We’re in a transition phase here at Frederick Playlist, so forgive us for neglecting some of our regular posts. Despite the up-in-the-air-ness of everything, though, we still want to try and support as many things as we can, and this Friday, a pretty great show is going down at a pretty great place: The Blue Side is hosting a Halloween Extravaganza and it’s going to feature Heavy Lights, Silent Old Mtns., Big Hoax and Cheshi. The cost will be $5 ($3, if you wear a costume), and there will be tons of awesomeness going down. Something called Glow In The Darts. Contests. Horror films. The list goes on and on and on. We recently caught up with Silent Old Mtns. drummer Pat Acuna (who both initially had the idea for the event and then the commitment and wherewithal to see it through) to talk about the show, why the band decided to make a comeback after breaking up for a couple years, and which local band he hopes to have beef with going forward. The fun starts at 8 p.m. Friday. You won’t want to miss it. Honestly. You won’t.
So, let’s start with the disappearance of Silent Old Mtns., and the band’s recent comeback of sorts. Why did you guys take a break and then what brought you back together?
This is by far the most frequent question I’ve been asked over the last couple years, and to be completely honest, it was more of a break-up than taking a break. A month or so after our last show in 2013, we announced a hiatus, which I guess sounds a little more civil than a break-up. As far as any of us knew, the band was done for good. It definitely felt that way, and we didn’t have any discussions about readdressing things in the future. It was just done. I think we were all sort of burnt out on it at that point. We had been gigging constantly for three years (about 100 gigs a year), and despite it really being one of the most enriching experiences of our lives, it was time for all of us to focus on other areas of life. So for two years, we all sort of went our separate ways.
Then earlier this year, around springtime, people started asking me about a Mtns. reunion they were hearing about. I had no idea what they were talking about, but time after time, people were asking me when this reunion was going to happen. There were rumors spreading – I don’t know where they came from – but they definitely got to me before anyone within the band proposed anything. So after a few months of hearing people talk about it, we decided to get together in the same room and just see how it felt. We started playing music and hanging out on a weekly basis, and then Frederick Playlist contacted us about playing the 7/11 gig with Seaknuckle. Brian Weakly from Heavy Lights was awesome enough to fill in on bass, and before we knew it, we were promoting a full-on reunion. It all just sort of happened, but from my prospective, it definitely feels like our friends and fans sort of willed it into fruition.
That first show itself was one of the coolest nights of my life. There was definitely a huge moment during a climactic point in our first song (“Ash and Bone”) when Andrew turned around, looked at me, and just started jumping around like an idiot. That was the moment everything clicked for me and I was like, “Oh right. This is what’s been missing from my life,” After that, I just dove into the set and came out the other side feeling like I had never stepped away from it. I couldn’t be happier with how it all played out.
Along those same lines, how does the future look for the band? Do you plan on recording more music? Playing around town more? Keep on keepin’ on?
This is definitely something that’s been growing and developing. The Halloween Extravaganza will be our third show back, and we just recently had the great privilege of being included on the Frederick Playlist/Flying Dog Frederick compilation album. That whole collective effort still blows me away. Working with Derek on “Trenches” was almost like a therapy session for us. I think spending a 12 hour day creating something from nothing in the studio went a long way for us to feel like a band again.
As of now, we’re being very reserved with booking gigs. We don’t want to over do it yet, but we are practicing every week, and we’re working on new material. That’s more of our focus right now – we want to make sure that we’re healthy as a band and the music’s healthy. We don’t have any tangible news for a new record, but I don’t think anyone spends time writing and developing music without the desire to eventually record it. We’re definitely going into 2016 looking for new opportunities. I think it’s probably safe to say that there’s more cool stuff on the horizon. From the inside, it definitely feels like we’re back.
You’re the band’s drummer – when did you start playing drums and why? Who were some of your major influences?
This is a humbling question, because anyone who’s been playing any instrument as long as I have should be a waaay better musician than I am today. I’m a fourth-generation drummer, and my actual earliest memory is being propped up behind my Uncle Ray’s kit sometime in the mid-to-late ’80s. My grandfather started teaching me to play when I was old enough to pay attention, and my life has been about music ever since. My parents were extremely supportive from day one, and definitely encouraged a love of live music early on. I had been to Merryweather, Wolf Trap, and Nissan Pavilion all before I was 10 years old. As far as style goes – John Bonham, Will Noon, and Matt Cameron have always been big influences. Definitely Del Paxton’s “Time to Blow” was a huge record for me.
Who are some of your favorite local bands and why?
