Silverspork disbanded in October 2010 following the departure of their mercurial vocalist/lyricist Brian Gretzinger. They had just released their eponymous titled CD that many, including this writer, considered to be a hard rock masterpiece. The band was poised for bigger things, a regional tour and radio support. This was their moment of truth, the opportunity to break out regionally with potential to reach the national market.
But within a few weeks after the release of the album, the band was left without their vocalist and spiritual muse and left to drift like a cork in the ocean with no clear direction home. The band retreated into an extended hiatus that lasted for about two years. Review caught up with Carl Abila, the conscience of Silverspork - a minstrel on a mission to keep his music alive.
He is last original member of Silverspork and the keeper of the flame.
Review: It's been a long hard road for you to resurrect your band. What have you been doing since the breakup?
Carl: We've played a handful of shows featuring singers like Mike Nowak, Melissa May of the Thunder Chickens and T Roll Nelson from All For the Cause. They were in shows with us, just to keep us playin'. I guess we were doing that basically because we didn't want people to think we were done playing. We just wanted to stay current and let people know were still alive and well.
Review: You kept Silverspork alive, and you continued to use that name for a while with these other singers. Am I correct in understanding each of these vocalists are great singers but it didn't quite work out for various reasons.
Carl: It wasn't necessarily that it didn't work out. Mainly those three singers, they had all their own projects going on as well. It was just that everybody was working and performing in other bands and it was really hard for things to work out. It's hard enough trying to play in one band let alone two or three. By the end of the process we got Troll from All For the Cause and we began to do work on the Spork project. We almost said good-by to the whole thing after Troll was gone. We were really just kind of lost at that point. We were starting to lose hope.
Our last show was the Crispy Music Fest at White's Bar in August 2012. Like I said, at that point I wasn't even sure what I was going to do. The guys really didn't know. I almost wanted to start over and go a different direction but we waited it out a little bit longer and this is what happened.
Review: Who are the musicians in the band now?
Carl: It's Mario Salcedo (drums), Jay Burk (bass guitar), Carlo Abila (lead guitar), and Patrick Brennan (singer keys/synth). I'm the only original member really left. Patrick is our vocalist now. He was in a couple of bands including 2nd System.
Review: When did you guys get together?
Carl: About a month ago. Pat messaged me on line and actually, you know, he messaged me that he was on his way back up to Saginaw. I thought it was going to be a couple months but he said, “I'll be there in a few days,” so, you know, we got together. It was a different feeling, that's for sure. We even got this good feeling - we haven't had a good vibe in a long time. He fit right in. There was a good chemistry there, a different chemistry, I should say. The other singers we had chemistry with too, just on a different level.
Review: Where did the rehearsals take place?
Carl: We moved around quite a bit. We were practicing at my basement for a little bit, we were practicing at the Vault when it was there. Now we practice at Jay's, our bass player's house.
Review: Does Brennan also play an instrument?
Carl: Pat brought keyboards and synthesizers into the mix of instruments on top of him doing vocals. As time goes on we might experiment more with other instruments, so that should make our first couple of shows pretty interesting.
Review: So with these changes, does this mean that Spork has quite a different sound now than the Silverspork that we knew and loved?
Carl: I wouldn't say it's changed. I would say more evolved, I guess that's a better way to put it. You know, we still have high energy shows. We just have a couple of different spices we're going to put on, mix it up a little bit.
Review: Is it going to be heavy music - will expand the sound?
Carl: Yeah, we're going to mix everything. There's going to be a lot of mixing. We're still going to be melodic, we're still going to be light, and we're still going to be everywhere. It reflects what Pat brings to the table for us. You know, he's got so many ideas as far as instrumentals and with the stuff he's written, we're combining them with what we've wrote, so we're kind of mixing everything up into one ball.
Review: Who are the principal songwriters?
Carl: It's all of us. For some reason, that's how it's always happened. Since we've started, we've all wrote together. It's never been a one-sided deal or anything like that. It's just happened naturally somehow, and it works better that way for everybody. There's no fighting and arguing and none of that stuff. We've never had a problem with that.
Review: How many new Spork songs have you written?
Carl: Well, we already have a full set, so we're up to nine complete songs. We're still going to play some support tunes and we've got about four originals that we're planning to have done by our April 6th show. We were thinking about doing a song by the Police. We were thinking of doing Synchronicity. That was back in the 80's. We are putting our own little twist on it. We might do a song by the Subhumans and a Roy Orbison song. I really like when bands put their own twist on other songs like that. I think it's pretty cool.
