to pursue filmmaking, but it has to take a bit of a backseat at the moment. I hope to get more involved with film in the future. I think a Grammy or an Oscar would be pretty excellent.

What are your favorite and least favorite things about being a musician?

My favorite things about being a musician are meeting new people on the road, performing, and traveling. I would say my least favorite things are van rides over fifteen hours, being sick on the road, and summer shows.

Your brother is also in The Silent Comedy. Better band with brothers in it: Van Halen, The Beach Boys, AC/DC or Radiohead?

Ummmmmm…. Going to have to go with Radiohead.

What are some things you want people to know about The Silent Comedy that they wouldn’t get just from seeing a performance or listening to your tunes?

I think that people can learn a lot about my brother and I by reading our lyrics. That is probably where you can learn the most about us. As far as the rest of the band is concerned, we all have different aspects to our personalities, but we share a mutual love for comedy, poker, whiskey, and beer.

You seem to do a lot with your online presence from regular social media updates, to email newsletters, to the photo streams by each band member on TheSilentComedy.com – how have those mediums helped with spreading the TSC reach and what advice would you have for newer bands in utilizing them?

We try to do as much as we can. Unfortunately, I don’t know if we can offer much advice because I think we have a lot to learn about utilizing our online presence. We do love us some Instagram, though!

Playing on festival stages, a surprise trolley show, and local favorites like the Belly Up- how much influence does the venue and your audience have on your set list?

The audience is the main influence on our set list. We think about the town that we are in, how much people know our music, etc, before we make a set list. Also, we always take requests into account as well. Venues can play a role as well because certain songs do better with a better sound system.

What’s up next for the band? When can fans expect a new record?

We are traveling a lot in the next few months. We’re currently on a month long tour of the northwest, and will be heading to the east coast after this. We are currently writing a new record, and will hopefully record sometime around September. We will be putting new music out in various ways throughout the year to let everyone know what we’re up to.

Last but not least, the Five S’s of Sounds in San Diego

Sound You Love: The ocean

Sound You Hate: Clubs letting out after last call in the Gaslamp

Spot in San Diego You Have to See: Sunset Cliffs

San Diego Band You’re a Fan Of: Transfer, The Howls, Dead Feather Moon, Little Hurricane, Nervous Wreckords, Family Wagon, Grand Tarantula… Geez. There are too many to list.

Song That Makes You Smile: Revival by The Howls : )


About Jen Van Tieghem

There aren’t many things I love more than music. While life spins away at a rapid beat I’ve realized it’s important to spend it doing what I love – enjoying music in San Diego. I have a handful of favorite venues, a heart full of favorite bands, and decided to write about it.

One comment on “Leaving Its Trails: An Interview with Joshua Zimmerman of The Silent Comedy

  1. […] Leaving Its Trails: An Interview with Joshua Zimmerman of The Silent Comedy – From out on the road foot stomper Josh Z gives a glimpse into what goes on under his hat, before the guys return to SD in June. […]


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