The Silly Pillows

Infobox musical artist |
Name = The Silly Pillows
Origin = U.S.A.
Genre = Indie pop, Twee pop, Power pop
Years_active = 1986 – present
Label = Hoppel di Hoy
Little Teddy Recordings
Perfect Pop
Rover Records
Teichiku Records
Current_members = Jonathan Caws-Elwitt
Hilary Caws-Elwitt
Past_members = Cheryl De Luke
Sam Elwitt
Michael E. Fiato
Dave Joachim
Belinda Miller
Linda Smith
Charlie Zayleskie

The Silly Pillows are an American indie pop band formed by Jonathan Caws-Elwitt. They began as a home-recorded duo of Jonathan and his wife Hilary, sharing tapes through the cassette underground. In the 1990s the band evolved into a studio-recorded full lineup, which dissolved in 2000. In 2005 Jonathan and Hilary began home-recording again as "The Original Silly Pillows."


In the early 1980s, Jonathan had been part of punk/psych/experimental group The Killer Asparagus (in the Boston area) and punk pop band The Degrads (in Rochester, NY, along with his brother Sam Elwitt). Jonathan started recording cassettes at home in 1984, and in 1986 he asked his wife Hilary Caws-Elwitt to join him on vocals, choosing the name The Silly Pillows for the project.

The first Silly Pillows recordings were circulated on cassette through the growing network of home tapers, spurred by positive reviews in the magazines "Sound Choice" and "Option". In 1992, Hilary decided to stop singing, but by then their cassettes had attracted some attention in Europe. The tracks on the Silly Pillows' first release, "When She Gets Home," were home-recorded. In 1993, Jonathan assembled a group of friends for the Silly Pillows' first studio recordings, which were released as the "Equilibrium" EP on Norway's Perfect Pop label. The first studio lineup was Jonathan, his co-worker Cheryl De Luke, Sam, and Christopher Earl of [ Squires of the Subterrain] . Over the next few years, more studio recordings were released on vinyl and CD by Perfect Pop and a German label, Little Teddy.

In 1996, the possibility of a Japanese tour led Jonathan to assemble a lineup that could perform live: Jonathan (vocals), Sam (guitar), Michael E. Fiato (bass), [ Dave Joachim] (drums), singer-songwriter/artist Linda Smith (vocals), and Charlie Zayleskie (keyboards). Although the tour never happened, the Silly Pillows performed in New York and a few other locations, opening for some well-known acts like The Magnetic Fields. Belinda Miller of the kids' radio show Greasy Kid Stuff later became the female co-vocalist.

In Japan, where a split single (with Citrus) on Rover Records had reached #3 on the domestic singles chart, enthusiasm was high enough that a subsidiary of major Japanese label Teichiku Records released a "best-of" compilation, "Pillow Paw Prints", in 1997. "New Affections", released in 1998, was the Pillows' last full-length label recording. In 2000, the band set up a temporary studio at the Caws-Elwitt home in Friendsville, Pennsylvania, to record a new project, but soon after the lineup dissolved. The five song EP that had been recorded was released online as "Tomorrow is Yesterday".

After a hiatus, Jonathan began writing and recording at home again. Eventually Hilary decided to try singing again, and as "The Original Silly Pillows," they have recorded a few new tracks since 2005.


Stylistically, the band's music has been described as "concise, personal pop" featuring "'60-ish arrangements with playful lyrics, lots of vocal harmonies, and jazzy chords." [] Jonathan has stated that his goal is to achieve "exuberance, sincerity, and beauty without sadness." []

