Song of the Day: silOHs – A Zealot Sun

photo by Brittney Bush Bollay

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “A Zealot Sun” by silOHs from their self-released album Shed Your Summer Shell

silOHs – A Zealot Sun (MP3)

The last time we checked in with Seattle folkadelic band silOHs, they had just launched their debut self-titled album and had caught the ears of KEXP DJs with their blend of shoegaze-tinged Americana. Today, they are on the verge of releasing their second full-length (out digitally next month), which picks up nicely where they left off. Today’s featured song, “A Zealot Sun,” is just as spine-tingly as The Maldives, as ethereal as the Fleet Foxes, and sounds like it was produced by Phil Spector.

silOHs is the brainchild of Jake Witt (ex member of Romance) who recently shared how he still draws inspirations from his Midwestern roots and what his hopes are for the coming year.

Do you have any New Year’s resolutions that you’d like to share?

As a band we still haven’t played at The Moore or Paramount, which would be AMAZING! We’re also hoping to play a festival like Sasquatch or Bumbershoot this year. We may need to incorporate more pyrotechnics or wild animals on stage to land one of those...

Personally, I hope to do a little songwriting every day. Really try to develop and keep a journal/record of all the lyrics and song/project ideas that run through my head before they’re lost to the cosmos...

Where did the name silOHs come from?

I knew I wanted a name for this project that referenced imagery and memories from where I grew up, rural Ohio. But, I also wanted a name that was unique and could be interpreted to have its own meaning. After I finished writing the song ‘Silos’ I decided I liked that theme and came up with silOHs.

Your Midwestern roots were a big influence on the last album, what was on your mind when putting together the songs for Shed Your Summer Shell?

On both albums I’ve tried to write from a place that I know; the rustbelt and the Midwest. Some songs were written from a romantic, nostalgic perspective and some from a darker, more bittersweet perspective. Lyrically I like to incorporate folklore or even create a new story or mythology for a place and time. Renewal was a big theme for me on this record; Family, community, self-renewal. Questioning institutions we believe in and those that we’ve lost faith in. I also wrote about breaking with tradition and rebuilding to find identity/redemption. I think this album ended up having more of a cyclical progression. Maybe that’s why I felt that cicadas were such a strong metaphor for what I was thinking about at the time.

Your first album started out a solo project that developed into a band. Now that you have a fixed band together, did your songwriting process change?

On the first record I decided that whatever I wrote, I wanted to be able to play the songs live by myself with just a guitar. Now, after playing with 3 new musicians I felt freer to write more complex song structures and go for a bigger/lusher sound that would work live. For Shed Your Summer Shell, I had a number of song parts and unfinished pieces that I wanted to incorporate into the record. I went into the studio first to finish the arrangements and record the rhythm guitar parts. I’d then listen back to the tracks and write and record the drum parts over the guitar. After those were recorded Nate, Mike and Derrick came in separately to write and record their individual parts often on the fly. The exceptions to this process were the first and seventh tracks on the record. “Ignorant Arms” we all wrote together and “Shed Your Summer Shell” was based off of a guitar part that Nate wrote. I think that by experimenting in the studio and just being very impulsive with the parts that we wrote, there was a real immediacy and energy to the final album.

What can you tell me about “A Zealot Sun?”

This song is about a lot of communities that are on the brink right now, struggling to get by and searching for humanity under difficult circumstances. It’s also about overcoming a turbulent history and finding a way to persevere. I started writing this song around the time of the oil spill in the gulf, and in retrospect I think some of the frustration I was feeling about holding people accountable snuck into what I was writing.

What’s next for silOHs?

We’ve just started playing with a new drummer and getting ourselves ready to incorporate songs off of the new album into our live set. We’re also starting to plan a short west coast tour this spring.

Keep your eyes peeled for those tour dates on their Myspace page. In the meantime, here they are playing “Western Haunts” live at the KEXP studios earlier this year:

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