Alan Silva plays mostly acoustic songs in a variety of styles, from indie to folk to country blues. “I take inspiration from many sources in music, as well as from literary figures,” he says. “Compare it to Bob Dylan channeling Ernest Hemingway, or Leonard Cohen writing tunes after reading work by T.S. Eliot, or Neil Young trying to make sense of William S. Burroughs.”
He describes his songs as “familiar objects that are closer to someone because they’re more human, less generic.… Imagine you found someone’s lost backpack at the beach. It might surprise you to uncover a book filled with dusty poems and a cassette recorder from a thousand and one serenades. As you uncover the contents, the overpowering images and acoustic moods reach their equilibrium, like velvety photos becoming pillows, or musical feathers spiraling downward from garden-variety bedroom windows.”
Silva’s own bohemian lifestyle carries over into his work. “I’ve recorded music everywhere,” he says, “in different environments, with an eclectic group of people and in a diverse array of contexts, some less formal than others. I’ve recorded songs in a garage, a bedroom, a living room, a friend’s parents’ home while they were away in Italy…the list goes on.”
WHAT’S IN YOUR CD PLAYER?
- The Mothers of Invention, Freak Out: “I cherish its tales of going steady at the root beer stand, how she didn’t want to call me even though I was lonely, and uncivil social collisions in a wacky, sometimes reciprocating universe, making this weird, awesome record a rock and roll favorite.”
- The Mothers of Invention, We’re Only in It for the Money: “This album’s social commentary never derails, nor does the soundtrack, which is endlessly enchanting and deserving of appreciation vibes.”
- The Mothers of Invention, Absolutely Free: “Favorite lyric: ‘Plastic people, oh baby, now you’re such a drag.’ ”
- Frank Zappa, Joe’s Garage: “I truly appreciate how this three-act rock opera will surprise and delight even the most wounded American eagle. Like a demented Virgil, the listener’s narrator, the Central Scrutinizer, escorts one through the infernal passageways of Joe’s Garage, Catholic girls, wet T-shirt night, and watermelon in Easter hay.”
- Donovan, Sutras: “A listener might take for granted the three years it took to shape this beautiful, underrated collection about mind-and-body interaction. Gems of sacred literature shine through the chords and choruses, including a splendid rendition of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Eldorado.’ ”
MOST VISITED WEBSITES?
- Gmail.com: “I like to get letters from all my inheritance-bearing fiduciary fans in Asia and Nigeria.”
- Facebook.com: “The soup is ready, so try it. Everyone made it, and it’s packaged for the market.”
- Sacred-texts.com: “You can find a lot of awesome books for free that are not available at your local library or bookstore. You will find writings here you never knew existed.”
- Sandiegoreader.com: “Easy to access, with the most comprehensive list of current local events going on in my city, including music and art.”
READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?
“I really enjoyed Emanuel Swedenborg’s Earths in the Universe (1758). I like the observations he makes. Whether it’s read as a fantasy novel or a fantastic, real travelogue, this book will surely open your mind. Swedenborg offers valuable insights, describing his intergalactic sojourns to human beings on other Earths, including spirits, angels, and the dead, all within a cosmic effigy of God-as-man, whose constitution Swedenborg asserts is the Creator’s end purpose.”
EVER BEEN MUGGED?
“Unfortunately, in 2006, two hoodlums attacked me, punching and kicking me outside the Tower Bar. One said, ‘Go back to Hillcrest,’ whatever that means, and I ended up having to get some stitches on my face. I believe in nonviolence, but every now and then someone threatens to kill me anyway.”
WHO SHOULD PLAY YOU IN A MOVIE?
“I’ll go with Mark Wahlberg or John Cleese.”
UFOs — REAL OR FAKE?
“I’ve never seen an extraterrestrial life form, but I do believe it’s impossible for us to be alone in the universe. It’s way too big.”
IF YOU COULD BE ANY SUPERHERO…
“One word: Wildcat!”
WHERE DO YOU HANG OUT?
“I like to read at coffee shops like the Living Room near SDSU. I’m also a big fan of library book sales, and I will experience music just about anywhere except downtown.”
NONMUSICAL SIDE GIGS?
“I’m writing a couple different books, the first of which is a really monumental collection of poems, with a critical essay, introduction, and historical preface. I’m also conducting research on various topics about ancient religion, philosophy, and approaches to literature for a second book, which, unfortunately, I cannot go into further detail about. I’m also working on a couple tomes of fiction. Encourage me.”
SOMETHING ABOUT YOU FEW WOULD KNOW OR GUESS?
“No one knows how I learned to paint.”