For most teenagers, starting a band is a popular experiment. Assemble friends, borrow instruments, fight over a name, and occasionally play music.
Carlos Ferreira was no different. By fourteen he was playing in cover and original bands around Westchester. One of his bands, Wire, got good enough to attract attention from record labels, yet a record deal never happened.
Unlike countless teens that start a band and never pick up an instrument again, Ferreira decided to go back to music at the ripe “old” age of 48. After college, marriage, and two children, Ferreira began searching on Craigslist for any bands in need of a lead singer. Two years later, his band Silvergun Superman (a Stone Temple Pilots tribute band) is still together.
“It has taken on a life of its own,” said Ferreira, describing the maturation of the band. “We hope to make a little money but it’s not the end all.”
The brainchild of bassist Jeff Cusner, Silvergun Superman does not need to rely on income solely from their music. Each member works full time. Guitarist Mark Baginski, originally from Poland, was a serious music student, studying numerous classical instruments. Now settled in Pelham, he has a high-end decorating business. Drummer Akil James, nicknamed “The Professor” for his autodidactic approach to his instrument, works at Hewlett Packard in White Plains. Ferreira works night shifts at Trader Joes, and Jeff Cusner is in banking.
“Music is a hit or miss thing,” said Ferreira in a phone interview. “You need to get the right people to do it. Everybody in our band locks in well together.”
The difference between a tribute band and a cover band is two-fold. One, tribute bands, unlike cover bands, primarily play one band’s music while cover bands may play music of various artists. Secondly, tribute bands focus on not only perfecting the music, but replicating on-stage performances.
Silvergun Superman practiced for the better part of three months before playing their first show. Their initial focus was getting the music to gel before working on performance nuances. The group said they give little interpretation when it comes to covering the Stone Temple Pilots.
“I want to hear the album cuts when I go see the stuff," Ferreira said about listening to tribute bands. “It’s more of a betrayal to the original music if they play what people don’t want to hear.”
After the music becomes second nature, the band concentrates on re-creating an authentic Stone Temple Pilots concert.
“We stay true to the album, but we supercharge the live sets,” acclaimed Ferreira. “Vocally, I have to be accountable for changes in voice that wouldn’t necessarily come to light on the CD.”
Silvergun Superman rehearses twice a week and performs anywhere from one to four times a month. Venues for tribute bands around Westchester are few and far between, forcing the band to find bookings in Long Island and New Jersey. Ferreira remembered a thriving music scene growing up in Mount Vernon during the 70s and 80s.
“There was a place called Rising Sun near the raceway in Yonkers, where metal bands like Anthrax and Twisted Sister played.” recalled Ferreira.
Likewise, Port Chester's Capitol Threatre and 7 Willow St., and Mount Vernon's The Lowdown were popular spots for regional and local acts over the decades; Willow Street was converted to a dance hall, and the Capitol now hosts special events. It's not just bands who are looking for a stage these days–music fans in Westchester have to look elsewhere to catch live shows.
Being forced to New Jersey and Long Island is hard enough, but Ferreira claims booking a tribute band is not easy.
“Unless you are impersonating Elvis or doing The Beatles, tribute bands can be a tricky thing. Friends of ours are in tribute bands that are amazing to watch live and duplicate stuff incredibly. Bands like The Machine (a Pink Floyd tribute band) who tours all over the world making $10,000 to $15,000 a show are few and far between,” said Ferreira.
Still, Silvergun Superman is hard at work perfecting the music and performance of the Stone Temple Pilots. The band's shows bring back memories of grunge's heyday and an era that saw rock complete its journey from synthesized 80s excess to barebones, high-gain anthems. When asked what their biggest weakness was, the band stated it had nothing to do with music.
“The chink in our armor is the networking aspect,” said Ferreira. “We all work full-time and connections are tough. We use Facebook and Twitter, but it takes someone in their 20s that has a lot of time to fully reap the benefits of the websites.”
Social media and teenage dreams might not be on their side, but if you can’t make it out to a Stone Temple Pilots concert, Silvergun Superman can take you back to an era when Seattle was the center of the music universe, rockers wore flannel shirts, and MTV actually played music.
For more information on Silvergun Superman including videos, music, and photos, visit their website - http://www.myspace.com/silvergunsupermanband
The band is playing at Sullivan Hall in New York City on March 19 and Barney McNabb’s in Yonkers on March 26.
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