Silent Majority’s ‘Life of a Spectator’ turns 25; members of TBS, Glassjaw, Movielife & more reflect
Long Island Hardcore legends Silent Majority's sole album, 1997's Life of a Spectator, has been out of print on vinyl for years, but for its 25th anniversary it's finally getting a reissue thanks to the back-in-action Wreck-Age Records, which was re-launched by LIHC veterans Chris Enriquez (On the Might of Princes) and Arty Shepherd (Mind over Matter). We've teamed with Wreck-Age on a "white banana swirl" vinyl variant, limited to just 300 copies and only available in our stores. Pre-order yours while they last. That's a mock-up of the variant above.
If you're unfamiliar with this classic, here's what we wrote about it in a 2020 retrospective:
Your favorite (Long Island emo) band's favorite band, and probably the most underrated band on this list given how influential they were and still are. Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, The Movielife, Glassjaw (whose frontman Daryl Palumbo was in Silent Majority for a minute), and Bayside (whose bassist Nick Ghanbarian was also in Silent Majority) may have brought Long Island emo to the mainstream, but all of those bands were influenced by Silent Majority, and Silent Majority's influence extended outside of Long Island too. (Upstate NY's Polar Bear Club probably would've sounded different without the influence of the Silent Majority song they were named after.) Similar to New Brunswick's Lifetime, Silent Majority took the sounds of NYHC and added in a greater emphasis on melody, and though the LI bands were surely listening to Lifetime too, it was Life of a Spectator that you heard clearly resonating throughout the Long Island-centric emo boom of the early 2000s. Silent Majority sadly broke up before they themselves could taste fame (this is their only full-length album), and the bands they influenced all eventually took these sounds in other directions, but Life of a Spectator is more than a necessary stepping stone in the development of 2000s emo. This is one of the best Long Island emo/hardcore albums of all time, period, and these songs still have major impact today.
The reissue's been newly remastered by Chris Enriquez's Spotlights bandmate Mario Quintero at AudioMQ studios, and you can stream the new remaster here:
Along with the launch of this reissue, members of Glassjaw, Taking Back Sunday, The Movielife, Bayside, Crime In Stereo, On the Might of Princes, Kill Your Idols, and comparatively newer bands like Incendiary, Koyo, and Somerset Thrower spoke to us about the album's influence. Here's what they had to say...
Justin Beck (Glassjaw): Most records from our world don’t age well. This record was not only brilliant then, it’s still brilliant now. This record is timeless. This record is also responsible for influencing a bunch of horrible audio dumpster fires that made it really big! Straight up, I think them dudes should all pay a tax to these guys dead ass!
Vinnie Caruana (The Movielife, I Am the Avalanche): When I first saw Silent Majority at the Right Track Inn in Freeport, Long Island, NY ('93/'94?), my parents had dropped me off straight from my soccer game. This was my fist time seeing them. My most vivid memory from that show was when they played "Knew Song." Bouncy, melodic, perfect. Everyone who was dancing had a smile on their face and no one was getting hurt. From that moment I learned that hardcore could be whatever you wanted it to be. When The Movielife began in the summer of 1997, Life of a Spectator had just been released. Shouting along to every word in my 1987 Jeep Cherokee with Daryl riding shotgun is how I learned to sing. Friends would joke about how I was trying to sound like Tommy in the beginning. They were absolutely right. SM paved the way for a new kind of Long Island Hardcore. In the mid to late '90s you’d find members of Glassjaw, Movielife, Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, Crime In Stereo, On the Might of Princes, etc littered throughout the crowd at an SM show. Not only were we living the best time of our lives, we were learning from the best.
Eddie Reyes (Taking Back Sunday): Man, I can't believe a Life of a Spectator 25th anniversary reissue is being released already. I have so many memories of that record. I just have so many memories of all my good friends and all the guys in Silent Majority, just growing up with them and creating this awesome music scene on Long Island which they were a huge part of and when that record came out, I just knew that a legend was born. That may sound cheesy but I mean it; it's a legendary record that deserves to be up there with all the other legendary records you know like Fugazi - 13 Songs, Agnostic Front - Victim in Pain, Quicksand - Slip, Gorilla Biscuits - Start Today… you know I could just go on and on and on because Silent Majority deserves all that respect and all the recognition. Silent Majority inspired me musically. That record inspired me, those shows inspired, it all inspired me to push my limits cause that's what Silent Majority’s Life of a Spectator is. Basically Silent Majority’s Life of a Spectator IS the sound of the Long Island hardcore scene.
Nick Ghanbarian (Bayside): Life Of A Spectator was the score to an important and formative time in my life, as well as many other people on Long Island. Being at a Silent Majority show was the first time I felt pride in a community of people. Everyone that they brought together at a show had a sense of connection like no other band at the time. This album was the first time I heard a band from Long Island sound like they could conquer the world.
