After working in California off and on for many years, singer and song writer Joe Silva is back in the Boston area and has recently released his new CD entitled "Blue." The recording is being billed as "The Ultimate Breakup CD" and was recorded at the legendary Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee made famous by such musical greats as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis.
At fourteen, Silva played in a club band called the Threats who frequently played in the area night clubs. By the time the band members were sixteen they were invited to add a song onto ‘The Living Room – A Compilation Record", which was an LP record that highlighted the top thirteen original rock bands from Boston and Providence, Rhode Island. From there, Silva’s band went on to perform as the support group for many well-known international acts, such as Joan Jett, The Hooters, Joe Satriani and Extreme.
The Threats participated in many regional “battle-of-the-band” contests sponsored by New England’s top rock radio stations. Hirsh Gardner (record producer & drummer of the 70’s rock group ‘New England’) produced The Threats’ song ‘Dream About You’, which earned consecutive weekly rotation for over two years on many New England radio stations during the late 1980’s.
Examiner sat down with Silva to find out more about his career which has taken him around the globe.
Examiner: Can you tell our readers about your new album "Blue", I read somewhere that it's the ultimate break up CD?
Silva: "Blue began when I went to Sun Studio in Memphis to record 17 new songs, which was to be released as a solo acoustic record. I had been a lead-singing drummer for a Providence, RI, based band called The Threats, which I did for a few decades (began playing nightclubs at age 14), and was the resident song-writer for the band, yet I was accumulating several songs that I wrote which didn't fit the power-pop style of The Threats. The songs were tugging at me internally for me to give birth to them, if you will, and I found myself doing just that at Sun Studio where Elvis, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis gave birth to their careers. During that time, I was in the early stages of a divorce so the heart-break songs that I had tucked away were oozing out of me with a real-time conviction. Months later, when I was getting ready to have the acoustic CD mastered, I ran into 'Late Show w/ David Letterman' drummer, Anton Fig, at The Bitter End in New York City and told him about the project. Although it was to be an acoustic record, I thought it would be great to have Anton Fig play drums on one of the songs. He agreed to listen to the tracks, and phoned me a few weeks later to explain that he couldn't get the songs out of his head. He agreed to produce the CD, and he gravitated to all of the songs that refer to relationships, citing that it would make the "Ultimate break-up CD"... Truly, the 10 songs on 'Blue' take a look at a love relationship that is falling apart from all angles."
Examiner: On your CD you play acoustic guitar, do you play other instruments?
Silva: "I play acoustic guitar on most songs, but I also play drums and piano on many of the tunes as well. Drums is my first instrument, while guitar and piano are my writing tools, which I use mostly as the bed on which I lay my lyrics and melodies. I don't aspire to be the best pianist or guitarist, but I do strive to be among the best of song-writers. Will Lee (Late Show w/ Letterman bassist) was quoted as saying "Joe Silva is one of the few, true, shoot-from-the-hip songwriters of our time"... That is what I aim for."
Examiner: Tell us about playing in Fenway Park?
Silva: "Fenway Park has always been sacred ground to me. Not only because I recall watching so many great baseball players & moments from Fenway via television as a kid, but also because my grandfather would take me there once per year. Those nights were among the most magical of my life. At that age, I wanted nothing more than being a professional baseball player - of course, a Red Sox player. To be invited to sing the National Anthem at Fenway was a dream-come-true to me, and the feeling of walking out onto that field in front of almost 40,000 people (most attended home game of the season) felt as magical as when I was there as a kid. It was my first time back since my grandfather had passed-away, so the feeling was exponentially special. Minutes before I was to sing, I was asked if I was nervous. I stopped and realized that I wasn't nervous at all, yet fully absorbing the moment. All of a sudden, a guy with two microphone stands said "Come On!", and I heard my introduction over the Fenway loudspeakers as one of the microphone stands kept falling over. Once it was positioned, I began the National Anthem, only to learn that my vocal mic wasn't working. I wasn't about to compromise the Anthem, and my moment at home plate, so I stopped and waited for it to be fixed. Once it was, I delivered my acoustic-guitar-driven version of America's Anthem to Red Sox Nation... and I'll carry those 90-seconds with me for the rest of my life. The next day, Red Sox' Dr. Charles informed me that it was the only time in Red Sox history that the microphone didn't work at the start of an Anthem."
Examiner: You've met and played with many famous people throughout your career, who made the biggest impact on you?
Silva: "Yeah... Played with LOTS of folks, and learned something from each of them. Among them are Joan Jett, Joe Satriani, Garland Jeffreys, Missing Persons, Peter Tork, Concrete Blonde, Boston's Extreme & The Neighborhoods, David Johansen, Leslie West... The Hooters out of Philly really took us under their wings when I was in my late teens and I ended up playing concert dates as the opening act for them on 3 of their tours. One of my biggest influences throughout the 80's & 90's was a band called The Alarm out of Wales. I recently performed a 20-City UK Tour with The Alarm's lead-singer/songwriter, Mike Peters."
Examiner: You have worked in California for awhile, what brought you back to New England?
Silva: "I returned from L.A. so I could actually play music. The day-job that I thought was going to be there when I switched coasts never materialized, so I spent most of my time trying to make ends meet, with nothing left over to rent a rehearsal studio to work on music. I knew that it was time when a homeless man and I had a conversation on the streets of L.A. in the middle of the night and he explained how I was going to be homeless like him if I didn't go back and regroup. I am still there a few times per year to perform concerts."
Examiner: I've seen many photos of you and Johnny Depp, are you friends or a fan?
Silva: "I do not know Johnny Depp very well. We met when my accordionist was sitting-in with him on 'The Late Show w/ David Letterman." Johnny is a good guitarist and very cool to be around. To me, he has more of a musician's demeanor than one of an actor."
Examiner: What are you upcoming dates?
Silva: "My 2014 concert schedule begins in St. Thomas on March 14 and 15, then to The Bitter End in NYC on March 30. I get close to home with a Story-Teller Concert with American Idol's Ayla Brown on April 12 at Cassey's in Attleboro, MA, and tentatively with Jerry Douglas (Alison Kraus/Elvis Costello) at The Met in Pawtucket, RI, on April 13 before heading back to the West Coast."