Five For Silver: Real Gone meets Daniel Tashian

The Silver Seas released their third album, ‘Chateau Revenge!’ in 2010. It quickly became one of Real Gone’s favourite albums of that year…and indeed since. …And to think we’d discovered the album almost by accident, off the back of another release which was actually one of the worst things we’d been sent for review that year! The band’s retro pop talents did not go unnoticed by others either, since they were also championed by a couple of legendary figures from the world of UK radio. From then on, we kept a close eye on things happening in the Silver Seas camp and plans were made at the end of 2014 to catch up properly with their frontman Daniel Tashian. Busy schedules meant that the proposed interview did not happen straight away and, in fact, it would be almost a year until we could actually sit down and have Daniel spill the beans with regard to any future plans…but in December 2015, he joined Real Gone for a look back and a look forward to all things musical.


RG: Hey Daniel…Thanks for taking time out to talk with us!
DT: “My pleasure.”

RG: We’ve not really heard much from The Silver Seas in 2015. What’s going on behind the scenes?
DT: “I’ve been working on various songs. Some are for bands, some have been in various commercials or used for TV. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the show “Nashville”, but I’ve been doing some things for that. As far as your question about The Silver Seas, we’ve been in the studio here in Nashville at Sound Emporium…you should look it up. It’s where lots of classic records have been made, including our own ‘High Society’. We’ve already tracked twelve songs: eleven for our fifth album and a cover for a Bee Gees tribute project soon to be released. It helps that the studio is about three blocks from my house… It’s never a dull moment around here; we have three little girls now, and my wife Lillian is a full time painter. I’ve been working my musical job around family commitments, y’know?”

RG: We can imagine. Tell us more about the new material…
I played some the songs for Kate York – a friend and songwriter I very much respect – and she said ‘Wow! They are like these little short songs!‘ Until then, I didn’t realize that they were short but apparently they are! There are several things I really love about the new stuff, but most of all, the songs are very warm and personal. Some of the current titles are ‘Heartbreak FM’ and a song called ‘Caitlin’…there’s also something called ‘Melody Walks Beside Me’ which isabout my relationship with my friends and family and music. We’re not really known for our instrumentals, but there’s one I’ve been working on called ‘Colors’, about a condition I have called Synesthesia, which I thought was rare but I’ve met several other people with it…so maybe it’s not very rare…but, yeah, anyway, I’ve covered that on this album too. Originally, the album was gonna be called ‘Emoji’, but now we’ve got ‘X’ as a working title. I have a hard time second guessing what people will like, but I think our fans will love the new stuff… There are some great hooks, but I would say the sound is closer to ‘Starry Gazey Pie’ or ‘High Society’ than ‘Chateau Revenge!’, as there are no electric guitars.”

RG: …And that track for The Bee Gees tribute. What have you chosen?
DT: “We’re doing ‘I Started a Joke’.”

RG: The Gibb brothers wrote lots of great songs. How did you decide on that one?
DT: “The project is being put together by our friend Todd Bisson. He reached out to us and asked if we’d like to participate. Jason [Lehning, Silver Seas multi-instrumentalist] just asked if ‘I Started a Joke’ was available. It was that simple. …I also did a version of ‘Night Fever’ that began as an acoustic recording, but then i kept putting things on it…and there’s a rumor there will be a Tahiti 80 remix of that which I’m super excited about. I would love to do more covers actually; I would love to do a whole Silver Seas covers album, it just always seems that other projects prevent me from doing that.”

RG: Your bandmate Jason has also been busy on other projects. How are those shaping up?
DT: “Jason is a very good producer and songwriter in his own right and always has a handful of interesting things on the table. I know he was recently working with a country singer called Kelliegh Bannen. We’ve also collaborated on a song called ‘Never Gonna See Me Cry’ with a band he produced called Good Old War, so we work together occasionally on things other than The Silver Seas, which is nice.”

RG: You mentioned soundtrack work… You’ve got a song on the soundtrack for the Paul Rudd film ‘Our Idiot Brother’ which is a duet with Mindy Smith.
DT: “Mindy is a joy to sing with. She’s such a great singer and she makes you sing better…and even though you can’t, she makes you want to try and rise to her level.”

RG: With that competitive edge in mind, would you like to do more duets?
DT: “I don’t really have a dream scenario in mind when it comes to duets, but I’d like to do something with Robyn Hitchcock.”

RG: …And the soundtrack work…Is that something you’ll be doing more of?
DT: “Scoring would be like the ultimate. I’ve heard it has its drawbacks like anything else, though. You could end up somewhere where the producer likes what you’ve done but the director hates it, y’know…and it’s all back to the drawing board.”

