For the past couple of years, guitarist Kirk Salopek has led Silencio, a band that plays the moody music from the soundtracks to David Lynch movies. The group also writes original music in the vein of the scores that Lynch collaborator Angelo Badalamenti penned for the director's films. A high school art teacher, Salopek recently spoke about the band and its multi-media performance slated to take place this weekend at the Beachland Ballroom.
It's unclear to me whether your songs are original compositions. Are they?
Silencio is playing 90 percent David Lynch soundtrack music. But we ended up doing a CD because we thought we'd never have product, so we decided to create an album of original music, which is really how that project started. It's material that sounds like it could have been outtakes from Lynch's films, and we can sell it because it's original material. If you remember how popular the soundtrack to [the Lynch TV show] Twin Peaks was, those people who were really into that music haven't gotten any more of it. You can only get so much. We're an outlet for putting new stuff out.
What was the first David Lynch film you ever saw?
Blue Velvet. I remember the first time I saw it, I was pretty young. I was in my early teens. I was unsure of what was going on. At the same time, I remember getting into the Twin Peaks soundtrack. I remember listening to those Julee Cruise songs and thinking they were so cool. I didn't know much about the show. I really got into the Lynch thing when I saw Mulholland Drive. I might have seen Wild at Heart, but didn't bookmark it enough. I thought Mulholland Drive was unbelievable, and then I went back and watched Twin Peaks and followed suit with everything after that.
Which film is his weirdest?
Eraserhead, without a doubt. The thing that makes people so attracted to that stuff is that it's so weird, but it also has the 1950s America thing that twists it with something that is so dreamy and nightmarish. The combination is what hooks me.
Having watched all these movies, have you been able to decipher the themes? There's always a double, isn't there?
He's big on the doppelganger, that's for sure. He also likes to throw things out of the time period. There will be a movie that is set in the modern time but all the cars will be from the '50s and '60s. There's always some woman in trouble in some way or other. She's always a starlet or starlet to be, and there's always a lost dream.
What do you have planned for the show here?
When we were out with the Afghan Whigs, we played a 45-minute set. We can play for about three hours. We cover everything from the music from Eraserhead to Inland Empire. We don't play anything from [Lynch films] Dune or Straight Story, the Disney movie he did about a guy driving a tractor across the country. We don't do things chronologically but we jump around thematically. It's a real task because we're not doing our versions of those songs. We're playing those songs true to life. To structure them without moving around too much on stage, we play four sets, an instrumental and vocal and then break and do it again. In those sets, we might throw a few of our original tunes. Most of the time, even the big Lynchheads don't know the difference between our songs and the soundtrack songs. We try to sandwich them in seamlessly.
I also see you're headlining the "Erasehood Forever" festival in a couple of months. What is that all about?
That's a festival that started a year or two ago in Philadelphia. There's a section of town where David Lynch lived where he came up with the theme for Eraserhead. It was a dangerous part of the city for many years. It was really run-down. I think he said it scared the hell out of him while living there and he saw a lot of terrible things. In years since then, they're trying to revitalize that part and there are artist lofts and galleries there now. One of the galleries runs a David Lynch-themed event and we'll be headlining the show.
Do you use video in the show?
That was a bone of contention. When we played our first show or two, we played in front of a montage of Lynch videos. We were swiftly informed you couldn't do that. We didn't want to do that anyway, so we went to independent filmmakers who were inspired by David Lynch and sought these people out and have them create their best representations of Lynch on film. That's projected behind us when we play. It works out really, really well and we have some amazing stuff.
Has David Lynch comes across the band's music?
He's aware of the music in a number of ways. Not long after we started playing, there was an article in Rolling Stone for a show Lynch was putting on for Chrysta Bell. She's a super sexy torch singer. She's his current project. He produced a record with her and when she released the record, he held a private show for her in LA. somewhere. Rolling Stone was there for the show. The reporter asked him about Silencio. He said he wasn't aware of us but praised us for doing that. Since then, we've been in correspondence with his daughter, who's also a director and we're playing next weekend in New York and the David Lynch foundation is joining us for the show.
What is the audience for this music?
The demographics are really strange. We're like a glorified tribute band. We're tributing a genre of film soundtracks. There's no other way to see this unless you come to see the show. We're not competing with anyone for space. We might do Tarantino soundtracks next year and we may do spaghetti Westerns for six months after that but Lynch is the vehicle for this year. We're fortunate that it's worked out the way it has. It's been a lot of fun.