SOCIETY OF THE SILVER CROSS Deliver Haunting and Cinematic Dark Rock on "When You're Gone"
The term "metal-adjacent" appears from time to time to describe music that isn't so much metal but still carries some sort of "heavy" element to it. Acts like Chelsea Wolfe, Emma Ruth Rundle, or Zola Jesus come to mind. There's also Dead Can Dance or The Sisters of Mercy. Point being, these acts don't have blast beats or other tenets of heavy metal, but their music is inherently heavy. Through subject matter, overall ethos, or connections to metal, these acts carry a hefty sonic weight. This all, of course, applies to Seattle's Society of the Silver Cross.
Joe and Karyn Reineke are at the helm of the band. They're joined by Sebastian Brownglad (bass), Larry Joireman (drums/percussion), andTim Nurczyk (mellotron, shahi baaja). Together, they use a wide variety of musical instruments to create numerous textures and layers. These layers weave into a cinematic and introspective brand of dark rock. Much of it finds inspiration in travels to India. Joe and Karyn traveled across the country and in their endeavor found not only new instruments but a brand new perspective on life.
Their very first single, "When You're Gone", wonderfully channels Joe and Karyn's vision for their music and highlights their instrument selection—initially the harmonium and guitars then adding more as a song develops. To celebrate the release of their first single, Society of the Silver Cross created a haunting and almost dream-like music video to accompany the track. The video emphasizes the looping, mesmerizing arrangement of the song. It's stripped down and allows the harmonium to be the focal point while the video's kaleidoscopic design immerses the viewer.
Metal Injection is fortunate to have the exclusive stream of Society of the Silver Cross's first single and video as well as an interview with Joe and Karyn. Read the interview and watch the video below. Also, follow the band on Facebook. The song will be released on vinyl along with another track from their impending LP entitled "Funeral of Sorrows".
Metal Injection: I’ve read much of your music is inspired by your trips to India and your introductions to spiritual chanting and meditation. Could you elaborate on your times in India—sort of where you went, the places you saw, the things you did—and how your discoveries found their way into your music?
Karyn: There is a beauty and purity in India that’s undeniable. On the surface, you see a lot of poverty and tragedy, but people seem to be happier and more spiritually connected than we are in the west.
Joe: A quick travel tip: never ride an elephant after eating the street food, haha. We’ve been somewhat all over, but one of our favorite places is Rishikesh in the north. It’s on the Ganges in the foothills of the Himalayas, it’s the birthplace of yoga and also where the Beatles wrote many of their songs. A teacher of mine from Mumbai advised traveling to Rishikesh and asking three questions: Who am I?, Why am I here?, and Where do I go when I die? After an experience like that, how could it not find its way into the music? How’s that for “heavy”? (laughs)
Metal Injection: What sort of answers did you find in these deep and introspective questions?
Joe: First, that I know I don’t know everything. These questions can’t really be answered from an intellectual perspective alone—which is limited—they have to marinate for a while. To be honest, I’m still working on the first one and haven’t gotten to the other two yet. (laughs)
Metal Injection: You both have an eclectic collection of instruments you use for Society of the Silver Cross’s music. How did you decide to use and incorporate something like a harmonium or a shahi baaja into your arrangements?
Karyn: It seems it was the other way around, the instruments decided they were going to incorporate themselves. We own a few harmoniums, purchased from India which are traditionally used for chanting but as musicians you know it’s only a matter of time before you start to tinker with an instrument within reach. We write the bones of the songs with the guitar and harmonium and then begin to add more layers and instrumentation once we get to work in our studio. We discovered the shahi baaja—which is an Indian autoharp—when a friend saw one on craigslist and forwarded us the listing knowing it might be something we’d be into. We instantly fell in love and now can’t live without it. It has such a nice haunting quality, it fit just perfectly.
Metal Injection: You also run a studio—Orbit Audio—in Seattle and have had the pleasure of working with some big names like Alice in Chains and Macklemore among many others. You mentioned elsewhere that Duff McKagan from Guns ‘n’ Roses helped get the studio up and running? What is your friendship with McKagan like and how did he help with Orbit Audio?
Joe: Duff is best friends with my best friends, Mike Squires and Jeff Rouse who were in my previous band, Alien Crime Syndicate and now play with Duff in Loaded, so naturally we’ve had the opportunity to get to know each other over the years. When you look back, there are always a handful of people you meet in your life that were pivotal in your journey. Duff happens to be my rock and roll angel. When I was looking to open a recording studio sixteen years ago, we were at dinner one night and he casually mentioned having a mixing board and tape machine in storage in LA (same ones they used on Appetite) and he said “Hey Joe, why don’t you just go get it and use it or whatever” which I immediately took him up on. Moments later, I was in a van driving to LA.
Metal Injection: Shifting gears to this premiere, “When You’re Gone” is your debut single and first ever music video. It’s very stripped down and sort of cyclical in a way. The melody—which I feel the harmonium has a lot to do with—is easy to follow and easy to get stuck in your head. How did you come to the decision to use this song as your lead single?
Karyn: I can’t tell you how many people have said the riff got stuck in their head. Hopefully, that is a good thing. This was actually the first song we wrote together. It just floated out of us one late night while playing music at home. It opened something up for us both, showed us the potential for something new in music and has been a foundational piece to cultivating sound. In the end, it just felt right for some reason, so we didn’t really pick it as much as it felt like it chose itself.
Metal Injection: You worked with Jenni Hensler to create this video. She’s done work with other artists like Chelsea Wolfe and Zola Jesus. How did you come to work with Hensler for this video and where these ideas for it come from? I love that it’s shot in 8 mm, 16 mm, and Super 8 film.
Joe: Jenni lives in NYC but is an old friend from her days in Seattle. She really resonated with our idea of making an art film rather than a traditional music video. Ultimately, she shared our vision for keeping it weird and non-traditional. Jenni suggested shooting on film to bring out the natural beauty of the images with all their imperfections.
Karyn: Our overall idea was to create a dream-like experience letting the video become the soundtrack to the music. The images mirror the musical themes such finding freedom in the moment, seeking and elusiveness, darkness and light – for example, the sand sequences are a metaphor for life, the harder you try and hold on to something, the less available it becomes.