Crossing Paths; An Interview with Ken Hatten of Silver Bars

On The Weather Network’s website, the data from the Copernicus Climate Change Service system confirmed that this past August will be the second warmest since satellite temperature data has been available.  In Austin, Texas, Silver Bars lead guitarist Ken Hatten can attest to the sweltering heatwave.  During the beginning of our conversation, Hatten mentions that he’s doing all that he can to beat the heat himself.

The eclectic music scene in Austin has become broader and more multi-layered with impeccable talent over the years.  Having been in town since 1990, Hatten has found himself in a sweet spot within the local group Silver Bars.  Evoking an atmospheric dream-pop vibe to their music, Silver Bars released their debut full-length Center of the City Lights in the middle of August.  Within the tracks, the tunes present bittersweet harmonies, melodic swirls of guitar riffs, and resonant rhythms.

How long has the band been together?

We have been playing together for two and a half, three years.  We have all known each other for quite a while.  John (Wilkins), myself…this is the third different band that we’ve played in.  We started playing in bands in ’97; we were in a band that got pretty popular till about 2001.  Got into another band with him for a few years.  Then we started this thing two and a half years ago.  It’s been really nice.

How did Silver Bars come together?  Did everyone just come to find each other?

Paula (J. Smith), Stephen (Thurman), and John were playing in a band and they contacted me because I think that the lead guitarist was leaving.  John and I have always been really connected; he thought of me instantly.  Paula and I knew each other; my old bands played with her bands.  Stephen and I didn’t know each other but we had crossed paths. 

So, John asked me in and we just clicked from the get-go.  We started writing stuff instantly.

How long did it take for the band to get Center of the City Lights together?

We did two different sessions at Good Danny’s studio out in Lockhart, which is just outside of Austin.  The first session we did six tracks and about five months later we did the second session.  We went in prepared, though.  We had the songs written out; we wrote about fifteen to twenty songs and we choose the best ten. 

Working with Danny Reisch, did he allow you to have complete freedom or did he interject at times during the recording?

Absolutely…he really gave us total freedom.  He let the reigns go and gave us advice when he felt like we needed advice.  We added a few things; we got creative with some keys and he suggested some percussion stuff.

This album does have a certain sound to it and we love it.  We have already written other seven or eight songs for the next record because we just want to continue to write.  For the next record, I can see us dabble with some different things.  Try to keep it interesting and new.

How did the band get involved with Shifting Sounds?

Brandon Tucker has been a guy that I’ve known for a little while; he played in some bands in town.  We had sent a lot of the stuff to different labels and we sent it to him.  We are happy to be involved with them; they are a small label, but they are showing some promise.

Being in several other bands, does Silver Bars feel differently from what you have done previously?

It does feel different.  We work so well together.  The writing process is really organic; we have a practice space in town and that’s where we write everything.  Whatever it’s myself or somebody else comes in with an idea…we all have our parts.  We all share songwriting credits.  It’s easy and that’s a nice feeling.