Wallace Dietz buys the first Feelies album and is hooked by the frantic strumming and quirky new wave rhythms. The Silent Boys are born in a frat house in the early '80s as Dietz strums bits and pieces of Feelies songs on his $20 deparment store guitar, and his friend Tom Bowling keeps the beat on a couple metal Kool-Aid cans.
Searching for a new sound.
We won't be held to the ground.
When skies were clear and feelings aspired,
Our hearts struck a chord and we were totally wired.
These 4 lines of 'Band from Heaven' sum up the true spirit of the Silent Boys for Wallace and Tom. --passion trumps technical skill.
Years later, as roommates at the same graduate school studying counseling, Tom and Wallace decide to book time at a studio in Richmond, Va. to record songs they had neither fully worked out nor practiced. Tom is still playing drums on various household items, so Wallace contacts a childhood friend whom he remembers taking drum lessons and buys his kit for $40. The drums aren't exactly adult-size and some connecting pieces are missing, but with a new use for duct tape and & a couple of accomplished musicians (Spunktones’ Duffy Pappas, & light-metal bassist Mark Cambell) along for the ride, the first recordings are hatched!
Lead guitarist John Suchocki enters the picture by happenstance. He’s rooming with Wallace’s high school friend while completing his doctorate in chemistry at Virginia Commonwealth University and hears the recordings. Fascinated and enthused, John meets up with Wallace to “jam.” Wallace plays him songs by Echo & The Bunnymen and New Order to give him a sense of what he’s looking for to add to the Silent Boys mix, and something magical happens— John immediately absorbs the post-punk guitar riffs, infusing his own style and twist. 'Plastic Cowboy" is their first collaboration.
The Wall Street man is the new pioneer,
Staggering home with his fist full of cash.
I'm wealthy in ways he can't see
And no plastic cowboy is gonna gun down me!
It pays off for Wallace to haunt Plan 9 Records because one day he bumps into Bruce Smith and mentions the Silent Boys need a bass player. "I play bass" is first in the cascade of untruths told by Bruce as he immediately leaves the store to buy a bass guitar! Turns out to be just what the band needs and they're off.
By 1991 the Silent Boys have gone through no fewer than 4 drummers (Tom Bowling, Wallace Huff, Perry Iampietro, Greg Collins ... ) when long-time Silent Boys engineer John Morand puts down his bag of pretzels for just enough time to become an honorary member of the band and propel the beat for what is perhaps their most mature set of songs.
People change like the weather.
There's a storm in your eye.
Don't listen to the weatherman;
He can't make you a promise.
'People Change Like the Weather' becomes the blueprint for the future Silent Boys sound. The next several decades are Silent Boys history still in the making.