Music News

The Silver Cord explores the dark side of humanity

Ken Keifer and Karl Haikara have been writing dark and abrasive yet atmospheric music since 2006. With lyrics culled from Keifer's extensive notes on ideas that occur to him on any given day, the average song from their band, the Silver Cord, delves into corners of the human psyche most other people try to avoid. And yet this musical exploration reveals an inherent empathy and compassion born of the sensitive spirits of the songwriters.

Not for everyone, the band's spiky, forbidding compositions are remarkable for their unique brand of stark beauty and emotional resonance. Though somewhat obscure, the Silver Cord's releases have sold fairly well at Independent Records. In advance of the release of a new album, Hate, we caught up with Keifer and Haikara and talked to them about their most controversial and affecting music video and the relevance of the term "goth."

Westword: The video for "Amber" is truly disturbing. How did that song come about, and what inspired the video?

Ken Keifer:

One day I was driving down I-270, going toward FlatIron Crossing, and I saw a sign that indicated there was an Amber Alert for a missing child. As I was driving, I started formulating a song about how if you had a child, your worst nightmare would be if your child was abducted and didn't tell you. The song is about a child who was abducted, then went home afterward and didn't say anything. The video is the flip-flop of that. It's seen through the eyes of the predator.

There was no script — no real thought went into it. We just went driving in the neighborhood. Ironically, at that time, school was getting out. Doors open and close, but you don't see anyone getting out. If you actually shot a video like that with a child, it would be completely fucked up. We had to create the illusion of that. We drove around in north Denver and found an isolated place that an actual child abductor might use. It wasn't planned that I would play the predator, but it just came out that way, and I started getting into the role. Would you want to do that? Hell, no. But it's a character.

You guys have had some affiliation with the goth scene in Denver, but do you consider yourselves a goth band?

Karl Haikara: I think most of the goth scene in general across the world has turned to electronic music and half-baked industrial pop stuff. What goth meant originally ties into us, but there's more going on in our music than that. But because of the way we look and the subject matter of our music, a lot of people like to simplify things like that. The ambient qualities of our songs don't just come from goth, but from black metal or ambient music itself, so I don't really feel like we're a goth rock band. Maybe in Europe, but not here.

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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.