Silent Lions’ ‘heavy soul’ sound comes to Bloomfield


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Touring in a two-man act is a lot simpler than traveling with a busload of bandmates. There’s less equipment, less drama.

But that isn’t why Dean Tartaglia and Matt Klein will be the only ones playing at Brillobox tonight. It’s because they are Silent Lions, and they don’t need anyone else to make their music.

Their sound is bass and drum — and a whole lot more. Mr. Klein, 30, provides the beat of the drums. Mr. Tartaglia, 23, comes at you with everything else as he “simultaneously plays effected octave bass, sampled synths, and [provides] manipulated atmospheric vocals.”

That quote is from their publicist. This is what Mr. Tartaglia has to say for himself:

“I have a sampler, a bank of effects that I play with my right hand that I practice simultaneously,” he said. “I’ve kind of found a system. I started working on the technical aspects of the band before we even started practicing or recording together. It took a lot of practice. It’s almost like learning a new instrument.

“I’m employing the use of samples, kind of like a hiphop artist would. We’re exploring. It’s getting more soul-oriented as opposed to garage rock or straight-up rock and roll.

“Matt does a lot of singing, a lot of harmonizing and backing me up. The challenge is that we try to sound like a four-piece band even though there’s only two of us. And it just works. It’s always just worked. We’ve thought of the idea of adding someone else, but, for me, the group … what I enjoy the most about it is the challenge of the technique of playing all these parts simultaneously. Besides, as far as the practicality, touring with just two people is an easier situation.”

He knows. As a former member of The Sights, Mr. Tartaglia traveled the U.S. and Europe in 2012 opening for Tenacious D. When he got back home to Toledo, Ohio, however, he had a different idea.

He wanted to experiment a bit.

“The first EP started as a solo project before I met Matt,” Mr. Tartaglia said.

“The first batch of songs, I’d written and was looking for a drummer.”

It clicked. In fact, it made all kinds of noises, most of it provided by Mr. Tartaglia’s different effect pedals.

A lot of the sound effects are kind of creepy, as evidenced by the use of clips from the movie “Night of the Living Dead” in the video for their song “Terrible Day. Their music has been described as “spooky soul,” “chill punk” and “Hall and Oates stoner rock.”

“We’ve been calling it ‘heavy soul.’ ” Mr. Tartaglia said. “It’s definitely a little bit darker. Like from an early ’70s heavy metal sound with a bass-and-drum-driving soul feel. We have a lot of effects, and that gives it a kind of spooky sound.

“It’s definitely not a lot of dancing at our shows. It’s very attentive. We’ve been lucky enough to catch people’s attention, and people who come to see us are really interested to see how we pull off the live performance. They’ll watch us create the music, with all the different effect pedals. There’s always people who are into heavy music or dark music.

“It’s what’s been coming naturally from us. We had some brighter music when we were first writing. I wouldn’t call it upbeat, because it still had this bass tone that makes things heavy. For me, personally, I’ve just always been fascinated with the new soul and hiphop artists I hear doing different dark stuff.”

The perfect sound for a cold night in the backside of January in Pittsburgh.

“We’ve been to Pittsburgh some weekends,” Mr. Tartaglia said.

“We actually played a lot of house shows, DIY shows the first couple of months we were a band. But I don’t think we’ve ever done a proper show at a venue. I think Brillobox will be our first.”

If you’ve heard Silent Lions before, you might be surprised to hear them now as they promote a new EP that is more of a team effort.

“We’re just starting to understand the potential for our sound,” Mr. Tartaglia said. “This EP, it’s more of a 50-50 breakdown. The most important part of the writing is he and I playing the songs over and over again. It’s an equal writing experience at this point.”

They’re coming to take you away tonight starting at 9 at Brillobox, 4104 Penn Ave., in Bloomfield. Sharing the bill are General Fantasy and the Butterbirds. Cover is $7.

Dan Majors: dmajors@post-gazette.com.


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