Breaking the Awkward Silence – Scranton indie alt rock band reunites for one night only
The show is part of the Electric City Music Conference tonight
Andrew Cutillo is a pencil pusher in Washington, D.C. James Sanderson competes in Magic the Gathering tournaments in Boston. Chet Williams helps people with their computers in Philadelphia. Steve Zampano is a bread baker and recording engineer in Scranton. Robert Salazar works in film and theater in Chicago. They have one thing in common, however – they’ve never given up on music.
11 years ago, they formed an alternative rock band in Scranton called Awkward Silence and became a well-known indie act in the Northeastern Pennsylvania music scene and beyond. They moved on and moved away in 2010, but they’ve continued making music with other bands and haven’t forgotten their roots.
Neither did Joe Caviston, co-producer of the Electric City Music Conference, who asked them to reunite for one night only at the group’s favorite bar, The Bog, as part of the conference. Before the show tonight, NEPA Scene took a look back at the band’s short but storied career with drummer Robert Salazar, learned how they’ve utilized their musical abilities since, and got a preview of what they’ve planned for patient fans this evening.
NEPA SCENE: Tell us what you remember about your first show with Awkward Silence and your last show at the Vintage Theater. What memories come to mind?
ROBERT SALAZAR: 2004. We played at a sweet 16 under a tent and it was raining. Everything got caked in mud, and we had so much damn fun. I remember we covered “Stacy’s Mom.” Fast forward to 2010, when we played what we thought was our farewell show. That gig was the first and only time we played “New Blood,” a song that came out real smooth. We wrote and recorded it in a matter of hours at the old 119 Studios, where Steve was an engineer. Most of us consider it our favorite Awkward Silence song.
NS: What was your personal favorite or most memorable show with Awkward Silence over the years?
RS: Test Pattern and AYC shows always stood out. Warped Tour was pretty damn warped.
NS: Yeah, you guys played the Warped Tour and even toured for a bit. What do you consider the band’s greatest success?
RS: Sticking together for five years.
NS: Why did the band part ways in 2010?
RS: We were all living in different places, going to school. We just couldn’t keep it together.
NS: What have you and all the other members been up to since?
RS: Everyone’s kept up with music in their adopted cities – I have Boo Baby in Chicago, Chet has Roof Doctor in Philly, James has Lesser Animals in Boston, Andrew has a Bruce Springsteen cover act in D.C., and Steve still records music in Scranton.
NS: Have you talked about a reunion at all before this gig came up?
RS: Nope. Shout out to Joe Caviston for making it happen – the guy rocks.
NS: What made you guys decide to reunite specifically for the ECMC?
RS: ECMC kicks up a lot of dust for music in the area, and Caviston, like us, believes heavily in this area’s potential. We’re proud to be a product of Scranton/NEPA.
NS: Have you heard from fans over the years waiting for this reunion to happen?
RS: Someone came up to James just recently and sang praises, gave him this big hug. I hope those people will be at the show.
NS: How much time have you had to get together and practice for this show?
RS: Two long, glorious days of abstinent piety, eating Steve’s handmade bread, rehearsing songs, even writing some new songs.
NS: What has it been like practicing and relearning these songs again?
RS: We haven’t missed a beat. It’s like riding a bike, except instead of a bike it’s amps.
NS: What are you expecting from this reunion show, and what can fans expect from the show?
RS: Folks can expect a little less of the Warped Tour sound and something more mature. We’re going to be so happy up there; we hope it’s infectious.
NS: So you’ll have some new material as well?
RS: Even on our last lap as a band, we don’t know how to play together and not keep writing. It’s a compulsion for us, and we couldn’t help but bring something new to this last supper.
NS: Would you consider doing this again, or is this strictly a one-night-only thing?
RS: Last call for Awkward Silence.
NS: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
RS: If you read this and you’re in the NEPA scene, start a band with your friends. You don’t even have to be good. We weren’t and look at us.
by Rich Howells
Rich is an award-winning journalist, longtime blogger, adequate photographer, podcast co-host, and practicing poet. He is the founder and editor of NEPA Scene.