ide projects

*Jonathan and Hilary have collaborated with home-tapers Dan Fioretti and Ken Clinger.
*Hilary's brother, Matthew Caws, is now the singer/guitarist in Nada Surf. Sam played bass for Matthew's first band, The Cost of Living. Jonathan co-wrote a song with Matthew for Because Because Because, a short-lived band between The Cost of Living and Nada Surf.
*Jonathan co-wrote songs for The Neos, a Binghamton, NY studio project featuring Charlie.
*Jonathan wrote a song for the Norwegian band The Tables.
*Jonathan produced "My Picasso Girlfriend" for The Dupont Circles.
*Charlie's song, "Space Pilot Astrud Star" (from the [ Starflower compilation] ), was co-written by Jonathan and featured performances by Dave and Sam.
*Sam is [ The Nutley Brass] and was a member of [ Sea Monkeys] . He is also in [ The Small Potatoes] . He writes and performs the music for the Queer Duck cartoons. A 1990s solo project, The Hazeltones, featured some songs co-written with Jonathan.
*Michael E. Fiato went on to play with the [ Liz Jee Band] , [ Bouva] , and [ Dark Roads] .
* [ Deco Pillow] is a techno/dance side project of the Original Silly Pillows.



"The Silly Pillows self-released many cassette-only albums from 1988 to 1993"
*"Look! The Dolby's Off!" (MC)/(compilation cassette released to fan club only) - Perfect Pop - 1993
*"Strangest Of The Strange" (LP) - Little Teddy Recordings - 1994
*"Up In The Air" (CD) - Perfect Pop - 1995
*"Pillow Image Ltd." (LP) - Little Teddy Recordings - 1996
*"Out Of Our Depth" (LP/CD) - Little Teddy Recordings/Perfect Pop - 1996
*"Pillow Paw Prints" ("best of" CD) - Teichiku - 1997
*"New Affections" (CD) - Little Teddy Recordings - 1998
*"Silly Image Pillowhead" (CD) - Ultraberry/Little Teddy Recordings - 1999


*"When She Gets Home" (7") - Hoppel di Hoy/Little Teddy Recordings - 1993
*"Equilibrium" (7") - Perfect Pop - 1994
*"Lukewarm Weather" (7") - Little Teddy Recordings - 1995
*"Affectionette" (7") - Rover Records - 1997
*" [ Tomorrow is Yesterday] " (online release) - 2000


*"I Liked It--What Was It?" / "She's Just Being A Kid" (7", split single with Citrus) - Rover Records - 1996


(partial list)
*"USA Goes Pop" (cassette) - Lonely Whistle - ca. 1990
*"Dopey" (cassette) - Pop Cult - 1992
*"Smash! Tinkle" (LP) - Pico Records - 1993
*"Candybars" (double 7") - Little Teddy Recordings - 1995
*"A Perfect Pop Compilation, 1991-1994" (CD) - Perfect Pop, 1995
*"As Seen On TV" (CD) - Spare Me Records - 1996
*"McBain" (cassette distributed with fanzine "Runaway Balloon") - 1996
*"I've Got It Now...A Popfest Compilation" (cassette) - Shelflife - 1997
*"Starring Nao" (cassette) - Rover Records - 2000
*"Shining Sun" (CD distributed with fanzine "Sofa 2") - Sofa Records/Rewind Records - 2001
*"Bestrummed: Perfect Pop 1995-2001" (CD) - Perfect Pop - 2001
*"Woosh! Little Teddy Recordings 1991-2001" (CD) - Little Teddy Recordings - 2001
*"Snowstorm: A Tribute to Galaxie 500" (double CD) - Elefant Records - 2001
*"Floosh! Little Teddy Recordings 2002" (CD) - Little Teddy - 2002
*"I Am a Victim of This Song" (CD) - Baka-Poi - ca. 2002
*"Happy Happy Birthday to Me: Volume 3" (as Jonathan Caws-Elwitt; CD) - Happy Happy Birthday to Me - 2004
*"Cassette Culture Compilation Vol. 1: 40 Tracks from the Cassette Underground 1981-1998" (double CD) - [ Cassette Culture] - 2006
*"Someone To Share My Life With: The Alternative Tribute to the Television Personalities" (as Jonathan Caws-Elwitt; LP) - But Is It Art? - 2006
*"I Would Write a Thousand Words" (as Jonathan Caws-Elwitt; CD) - The Beautiful Music - 2007

External links

* [ Official website]
* [ AllMusic entry]
* [ Little Teddy Recordings]
* [ Perfect Pop page]
* [ Time Zones video]
*MySpace pages for [ Original Silly Pillows] , and [ Deco Pillow]

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