Silence Of September

author PP date 07/05/10

Our first interview with Silence Of September took place in somewhat unusual circumstances. Instead of meeting up at a backstage area or a bar in town, the band had invited me over for a delicious dinner of home made lasagna at their home, also to show me briefly how their songs come together in the early stages when they're still just ideas. The apartment is spotlessly clean and full of studio equipment, reflecting the control-freak nature and studio-obsession driving the band's two masterminds, Nikola and Mirza. Kenneth has also joined us for the evening to contribute to the interview, and so we enjoy a couple of brews while we dig into the true nature of the band that nobody knows anything about: Silence of September. The interview is far too long to read (or type!) in one go, so it has been divided into two parts. These boys sure can talk, enjoy. First of all, thanks for the interview! If you can just start off and introduce yourselves on tape and what you do in the band?
Nikola: I'm Niko, I sing and I play rhythm guitar and keys, and I'm the main songwriter with Mirza.

Mirza: Yeah, my name is Mirza, I play guitar.

Kenneth: And I'm Kenneth, I just play the bass. Pretty simple. [all laugh] Since this is the first interview we have with you guys, we will go a little bit more in depth than normally. I've heard that you guys have a pretty interesting story of how the band came to be?
Nikola: Exactly. The thing is, four years ago, me and Mirza... to go all the way back before that, I was playing in Odense in a band, and he played with a band with some members of Trusted Few, but they had like two bands. We knew each other, but not personally, just from parties and stuff like that, we had never really talked. And I came back from Odense, my old band there actually quit. I moved back to Korsør, Slagelse, and I went up to the local music store to buy some strings for my guitar. I went up there, and on the way out--the store has two doors--I went out to one door, and just in the door, I met Mirza.

Mirza: I was walking in to buy something, you know?

Nikola: And it was like, "Heeey what's up, how are you doing" and stuff like that, I mean I could have easily just walked through the other door, or if I would've come there like five minutes earlier, nothing would've happened at all. But actually we came up there, and I was like "yeah, what are you doing, I don't have much to do", and he said "I have a rehearsing studio, drop by tonight and we can just jam or whatever". And I did that, and then we went there for like a couple of months, we just played around, we didn't play with anyone else, we just played with the studio. Then after a couple of months, Mirza's band quit. No no, you didn't quit then, you had like two other rehearsal spaces you had paid for, so the other guys from the band were like "we don't wanna be here anymore because it costs too much", but he had a lot of equipment that he didn't have room for in other places, and we were like sitting one night in December, 2005..

Mirza: I can clearly remember it [laughs]

Nikola: He was on the phone and he was like "fuck!"

Mirza: I just got the phone call, like oh we have two other rehearsal rooms, so we wanna move, and I was like "okay, fuck what am I gonna do". And I was sitting, and I just looked at Niko, and he was like: "Dude! Lets start a fucking studio!"

Nikola: And then we'd call each other like for a month and a half, "lets start a studio!"

Mirza: "Yeah okay, lets do that!" [laughs]

Nikola: Next week we went up to the music store and we made a plan for what equipment we wanted, and we actually ended up investing 250,000 Danish kroner in gear on a five years' lease, and actually we didn't look back since. The first year, we worked like 80 hours a week completely. The price for our studio was like 2,5-3,000 for a whole weekend.

Mirza: Without mixing! Just recording.

Nikola: The mixing was included in the price, but it was like recording Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and then five next days just mixing for two and a half thousand for two technicians, because we really wanted to make a name for ourselves, and just to get out there. Then after a couple of months, Mirza's band quit. And then we just said, "lets start our own", and we had some different members back and forward and stuff like that. But we first ended up getting really really serious about it when we moved to Copenhagen 2½ years ago.

Mirza: Yeah, because we didn't actually plan on making a band together. We had a plan of just having a studio together and have our own separate bands and stuff like that. We didn't actually have any time to work with any bands in one period because there were a lot of bands coming to us, and we had them on a regular schedule. Every week they came two days a week or something like that.

