Fall Silent by Ali Rivera
Interviews

Levi Watson of Reno hardcore vets FALL SILENT looks back on the 90s, hardcore amidst pandemic, and more!

Fall Silent by Ali Rivera
In conjunction with the release of a new full-length from Reno, Nevada based long running hardcore band FALL SILENT, we have teamed up with the band’s vocalist Levi Watson to give you a unique spin on their craft, bringing back some of Levi’s memories from the 90’s and the differences between his experiences doing the band in the 1990’s compared to doing it now.

Reno, NV hardcore legends FALL SILENT return with the full-length You Knew I Was Poison. Founding members Danny Galecki, Damon Watson, and Levi Watson join bass player Joe Foley to bring you more aggressive β€œfastcore” that you have come to expect from this outfit.

From 1994–2017, FALL SILENT released three full-lengths; No Strength To Suffer (1996), Superstructure (1999), and Drunken Violence (2002), three EPs; Never Forget… (1995), Nineteenhundredninetyseven (1997), Life: Beautiful, But Heartless (2000), a split with WELLINGTON (1995) and Six Years In The Desert (2001), which was a re-mastered collection of No Strength To Suffer, Nineteenhundredninetyseven and Life: Beautiful, But Heartless all on one CD. Most recently, their Cart Return 7” EP was released in 2017.

Their not-so-subtle brand of metal tinged hardcore is what put them on the aggressive music map. 

πΉπ‘Žπ‘™π‘™ 𝑆𝑖𝑙𝑒𝑛𝑑 𝑒𝑓𝑓𝑒𝑐𝑑𝑖𝑣𝑒𝑙𝑦 π‘π‘Žπ‘π‘‘π‘’π‘Ÿπ‘’π‘‘ π‘‘β„Žπ‘’ π‘ π‘œπ‘’π‘›π‘‘ π‘œπ‘“ π‘‘β„Žπ‘’ π‘’π‘–π‘”β„Žπ‘‘π‘–π‘’π‘ ’ π‘“π‘Žπ‘ π‘‘ π‘π‘’π‘›π‘˜ π‘Žπ‘›π‘‘ β„Žπ‘Žπ‘Ÿπ‘‘π‘π‘œπ‘Ÿπ‘’ π‘œπ‘“ π‘‘β„Žπ‘’π‘–π‘Ÿ π‘ π‘˜π‘Žπ‘‘π‘’π‘Ÿ π‘ π‘˜π‘’π‘’π‘›π‘œ π‘¦π‘œπ‘’π‘‘β„Ž π‘Žπ‘›π‘‘ 𝑏𝑙𝑒𝑛𝑑𝑒𝑑 𝑖𝑑 π‘€π‘–π‘‘β„Ž π‘‘β„Žπ‘’ π‘π‘™π‘Žπ‘§π‘–π‘›π‘” π‘Ÿπ‘–π‘“π‘“π‘Žπ‘”π‘’ π‘œπ‘“ π‘’π‘Žπ‘Ÿπ‘™π‘¦-𝑛𝑖𝑛𝑒𝑑𝑖𝑒𝑠’ π‘‘π‘’π‘Žπ‘‘β„Ž π‘šπ‘’π‘‘π‘Žπ‘™.

It’s no wonder that their live shows brought together fans of hardcore, punk, and metal, chanting the lyrics to their favorite tracks.

You Knew I Was Poison brings FALL SILENT full circle. These tracks continue where the band last left usβ€”with lyrical content that rakes today’s world over the coals in the way only FALL SILENT can do.

You Knew I Was Poison is currently available for pre-order through Revelation Records and was released on March 5, 2021. Their red vinyl variant is limited to 300, and their RevHQ exclusive white/black splatter variant, limited to 100, is already sold out.

Read the full interview below.

Hey there Levi! Thanks so much for joining us. It’s a great pleasure having you here on IDIOTEQ. How are you? How’s Reno?

Today, I am doing great. I am a middle school math teacher and we just wrapped up our third quarter on Friday (March 12th) and now I have two weeks off. I am fully vaccinated, and our record is finally out. Things are good for me right now.

