‘I’d love to write a song with Benny and Björn from ABBA, it would be a masterclass in how to do it’
by Sara Seddon at The Bucket Playlist
London-based indie band Silvertwin have released their first full-length eponymous album today (16 July), which blends 60’s nostalgia, Beatlesey melodies and a nod to 70’s disco and Billy Joel.
The band comprises frontman and multi-instrumentalist Isaac Shalam, Alicia Barisani (rhythm guitar and backing vocals), Lauric MacKintosh (drummer), Antonio Naccache (keys) and Dan Edery (lead guitar and backing vocals). Shalam met Barisani around eight years ago and Edery five years ago before deciding to start a band. The name was something that Shalam had scribbled down a few years ago. ‘I thought it was the right name, we’d gone through a million ideas!,’ he said.
Last month, they released their EP ‘The Night Is Ours’, which followed on from their EP ‘Ploy’ in March: ‘In their bare bones, they’re part of the album we’re bringing out,’ Shalam said. ‘It’s the first collection of songs I was excited to write, inspired by classic songwriting. I made a point of trying to do something challenging, inspired by Lennon and McCartney. I love Brian Wilson and Carole King, ABBA, Supertramp, The Eagles – anyone who can write a good three minute song.’
Today’s album includes all five tracks from their ‘Ploy’ EP, including ‘Ploy’, ‘Promises’ and ‘Doubted’ and five new tracks. ‘I like the song that closes the album, called ‘Drive Me Wild’,’ Shalam said. ‘It was a weird one to write and to record, I’d never written anything like it before, it seemed to come out of nowhere. It has a string quartet on it, as well as a mellotron and all kinds of percussion.Sonically, the ‘Ploy’ EP gives you a good idea what to expect.’ One of the new tracks, ‘The Night Is Ours’, is heavily influenced by ABBA: ‘It was so fun to record, we had such a great vibe in the studio, it’s very dancey,’ he said. ‘You can hear the ABBA influences on that one but it’s also been influenced more than anything by Wings, there’s a dancey Paul McCartney-style bass line. It was one of the songs where I wrote the piano riff first. It’s about going out with your friends, going dancing.’
Typically, Shalam writes the tracks, demos them on his laptop and takes them to the rest of the band: ‘They flesh out the parts, it’s a 50/50 process,’ he said. ‘How a song is written depends on how soon a part is written and where my head’s at. With ‘Ploy’ (the opening track), there was that sense of starting small and growing it. I wanted it to have this clear piano riff that grows and grows. Honestly, I don’t know if the song was something I had to get off my chest. I always start with the music first and the lyrics then follow, so the music is very much guiding the lyrics. I find it easier that way. You can sit down with the melody and ask yourself what it seems to say. It feels very forced to me to do it the other way round.’
Ultimately, the track is about betrayal: ‘Every time I turn my eye, I miss out on all the know. How it is to be denied, the truth that’s so hard to hold. I’ve seen glee at times but even I know your eyes can’t hide the sore from the sting.’
‘I got into Billy Joel’s The Stranger album around then and thought it would be fun to write something in that style’
Another track on the album, ‘Promises’ starts off with a piano solo that has a Billy Joel feel to it and I tell him it could easily be a Billy Joel song: ‘That’s what I wanted,’ he said animatedly. ‘I got into Billy Joel’s The Stranger album (1977) around then and thought it would be fun to write something in that style.’ ‘Promises’ is also about betrayal: ‘But words can betray me or otherwise save me. But I never win. How could you take me, knowing I’d break the only promises you need?’
All of the material was recorded before the first lockdown last year but mixed and mastered during the pandemic. Meeting up to practice has been a challenge because Barisani was back and forth between Austria and the UK and Edery, France: ‘The first time we played together after eight months, it was weird,’ Shalam said. ‘But after we rehearsed, we thought we could start afresh.’
If he could hear one of their songs on any TV show, he picks Dragons’ Den: ‘It’s a tough one, I don’t even watch much TV but I feel it’s worth going with a weird juxtaposition!’ His favourite piece of musical kit is his piano, which he moves the camera round to show me: ‘It’s where I’ve pretty much written everything. I started on bass as a kid – my brother got a guitar and I was given a bass as his sidekick. I didn’t start playing the piano seriously until I was 14.’
Shalam is a huge fan of The Lovin’ Spoonful, an American rock band that was popular during the mid-to late-60’s. ‘I love anything from the West Coast from the 60’s and 70’s, including The Mamas & the Papas and Motown. I’d love to write a song with Benny and Björn from ABBA, it would be a masterclass in how to do it and it’d be a good hang!’
(Photo from left to right: Alicia, Lauric, Isaac, Antonio and Dan)
this story first appeared on: https://inthebucketplaylist.com/ on July 15th 2021