Alibi V.26 No.31 • Aug 3-9, 2017 

Music Interview

With Harmony

Local trio constantly rocks out

Constant Harmony, (L-R): Jenny Sillery, Lee Sillery and Amy Sillery
Constant Harmony, (L-R): Jenny Sillery, Lee Sillery and Amy Sillery
Photo by Israel Summon
Harmony's the thing in music where different tones are produced simultaneously by different sources to create alluring aural effects. To be in harmony is, ideally, to be in concord. From this simplified definition it's possible to say that constant harmony remains the goal of many a musician. This phenomenal outcome—borne outrageously and courageously upon the sounds made by a drum kit, a fuzzed out bass and electric guitar guided by informed hands—is manifested, deconstructed and intensely revisioned by local rocanrol artists Constant Harmony.

Besides being an overarching musical goal, Constant Harmony is also the name of the band formed by siblings Lee, Jenny and Amy Sillery. Local musicians who grew up in the scene, the trio features the vision of a brother who happens to be one of the premier sound engineers in this burg, buoyed by the choptastic playing of two sisters who know how the hell to rock. All formidable multi-instrumentalists, the members of Constant Harmony have gained traction in these parts with an intricate, trance-producing cascade of pop pronouncements and heavy, grungy, crust-coated output. It’s a sound that eschews traditional definitions of musicality while embracing a hard-edged harmony all its own.

The other day, Constant Harmony rolled by mi chante for a chat. This is part of the conversation I recorded with them.

Weekly Alibi: What's your story? How did you end up by making music in Albuquerque?

Lee Sillery: We've lived here pretty much our whole lives. We grew up around music, went to Highland [High School] and saw a lot of shows. A long time ago, in high school, we did an album with my uncle, Ted Gunther, a drummer and keyboardist that's been in a ton of local cover bands over the years.

Amy Sillery: I don't know about you guys, but he's been an inspiration to me, as a drummer. When we were kids, he was always playing the drums. I always really admired that.

When did that first recording happen?

Lee: I was 21. It was mostly me, I wrote most of the material. I didn't know how to play drums, so my uncle Ted played drums. We multi-tracked a digital recording that featured vocals, guitar, mandolin, bass and drums. That was the three of us plus uncle Ted. After that, we played in a string of different bands. I played bass in Gusher.

You played bass in Gusher? I did not know that. Dude.

Lee: Yeah! We toured Mexico and all that. It was great. Jenny's played in more bands than me, though.

Jenny: When we first, first started playing out, Lee had written some songs on the acoustic guitar. And he and I would get together at parks around town and write lyrics. Then we got a gig. Our first show ever was at that old blues bar on the corner of Central and Carlisle ... that weird, funky, white building.

Club Rhythm and Blues?!

Jenny: Yes. It was open mic style, we went up and performed for some family and friends. But Lee kept writing and writing, and Amy joined in. That's when we recorded that first album, about 15 years ago. I branched out a little bit. Zach, from Gusher wanted to start a group called Personals, so I was drumming for him. And now I also play in a band called Cat Teeth, a punk band that includes two other local musicians, Becki from Weedrat and Lizzie from Hot Glue.

Amy: I've mostly concentrated on Constant Harmony. I do some background vocals for Cat Teeth and have been exploring hip-hop with Jenny's husband, a local hip-hop artist named Julian whom everyone calls Phat J.

Lee: I think that because we have a recording studio, we've gotten really focused.

Tell me a little bit about your studio, it's called Push Drive, right?

Lee: For me, I'm getting hit with all this different music all of the time. All of the bands I produce, record and engineer are influential to my own work as a musician. I feel like I've put out a lot of very good recordings here in Albuquerque.

I just happened to look at a list of some of the bands you've recorded. In a lot of ways you've been responsible for documenting the punk, shoegaze and psych sub-scenes in Burque.

Lee: It's an alternative to what you see on the surface of the scene.

Where are you going with all this rocanrol momentum?

Lee: This all happened because we really love playing. People see that [when we're] on stage, I get a lot of positive feedback after shows, like, “Somehow, you kids are destroying it, I don't get it.” I think it's the energy we put out, it's forward looking.

Amy: We have good energy, it's positive music, people like it. We try to make music—so many times I hear bands where it's the same beat over and over; they're good, don't get me wrong—but we try to make each song completely different: tone, beat, everything.

How else would you describe what you’re doing, musically, culturally?

Amy: We are all really unique. When Jenny hops on the drums, things change. Who is ever on drums determines how a song will sound. Jenny has this thrasher-drummer-style, with a double-kick and all of that; Lee is really more hip-hop influenced, he has that fast poly-rhythm thing going on. Meanwhile, I'm funky but all over the place. But I don't know if we fall into a specific genre of music. There's no specific sound we're really trying to put out. We portray different ideas through very different sounding songs.

What are you all working on right now?

Amy: Lee is getting married, so we're not playing any shows right now.

Jenny: Right now, we are officially in the writing stage.

Lee: We have half an album already. Six songs. We try to play new stuff at all our shows. We're playing Fall Crawl on Sept. 9.

Amy: We're also working on making videos of songs from the last album, Phonological Assimilation, which came out earlier this year. Jenny's husband, Phat J, directed our video for “Eat the Rich,” and he's going to help us with videography for other songs on the album, like “Hey,” “Siku” and “Acid Rain.”

Do you have a favorite local band these days?

Lee: That's a hard question. Burque SOL is mind-blowingly good. They are so good. Last gig I saw, dude, blew my mind. There's a new band I've seen around called Sleepy Hero, they're really good.

Why do you think Albuquerque is a good place for musicians?

Lee: This is a good place to make music because there is a lot of musical energy here, from traditions, from generations [perusing the craft]. There's a lot of talent here. It's one of the last authentic communities in the country. I'm listening to local bands all the time, doing sound at Burt's. It's really cool, I get really psyched listening to what's going on in town now.

Constant Harmony: “Eat the Rich!”