One of the pioneering bands of the early alternative country scene, the Silos were the brainchild of vocalist, songwriter, and bandleader Walter Salas-Humara, who was born in Florida to parents who were exiled from Cuba. Salas-Humara began writing songs while he was a student at the University of Florida in Gainesville in the early '80s (where he played in an early version of the Vulgar Boatmen), and by 1985 he had relocated to New York City and was eager to record an album. Salas-Humara began working with bassist and guitarist Bob Rupe, another former Floridian. Calling themselves the Silos, the pair recorded -- with the help of a few friends -- a low-budget album called About Her Steps. Released by a small New York independent label called Record Collect, About Her Steps earned a number of rave reviews, and Salas-Humara and Rupe assembled a touring version of the Silos to support the release on the road.
In 1987, the road-tested Silos went into the studio to record Cuba, which added a tougher and more confident tone to the debut album's blend of jangle and fuzz; the album became another critical favorite, and the band signed a major-label deal with RCA, who released the band's self-titled third set in 1990. A more delicate and carefully crafted effort than its predecessors, The Silos was lovely but a tough sell, and sold poorly by major-label standards (though it moved significantly more copies than Cuba or About Her Steps). RCA dropped the band, and Rupe parted ways with the Silos; Salas-Humara opted to continue without him, and the Texas-based independent label Watermelon Records issued Hasta la Victoria! in 1992. After 1994's Susan Across the Ocean, the Silos tool a break for several years, but with 1998's Heater, the group began to solidify with a new lineup -- Salas-Humara, bassist and pedal steel player Drew Glackin, and percussionist Konrad Meissner -- and a series of strong albums followed, including 2001's Laser Beam Next Door and 2004's When the Telephone Rings. ~ Mark Deming