Nikola: Yeah, we made like a contract with them for an EP. They rented our studio for a month for like two times a week. And then they came every Tuesday and Thursday, and we worked with them from six to eight, twice a week. So that was the way we used to work with bands back then, for a couple of months at a time.

Mirza: And after two years..

Nikola: The thing that really makes it special is that it's a really really small coincidence. If I had left two minutes before from the store, or if he had come in two minutes later, this wouldn't have happened at all. We just met at the door on the way out.

Mirza: The thing is, we didn't actually know each other that well. I could remember him from Roskilde Festival, that's my last memory. I had just met him, and he told me "we watched koRn together!" and I was like "did we?" [laughs].

Nikola: We just knew each other by face, nothing special at all, and six months later we had invested 250 thousand in a studio. I don't know what it was, I think we just trusted each other, we also have the same background where we're from, and a lot of things just clicked. The most important thing is that we wanted the same stuff. We didn't want to fool around, I wanna live off of this, and I'm not gonna quit until I get there. And he felt the same way, so that's what makes it special. For four years, we really.....FUCK we worked a lot of hours, I mean we both ad full time jobs, we played covers Friday and Saturday. Covers, we played like...I think we played around 300 shows, cafe jobs, for the last 4 years. Like every fucking Friday and Saturday, everywhere. Three hours every time, and that's how we financed the studio. With the pay we got from the bands that came in to record, it wasn't nearly enough, we couldn't afford anything with it. We started, and we never looked back. Just kept on working and working and working.

Mirza: We had the ideal of if we wanted something, we went for it, even if we ran into a wall twenty times, maybe the 21st time we went through. It's the same thing we do today. Everything we said, we're just going for it.

Nikola: The thing is, when we started the studio, when we invested the money into equipment, I mean I didn't fucking know what an equalizer is. We didn't have any experience at all. I've been working on my computer at home, I mean panning like left and right, I had no idea. I remember one episode, we were recording an acoustic song, it was like "fuck it sounds so fucking boring, the chorus, nothing's happening". Then we were like "I heard somewhere, lets try record the guitar twice, the same". And then like, put one on each side. It was like, that sounds weird, but lets try it. I recorded it twice, and we put one of them all the way to the right and one all the way to the left, and it was like "fuck....that sounds cool man!". Literally, we had no idea what we were doing, we just ran in head first and learned it really by doing it, and nothing else at all. We still have some old recordings from back then, it sounds like shit. Really, really bad. You learn.. How did you decide on the name of the band, Silence Of September?
Mirza: Niko and I were...when we decided to put everything we had on our...we decided that we wanted to make our own cd now, band and whatever. We just went for it. We took a vacation together to Croatia

Nikola: My parents live down there so we went to visit them for New Years.

Mirza: We sat there and just planned everything, what's gonna happen, and everything. The name of the band...

Nikola: Actually we made the band on paper before we started writing the songs. It was like, "this is gonna be the name, this is how we're gonna work, bla bla bla", a company plan, actually, in a way. And we told ourselves that before we go home from this vacation we have to agree on all these things. And the name was in place.

Mirza: And the name came up because we started....actually we went to the studio and had everything open. And we didn't have any plan when we moved to Copenhagen in September. We went, and we wanted to make our own music, and we didn't have anything. We went to the vacation...

Nikola: We moved into the studio in Copenhagen in September, and we went on vacation in September. So for like three months, we just had a studio and we just fooled around, we were just getting to know the place.

Mirza: It was like, we started in September, and we went quiet in September.

Nikola: Silence Of September. The name is like a part of when we started, which month we started in, and it went really quiet because we weren't doing anything, we were just thinking, so it was like Silence Of September, and another thing is like, if you think about September 11th, New York and everything, we actually...our generation represents the way of living today post September 11th, because people are a lot more afraid, they're a lot more cautious with airplanes and suitcases and people with beard and turbans and everything. Before that, nobody gave a shit, it was like "fuck it". After that happened, we lived through it, all of our generation, we experienced it on TV, and it was like... in a way, World War II of our generation, because the world flipped from day to day. So our band is like a representative of our generation that has experienced September 11th and how the world has changed after it, because we feel it's a lot different. You guys printed 4,000 copies of the demo "Plastic Pearl". That's a lot of copies to print for a demo EP?
Both: It is [laughs] again, head first!

