Interview: Robert Stevenson and Spencer Walker of A Silent Film (Part 2)

By on Wednesday, 1st August 2012 at 11:00 am

We pick up Cheryl’s in-person interview with Robert and Spencer of A Silent Film in Annapolis, Maryland, while they are in a discussion of the band’s video to appear on, oh, the most famous music television station in America…

Part 1 of the interview is here.

Did winning mtvU’s ‘The Freshman’ video of the week contest (for ‘Danny Dakota & the Wishing Well’) surprise you? Or did you have faith in your fans?
Spencer: I just have complete faith in the fans, especially when it comes to stuff like that. Everyone was so on it. The first day we were like ‘I wonder if we are going to have to sit and help this out’. And then by day two it was like ‘I think they’ve probably got this under control’. I think we sent out one message to everyone and suddenly we had 70% of the votes.
Robert: We are so grateful. We’re very lucky with our fans.
Spencer: And we had a lot of fun making that video, so it’s fun that it’s going to get played.

So I want to know, was the wishing well always the Grand Canyon or was that the director’s vision?
Spencer: We were really keen to do a video that reflected that area where we spent so much time making the album. So we wanted to do an Arizona video. The director was really enamoured with the shots of the Grand Canyon that he got and he said, “I’m using these, I don’t care what you say, whatever happens, I’m putting in the Grand Canyon shots”.


So what’s with the ampersand thing, do you have a frustrated graphic designer in your midst? There’s an ampersand in the title of your album and your first single.
Robert: Oh really? Good point, I hadn’t really noticed.
Spencer: I guess it makes it harder to write, I hadn’t thought about that.
It makes it hard to put into your computer because it’s a character. [I concur, it does terrible things to to the backend of WordPress. – Ed.]
Robert: Well I don’t know about you, but I ampersand all day long. But really, that hadn’t even crossed my mind. I don’t worry about these things, it just looks pretty! Where does it come from, is it in every language, or is it specific to English? Now I’m going to have to research that.

Living in Arizona, lots of creepy crawlies there. Did you name your house scorpions, did you stomp on them or shoo them out the door?

Spencer: You can’t stomp on them because it’ll go through your shoe. So you basically have to capture them. We had a system of glasses, and sliding a thing under. And then they sit somewhere for a few days until they die.
Robert: But they don’t really sit, they bang against the glass, and they’ll sneak you, they move so fast and they scuttle.
Spencer: We had one that played dead for 24 hours and we almost took the glass off and it started attacking.
Robert: We had Bark Scorpions and they are the only ones that can climb.
Spencer: And use the internet to find out our weaknesses. They kept deleting stuff we’d recorded, you’d wake up and there’s be a scorpion on the laptop and then it’d scuttle away off the keyboard. So yeah, we had scorps, we had rattlesnakes, we had everything. We saw a javelina, we chased a javelina. They’re little angry pigs with big teeth. The only thing they do is knock over garbage cans.
Robert: But the locals are terrified of them, and we made fun of that. They hunt in packs, and apparently very territorial, but I still can’t see how even a pack of small pigs is frightening.
Spencer: The adults are this big (indicates about two feet) and have some serious teeth. But the babies look like micropigs.
Robert: But, apparently, this is what the locals tell us, they are part of the rodent family. So, as giant rats…….
Spencer: No, no, no. I had such as issue with that, it’s just a lie. I took some locals on because I researched it and they have hooves. And actually, the closest thing to them is the hippo family. So all the locals think it’s a rodent, but it’s not rodents have claws and they have hooves. So they are a pig/hippo crossover, but way smaller and ugly!

I hadn’t ever heard of a javelina, it sounds like it could have been a lovely instrument.
Spencer: The javelin? Yes, I’m a very accomplished javelina player, just touring the world, me and my javelina.

I see I am very lucky in that I get to see you play again next week with Civil Twilight – which was the line-up when I saw you for the very first time. How did that come about?
Spencer: We’ve been trying to get that together for about….well, pretty much since we finished that tour. We just had a lot of fun on that tour, it worked really well. It’s just a complete love in, we love each other very much. We also have the same agent, so it’s not the hardest thing to put it together, but the dates have been wrong, wrong, wrong. And then finally two days happened, and yup, we took them.

I am going to end our interview with some ‘tattletale’ questions….

Who’s the hardest to get out of bed in the morning?
Both: Ali
Who buys silly tchotchkes on the road?
Robert: What are tchotchkes?
Silly knickknacks at gift shops.
Spencer: I have an obsession with fridge magnets, so that would be me.
Who always has the camera out?
Spencer: Him! He’s Mr. Instagram.
Robert: Yes, at the moment I am really loving Instagram.
Who snores?
Both: Ali! Even he’d say so.
Who wilts the fastest in our summer heat?
Spencer: Well definitely not you, you wear a leather jacket in Palm Springs when it’s 115 degrees. Uhm……..Ali.
So now we just default to Ali? OK, who always drinks the last beer?
Robert: Ali.
Who’s the best cook?
Spencer: I would say me and Ali would say himself.
What’s your dish?
Spencer: I’ve got a number of things you’d probably be quite interested in. My most recent one was a really nice spring, very light, vegetarian lasagna with asparagus.
Who was most freaked out by the rattlesnakes and scorpions?
Both: Ali! Hands down, absolutely terrified.

So despite abusing their bass player Ali Hussein during the last part of the interview, Spencer and Robert were simply lovely and I can’t wait to talk to them again some time. A review of the gig they played that night will follow shortly. They promised to return to the UK to play a proper tour in early 2013 when their sophomore disc ‘Sand & Snow’ is released, so keep your eyes peeled for dates.

Many thanks to Joel for sorting this interview for us, and of course Robert and Spencer who sat down with Cheryl for this 2-part piece. Best wishes, fellas!

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