Jay Silence Band brings the noise with 'Colorado dirt' country music

·6 min read

Aug. 11—From Johnny Cash to Chris Stapleton, country artists have always brought a palpable realness to the stage. Whether belting out jailhouse anthems or serenading crowds with heartfelt ballads, these troubadours craft tracks that stand the test of time.

Longmont-based musician Jay Silence doesn't stay quiet when it comes to lyrics that brim with raw authenticity. From tales about heartbreak to ones that dive into the hardships of addiction and depression, his songwriting dips into territory not always easily embraced.

However, it isn't all doom and gloom. His band also produces heel-stomping barroom bangers, ones that pair honky-tonk edge with alt-country swag.

The Jay Silence Band formed in 2019 — originally under the name Jay Silence and The Firewater Band — and released a full-length album in 2021. "Grandma's 45s" is a nine-track collection of songs that one could easily picture getting airplay on top country stations.

"Rock 'n' Roll," the second track on last year's release, is a steel-pedal ode to the music that raised him.

This year, Silence and crew have also put out a number of singles that were recorded at Violet Recording studios in Boulder.

"Down and Out" is a clap-along song of resilience and fortitude, a keep on, keepin' on anthem for the times anchored by a steady drum beat.

On "California," Silence sings about searching for a long lost love in Music City and on the sandy banks of the West Coast.

"From the country sides/ To the highway rides/ I tried to track you down/ From the neon lights/ To the lonely nights/ You were nowhere to be found..."

"Shelter" a soulful tune about finding solace in a loved one's arms is further complemented by two saxophonists — Sarah Mount and John Gunther. Bill McKay also plays the organ on the love song.

With a sound reminiscent of Charlie Daniels Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Allman Brothers and even Steve Miller Band, Silence is keeping a vibe of yesteryear alive through his well-built songs rich with storytelling, crisp musicianship and strong vocals.

We caught up with Silence to find out more about his musical journey, what iconic movie character he credits with inspiring him to pick up a guitar and what fans can expect next.

Kalene McCort: I know you refer to your style of music as "Colorado Dirt." How did this style originate, and how has growing up close to the Rocky Mountains impacted your sound?

Jay Silence: "Colorado Dirt" was a new idea that we thought would define the music best. When I started the band in 2019, we began working with original songs I had already written and made demo recordings of. After a few months of auditions and nailing down the core band members, myself (vocals, acoustic guitar), Tony Wiese (lead guitar), Brad Hacker (bass), Scott Spanbauer (pedal steel, guitar) and Dave "Goose" Gussenbauer (drums), we really started to focus in on the songs and how we wanted them to sound.

After months of rehearsals, we felt very strong about the music and the direction of the band, and we decided it was time to move forward with recording our first full-length album, "Grandma's 45s." While recording the album, genres were talked about with our sound engineer and producer at the time, Chad Brown. We had many discussions about where our music fit best and with what genre. Genres like "alternative country" and "cosmic country." Eventually a new idea came to light and we called it "Colorado Dirt."

Similar to the idea behind the "Red Dirt" genre of country music, our genre and style of music originated in Colorado. We are all very proud of the music and how it has evolved over the years. The songs and sound continue to grow and fit in perfectly with our idea of "Colorado Dirt" country music.

KM: What's your songwriting process like, and what inspires your tracks lately?

JS: My songwriting process always seems to start with a single idea. Something or someone that inspires me, a positive or negative experience, everything from love to hate. A simple phrase in my mind usually gets my wheels turning and a melody shortly after. From there, it's sitting down with my acoustic guitar, playing out the chords and notes I hear, singing or humming the melody and then writing out the rest of the lyrics. Sometimes a song comes together very quickly, other times I'll start it but then set it on the shelf before I return to it later.

KM: Do you recall any moments in your youth when you knew music would be your career path?

JS: Music was a huge part of my youth. My dad played guitar and showed me some chords to work on. When I was 6, I got my first real guitar from my grandmother — an old, six-string acoustic she found at a local garage sale in Grand Junction.

Besides playing and learning the guitar, my older brother and I loved listening to my dad's collection of records, 8-tracks and tapes. Along with MTV of the '80s, it all made it easy for us to listen to all types of music at any time. I think Michael J. Fox in "Back To The Future" had a pretty big influence on me as well — the scene in Doc's garage when Marty fires up the oversized amplifier and blows him back across the room... classic.

KM: It's obvious country is a consistent current in your sound. What were some of the artists you couldn't get enough of early on?

JS: Some of the country artists I listened to most and admired as a kid were country legends like Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Jerry Lee Lewis, Don Williams and many more. Patsy Cline and Tammy Wynette were always on in the background as well.

For me, though, it wasn't just the country stars and music that influenced me as youth but also artists like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Eric Clapton, Foghat, The Outlaws, B. B. King, Chuck Berry and, later in the '80s, harder rock bands and hair bands.

KM: Are there any upcoming tour dates that should be on our radar, or bucket-list goals for the band?

JS: We are currently working on recording and set to release our next song called, "Singer in The Band." Our next full-length album will be kicking off soon as well. Always, we are filling our live show schedule and booking gigs, so hopefully we see you out there soon.

To keep up with Jay Silence Band's tour schedule, visit jaysilenceband.com.