Nikola: We wanted to get our name out there and we wanted to have a lot of CDs, and I mean, now it's not even a year, and we have only a couple of hundred left. There's about maybe 3700 people out there who have our demo. And we give it away for free, and behind the backside of the CD, it says "please feel free to copy and share this as much as you want" because it was like a business card for us. Instead of taking pay for it, we just considered it as an investment.

Mirza: The reason why we printed 4,000 is....

Nikola: We just didn't see any point in printing a thousand, and then a thousand more, and then maybe five hundred more. We figured just fuck it, print 4,000 and just get it out there, also as a motivation for ourselves. Because if you have 2,000 CDs lying around at home, you wanna get rid of them. It gives you a bad conscience if you don't. So it's like self-motivation. And the way we did it was to go out to concerts with famous bands that we sound a bit like, and then just after the show we just got out in front of the door with like 2 or 3 or 5 boxes, we're like "here, here, here, here". And that way we really gave away maybe a couple of thousand of those CDs. Instead of throwing them out there, you might as well give it to people that might like the music you play. It has been less than a year ago since that EP actually came out. Now you guys are on Warner Brothers. So I think that there are a lot of people in Denmark asking what happened in the second half of last year?
[both laugh]Mirza: Yeah don't ask us! I don't know...we worked hard!

Nikola: The thing that happened was... as I said before to you, we didn't know if we wanted to make two EPs or an album or whatever. But then finally we decided on lets make an album and we're gonna release it ourselves if nobody else comes along, because that was the plan. We financed it ourselves, we didn't get 200k from Warner to record the CD, we paid for everything ourselves. The mixing, the mastering, everything. The thing that happened was like, the place, STC Studios where we mixed, we were coming to an end of the CD, there were just a couple of songs left. And I asked the guy that had the studio "do you know anybody we could send this to? Whatever, just give us an email or a phone number? Doesn't have to be a label, like a booking, management or whatever, just the next step" and he was lke "yeah actually I figured you'd ask, so I actually already checked it out", so I was like "oh, pretty cool, who did you talk to?", I was like maybe like an indie label or whatever. And he was like "Yeah, I talked to Warner Bros", and I was like "Who?? What the fuck are you talking about? Like WARNER Warner Brothers?" and he was like "yeah sure, I've known them for a lot of years, and actually I have some contacts there if you want to talk to them". So I was like yeah, sure, of course, why not. And the thing is, they listened to it, and they liked it, and they liked it so much that they didn't change anything. We have 100% artistic freedom, we didn't have to change half of the CD, they just took it as it was and released it.

Mirza: We were like "what happened" also, because...were we lucky in a way?

Nikola: Of course we were lucky, we were in the right place in the right time.

Mirza: But nothing like...we made everything ourselves. We produced it...we didn't mix, but it was really good, because the guy who sent us to Warner Bros, he had to like it too to do something more with it. Before he said yes to mix our record, he hadn't heard it, so when it heard it, he probably liked it, because everything we did, before we sent everything to mixing we made a book for the CDs, like the first songs have these these these tracks, you have everything here, next song is like this... we were really using a lot of time to make it look cool and professional so they had everything in order and everything was checked.

Nikola: We didn't wanna risk them calling us back and going like "yeah listen we're missing these tracks and this doesn't sound like it should", we spent a lot of time just making sure.

Mirza: I was in the studio for a week just exporting tracks for them. I was sitting 10 hours clicking the mouse, next track...50 tracks.. it was showed them probably also that we were serious about it, we knew what we wanted, but we didn't know how to get it.