Reno is doing well too. We are slowly getting things back open. Bars and restaurants capacity limits are going back up and people are feeling a bit safer. Pretty soon the weather will get warmer and that is always a good feeling.

Awesome! Please give us some more thoughts on these crazy times we are having since early 2020. How has it impacted you personally and your local arts scene in Nevada?

Probably the biggest effect that the pandemic had on me was the cancellation of in-person learning for the nations’ schools. Our school district had to react very quickly to the closures and didn’t do a very good job with its response. As teachers, we were told to start teaching online from our homes. They didn’t train us or give us any kind of guidance on how that would work. They told the kids that the online education will not affect their grades, so most kids just wrote off the end of the year and flipped us the bird. I don’t blame them. I really like being an educator and that was taken away from me and that sucked.

My wife owns a piercing studio, and they were shut down for about 10 weeks, and that was hard on us. The hardest part was not knowing when it was going to end. No one in local government knew what to do, so they had no answers for us. It was a total shit show.

I was never scared about getting the virus, and I never did get it, nor did anyone in my family. So that is good.

Continued below…

Fall Silent - Live-3 - Juan, Two, Three Photography

Fall Silent live – Juan, Two, Three Photography

Artistically, of course it has had a big effect on our local arts scene. I have found that a lot of artists lost a lot of creative drive during the pandemic. I have not felt very creative during this past year. It has done Fall Silent a terrible disservice as a band. Our record was put on hold, and without shows, we have been very stagnant and unmotivated. I hope that things will get better for Fall Silent as a live band. We have a lot of opportunities to travel and play for people all over the world, but I don’t know if my guys want to.

Crazy times, huh? How do you remember your perspective on the world and things outside music back in the mid-90s when you released your debut album?

I was 19 when our first album came out in 1995. Growing up, all I wanted was to be the singer of a rock band. I got involved with the local hardcore scene in Reno in the early 90s and it changed my life and perspective on everything. My brother, Damon (Fall Silent drummer), and I met friends that we still have to this day through hardcore and skateboarding. We felt like we were invincible and could do anything we wanted. We were fresh out of high school, living on our own, we had no wives or kids, and we all worked at a great pizza place in Reno, so we were always fed.

Through punk and hardcore music, I learned about living a life as someone completely outside of the mainstream world. I met people who traveled the world, played music, and survived without having to go to work at some job they hated every day. This lifestyle totally appealed to me and it is what I wanted. It was sort of a romantic and adventurous lifestyle that I thought could totally work for me at the time. I wanted to spit in the face of society and the way that we were supposed to live and strive for. Looking back, I can see that it was a bit naive, but at the time, it felt totally possible.

Music wise, the 90s had this unique charm of blending many different styles and bringing together fans of contrary genres to one unique experience during live shows. Your music embodies just that – the eclectic amalgam of styles that brought people together. How do you see this aspect has evolved over the years and even in the pre-COVID-19 era, what was your take on the prosperousness of local independent scenes and hardcore punk communities in particular?

I totally agree that the nineties brought together a lot of different styles together and I think that Fall Silent embodied that completely. Damon and I got introduced to punk and hardcore with bands like Sick of it All, Agnostic Front, Judge, Gorilla Biscuits, Integrity, Chokehold, and a really great local band called Discipline. Throughout all of that, we still listened to hip hop that we all grew up with like Erik B. and Rakim, Organized Konfusion, The Ultramagnetic MCs, BDP and KRS-ONE, Souls of Mischief, Too Short and NWA. Then we met Danny, and he showed us a lot of Death Metal like Malevolent Creation, Demolition Hammer, Obituary, and Cannibal Corpse. We were also heavily influenced by Crowbar when we first started as well. When we started Fall Silent, all these influences came out in our music. We were much more open and adventurous with our musical styles when we first started. We played a lot slower, and more groove oriented at first and you could hear a lot of the Crowbar and hip-hop styles mixed in.

Through the years of touring and meeting other bands we would encounter a band like Coalesce, who were doing a lot of odd-timed stuff and we messed around with that in the later parts of the 90s. The “Nineteenhundredninetyseven” 7″ had a lot of off timed stuff as did Superstructure. As the years went on, it seems like we have sort of streamlined our style and focused more on playing fast and hard. Focusing more on the power and chaos, rather than the groove.