RG: It seems only fair to look at your past as well as present. The first Silver Seas album ‘Starry Gazey Pie’ has been largely overlooked. That hasn’t helped by it’s lack of availability on CD or vinyl at present.
DT: “It’s very attractive to have things exist only in the digital realm because the expense is low, but I agree, it’s not very romantic. We printed up our early albums on CD, but they just hung around in our garage for ages. The demand for physical stuff is so low. ‘Starry Gazey’ has never been on vinyl; I’ve never even heard it that way…that would be cool! Actual things are nice, I think. I know there will always be a niche market for physical copies and maybe that appeals to our current demographic. Maybe the balance of power will shift back to physical formats. Who knows…maybe people will want cassettes!”

RG: There are a few cassette-based independent labels out there now. Things tend to come full circle.
DT: “I’m all about that! I thought cassettes were super cool! I think it’s more likely that an app that mimics the behaviour of cassettes will happen…but if cassettes make a proper comeback, I won’t fight that.”

RG: There was a bit of a buzz around your third record ‘Chateau Revenge!’ Did you feel you were on to something special when you were writing and recording it?
DT: “Yeah, that was a special time… For months on end, I had all day to think about those songs. There was no girlfriend, no kids – it was just me and my guitar in an apartment on Belmont Blvd. It was a very innocent time. I was paying the bills playing in an 80’s cover band and the rest of time i just worked on those songs all day, just playing them over and over. I felt that it would attract the same kind of energy that I put into it…and it did! Then I met my wife and we started a family…and I got to tour the UK and Ireland off the back of that record, too.”

RG: The support behind the record led to The Silver Seas’ first London visit. You were introduced on stage by Danny Baker… Did you know Danny before? He’s somewhat of a national treasure…
DT: “No, I didn’t know who he was, but we exchanged a couple emails because somebody told me he was a fan. Over email we figured out we both love PG Wodehouse and then we just got to be friends after that. He’s a lovely man – very bright and obviously very funny, but you don’t need me to tell you that. Everyone needs a champion and Danny was quite a special one for us. Not just because he told people about The Silver Seas, but he also listened to our music when he was recovering from his cancer treatments and told me that it was important to him during that time”.

RG: We hear broadcasting legend Whispering Bob Harris might have also been in attendance. Is that true?
DT:I’m not sure, but he may have been. Bob is another great champion and I am grateful for the attention that he has given us as well.”

RG: A few days after that London gig, you appeared on the last of the UK’s terrestrial TV music shows, ‘Later…with Jools Holland’. What was that like?
DT:Well, it was bitter sweet. Jools was kind and, boy, is he terrific. He played with Tony Bennett on the show, so I met Tony…and that was very cool. So in some ways, it was amazing and it was a dream come true. On the other hand, I wish we had done something more remarkable. Everyone seems to really want to make a powerful impression on that show and you can understand why. They get choirs and orchestras and play haunting, sparse acoustic things and we sort of just played like we were in a club. I would have liked more time and maybe more gimmicks.

“We did all right, though. My friend Grimey called me and said “You played a live solo on national TV!” He was astonished that I didn’t work it out and just improvised. I guess I thought people would like us more than they did, but when I looked online what people were saying about it, most people thought we sucked, which hurt. Looking back now, though, its amazing that we got to be on the show. Lots of bands try but never even make it on there. We got to…and I’m proud of my solo!”

RG: The follow up album, ‘Alaska’ was more of a slow burner and didn’t seem as well received. Were you disappointed at the more low-key response?
DT: “Well, in retrospect it was probably a mistake to play the record in it’s entirety when it came out. I very foolishly thought people would be as ecstatic about it as I was, which they weren’t. Audiences wanted to hear things from ‘Chateau’ like ‘What’s The Drawback’, ‘Another Bad Night’s Sleep’ and ‘The Best Things In Life’…and I understand I would probably be the same way. I just don’t think I presented ‘Alaska’ in a digestible way. I think I sort of unknowingly shoved it down people’s throats and I think it backfired. it wasn’t as hard a record to make as ‘Chateau’, though, so as my grandfather used to say, “the success of the outcome is directly proportionate to the intensity of the interaction.”

RG: In some ways, it felt like a more”complete”work than any previous Silver Seas discs…
DT: “I know what you mean. Thank you.”

RG: Could you tell us more about that album? Was there a point where you realised the songs you were writing were kind of thematic?
DT: “
I think “kind of” is the appropriate term here…I have too much of an attention deficit to stick to a single theme for long, but with ‘Alaska’, I found every time my family and I would go to the beach, or anywhere beautiful and warm, I just wanted to write music about somewhere cold. …And to be honest, I kind of hate hot weather and it’s so hot in Tennessee most of the summer that it’s very easy to romanticize coldness. So the first step in making an album is to find something to romanticize and in this case it was coldness.