Nikola: So of course we were lucky in a way, but we worked hard for it. A lot of people just thought "where the fuck did they come from" or "is it somebody's brother or cousin or mom or uncle that works there and did them a favor" or whatever, but we just worked really hard for 4 years and the CD took 2½ years to make! So there's nothing favour-ish or weird about it, I mean we just really worked for it and just got lucky of being in the right place at the right time. So are you then actually on Warner Brothers, do you actually have a contract with them, or is it just that they released that one album?
Nikola: They're releasing our album as a distribution, but the thing is that we have a deal with them that if we get an idea for something, we can just ask them any time, and we can change our contract any time. It suited us pretty good just to make it a distribution deal for this album because we didn't wanna give away an unnecessary percentage to somebody that hadn't anything to do with it.

Mirza: We didn't know them. It's a big company, we didn't know what was going on, so it was quite good for us to take it slow in the beginning. Because it went from a month to month, and we didn't even play a show before we got a contract. It was like: "Okay, this goes really fast, lets just take it slow and see whats happening".

Nikola: We just made a deal with them on this album, a distribution deal, for this album only, and then as I said, we always have the opportunity of discussing contract change or whatever we want more from it, if they're interested. The thing is there aren't many labels today that go full frontal into one band. If it was like 25 years ago, our label would find a band and throw 800k after them for a CD for promotion, or for this and that, like the whole package. But almost nobody does that today because it's too risky. Nobody dares to invest so much money. So we just took it a step at a time, and we're still doing that.

Mirza: Working it up, making new deals.. So there's no pressure from the label like "you have to sell X amount of albums"?

Mirza: No, I think we have the best position ever. So you don't actually even owe anything to Warner?

Mirza: No, nothing!

Nikola: And we have all the rights, copyrights, everything, it's ours.

Mirza: I think it's the best position, and the best start you can ever imagine for a band who even didn't exist for two years ago. Cause we have every opportunity, we can do whatever we want. And we have Warner on our back.

Nikola: The thing that's good be completely honest, there's no reason for them of putting pressure on us if they didn't invest anything in it, except for distribution and radio promotion, of course. It's not fair for them to get in and say "hey we want 80% of the copyright and you have to release 5 CDs in 7 years" and bla bla bla, they didn't do anything for it. We payed everything ourselves, they didn't have an influence on it. They heard the CD, and they liked it, and they were like: "we can release it if you guys want, and lets just take it from there". About the debut album "Sleep Of Reason", can you tell me how it was written?
Mirza: The way we recorded it, as we mentioned it before, Nikola and I are the songwriters on the CD. In the beginning it was only the two of us, and we actually wondered how we're gonna do it and what we're gonna do. We had worked a lot on the computer programming for other bands before in the studio, because neither one of us can play drums, so we actually just started by making a demo by programming everything on a computer and see how it's gonna work, and we just started working like that. We bought some drum programs and stuff like that, and actually just took it layer by layer, every song we made.

Nikola: It's a real studio album. It's not a band rehearsing for two years in the rehearsal room. It has been built from the bottom, one instrument at a time, really cut out, a bit like if you're programming electronica or hip hop or stuff like that.

Mirza: It was like playing with Legos sometimes. It was like "oh I don't like this, lets cut it and maybe move it a little bit further, oh it sounds good here". It has some good sides and it has some bad sides, cause sometimes we miss standing in a room and rehearsing, but on the other hand, it was like: we wanted the details to have the opportunity to listen to every single part we do.

