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A Silent Film

Rock/Pop

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About A Silent Film

A Silent Film have a charm and sincerity about them that is somewhat lacking in modern British song writing, with a sound that rests elegantly between modern contemporary and alternative rock.

Singer-songwriter Robert Stevenson performs with an unquestionable passion like a boyish Nick Cave, his harrowing vocals and effervescent stage presence are that of a truly great front man whose talent and grace simply cannot be denied. The band's line-up is completed by guitarist Lewis Jones, bassist Ali Hussain and drummer Spencer Walker. Although still in their early twenties, several members of the band are classically trained musicians which is a point that comes across exquisitely in their flawless live performances.

The group first came together in 2005 following the demise of several former bands on the Oxford music scene. With the sole intention of creating something new and exciting, the band set to work in a wooden shed (dubbed ‘The Ranch') cast on a wasteland landscape strewn rusted cars and scrap metal. Stevenson explains, ‘quite early on we realised that as a band we need our own space. We don't like to work out of other people's rehearsal places or under financial restraints. We've been in a few expensive studios and come out with recordings that feel unfinished and rushed. By putting together our own studio to write and record we've afforded ourselves all the space we need to develop as a band, this has been essential in our so far.' The band continue to rehearse in ‘The Ranch' to this day and it's where much of the material on their forthcoming album was written.

Speaking of the band's unusual name Stevenson continues, "The ‘A' is as unusual as it is important. The name came from an old song I wrote on the piano before we formed the band, I'm a big old movie buff, Chaplin, Keaton and early post vaudeville talkies like the Marx Brothers. I took the piano theme from Chaplin's ‘The Kid' and wrote a song around it, the guys liked it and thought the vibe of this band was close to it so we used the name too. We toyed with dropping the ‘a' but a quick Google search ruled that one out as it turned out ‘Silent Film' was a more popular name than we'd realised."

A Silent Film's unique sound has received strong praise from all areas of the alternative media. Those prone to making lazy comparisons could pigeonhole them alongside stadium filling acts such as Coldplay, Keane or Snow Patrol while those who take the time to peer beneath the surface have compared their intelligent musicianship to the likes of Guillemots, Interpol or fellow Oxford home-grown heroes Radiohead.

Speaking of A Silent Film's sound Stevenson remarks, "The sound of the band is often misinterpreted. I think people still consider us a loud rock band, but I've always been a bigger fan of artists like Bjork, Sufjan Stevens and Anthony and the Johnsons, along with Radiohead of course. I'm trying to approach things from a more artful, and personable approach. I suppose we'll always be a rock band but I see us as much more than simply loud."

It is from ‘The Ranch' that A Silent Film recorded and self-produced their debut EP ‘The Projectionist' which was released at the end of 2007 on Xtra Mile Recordings. The limited edition run sold out in a few short months and saw the band hold two separate sold out release parties. The first, at a dilapidated cinema in Oxford called The Ultimate Picture Palace, and a second at London's Soho Review Bar. ‘The Projectionist' brought the band to the attention of Radio 1's Huw Stephens who brought them to a wider audience through BBC Introducing... landing them a slot on the bill of Glastonbury 2007.

The strength of the songs on ‘The Projectionist' caught the eye of award-winning director Phil Hawkins who requested the band to not only feature on the soundtrack, but also star in his forthcoming film, an interpretation of Philip Pullman's popular novel ‘The Butterfly Tattoo'. A modern day Romeo and Juliet set in the band's hometown of Oxford. It is regarded by the literary world as a dark masterpiece, painting a picture of Oxford not dissimilar to that of Irvine Welsh's dramatic interpretations of life in Scotland. You can watch an interview with Robert from the set here.

As the intrigue began to grow and mouths began to talk A Silent Film caught the attention of fellow Oxfordian and super-producer Sam Williams (Supergrass, The Noisettes, Dogs Die In Hot Cars...) whom the band entered the studio with at the end of 2007 to record their much anticipated debut album. The band laid down much of the album live which in itself is testament to the level of any artist's talent. This is probably best demonstrated on the final track of the record ‘Aurora' which was recorded quite astonishingly in a single take.

The mixing process was finished in February 2008 with the first release from the record being the incredible ‘Sleeping Pills'. Although a high-tempo infectious single, the song is influenced by a much darker story of a poisoned war-torn spy's plight. The track received plays on XFM and Radio 1 among others and became an instant hit on dance floors across the country. Having finally generated the interest and coverage they so rightly deserved the band went on to land support slots with indie heavy weights Athlete, The Mystery Jets and Scouting For Girls.
The band has just announced details of their next single to be taken from their debut album; ‘You Will Leave A Mark' which will be release on 14th July. High tempo and piano led, Robert says of its lyrics: ‘...it's a song about the guilt and shared responsibility that comes with being white and born in the western hemisphere. I hope it doesn't come over as too preachy; it's a song from me to me.'

The band's incredible debut album ‘The City That Sleeps' is release in October 2008 through Xtra Mile Recordings.