Monday, January 10, 2011

Silent Majority

"Let's see, let me think back, because it's been about 5 years now..."

I have been sitting on doing this post for awhile.  Part of me feels like I won't be able to provide the back story of the band in its entirety, and the other part of me feels like anyone reading this blog should already know who the hell Silent Majority are.  You're from Long Island and were in a band?  Then you gotta know Silent Majority, right?  It's like Billy Joel for everyone else.  Ah, I hate Billy Joel, bad reference. But maybe there are a few people that weren't there, didn't know or just want to get nostalgic, so I'll do my best... based on a true story. It's Silent Majority, it needs to be up on this blog.

Silent Majority started 1990, as something of a joke band called Splastic Action.  The band was started by Tommy Corrigan on vocals, Rich Jacovina on guitar, Jim Mallin on bass and I believe Tommy's brother Steve on drums.  I'm pretty sure Ryan Heyner joined a bit later.  Rumor has it that the band started right after the band got their instruments for Christmas - so there was probably a good deal of interesting practices in those formative days. While Silent Majority came to be known as a band that had a strong lyrical focus, Splastic Action was a bit more amusing in their approach with songs about the classy Long Island motel "The Pines" that boasted choice lyrics like "screwing it, doing it at the Pines!"  More to come on that later.

Eventually the band did take a far more serious approach and changed their name to Silent Majority and really became the embodiment in many ways of a Long Island Hardcore Sound: melodic yet abrasive with vocals that provided melodies that would stick in your head.  The band would play regularly at all of the cornerstones of LI hardcore in the early 90's like the Angle, the Pipeline and Right Track Inn.  Jim Mallin left early on and was replaced by Paul Brinkman.  This lineup would release a live split recorded from a WUSB show with Time Alone and a 4 song demo in 1993, along with their first 7" on Reservoir records called "This Island Earth."  I'm not sure if Paul left to join Clockwise, or if he was in the band concurrently.  Steve Corrigan left after "This Island Earth" was released and they replaced him with Ben VanDyke who remained their drummer through the rest of the band's existence.  The bass slot is not quite as easy to recollect as it seemed like there was a revolving door there.  I believe Paul was with the band until 1996 for the next release, the "Distant Second" 7" that was also released on Reservoir, but I know that Daryl Palumbo of Glassjaw was filling in often after that.

The first time I heard Silent Majority was when "Distant Second" was released.   My friend Colin, who was the other guitarist in our band Six of One asked me if I had heard Silent Majority.  I had seen the name quite a bit on flyers, but hadn't actually seen the band.  He was like "You. Need. To." and gave me the 7".  I was blown away.  While I loved the song "Recognize" for the obvious hardcore, finger pointing, pile-on gusto, there was a real complex post hardcore sound with songs like "wellness" and "km".  At this point I started going to see Silent Majority pretty regularly at shows at PWAC, Deja 1 and Dr. Shay's.

The following year would bring the album that most people would say defined the band.  1997's "Life of a Spectator" was the band's first full length and was released on Wreck-Age/Exit Records.  Musically and lyrically it showed the band at the peak of their powers.  "To Tame the L Word" and "Cross Crowded Rooms" make excellent bookends for the album, and many of the songs challenge the listener with dynamic rhythms and powerful sing-alongs.  I always felt that lyrics can go one of two ways - either be really subtle and let the listener do the interpreting, or get right in their face.  Tommy Corrigan does the latter, and it works well in this context.  I remember seeing them perform "Spoken Words" and "Tip Your Bartender" before the album coming out just thinking that there was something really compelling to Tom's delivery and the message from the songs.  With that being said, the diatribe in "Popular Opinion" is a bit of a blemish on an otherwise perfect album and in my opinion, is an instance when subtlety may have been called for. The only criticism that I've found to be repeatedly levied against the band would be towards Tommy's character.  It can't be easy to deal with people misrepresenting you - but I do remember seeing Tom wearing a Tommy Hilfiger shirt which had the logo changed to read "Tommy Corrigan" instead.  Depending on your relationship with the guy, it was either kind of funny or kind of funny that he would wear that.  I don't know, my name isn't synchronous with any designer brands where I could imagine mocking up something like that - although if I could score a shirt from those "Schneider National" moving trucks I would be wearing that every day, no lie.  Let's get back to the focus: the music. The band was hugely influential (see local bands All Grown Up, or bands like Polar Bear Club), integral to the long island hardcore scene, and largely responsible for shows at the PWAC and I don't think that contribution can or should be minimized.