Nikola: We're control freaks. We wanted to keep the opportunity of having full control all the way through, like really be able to listen to the song when you wanted to listen instead of having to hook everything up and trying to play it. So that's how it worked for us and I think, as you said, sometimes you can miss standing four guys in a room, sweaty, and just working really hard and jamming your way through songs. But it just doesn't work for us. It takes too long, I think we're too impatient to do it like that. So what I'm taking from all this is that you could actually really call Silence Of September a true DIY band--Do It Yourself--in the oldschool way, which is kind of ironic considering you are on Warner, so that's not actually what you would expect, would you?
Nikola: Definitely. The plan was, like I said before, to release it ourselves. But I mean like, if you get a good opportunity from somebody like Warner... it'd be stupid to say no. We're not communist or something like really "fuck the mainstream" or whatever, we don't give a shit about it. If it works for us, we don't actually care who it is. If it's Warner, if it's a small indie label, if it's Sony, Universal, whatever. If we feel that they can do something for us that we can't do ourselves, of course we're gonna agree to it. There's no point in shutting somebody out just because they have a familiar name if they can do it in the way that we prefer it, it's good. Have you got any idea how many copies the album has sold? roughly? any?
Mirza: No...maybe five or six...or seven cause my mom bought it yesterday! [all laugh]

Nikola: No I mean we have CDs we sell live at concerts, but CDs that are sold on iTunes and in the stores around, it's being counted up every six months.

Mirza: I think we're gonna know it at the end of the year.

Nikola: In the summer I think. Every six months. June, July maybe we're gonna get a hint of how many sold.

Mirza: Of course, we are new, and nobody knows us. I'm gonna feel good if it sells a couple of hundred CDs.

Nikola: That's it. Because nobody knows us, that's the most important thing for us to remember, that nobody knows us. It doesn't matter if it says Warner on the disc or whatever, nobody knows us. And you can't expect to go out and sell 20,000 CDs if nobody knows who you are. We are exactly in the same position as a band who has been rehearsing for two months and just started playing live shows. The only difference is that we made the CD already. . The title, "Sleep Of Reason", why did you choose that as a title, and is it a metaphor of some sort?
Nikola: It's a metaphor, it's the reason why we have been 'asleep' for two years, I mean we just disappeared from the face of earth for two years, we just locked ourselves into a studio, and this is like the reason why. This is like the result. So it was definitely a sleep of reason.

Mirza: Cause we actually shut out everything we had. We didn't see any friends actually, we weren't social at any part. We were together and that's it. And maybe that's why also the shock came to the people when we released the CD because nobody has heard anything from us. We didn't release anything. We had a demo on Myspace and it had like maybe one or two plays a day, we didn't do anything, we just put it out so we can hear it at home.

Nikola: We weren't ready to play live anyway, so it didn't matter. We just put it out there just to give a sign that we're alive still, and then we just started concentrating on finishing up the CD.

Mirza: It was a really good decision, I think, because we were.... I think that if we went out and played, we would get some other input that maybe would have influenced the result. And we are really control freaks when it comes to our music, everything has to work in details. It was a good thing because we could just focus on what we wanted, and we wanted to drop a bomb when we were done. It went really good, I think.

Kenneth: I also remember one of the things that I....

Mirza & Nikola: [laughing] where did he come from? Oh my god he talks! He's alive!! After 20 minutes, hi my name is Kenneth, I play the bass! [really making fun of Kenneth]

Kenneth: There's a reason for it, I didn't know anything! In the start, when I met up with these guys and became a part of the band, the other band I played in before, we played concerts and got fucking wasted, you know, the old fashioned way and then met the day after and couldn't do shit[impersonates a hang over person]. Then when I joined here, we met up Friday, and then practiced the whole weekend without drinking anything, and I was like...I'm five years younger than the other guys, so I'm supposed to be out in the city and getting drunk and all that, so it was a big turnover for me to go from every weekend with the guys and the band, play some guitar and then just get wasted, and then come in "you can be in our band but we don't drink".

Nikola: It was like that actually when you think about it, it's really weird, because we don't drink. I mean, of course we can take a beer or it happens that we go to a cafe or a bar or something where we don't have anything else to do, but we're not that kind of band that goes to rehearsal with a case of beer and a bottle of whiskey and just... when we play live, we don't drink at all, because we play on click, and there's a lot of technical stuff that we don't wanna fuck up because we got a little too much to drink. So we always agree, if you wanna drink, it's after the show. Of course you can take a beer before the show and whatever, but we agreed on not being drunk while we play live, because there's just too much at stake.