Review: Do you ever talk with Brian? Have you ever talked with him lately?
Carl: I do talk with him occasionally. Not so much after things went down the way they did, but, you know, some time has passed where I'm civil now and let by-gones be by-gones, I guess. I have talked to him. He's doing well. I do wish him well.
Review: When I reviewed your CD and going on tour, it sounded like you were on the verge of breaking big.
Carl: Yeah. Before Brian left, we were actually very, very close .We had everything set up exactly the way we had planned it. We worked 12 long years to get to that point, and we all pretty much worked our tail off for that, so yeah, we were pretty close. We had some cool tours coming up with some big bands, and the album was released. And you know we just couldn't do it. When Brian quit, we didn't have no choice any more. We couldn't play. We couldn't promote the album.
Review: You had things lined up, it sounded like. Those people, like managers, producers, or people that were kind of offering you things, have you talked to them again to let them know that you're back?
Carl: I've already mentioned it to a couple of agents that I work with. They're just waiting on me, for us to get our act together and we're going to see what we can do. We are not necessarily going to start all over, but we're kind of starting all over and they're going to see what we can do now. I still have all the contacts. I plan on playing around the local area, as usual, and try to get back out on the road. I try never to burn any bridges with anybody so, for that reason only, because you never know, so hopefully we're back on track.
Review: Do you have a studio lined up for your new music?
Carl: We will probably end up going back to the studio that we used before - Random Awesome Recording Studio in Bay City, Michigan. Josh does a really good job and he's an incredible guy to work with.
Review: On your last CD you wrote a song about Pee Wee Herman.
Carl: Yeah, I wrote that song and that was the one that was kind of raising eyebrows a little bit, even from our independent label, Revolution Music. They wouldn't let me sell it online, but I did it anyway. I mean not to sound like a rebel or anything, but you know, I don't know how a lot of labels are when it comes to that kind of stuff. I love Revolution Music. I just wish they would have let me have a little more freedom with it, but at the same time I understand where they were coming from. They met me 50/50 on it, so I put it on the album, and they just said, “Well, as long as you don't sell it online. Just sell it at a live show.” I'm like, “Okay, I'll do that. That's fine.” So after Brian quit, I didn't think it really mattered any more so I put it online anyway.
(Laughter) What a rebel.
Carl: Yeah, yeah. It couldn't get any worse at that point, so why not?
Review: What do you have in mind for Spork?
Carl: I never looked to get rich or anything like that. You know, I just wanted to make a living at it, and that's still what I want to do now. Having Patrick in the band has given us another spark that we haven't had in a long time to do that…like there's a renewed sense of energy and purpose.
Review: Now as you recreate your sound, are there any influences that have inspired you or got you thinking about a different form or type of music?
Carl: Not so much in the last few years. I don't have anything' against the music out right now. It's not my cup of tea. We've always been on the same wavelength as far as our influences go. I think that that's why we've been without a singer so long. It's so hard to find musicians that are all on the same page. I've actually gotten into more industrial stuff over the last couple of years. I used to like industrial a lot, but I've kind of grown a bigger appreciation for it. I know Patrick has a lot of Nine Inch Nails influence. I still draw a lot of my influence from the '50s and '60s style of music. I still want to try and do something to that effect, to mix it up a little bit.
Review: Was there any particular achievement or moment that meant so much to you as a musician - one of those magical moments that you always remember?
Carl: There were a couple of times - it's a toss-up. One was in 2007 when we won a contest to open for Godsmack at the Wendler Arena in Saginaw. That was a huge thing for us! There were thousands of bands all over the country in our bracket. It was really cool how they had it set up. We also played at the State Theatre in Detroit and the place was just packed full of people. Winning that competition was like… I can't explain it. That's when we ended up playing at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
Review: Any last comments?
Carl: Yeah, we're not done yet. We've got a lot of music left to offer and hopefully a lot of the people who have supported us will continue to support us - and our families too. I mean our families have been there through thick and thin. Our band is our family, our immediate family. We've been through it all. We've moved, we've been through deaths, we've been through babies, families, you name it, and we still stuck together. That's got to say something for our integrity.
Review: It sure does.