The band was started by Tommy Corrigan on vocals, Rich Jacovina on guitar, Jim Mallin on bass and I believe Tommy's brother Steve on drums. I'm pretty sure Ryan Heyner joined a bit later. Rumor has it that the band started right after the band got their instruments for Christmas - so there was probably a good deal of interesting practices in those formative days. While Silent Majority came to be known as a band that had a strong lyrical focus, Splastic Action was a bit more amusing in their approach with songs about the classy Long Island motel "The Pines" that boasted choice lyrics like "screwing it, doing it at the Pines!" More to come on that later. Eventually the band did take a far more serious approach and changed their name to Silent Majority and really became the embodiment in many ways of a Long Island Hardcore Sound: melodic yet abrasive with vocals that provided melodies that would stick in your head.
The band would play regularly at all of the cornerstones of LI hardcore in the early 90's like the Angle, the Pipeline and Right Track Inn. Jim Mallin left early on and was replaced by Paul Brinkman. This lineup would release a live split recorded from a WUSB show with Time Alone and a 4 song demo in 1993, along with their first 7" on Reservoir records called "This Island Earth." I'm not sure if Paul left to join Clockwise, or if he was in the band concurrently. Steve Corrigan left after "This Island Earth" was released and they replaced him with Ben VanDyke who remained their drummer through the rest of the band's existence.
The bass slot is not quite as easy to recollect as it seemed like there was a revolving door there. I believe Paul was with the band until 1996 for the next release, the "Distant Second" 7" that was also released on Reservoir, but I know that Daryl Palumbo of Glassjaw was filling in often after that. The first time I heard Silent Majority was when "Distant Second" was released. My friend Colin, who was the other guitarist in our band Six of One asked me if I had heard Silent Majority. I had seen the name quite a bit on flyers, but hadn't actually seen the band.
He was like "You. Need. To." and gave me the 7". I was blown away.
While I loved the song "Recognize" for the obvious hardcore, finger pointing, pile-on gusto, there was a real complex post hardcore sound with songs like "wellness" and "km". At this point I started going to see Silent Majority pretty regularly at shows at PWAC, Deja 1 and Dr. Shay's. The following year would bring the album that most people would say defined the band. 1997's "Life of a Spectator" was the band's first full length and was released on Wreck-Age/Exit Records.
Musically and lyrically it showed the band at the peak of their powers. "To Tame the L Word" and "Cross Crowded Rooms" make excellent bookends for the album, and many of the songs challenge the listener with dynamic rhythms and powerful sing-alongs. I always felt that lyrics can go one of two ways - either be really subtle and let the listener do the interpreting, or get right in their face. Tommy Corrigan does the latter, and it works well in this context.
I remember seeing them perform "Spoken Words" and "Tip Your Bartender" before the album coming out just thinking that there was something really compelling to Tom's delivery and the message from the songs. With that being said, the diatribe in "Popular Opinion" is a bit of a blemish on an otherwise perfect album and in my opinion, is an instance when subtlety may have been called for. The only criticism that I've found to be repeatedly levied against the band would be towards Tommy's character. It can't be easy to deal with people misrepresenting you - but I do remember seeing Tom wearing a Tommy Hilfiger shirt which had the logo changed to read "Tommy Corrigan" instead.
Depending on your relationship with the guy, it was either kind of funny or kind of funny that he would wear that. I don't know, my name isn't synchronous with any designer brands where I could imagine mocking up something like that - although if I could score a shirt from those "Schneider National" moving trucks I would be wearing that every day, no lie. Let's get back to the focus: the music. The band was hugely influential (see local bands All Grown Up, or bands like Polar Bear Club), integral to the long island hardcore scene, and largely responsible for shows at the PWAC and I don't think that contribution can or should be minimized. In 1998 they followed "Life of a Spectator" with "Based on a True Story" a compilation of their 7"s which had went out of print, as well as the song "Expectations" from the "516 - A Long Island Hardcore Compilation" and "Soft Six" from the Welcome to New York, Now Go Home" comp.
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