“That’s why ‘As The Crow Flies’, ‘A Night On The Town’, ‘Sea of Regret’ and – obviously – ‘Alaska’ all came with cold settings as the backdrop. ‘A Night On the town’ takes place in wintery New York City and ‘Alaska’ in anchorage…a place I want to visit someday. ‘Wolfie’ is an autumn song where the old wolf is telling the young wolf to get hunting ’cause winter is coming, so there was definitely a cold weather theme. “Roxy”, a song about a cold sort of man who never could express his admiriation for a woman at the time, has a bridge “‘Cause it’s cold and I don’t believe in anything“, so that’s coldness of a different kind. There was also actually a song called ‘Cold Weather’ written with Thad Cockerall of the band Leagues that we never got around to recording.”

RG: Between ‘Chateau’ and ‘Alaska’, you released your third solo work, ‘Arthur’. How do you determine which songs are destined for band work and which end up on the solo back burner?DT: “It just has to do with the fact that I get restless. Immediately after finishing a Silver Seas record, I need to go do something myself! I try to take everything I’ve learned from the previous project and swing the other way, like a pendulum…for better or worse. I’m sure there are some solo things that are better than some Silver Seas songs…and vice versa, of course. It’s not very organized, unfortunately. I just sort of follow the wind!”

RG: Obviously, when you’re not working on Silver Seas material, you’re busy with other musical commitments and family. When you actually find time to listen to other peoples’ music, what do you go for? Is it those much loved albums from your teenage years, or are you always on the lookout for new music?
DT: “Mostly I gravitate to music without words that”s very beautiful, cold and hypnotic. I like John Hopkins, Trentmoller, Tycho and Aphex Twin. Then there’s Harold Budd…and of course Eno, but my absolute favorite at the moment is Ulrich Schnauss. I also like a band called Amason too. Ninety percent of the time I’d say it’s instrumentals for me!

“Having said that, when I drive, I listen to pop or country radio, but if the kids are in the car, it’s classical. From a pop perspective, I like ‘Good For You’ by Selena Gomez and ‘Love Myself’ by Hailee Steinfeld which I understand are both written by the same team of songwriters, so that’s interesting. I like Adele, Chris Stapleton and Miranda Lambert and, to a certain extent, Sam Hunt. ‘Til The Love Runs Out’ by One Republic…that’s a great song…oh, and Taylor Swift; she’s very good, too. I’d mostly rather hear women sing than men. …Unless it’s Van Morrison.”

RG: Taylor Swift? What’d you make of Ryan Adams covering the whole of her ‘1989’ album?
DT: “I think both versions are cool. There’s footage of Taylor on the Grammys website explaining how she created her album…and then, of course Ryan’s take on it is stunning. Of course, one gets a little jealous as I’d love to cover a whole album like that as well…”

RG: With your love of old style formats, maybe we’ll get The Silver Seas recreating America’s ‘Homecoming’ or Jackson Browne’s ‘The Pretender’ on 8-track cartridge!
DT: [laughs] “I’d totally shy away from 8-track! …And as for covering something very 60s or 70s, like something close to how we already sound, I’d probably shy away from that, too. The more contrast the better I think. Back when we were called The Bees, we covered The Police’s ‘Synchronicity’ for an XM Radio show our friend Kate Bradley was working on. I’ve also got an interest in Lana Del Rey, so it’d be really fun to do one of hers. Whole albums, though…I’d love to cover the whole of Madonna’s ‘Immaculate Collection’. Those songs are so good… Ultimately, though, I have too many of my own ideas bothering me to devote too much time to someone else’s songs, for better or worse. Maybe that will change…I don’t know. Going back tot he Taylor Swift and Ryan Adams releases, I’ve got nothing to say but “bravo…to the victors the spoils!”. It worked out because Ryan is a leader, not a follower…but then, so is Taylor.”

RG: Since you’re so interested in ambient and instrumental stuff, have you ever considered doing something a bit more experimental as a side project?
DT: “Funny you should mention that! While the Silver Seas album is getting mixed, I’ve been working on some solo music that, while not quite ambient, is more computer based and I’m having a blast!”

RG: It’ll be interesting to hear what develops. It sounds like the fans have lots to look forward to!
DT: “I think some will like it, but some won’t. As soon as you start working with drum machines, there are always gonna be those people who’ll say ‘we preferred it when it was organic’, or whatever. Then as soon as we do something with electric guitars, like on ‘Chateau’, there are people from way back who’ll say ‘the band was cooler when you were The Bees’. I have to keep following my own interests and just doing what I find compelling. It’s hard because you want to stay open to new things, but then if things are too open, everything gets watered down. I think you know what I mean.”

silver seas

The fifth Silver Seas album, ‘X’, should be available at some point during the first half of 2016. That is unless things take a left turn and Daniel gets involved in yet more projects! Until then, ‘Chateau Revenge!’ and ‘Alaska’ are still available. If you’ve not yet heard them, we suggest you do so pretty soon!