My favorite band to watch live locally these days is probably Heavy Lights, but it’s definitely sad to see Old Indian going on hiatus. I haven’t had the chance to see Cheshi or Big Hoax live yet, but after hearing their music I’m really excited to play with them on the 30th. Honestly, there are so many fantastic bands in this area, it’s hard to answer this question. Any band that’s invested in the local scene and putting out music they believe in is A-OK by me. There are many many more than I was aware of before this compilation came out. The volume and quality of music happening here right now blows my mind. I can’t wait to see how the scene continues to develop.
I also think it’d be fun to have beef with Seaknuckle. So I’d like to go on record saying that they’re all super ugly and they smell terrible.
What would a dream tour for you, personally, look like?
Honestly a dream tour for me would focus more on logistics than any kind of dream line-up. Making enough money every night to eat properly, not driving nine hours to play to an empty house, reliable transportation, a safe place to sleep in Philadelphia, a way to pay rent after taking a week and a half off work. Tour is fun, but it’s not vacation. That being said, I’m pretty sure the guys in Pearl Jam don’t have to worry about any of those things, so I’ll go with them. My dream tour would be opening for Pearl Jam.
Now about the Halloween show. You guys had the idea for something like this a little while ago. What about Halloween made you want to organize an event like this? What about The Blue Side made you want to do it there? How did you decide on who you wanted to play?
Halloween has always been my personal favorite holiday, and as a band, we’ve always had fun with it as much as possible. A few years ago, we all dressed up as Team Zissou and played David Bowie covers at the now defunct Church Street Pub. This year, we thought it would be cool to try and pull off an all encompassing Frederick Halloween party. Not just a show on Halloween, but a whole event that everyone gets in on. The Blue Side makes perfect sense as the venue, because it’s not only one of the biggest and coolest rooms in town, but the guys in charge clearly have the passion and the vision to help something like this come to life. It’s really cool what they have done with the Old Bentz Street Raw Bar space, and we’re super excited to be a part of them getting into the local music scene. As far as the line up, these are the bands that we thought would be the best fit for the night. Fortunately, they were awesome enough to come play with us. All four bands were featured on the Flying Dog compilation, and all are actively hustling their music out to the world. It’s always more fun to play with bands that are fighting for attention. It also definitely helps that the members of the bands are all either monsters, zombies, or ghosts. It’s really going to take the night to a whole other level.
There are typically a ton of Halloween-themed events going on around town, especially considering how this year, the holiday is on a Saturday. What’s going to set your event apart from the others around town? What kind of special things do you have in store?
Well first off, it’s wasn’t an accident that the party is taking place the night the before Halloween – on Friday the 30th. Halloween is a night that people like to throw parties, and we didn’t want to have to compete or try to convince people to change their plans. Setting us apart first and foremost, though, are the music and the bar. If you haven’t been to the Blue Side yet, you really need to check it out (preferably on the 30th). It quickly became one of my favorite spots in town before we even had the idea of doing a Halloween event. I’ve already bragged enough about the lineup, but that’s obviously the main draw. I’m as excited as anyone to see the other bands. We’re also going to have a lot of cool stuff going on for the holiday. Admission is only $3 if you dress up, we’re doing costume contests, glow in the darts in the Blue Side’s massive dart room, classic horror movies playing on all the bar’s TV screens during the party, Halloween drink specials, a surprise MC, candy galore, and the bar will be transformed into a terrifying haunted tavern for the night. We like to call it The Boo Side. Most importantly, the incredible people of Downtown Frederick and the energy they bring will make this an awesome night. Just like 7/11, just like the Fall Fest, what it comes down to are the people who come support the music and creativity. It’s all about everyone having a great time. Be there or be square.
Where are some of your favorite places to play, not only in Frederick, but around the country?
Unfortunately, my two favorite places to play, Fletchers in Fells Point and the Recher Theater in Towson, closed a few years ago. Now, locally, I love playing Rock and Roll Hotel in DC. The staff is always (mostly) professional, the place is always packed, there’s a shower behind the stage, and they have great food. Nationwide, my favorite venue is a small place in Columbus, Ohio, called Double Happiness. It’s themed after the big ornate Chinese theaters from the 1920s, and it shares a kitchen with a Chinese restaurant – best yakitori I’ve ever had. Honestly though, I’ll take 100 people at Cafe Nola over 100 people at 9:30 club 100 percent of the time. The room is always second to the energy of the crowd. Also, Nola has better food – a lot of it is about food.
In five words or less, what can we expect from the Halloween extravaganza at The Blue Side?
Spooky energy, scary screamin’ tunes.