Q&A: Adrian Carter + Andrew Gorham of Silver Alchemy
Whatever happened to your middle school band?
Adrian Carter and Andrew Gorham, the duo that makes up the band Silver Alchemy, have been performing together since the seventh grade and released their second EP, Dispense with the Pleasantries, in January. The album marks a newfound maturity for the band, which has been refining its sound and finding its own identity in the music world.
The EP is studded with crunchy guitar tones and drumming reminiscent of 80s arena rock, as shown on tracks like “Nice Guy.” Dispense with the Pleasantries, however, is in no way a one-dimensional album. “Don’t Have You,” one of the band’s most somber songs to date, showcases Carter’s various abilities – he sings in addition to playing guitar and violin on the track. Silver Alchemy, while developing their own sound, have not forgotten their influences. “So It Goes” sounds like the love child of Kings of Leon, Blink 182, and the Rolling Stones.
Silver Alchemy performed at the 30A Songwriter’s Festival in January, but, as both members are current students – Carter attends NYU and Gorham studies at UGA – the band has not had a chance to perform in front of a hometown crowd in Atlanta for a while.
I met up with Silver Alchemy to talk about the EP and their upcoming show at Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta, July 11th. Read the conversation below.
Pretty Good Music: How has your sound changed since you started the band?
Adrian Carter – We bonded over a classic 80s hard rock sound that when we were first writing we really tried to emulate. But over time we learned to play to our strengths and, as it turns out, I can’t sing like an 80’s metal god. We’ve retained a bit of that attitude, but now it’s a little more jangly like power-pop.
Andrew Gorham – It’s always been hard-rock covered with the veneer of bright pop. Like our favorite songs are ones with a soaring melody but can kick you in the ass, too.
PGM: You put out an EP, Dispense with the Pleasantries, in January. What parts of the EP are you particularly proud of?
Gorham: My favorite part of the album is the coda bit of “So It Goes” for a variety of reasons. It’s a big, ambitious sounding arrangement – it doesn’t sound like a song that a guitarist and a drummer would do as a duo. I really like that about it: we don’t limit ourselves to what we think we can do live. Plus, the writing was definitely step up from our first attempts.
Carter: One song I thought was special is “Don’t Have You.” It’s different from anything we’ve ever done – it’s our quietest, darkest song, but the way it moves was something I ended up really proud of.
PGM: Probably my favorite song on the album. What was the inspiration?
Carter: It started as a breakup song but slowly incorporated the idea of leaving home and moving from my childhood house, but it comes from a just a few small moments of bitter isolation. (Laughs) Oh God, I hope it doesn’t seem too desperate.
PGM: One of the songs that stood out was “Every Song Is About You.” It’s different than other tracks you wrote in that it sounded like an homage to your influences.
Carter: It’s gonna sound really bougie but I came up with a lot of the lyrics on a ski lift, cause it hit me that you can listen to any song and all of a sudden it’s like, “This explains it, dude. This song is about my life.” The chords kinda came out of listening to 60s girl group music, which always has these great, simple, chord progressions. That was the first song where we were actively trying to write something that didn’t have so many moving parts. When we were younger it’s like, “Ah no, we’re gonna sound like everyone else,” but at some point you start to realize that the key is to figure out how to make that simple thing your own.
Gorham: I totally agree. It seems like the simpler a song sounds, the harder it is to write.
PGM: You’ve got a show on Saturday at Smith’s Olde Bar. What can we expect to see at the show?
Gorham: It feels like we’ve been playing the same songs all the time, like internally, but for our friends we have a chance to push our old songs a little further while we’ve got all these “new” songs we’re aching to play. I think it’ll feel, and I hate to use this word, fresh across the board.
Carter: This is sort of our first hometown show since the EP came out, but in a way it feels like we’ve moved past that and we have an even newer track or two to try out. It’s always how we’ve done it – we play a track live and see if it sucked or if it went over.
PGM: What’s coming next for Silver Alchemy?
Carter: We never really stop making new music. While haven’t planned on releasing a new album formally, we’re writing constantly and if the opportunity presents itself to release new music to people who can’t see us live, we love to take it.
Listen to Dispense with the Pleasantries below, and check back with PGM for more updates on Silver Alchemy.