During the nineties, the Reno scene was awesome. It seemed like everyone had a band or two, and there were shows almost weekly. There were not a lot of solid venues at the time, so we would do warehouse shows out in industrial Sparks, or we would build stages in the back of a restaurant, and there were a lot of basement venues in town that were awesome to play in. We loved playing shows and did anything we could to make that happen.

During that time, it seemed like this was the case nationally as well. Local scenes all over the country had a lot of underground shows and the scene was welcoming and exciting. The network was solid, and you could book a tour as a no name band, like Fall Silent, and we would have the opportunity to play in front of people who never heard of us before. It seems like nowadays; it is not like that as much. It seems like hardcore/punk has been co-opted by older people and this has taken the scenes out of the hands of the smaller networks of like-minded people.

I don’t know if I completely answered your question. Hopefully, I did.

Continued below…

Fall Silent live – Juan, Two, Three Photography

Sure thing! So what led you to continue this journey in 2021? Give us some details of the background to your β€˜comeback’?

We were a very active band from 1995 to 2003, and then the band became too unmanageable. We had a car accident on tour that was a real bummer, I had my first child, which wasn’t a bummer at all, and the band members sort of lost our drive. We decided to put the band on hold for a while and we played our last show in the summer of 2003.

I focused on my newborn son and I finished college and started my teaching career in 2006. Sometime around 2015, Damon and Danny got in touch with me and wanted to get the band back together. Damon had moved back from Seattle and our bass player at the time, Justin Spalin, moved back to Reno from wherever he was at. We secured a practice spot and started playing again. We played our first show back at a great bar in town called Forty Mile Saloon, which is owned by a close friend. It was the day after Christmas in 2015, and the show was packed. It was probably the most fun we have had at a show since we have been playing again.

We wrote some songs and then recorded them here in town. That 7″ became “Cart Return”, and Revelation Records put it out. By then, Justin was sort of losing his grip on life and we had to let him go from the band. At that point we got Joe Foley to play bass with us and we started to work on the songs for “You Knew I was Poison”. That about leads us up to the present time.

What does Fall Silent have planned for the rest of 2021?

Well, that is a good question. I don’t really have an answer for that just yet. I would love to play some shows to support the new album, but that is sort of up in the air right now. The pandemic has really put a damper on that type of activity. I want to do as much as I can to spread this album around and get the word out about our new record. I am sure that things will start to normalize as soon as the vaccine gets out to more people.

I read somewhere that shows and live music will resume once 75% of the population is vaccinated.

For now, I would like to focus on getting our band members back together so we can relearn all the songs that are on our new record. We haven’t played them in so long. We need to get our stamina back up to performance levels.

Personally, I would like to focus on my abs.

Continued below…

Fall Silent live - Juan, Two, Three Photography

Fall Silent live – Juan, Two, Three Photography

Ok guys, so lastly, are there some other acts, labels, or DIY ventures you’d like to advertise here for us to look into?

I always must let the world know about Gehenna from California, and Nevada. They are one of my favorite bands and fully embody what a hardcore band should be like. They have a new album coming out on Iron Lung Records in the next few months. Other bands that are awesome from Reno are Elephant Rifle and Weight of the Tide. I haven’t seen these guys play in a long time and I hope I will be able to in 2021.

Up in the Northwest, Regional Justice Center just released a new album on Closed Casket Activities. Zombie Apocalypse from the Northeast is working on a new album. Max Ward and 625 Thrashcore Records are always putting out records that rule.

Oh, and Revelation Records is awesome too.

Continued below…

Fall Silent live - Juan, Two, Three Photography

Fall Silent live – Juan, Two, Three Photography

Thanks so much for your time! Feel free to share your final thoughts and take care!

I think I have said a lot. I look forward to seeing all the shows that got cancelled in the last year. I hope all the bands and people that make a living working in the live music industry can get back to work soon. I hope that this covid thing doesn’t kill my favorite bands, because I want them to keep putting out music and playing live.

OK, thanks. Let me know if you need anything.

– Levi

Levi Watson of Reno hardcore vets FALL SILENT looks back on the 90s, hardcore amidst pandemic, and more!
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