Silent Civilian Frontman Says Singing Doesn’t Take Away Heaviness
It’s been a four-year gap from debut to the sophomore ‘Ghost Stories’ for Silent Civilian. For most bands, there’s a push to get the second album out, but for this Los Angeles-based metal band, it’s been all about taking time to evolve as a band. And for Jonny Santos to work out fronting two groups. “I’m trying to do everything methodical now. The more I keep going on with this, I’m learning how to make it work,” Santos told Noisecreep, while taking a break on a road trip to Phoenix. “I’m learning how to make schedules around things.”
As well as being the voice and guitar for Silent Civilian, Santos also has the same role in the industrial outfit Spineshank, which Santos recently reunited with in 2008. When he announced his return, the band embarked almost immediately on a tour with Disturbed and Killswitch Engage, with a headlining tour soon after. Not wanting to do Silent Civilian’s second album at half-speed, he told the rest of the band to write while he was on tour, but Santos wrote their debut, ‘Rebirth of the Temple,’ mainly by himself.
While he was gone, guitarist Dave Delacruz matched the seven songs Santos already had ready. “We collaborated on three or four of them and it’s a really good mixture of songwriting, and that’s what’s helped the evolution of the band and helped the sound move forward,” he said. The two of them clicked as force on the record. “We can almost feel what the other guy is thinking. He’ll throw something at me and I’ll be like ‘let’s take it here’ and vice versa.” He added, “It was probably the most painless record I’ve ever made between both my bands.”
With the whole band contributing to the skeleton of ‘Ghost Stories,’ Santos was freed up to explore melodies and lyrics, which he admitted he set from the start to challenge himself on. But what came out was his most melodic work yet, and possibly the most thrashing. But many people fear melody and singing in metal like is a sickness causing weakness and frailness to the sound, Santos calls this idea out. “This whole thing that if you sing your band isn’t heavy … I don’t know what the f— that’s about!?” He said in frustration. “I’ve always said this, but just because something’s heavy doesn’t mean it can’t have melody in it. I think that’s a load of s—.”
He continued citing the name of the holy ones, saying, “What the f—!? Let’s be honest here. Black Sabbath, one of the heaviest bands and one of the godfathers of metal — you never hear Ozzy screaming. They did some of the heaviest, darkest s— I’ve heard in my life, and this was happening before I was born. So I really stick behind singing being in metal.”
There are many forms of metal, but the ones with the most in their tent sing over their riffs, and Santos wants to be on that stage looking out at the biggest crowd. “I’m not trying to reach a tiny audience. I’m trying to reach the mass community of metalheads,” he said.