For several years, Fall Silent was one of the most popular hardcore bands in Reno, releasing three full-length albums and a handful of seven-inch records before breaking up in 2003. In late 2015, the band reappeared for an unannounced show at 40 Mile Saloon, followed by a sold-out show at the Holland Project.
Now, the band is releasing a new four-song E.P. Cart Return and re-releasing the long out-of-print 1999 L.P. Superstructure.
When Danny Galecki (guitar), Damon Watson (drums) and Levi Watson (vocals) decided to reform the band, they required a new bass player. The spot was filled by Joe Foley, who was a fan of the band’s earlier incarnation when he was, quite literally, a kid. Foley saw one of Fall Silent’s final shows when he was 12 or 13. He still talks about the band like a fan, rather than a member.
“There are very few bands that positively reflect on what music has ever been in Reno,” said Foley. “This represented a lot of cool shit. You could play fast, sing about what you want, do what you want.”
Galecki was determined that if the band reformed, it would indeed be the same band, the one Foley loved a decade ago, not a mellowed or “mature” version.
“The three of us—we’re all in our 40s,” he said. “You run the risk of trying to be too musical or trying to break new ground. Then everyone hears your slow, weak-ass shit and wonders ’Why did they even get back together?’”
Their new music is as assaultive as it ever was. Without being sloppy, the band sounds like it’s always on the verge of imploding. Every song is fast, direct and free of frills—like guitar solos or intricate overdubbing. Levi Watson sings over the chaos like a chainsaw.
Under all this violence, however, there is a soft heart hiding. The name of the new E.P., Cart Return, refers to a simple act of human decency—putting your shopping cart back when you’re done with it.
“It’s kind of like all those little things,” said Levi Watson. “Like cart returns and generally being lazy, shitty people—how all of that shit adds up.”
Though the name indicates a concern for the seemingly small, mundane ways in which people hurt each other, the actual songs address larger concerns. “Sterling” covers the killing of Alton Sterling by members of the Baton Rouge police department, the Brock Turner rape case, and Omar Mateen’s shooting spree in Florida. The song itself doesn’t bear much insight into these horrible acts of violence. It’s instead a prolonged scream about the simple fact of them. But sometimes a scream is the only proper response.
The E.P.’s remaining songs—“Try Harder,” “Jobs, Shelter, Food” and “Youth Wasted on the Young,”—are all in some way about the fear of living a pointless life.
Murder, rape, existential despair—these themes might give the impression that Fall Silent are grim and humorless. There is anger at injustices big and small, and the members of Fall Silent do want to write songs about real issues, but none of that would matter if they weren’t enjoying themselves.
“I think it’s just fun,” said Levi Watson. It’s the only type of situation in life where you can scream for 40 minutes and people won’t call the cops.”
“When Damon four counts and we all fire up into a song we just feel awesome,” said Galecki. “That’s what we will continue to do for another … 30, 40 years.”
It’s something to hope for—seeing these four as old men, their music stubbornly unchanged, joyfully pounding out the same noise they made in the 1990s, and screaming. Screaming at the world’s lack of decency.