Mirza: We're like, as we talked earlier, not a real rock band, because we don't drink!

Kenneth: The thing about when I started was that they told me "you can't drink and you have to spend the next half a year every fucking weekend with three guys you don't know", and I was just like "what the fuck, I'm gonna buy a bass then".

Mirza: When we talked to Kim (the drummer), it was like... Kenneth and Kim had to really agree to do this, because we had done it for two years before, and it was like "we have these routines and it works like that", and I don't know why he said yes, because he's lost all friends!

Kenneth: I think the reason why--I can't talk for Kim--but the reason why I agreed was because it sounded serious and it sounded like if I wanted to be something in this business or at least try something out, then this is the opportunity to do it, so fuck everything else.

Nikola: We were like if you wanna play here, you have to cut all contact to your family and friends, you have to stop drinking, you have to smoke up less because we don't have time to have smoke breaks... he smoked like 40 cigarettes a day when he started in the band. When all of us smoke, when the rest of us took a cigarette, he smoked like three. It was like, "fuck dude, we don't want you dying of cancer after our second album, so smoke a little less"

Kenneth: In the beginning we all had to sing live, when we were done singing about two songs, I was getting fucking woozy because I didn't drink enough water. The only thing I drank was coffee and smoked cigarettes.

Mirza: The thing is about everything we talk about here is like...we really made a good discipline about it, and that's the key to everything we do. Everything we do, we really think it through. What can we get out of it, what can we do to make something new, and how we do it. It goes to time schedule, everything. As I said, we went to a vacation too, and we made a plan for the band, before anything: we have a name, this is how we're gonna work on the songs, at least try to see what's gonna happen because we didn't have anything else, and we're gonna release our record like this and this, and we really schedule everything and do discipline...

Nikola: It's really weird because none of us were in the military or anything. It's just that when you spend so many hours and so much time on something that you really really want, you can get really serious about it, and in some other people's eyes, it's maybe a bit too serious also, but the thing is, as long as it works for us, we're gonna keep doing it. Because it's the way it works for us. I'm not saying it's the right way to do it, because another band could try to do the same and it wouldn't work at all for them, but for us, it works this way when we're really disciplined and we work with it as a company, actually. We have a product that we wanna sell, and how are we gonna approach it, and how are we gonna do it to get the most of it?

Mirza: And that gives us really an objective look at it. It's not like "oh we just wanna play gigs" and you know, like "OH YEAH, man, ROCK ON!" and everything. Of course we want that, but we try to look at ourselves as professionals. We have this CD, and what are we gonna do? How are we gonna sell it? What can we do to get it sold? What can we do to get it out? And really look at it in every aspect.

Nikola: It's not a secret that if you wanna live off playing music, you have to make music that can sell. You can't expect a living off music if you play music that's unlistenable for the mainstream audience. And that's why we actually made the songs as we did, with verse chorus verse chorus, everything really structured. It was with the intention of it being easy to listen to for everybody. And of course, we have a lot of people who don't like it because it's not their cup of tea, but that's fair enough, you can't argue with taste. But you can't say that this is not a well made CD, because it's worked through so much, that every aspect of it is really thought through.

Kenneth: And at some point you can't keep on thinking about what people might say and what people might think, at some point you just gotta say: fuck it, we like it this way.

Mirza: The thing we were worried about... the thing is, you mentioned mainstream and stuff like that. It can sound like we planned it and we just did it and where's the heart on the CD, and is it just like, you made it and it's not true to the music and stuff like that. But we didn't actually think about it when we made it. We made it the way we wanted to.

Nikola: If it's made with structure and discipline or if it's made with pure emotion, that's just two different ways of doing it.

At this point the guys all decide to take a cigarette break, after all it has been 35 minutes and we're just half way to the interview. It's a natural pause in the questions as well, so I'll leave you with the first half of the interview for now, and return with the second part next week once you've had time to read through it all.

Silence Of September @ Myspace

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