Three For Silver
"New songs for an old world"
Three For Silver is post-collapse, post-apocalyptic, post-rock, post-everything. A freewheeling collective in which the only rule is to survive and perform, an elastic conglomeration of musical freaks as likely to be found in a grand theater performing for foreign dignitaries as busking on your street corner for spare change. Lucas Warford, Willo Sertain, and Greg Allison form the black hole at the center of this exploding galaxy.
Lucas Warford (vocals, basses) is the thumping heart of the band, a chugging diesel engine of bass and growl. “The acid baby of Tom Waits and Les Claypool,” as NW legend Baby Gramps once called him. His one-of-a-kind basses are the platform upon which he yowls and raps his end-time visions of the world. He’s a fire and brimstone preacher without a religion, deep fried in the swamps of Florida. Willo Sertain (vocals, accordion) hails from the woods of North Carolina, the product of a dark ritual that sought to conjoin the crystal song of a wine glass with a rare form of wildflower that grows only in darkness. Her distinctively pure tones and haunting melodies act as a natural foil to the madness of Warford. Greg Allison (strings, mandolin, arrangement) is the master of pure sound, beating the ungainly ideas of Warford and Sertain into something resembling songs. He writes string quartet arrangements like he’s writing his own name, and generally classes up the joint. He just kind of showed up one day, and told Sertain and Warford he’d always been in the band. They’ve never thought to question it.
It was Sertain who named the band, forgot she did, and then blamed it on an old nursery rhyme that no one has found. On a long European tour with The Underscore Orkestra, Sertain and Warford, hired guns, began their collaboration, scribbling tunes in the back of the bus, and airing them out in snatches of road-weary downtime. Between them the songs flowed thick and fast, and they decided right then and there to jump ship and start a band. Sertain said it should be called “Three For Silver”, Warford agreed, and they vowed to never think about the name again.
Three For Silver has hit the road since 2013, unleashing their idiosyncratic sound on over 200 audiences a year, blind to anything but the next stage, the next audience, the next night. With nary a manager or booker in sight, their monomaniacal devotion has already led them all over the country and the world, performing in clubs, bars, theaters, boats, festivals, farmer’s markets, living rooms, and most recently partnering with the US State Department for multiple cultural exchange tours to Russia and other countries thirsty for truly original American music.
Along the way the band has grown, collecting those similarly devoted to the road, and the stage, and a sound that could live even after our cities have gone silent. Eschewing guitars and keyboards, Three For Silver has preferred to rummage in the musical attic, pulling out wonders and oddities and inventing new contraptions along the way. The band’s sound is elastic, responding to the needs of the song and the stage. Big sounds for big rooms, intimate sounds for intimate rooms. It’s a contradiction. Original acoustic music that isn’t always acoustic or even original. Always in style, but never in fashion. Belts tighten, waters rise, but the music will survive whether its carried in huge sound systems on festival stages or beaten out of a tub bass on the side of the road.
Their new album The Way We Burn is a testament to this aesthetic. In 2014 the band met Adam Lansky (tracking/mixing engineer) and a conversation was begun that would culminate in these sessions. Lansky is a renegade audio engineer, a devoted freak in his own right, with one eye on his mic gain and another on his cache of survival gear, waiting for the day when civilization finally gives up the ghost. He has devoted himself to what some call “field recording”, but could more accurately be described as capturing music out in the wild, away from studios, in the nooks and crannies where it’s most likely to breed and grow. He’s a big game hunter armed with mics and preamps instead of guns and traps.
Together, him and the band formed a vision of an album that would capture the wild tangle of Three For Silver’s sound. Recorded from a dank basement to a cloud-capped stone observatory, from a silent river home to an empty piano warehouse, The Way We Burn marks a new generation in album production, and a band of people that is more than just one sound or one style.
Whether live or on their new record, Three For Silver is a band for this moment, when it is hard to imagine the future and all too easy to focus on the past, when the rules no longer seem to apply, and when what you never thought possible is the only choice you’ve got.