To take up a thread from above though, I have to mention that I hadn't heard about "Splastic Action" at that point and I only had discovered the band from their 'serious' point and onward.  There was an evening that I remember hanging out with my one of my best friends: Brian, and a bunch of other people.  We were over at the house of his girlfriend at the time, and talk turned to bands as it often did.  We had been drinking quite a bit and I was waxing pretty enthusiastically how for hardcore you could not beat Tommy Corrigan's lyrics.  My friend Brian's girlfriend Amy, would always love to play devil's advocate and was prodding me by asking me if I was so sure about that.  Well, Amy's brother is Jim Mallin, and she happened to have a copy of some Splastic Action and played me the infamous "Pines" song to prove me wrong.  I was flabbergasted.  But even goofy lyrics aside, it was catchy as hell.  Despite being pretty inebriated I do have some recollection of the song.  Unfortunately, this was my only encounter with the classic "Splastic Action" tape.  I never thought I'd be doing a blog on old LI bands and I didn't get a copy of it.  Amy has since moved several times and doesn't have it either.  A lost classic, to be sure.  I had brought "The Pines" up to Ryan a few times while he was in Slowlands and I was in Satellite Lost - he always laughed and claimed he had no idea what I was talking about. 

In 1998 they followed "Life of a Spectator" with "Based on a True Story" a compilation of their 7"s which had went out of print, as well as the song "Expectations" from the "516 - A Long Island Hardcore Compilation" and "Soft Six" from the Welcome to New York, Now Go Home" comp.  

Nick Ghambarian would eventually join on bass for the band's final album, the EP "You Would Love to Know" that came out on Initial Records in 1999.  The band broke up in 2000 and a last show was planned for months.  It seemed like it was planned for July, but eventually came to pass January 5, 2001.  I remember it quite vividly since it took place at a church in Manhasset that used to have show semi-regularly... and there was a snowstorm.  I was about to flake out the show since the weather was terrible, but wound up going (my friend Phil actually convinced me and then didn't wind up going himself).  I remember at least a foot of snow in the parking lot when the show was over and I still wonder how people made it home since the church was up a steep hill and the driving was pretty precarious that night. At the show, Glassjaw reunited its "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" lineup to play only those songs, and Kill Your Idols played as well.  Silent Majority did reunite twice in 2006 for two benefit shows - one in May and another one in November (I believe the same one that Mind Over Matter reunited for in memory of James McCauliffe).

Tommy Corrigan would also briefly be a member of Advent during his time in Silent Majority, and afterwards join his brother Vinnie and form Blood Red with other members of Inside.  Later he would join the band Capital with members of The Reformation.  Ryan Heyner would really show his impressive diversity as a musician forming the moody rock band Slowlands and later the electronic band Small Black (who recently completed a nationwide tour.).  Rich Jacovina formed Heads Vs. Breakers and later Bastard Cut.  Ben VanDyke joined Babyteeth which later changed its name to Free Republic of Soul with with Mike Treff (of Closure) on guitar, Matt Messina (of Helen of Troy) on vocals, and Tim O'shaughnessy on bass (who was later replaced with Jon Florencio of Inside). Nick Ghambarian would join The Movielife and then form Bayside.

This download is for pretty much everything that is out there.  This is their discography as far as I know - the music from the split with Time Alone (I can't find Time Alone's stuff - it's just Silent Majority's side), the first demo as Silent Majority, the version of "Expectations" from the 516 comp, "Life of a Spectator", "Based on a True Story", "You Would Love to Know" and a version of them doing The Cranberries' "Salvation" from a comp called "The Dynamite Rose" comp which also included Milhouse, Good Clean Fun, Eulcid and Atom and His Package.  I haven't been able to find the full comp - I was about to give up trying to track it down after MONTHS of searching for the SM version of Salvation and just post the rest of the material, but I found it last week tucked away in some post on a message board from years ago and it was still active, amazingly enough.  So I'm including that little gem as well.  Sorry - no Splastic Action unless someone, somewhere can get me something.

Here's the whole damn thing:

Some other links on the band:


  1. I own the dynamite rose comp and can send you a rip when I get a chance. //j

  2. Here is their full discography with live stuff: