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Pittsburgh Artist of the Week: Silver Car Crash

Raffaele DiLullo

Silver Car Crash deal in noisy post-punk rock full of raw emotion. The band’s latest album Shattered Shine is at times pummeling and at other times mathy and danceable. The song “Pleasure Zone” features Justin Bennett on vocals, dealing with the search for meaning in a world that can sometimes feel devoid of it.

Justin and Zack recently spoke with WYEP’s Joey Spehar.

Silver Car Crash are:

Justin Bennett – Guitar, Vocals
Conner Kapelewski – Guitar, Vocals
Zack Mester – Drums
Brandon Walker – Bass, Vocals

This conversation may be lightly edited for content, clarity, or length.

What’s your musical history up to this point?

Justin: Our history as a band goes back to some time around 2016. Met Conner and started jamming. The lineup solidified around 2017. We came up when there were a lot of basement and house shows. Most of the bands around that scene in Pittsburgh we played with were more along the lines of emo and we wanted to do a rock band that had more influences coming from post-punk, noise rock, and were influenced at least in spirit by other local bands that were playing hardcore punk as well. In the early days, I think a lot of our influences (atleast mine) came from the post punk explosion of the 2010’s (iceage, ought, protomartyr, etc.) And the few local hardcore punk bands we would go see (Eel, Blood Pressure, Peace Talks, etc.). Some local rock bands around that time we were friends with and were influential to us were Barlow, the Zells, Rave Ami, Reality, and Sam Peligrino. Bands that had either more raw sound or had a foot in the door of punk.

Zack: I started playing drums in concert band in elementary school then I got my first drum set in 6th grade. I became obsessed with learning John Bonham and Dave Grohl drum parts and also began learning jazz in the middle school band. In high school, I got a double bass drum pedal and started learning all the metal music I could find. After I graduated college, Conner introduced me and my brother to Justin and that’s when the band started. My brother, Josh, played bass on the first demo release then he moved away to college so we got Brandon on our two full albums. I love this band because I feel like I am able to combine all of my past influences into one modern sound.

How do you describe your sound?

Justin: My influences on Shattered Shine are Sonic Youth (a foundational inspiration for me), Mission of Burma, Wipers, Unwound, Gang of Four, the Cure, Rites of Spring

Zack: Noisy post-punk-styled rock with strong grunge and country influences

Tell us more about the song “Pleasure Zone.” What inspired you to write it and what does it mean to you?  

Justin: It was written somewhat stream of conscious a couple years ago in my mid-20’s looking back on the transition to adulthood I felt in my early twenties/late teens. I remember reading “the myth of Sisyphus” by Camus when I was twenty during a months-long bout of general numbness to everything and isolation and felt robbed by the book’s message to feel happy despite life’s meaninglessness. I remember thinking I’d rather be unhappy in a world full of meaning than happy in a world devoid of it.

It’s a song about older me looking back on a younger me trying to fashion some way of viewing the world after my old ways of thinking about the world lost their meaning for me. “Accuracy” can be seen as a younger me trying to reach out in vain for some kind of clarity or truth to my life, but it could just as well be that I liked the sound of the word, or it could be that I unconsciously lifted it from the hook of a Cure song.

The images in the verses sort of deal in dreams, religion (hymns, visions), endings (night as end of the day, lights fading sun setting), and the at-first reluctant yet absolute duty to affirm life despite uncertainty is clear in the last line of both verses.

What was the first album that really changed your life?    

Justin: Two albums that changed my life was a compilation of CCR huts I gor on cd when I was young. That got me into music in general. The second was Daydream Nation by Sonic Youth. That is what made me obsessed with playing guitar and what made me wanna be in a band and write my own songs.

Zack: It was either an early Elvis Presley hits compilation or Guns ‘n’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction haha My grandmother gave me the Elvis album and my dad bought me Appetite for Destruction in secret since my mother wouldn’t allow me to have it lol

Who are some other Pittsburgh artists you think more people should listen to?  

Justin: Gaadge, Ex Pilots, Gina gory, Gundy, Living World, Sleeping witch and Saturn, Concealed Blade (they might have broken up but I just saw them in July so who knows?)

Honorable mention to 2 bands that are broken up now but were incredible: Choir, Come Holy Spirit

Zack: Gundy, Little Angels, and Rex Tycoon have been killing it.

Any other super interesting things we should know about you?

Zack: the same members of Silver Car Crash are also reiterated in other bands such as Justin Bennett & the Debtors (a country band) and a hardcore punk band as well (yet to be named or recorded).

Learn more about Silver Car Crash here:


Check out previous Pittsburgh Artists of the Week here.

Joey Spehar is a Pittsburgh native who started as a volunteer D.J. at WYEP, fresh out of college in 2006. He took on any job they’d let him do like editing audio, engineering remote broadcasts, and shoveling snow.