Punk and circumstance

by Alen McMahon

DUBLIN’S CURRENT penchant for vibrant, pulsating rock bands is one that’s grabbed headlines across Europe, a pattern that looks set to continue.
Silverbacks, a five-piece punk outfit centred around brothers Daniel and Kilian O’Kelly, are a band inspired by grit, a DIY ethos and a fraught social conscience, and the latest to look all set for breakout.
Having already formed a label, PK Miami (though it’s solely for their own music), and settled on a distinctive style of swirling, deeply layered guitar, there are big plans in place for Silverbacks in 2019, including releasing a debut album, and touring as much as humanly possible.
Their roots have stood to them.
“Doing it DIY was initially a necessity and eventually became a natural progression that made sense for the band,” frontman Daniel O’Kelly explains of the act’s progression.
“We’ve never really known anything else and it’s been fun, but it’s not necessarily and ethos we’re married to.
“A good few of our favourite bands started out this way, such as Yo La Tengo and Sonic Youth. I think it often stands to a band if they’ve been doing things for themselves and writing songs for a number of years before they get picked up by a wider audience.
“Moving to a full band and a proper studio has allowed us to be more adventurous and have much more freedom with what we can write and record.
“The likes of [singles] ‘Dunkirk’ and ‘Just In The Band’ would have never worked if we had tried to record them in our bedroom.”
“We got compared to The Wire last week,” O’Kelly says of the recent attention the band have gained in the media.
“I enjoyed that one. I take the ‘Pavement’ and ‘Television’ comparisons as a compliment, we definitely ‘borrow’ a few of their tricks. Both bands had their own unique sound and I’d like to think that we do too.”
The band’s recording link in naturally with one of the scene’s biggest success stories, Girl Band, and even feature Daniel Fox from that act on production duties for most recent single, ‘Just In The Band’.
The result is a glorious parade of distortion, head-spinning and titillating, and not afraid to take a swipe in the lyrics, including, somewhat comically, at the idea that they might succeed in early melody ‘Not Ones To Watch’.
The tracks kind of tighten in an intense coil of jarring guitar, before unleashing into explosive, frantic chorus lines.
In ‘Just In The Band’, things reach peak intensity, in a set-centring track that seems to flow at breakneck speed from start to fiery finish. Despite the punk-ethos, the band jokingly insist their key aim for the coming year is to get a track on a popular TV show, or write a hit Christmas song.
“Kilian and I have found that the best way we write songs is for one of us to start with an idea and the other to finish it,” Daniel O’Kelly says.
“Thinking of guitar hooks is something that comes naturally enough to us so what often happens is that a demo will eventually have too many guitar layers.
“We’ll then restructure the demo and strip it back so that there are three or four layers. We then take the song to the band and between Peadar, Kilian and myself we work out the best way to play the guitar parts.
“Peadar and Kilian have their own distinct guitar styles and the two of them work together like a dynamic football partnership, Henry and Bergkamp. I’m more of a Mathieu Flamini.”

Related Articles