‘Our music combines elements of Americana, rock, blues, gospel, and folk to create a sort of whiskey-fueled tent-revival sound,” says Joshua Zimmerman, who heads up the Silent Comedy alongside his brother Jeremiah. “Over the years, our show has morphed from a quirky acoustic-folk experience into a loud rock ’n’ roll extravaganza. The end result of this mix makes for a rowdy stage show that usually holds a few surprises.” Having started out in a punk outfit called Dehra Dun, the brothers keep racking up San Diego Music Awards: Best New Artist (2008), Best Pop Album (2010), and Best Pop in 2009, 2011, and 2012.
“The Silent Comedy started casually in 2005. My brother and I wanted to record some songs that didn’t fit with the band we played in at the time. Eventually, some of our friends learned the songs, and we accidentally started playing shows. Many years and three lineups later, we’re touring internationally and getting opportunities that we didn’t imagine back when we were first goofing off at coffee shops.”
Among those opportunities have been scoring portions of a documentary film called Working Class, as well as landing their song “Bartholomew” in the recent History Channel miniseries Hatfields & McCoys. Having just played this summer’s Bonnaroo music festival in Manchester, Tennessee, Joshua and company are back in San Diego, where he says most of their favorite gigs happen. “Any show at the Casbah is a special moment for us. When you think about the history of that place, and the talent that has shared that stage, it’s humbling. The SoCo Music Experience was another very memorable event in San Diego. To walk onstage to thousands of people and have the energy transfer from the stage to the crowd was remarkable.”
WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?
- Father John Misty, Fear Fun. “This album is incredible. It gets under your skin and stays there.”
- Dr. Dog, Be the Void. “Their new record has been a staple in our tour van. ‘Lonesome’ is one of the greatest songs ever recorded.”
- Jay-Z and Kanye West, Watch the Throne. “I love Jay-Z more than the average person. I have dreams about him. Literally.”
- The Roots, Undun. “This concept album is so dense, you can listen to it constantly and not tire of it.”
- The Felice Brothers, Celebration Florida. “A strange, haunting masterpiece. Songs like ‘Fire at the Pageant’ just grab hold of your brain and force you to listen to them at least once a week.”
“Wilco at the Wiltern in L.A. was probably one of my favorite shows of all time. They’re an amazing live band, and the Wiltern is a beautiful venue.”
EVER BEEN INJURED ONSTAGE?
“I have dried blood on my bass and pedals, I’ve ripped the knees off my pants and skin off both of my knees, I’ve broken instruments, and almost broken my hand. I’ve even hurt members of the crowd. Our shows are not mundane affairs.”
MOST IMPRESSIVE VOICE IN SAN DIEGO?
“I think Matt Molarius from Transfer has one of my favorite voices of all time.”
WHEN AND WHERE WOULD YOU GO WITH A TIME MACHINE?
“Probably 1922 or so. I would want to visit Prohibition-era New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, to see how that policy affected everyday life in the U.S.”
BEST AND WORST BAND NAMES?
“Cairo Lovers is one of my favorites. Menstrual Chunks is one of the worst.”
WHO MAKES OUT IN YOUR WILL?
“I actually don’t have much cool stuff, so I haven’t really given it much thought. I think my years of photos and video are the most valuable things I have, but I’m not sure who would actually want them.”
WHERE DO YOU VACATION?
“Lately, I’ve been going to Hawaii, because my parents live there. It’s a very peaceful escape from hectic touring life.”
FIRST TIME DRUNK?
“When I was 19, I very deliberately got drunk in a safe, controlled environment, to see how I would react. I didn’t want to get drunk in a strange environment without knowing how my body and mind would handle it and end up making a fool of myself. I also wanted to know where my limits were, so I could drink responsibly. I was actually a really good kid, alcoholically speaking, so I didn’t drink much when I was young.”
CRAZIEST MONEY-MAKING SCHEME?
“I think making money off of jumping around onstage like a lunatic is pretty crazy.”
BRUSH WITH FAME
“My brother and I drank whiskey with Jerry Springer in Dublin. That was a pretty unique experience. He was super cool.”
“I wanted to be named “Jack” for years. I’m now resigned to my name, because it’s too late to change it.”
WHO IN YOUR FAMILY DO YOU TAKE AFTER?
“I take after my dad. We’re both extremely intense, passionate individuals.”
THREE THINGS WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU?
- “I’m very shy.”
- “I’m generally annoyed by my long hair.”
- “I’m not a very good musician. Okay, quite a few people know that.” ■