'The great thing about San Diego is the musicians and their willingness to reach out to each other," says guitar player Matt Silvia. "There is a spirit of community here that I've not seen in other places." This seems to be a common refrain among local players: in other cities, musicians are cutthroat, competitive, and jealous -- but not here.
"My first band in San Diego was called 8 Ball Rack," said Silvia, "so named for its makeup of four guys and a girl. For a while, I had shifted focus from electric rock guitars and full-on drums to music driven by harmonies and acoustic guitars, but along the way I realized I really needed to make big rock noise again. There's just no substitute for the rush you get from banging on loud guitars and heavy drums. Hence the reason for my current rock band, SweetTooth. We've taken a break from performing to concentrate on trying to get our first full-length CD finished. It's been almost a year in the making."
Silvia sometimes lends a hand to other local artists. "I've been helping out Christopher Dale, and I've recently begun playing with the legendary Dave Howard in a new band called the Shamey Jays."
Silvia is currently on an East Coast tour with Christopher Dale, booking acoustic gigs in Cambridge, Boston, and Philadelphia. He returns to San Diego to perform with SweetTooth at Tio Leo's on June 16.
TRICKIEST PROBLEM PLAYING LIVE?
"Volume level. I consider it my duty to make pleasant noise. This means the sound has to be under control and not offensive to the ear. It can be challenging because every room, every crowd, every band is different."
"I recently did a show with my two brothers, Mike and Kevin, that was a ton of fun. We all have been playing since we were ten or younger. Over the years we've learned a lot of songs together and have taught each other quite a bit. It's fun performing with someone you've known all your life. We can anticipate each other really well. Of course, we all have different perspectives on it. Mike tends to focus on covers because it pays better, and he has seven kids to feed. Kevin, on the other hand, has probably written more than 200 songs. I probably have the noisiest taste of the three of us."
"I won't say the name of the venue, but it was an outdoor gig during rush hour on a Friday. I had to fight traffic and was late. The sun was in my eyes, and yet I was freezing. I broke four strings. The PA was held together with duct tape and powered with a flashlight battery, I think. I was fighting with my singer. Meanwhile, another band was setting up inside, on a beautiful, lighted stage with a nice sound system, leaving me to wonder why we were out on the kiddie stage. I'm getting myself all upset again. Let's just move on..."
"I have a Les Paul Standard. I also have a Martin Dreadnought that I use for acoustic shows. I tend to play pretty hard, and a lot of my guitars show it. The Rock can be a cruel mistress."
EARLIEST CHILDHOOD MEMORY?
WHAT'S IN YOUR CD PLAYER RIGHT NOW?
"Rough mixes of my rock band's new recordings. I need to learn exactly the way I sang my parts the first time, so I can double the vocals."
1. Soundgarden, Down on the Upside
2. Deadline Friday, Days Gone
3. The Black Crowes, Amorica
4. The Beatles, Abbey Road
5. Tool, Lateralus
"I've beaten them all to death, and I'm still not sick of any of them."
FAVORITE SAN DIEGO HANGOUT?
"O'Connell's on Morena Boulevard. They do a great job with having good bands for a cheap cover."
"I don't know half of you as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve." -- Bilbo Baggins, in a speech on his 111th birthday
"Jeff Berkley [of San Diego's Citizen Band] wandered onstage in the middle of a set, only he wasn't Jeff Berkley -- he was Yoda. And instead of playing a guitar, he busted out a light saber and told us all to get off his stage."
WHERE DO YOU SEE MUSIC GOING IN THE 21st CENTURY?
"I see everyone is making music in the future. Recording has suddenly become a common language among musicians. The craft has become more accessible, and it results in great sounds in your back yard -- you know, 'homegrown.' It doesn't have to be the faraway experience of the big arena or corporate radio. Pure, independent, local, original music is thriving, that's where it is going -- away from the boardroom, closer to home."