Founded by brothers Joshua and Jeremiah Zimmerman, Silent Comedy specializes in “cabaret rock,” à la theatrical troupes like the Dresden Dolls and San Diego’s Tragic Tantrum Cabaret. With a look right out of a turn-of-the-century ghost town — heavy on the mustaches, waistcoats, and dusty trail hats — their sound melds acoustic rock with a touch of bluegrass, similar to Nickel Creek or the ’60s stoner days of Norman Greenbaum.
“It’s electric blues rock played with folk instruments,” says Jeremiah. “Like a tent revival and a hoedown but happening at a whiskey bar.” Think O Brother, Where Art Thou? set to an experimental-rock soundtrack.
In 2008, the costume-heavy band won Best New Artist at the San Diego Music Awards. In 2009, they won Best Pop. April of this year saw the release of their new disc, Common Faults.
“The title comes from the overall subject matter of our lyrics,” says Joshua. “We were looking for a common strain through our songs, and my brother suggested that they all relate to common faults. We write primarily about the woes of society, and this title seemed to suggest that feeling.”
Silent Comedy appears at the Casbah with Blackout Party on Saturday, July 17.
WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?
1) Gillian Welch, Time (the Revelator). “Two guitars, two voices, and some of the best songwriting you’ll ever hear.”
2) Kaizers Orchestra, Maestro. “So they sing in Norwegian, big deal. They blend Eastern European folk structures with California-style rock.”
3) Disappointed Office Seekers, self-titled. “One of the best, underappreciated, and largely unknown bands out of San Diego in the past ten years.”
Joshua: “The most frequently played record in our tour van is Shame, Shame, the newest record by Dr. Dog. It takes a little while to warm up to, but the songs end up getting under your skin and you can’t turn it off.”
1) vintageking.com. “Recording gear.”
2) them-thangs.com. “Visual inspiration.”
3) liqurious.com. “Cocktails and related things.”
4) yankodesign.com. “Material inspiration.”
1) hulu.com. “I don’t have a television, so I stay connected to entertainment through Hulu.”
2) npr.org. “I’m a huge NPR nerd.”
3) google.com. “No one can live without it.”
4) youtube.com. “I’m constantly getting distracted by clips of people falling off roofs.”
MOST YOU EVER SPENT ON A DATE?
Jeremiah: “Eighty-five dollars on Indian food, in London with my wife. The exchange rate from dollars to pounds really sucked.”
Joshua: “I’ve been known to take ladies on adventures that involve trespassing, ghost hunting, and late-night ocean swimming.”
GOT ANY ADVICE FOR US?
Jeremiah: “My grandfather told me, ‘Do everything in such a way that you’d be proud to sign your name to it.’”
Joshua: “King Solomon: ‘Do not be over righteous, neither be over wise — why destroy yourself?’”
MAC OR PC?
Jeremiah: “I have a Mac laptop and a PC desktop to cover all the bases.”
Joshua: “Mac, hands down. I do a lot of video editing, and Final Cut Pro is really the only way to go when it comes to that.”
FAVORITE QUOTE FROM SPINAL TAP?
Jeremiah: “It’s Cindi’s first mustache.”
Joshua: “Certainly, in the topsy-turvy world of heavy rock, having a good solid piece of wood in your hand is often useful.”
BEST THING YOU EVER WON?
Joshua: “I once won a gallon of Tampico orange-flavored drink at a street fair. Unfortunately, I had to do about 18 shots of the stuff to win it. By that point I really couldn’t have cared less about the gallon.”
WHAT’S YOUR POISON?
Jeremiah: “A Sazerac cocktail: It’s rye whiskey, Peychaud’s bitters, and orange zest in a chilled glass, rinsed in absinthe. Delicious!”
Joshua: “Lately I’ve been into a drink called the Oaxaca old-fashioned. It combines tequila and mescal into a delicious smoky concoction.”
BRUSH WITH FAME?
Jeremiah: “We ran into Jerry Springer in Dublin, Ireland, at a rooftop bar, and we talked about television while Joe Elliott of Def Leppard sang Elton John covers on the piano. One of the more surreal nights of my life.”
WHAT TOPIC WOULD YOU FORBID AT YOUR FUNERAL?
Jeremiah: “Hey, if I’m dead, go for it. Say whatever you want. Oddly enough, people seem to be kinder, verbally, to the dead.”
Joshua: “Oysters. I think it would be inappropriate, and anyone who broaches the subject should be removed from the event.”
FIRST BOOK YOU REMEMBER READING?
Jeremiah: “Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, when I was eight. It’s a sort of biography in novel form of Nathaniel Bowditch, who contributed to the field of celestial navigation. Somehow, weirdly, the book was aimed at younger readers.”
Joshua: “I think it was a book about Daniel Boone.”
YOUR HOLLYWOOD GOLDEN-TURKEY AWARD?
Jeremiah: “Those last two Matrix movies come to mind. They were bad, in a bloated way...that first one was so successful that I think no one wanted to say ‘no’ to the directors.”
Joshua: “I like movies that are so bad that they’re good. One of my favorites in that category is The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.”
SOMETHING ABOUT YOU FEW WOULD KNOW OR GUESS?
Joshua: “I carry my own mike on tour because I can’t stand the thought of using a mike that has been used by hundreds of other people.” ■