The Silver Tongues are a rock'n'roll explosion who have been playing venues around Nottingham for a few years now. Regularly seen onstage as the house band at Cabaret, they plough a furrow of dirty-bluesy rock, with the occasional nod to funk and soul.
The Silver Tongues, minus one, conversed with me outside The Bell Inn on a warm, yet dark, evening. Topics discussed included music, music and the destruction of pay phones. The band members are Jon Spicer (lead vocals/percussion), David Pearce (guitar / backing vocals), Ben Doughty (bass), Jon Briggs (keys) and Tazio Foster (drums).
How did you meet?
Dave: “I put an advert in Selectadisc and one of the two people to reply was Jon [Spicer]. We stumbled along for several years taking in several waifs and strays and built up a bit of a back catalogue as we went. Jon [Spicer] had known Jon [Briggs] for a while.”
Ben: “I met Jon (Briggs) while working with him at one of the many call centres in Nottingham.”
The Silver Tongues! How did you come up with that name?
Jon S: “Our sound is fluid and melodic enough to need a suitable name. I like THE band names. It’s my preferred way of doing things. The lyrics and the music we play is interested in the kind of themes a name like that may conjure up.”
Ben: “We cover broad issues on a human level.”
Jon S: “It’s biblical, it’s psycadelic.”
Ben: “But it’s not Christian rock.”
Dave: “He’s at the Edinburgh Festival doing some drumming for his girlfriend. She does performance pieces. But he’ll be back for the Malt Cross gig.”
Is music your ultimate drug?
Jon S: “There is something in music that can’t be found anywhere else. It gets the truth out of you.”
What is the bands sound?
Jon S: “We’re going for a classic sound. Its rock, but it’s not heavy. It’s not pop but it swings. Its psycadelic and soulful.”
Dave: “What people think we sound like depends on the size of their record collection.”
Jon S: “I’ll speak for Taz. He’s a Soul, funk jazz, Fusion man. He loves heavy rock. His favourite band is probably Queen. But he just loves funk. He’s got a great groove for a drummer. He’s a great dancer. But he can’t do both at same time. My influences are right across the board. I like bands with singers and keys. I’d say anything between ‘67 and ‘73. In that space you have Hendrix, The Doors and early Pink Floyd.”
Dave: “I think we all like Love and Neil Young.”
Who are your favourite other Notts bands?
Ben: “Freedom Sound, Computerman, The Henry Road. Ardency are good as well.”
Jon B: “You’ll probably slate me for this but I like The Tommy’s.”
Dave: “If you look past the obvious people with the right hair cuts you can delve a little bit deeper and see a lot more bands. But they get forgotten about though.”
Nottingham music scene! Suggestions for improvement?
Jon S: “I’m not sure when the live music scene in Nottingham really reached an apex, don’t think it has yet! It would be nice to be part of it. Venues don’t have faith in putting on local bands.”
Ben: “You aspire for great things, but there’s no platform on which to do that.”
Jon S: “Make no mistake people, bands in Nottingham don’t get paid! We are treated as if we’re lucky to get gigs. We’re trying to do something positive. We’ve got something to say and we sometimes get angry while we’re doing it. But we need to be heard! Frankly, if Nottingham’s not going to explode for the thing were doing we’re happy to do it somewhere else!”
What’s the most embarrassing record in your collection?
Dave: “Someone ripped the piss out of me the other day for owning ‘Oh, what a Circus’ by David Essex.”
Jon S: “People don’t seem to get ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’. It’s one of my top ten records.”
Ben: “I like ‘What will the neighbours say’ by Girls Aloud.”
What’s your favourite song you’ve written so far?
All: “We’re not going to agree on that are we?!”
Dave: “Our favourite song is usually the most recent one; we’re very fickle like that.”
Jon S: “At the moment it’s ‘Death on the Rocks’.”
Tell me a bit about it!
Jon S: “It’s a classic piece of semi conscience soul. It was originally about not having an audience, but then that was tied into the way that younger people are only into music in a fickle way these days.”
Dave: “There’s a guy over there trying to demolish the pay phone, by the way. Shall we give a description? He looks like a furry green monster.”
You played the Caribbean Carnival on the Goose Fair site on August 13. What was it like?
Ben: “We played a good set.”
Dave: “Apart from the bad mess up I made it was really nice day, apart from the torrential rain.”
Ben: “We got a good reception from a good crowd.”
Jon S: “We make it our priority to play our best whenever we play.”
Dave: “If at least one person is there that’s not heard us it’s been worthwhile.”
Fans of new bands such as Kasabian?
Ben: “Kasabian are getting better all the time.”
Jon S: “They appear to do all of their decision making, writing, producing; they seem to be in control.”
Ben: “Their spirit is great.”
Dave: “The cynic in me says they’re probably more produced more than they appear.”
Jon S: “A band like Kaiser Chiefs sound like the Super Furry’s to me. But these bands are on debut albums. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next.”
Ben: “We are going to appeal to music lovers, at the end of the day.”
If you were starting a super group who would you have in it?
Dave: “Arthur Lee (writer / vocals), Hendrix (rhythm guitar), Pete Townsend (Lead Guitar), Paul McCartney (bass). And Elvis on Wardrobe.”
On Dean Jackson:
Jon S: “Its about time we went to see Dean again at BBC Nottingham. We did a live radio session about a year ago. We’ve done another session recently but it’s not been on air yet.”
Ben: “Dave and Jon (Spicer) did a smashing acoustic version of our song ‘Where does summer Go?’”
Dave: “I’ve been to a lot of major cities in the UK and played them as well. And I do think Notts has a certain vibe, but not sure what it is.”
Dave: “Footprint Studios. There’s all sorts of artists there. That’s where we hone our sound.”
Are you looking forward to playing the Malt Cross?
Jon S: “Malt Cross is a heritage site for Nottingham. It’s bang in the heart of the city. We have a guy coming along called Barret Hodgson to bathe the venue in light and moving pictures while we play.”
Dave: “We’ll also be DJing all night as well so it’s gonna be great.”
Jon S: “We will have some stuff going on at the night, other than us, that will be very appealing.”
Ben: “We’re big fans of Malt Cross as a venue.”