Drummer Eric Kuhn and guitarist Robin Landy are returning to the road as Bay Area instrumental group Silian Rail. The two will be touring to support the deluxe vinyl release of their second album, “Parhelion.” Santa Cruz’s own Caffé Pergolesi will be hosting their April 14 performance at 7:30 p.m.
The band has a history reminiscent of a quirky indie movie, one that would perhaps be perfectly scored by their music. Kuhn and Landy first met as pre-teens in North Carolina.
“We were both dating each other’s best friends at the time, but then we lost touch completely for years and years,” Kuhn said.
After leaving North Carolina to attend college at UC Santa Cruz in 2001, Kuhn honed his musical talents the Santa Cruz way.
“I did a lot of street performing downtown and on Pacific,” Kuhn said. “My friends and I would all go to the sidewalk and play percussion pieces.”
It wasn’t until several years later that Kuhn and Landy would cross paths again.
“I moved in randomly with one of Eric’s friends,” Landy said. “We ran into each other for the first time in years at his birthday, actually.”
A short time later they decided to form Silian Rail. The decision to create an instrumental band came naturally, because, as Landy said, “neither of us can really sing.”
This musical format has its drawbacks. The use of a vocalist and song lyrics allows musicians to easily express different emotions, stories and beliefs, along with innumerable other topics. A good instrumental band has to convey the same subject matter without the luxury of a singer. Silian Rail tackles this challenge with enthusiasm and skill that are in equal parts invigorating and impressive.
The creativity found in their music is also reflected in their name.
“The name doesn’t mean anything,” Landy said. “It’s actually the name of a font from the movie ‘American Psycho,’ when they’re comparing business cards.”
This sense of whimsy has made the band a good fit for notable do-it-yourself, Oakland-based record label Parks and Records. The label is known for its eco-friendly approach to music production and for launching the careers of bands like the Velvet Teens and Xiu Xiu.
“We both relate to [Parks and Records’] mission statement for sure. That was a big motivating factor for us in working with them,” Kuhn said. “We’re both environmentally aware people and feel concerned for the impact people have on their natural environment. It was cool having a label that was about something, as opposed to just the process of putting out music.”
Parks and Records helped Silian Rail produce the limited edition orange vinyl version of their critically praised second album, “Parhelion,” which triggered the band’s decision go on tour.
Kuhn spoke of the fond memories he has of UCSC and his history with the venue hosting the show.
“UCSC provides a really unique educational opportunity, and we’re really excited to be coming back to Santa Cruz as a town,” Kuhn said. “It’s a place that’s very supportive of music and very open-minded, which is always refreshing. I love Caffé Pergolesi. I used to hang out in there all the time.”
Hiram Coffee, the booking agent for Caffé Pergolesi, offered a similar review.
“We love [Silian Rail] — they’re the sweetest people ever. I saw them play for the first time at a house show in Davis and they were great,” he said. “I’ve seen them play a couple times since and it’s just absolutely amazing.”