Chris Enriquez (On the Might of Princes): Silent Majority aesthetically and lyrically epitomizes THE definition of what Long Island Hardcore was in the '90s. I saw bands like Bouncing Souls, Avail and Lifetime in the early/mid '90s but they weren’t from where I was from and Silent Majority was. They sang about Long Island, the banter on stage in between songs felt like inside jokes that only we could fully understand as Long Islanders, they were OUR band. Tommy Corrigan was the Billy Joel of Long Island Hardcore. Musically they were more than just melodic hardcore punk. Rich brought the melodic punk edge, Tommy’s vocals were like if Tim Barry from Avail was covering early U2 songs. Ben brought incredibly dynamic and unique drumming that was like a mixture of Slint and Hum and Ryan brought incredible guitar leads that at times incorporated jazz chords. The sum of their parts was SO unique. Bands like Mind Over Matter and Neglect came before them and then they brought their spin on things, which ultimately spawned a generation of bands to come that pulled from them ranging from Glassjaw, Taking Back Sunday, The Movielife, Brand New, Taking Back Sunday, Somerset Thrower, Koyo and more.
Gary Bennett (Kill Your Idols): You can’t talk about Long Island hardcore and not mention Silent Majority. Yes, from OGs like Nihilistics and Crumbsuckers, to the crop that put LIHC on the map.. Mind Over Matter, Neglect, Garden Variety... Silent Majority started out in the windstorm of that crop, and proceeded to get better and better before our very eyes. Without a doubt, I’d say Silent Majority is the very sound of LIHC itself. In the years after they broke up, the hallways of every rehearsal space I’ve ever rented echoed with the sounds of good bands that were definitely picking up the torch and running with it. But Silent Majority perfected it. It’s theirs. I’m lucky enough to say I’ve gotten to see them in every stage of progression, and Life of a Spectator is probably the quintessential LIHC album. If there is anything perfect about punk, hardcore, whatever you call it, it’s to be found on that album.
Kristian Halibert (Crime In Stereo): I first came across Silent Majority from a mixtape I had been given by my cousin. I was immediately drawn to “Polar Bear Club” as I spent every summer of my youth at Gilgo Beach. That small nod became something that would forever attach me to their music. I was young and screaming for an identity and I found that in Silent Majority. Hardcore music has shown me a world beyond anything I could have ever imagined and I owe that largely to Silent Majority.
Brendan Garrone (Incendiary): Life of A Spectator captured the feeling of growing up on Long Island. Much has been written about the impact this album has had on countless individuals, musicians and bands, but it's hard to put into words what it really meant for kids on this weird, crowded island of 7.5mm people. Silent Majority reunited for the first time in 2005 when I was living in London and I moved up my flight home to the day of the show. I remember how baffled my parents were when I insisted I head over to The Downtown after being home for a total of about 20 minutes. It wound up being a great decision. Over 10 years later, my band was lucky enough to play the 2nd Silent Majority reunion, which remains one of the highlights of our career.
Brian Audley (Incendiary): When I was discovering hardcore, I was always drawn to the sound but couldn't always relate lyrically. That changed when I heard Silent Majority. Life of a Spectator articulated exactly what I was thinking and feeling growing up on Long Island. It made me realize that my experience wasn't any less valid or challenging than what the tougher NYHC bands were singing about. Our problems were just unique to our surroundings and different. Silent Majority took that and turned it into a source of pride for young Long Islanders. The songs have grown to take on new meanings as I matured with the record and it still hits just as hard as the first time I heard it. Silent Majority continues to inspire and contribute to the scene they created 25 years ago with every new generation that discovers Life of a Spectator.
Frank Traficante (Somerset Thrower): I first heard Life of a Spectator when I was 12 and had just started getting into punk and hardcore. I don’t think I realized at the time how much that record and band would shape my life in the years to come. The music is a perfect balance between aggression and melody, catchy riffs and clever structures. The lyrics and delivery are passionate and vulnerable. You believe what you’re hearing and each song is talking about something relatable. Growing up in Lindenhurst, NY, the same Long Island town Silent Majority is from, made me feel even more connected to it. When we were kids, my friends and I would wreak havoc on our town with that album blasting in the background. Life of a Spectator is solidified as THE Long Island Hardcore album.
Joey Chiarmonte (Koyo): I could write a 30 page essay dissecting the nuances of Life of a Spectator and what it means to me. To write a single paragraph has me reeling because it’s hard to find the words. There is no record that summarizes the coming of age experiences within Long Island’s suburbia better than LOAS. There are few records that have made me feel deeply and truly understood, that validated and gave credence to things I’ve felt; LOAS did all of that for me more than any hardcore record ever written. It’s been an endless wealth of inspiration, guidance, and therapy in my life. To say I’m thankful for SM’s existence would be a gross understatement. One more reunion please.
Grab the new reissue on limited swirl vinyl HERE.