Alter The Press!


Interview: Silverstein - 23/04/09

Kristin caught up with vocalist Shane Told of Silverstein prior to their set at the famous Crazy Donkey venue in Long Island, New York.

Shane spoke to Alter The Press about the bands new record 'A Shipwreck In The Sand', being on the road, collaborating with Liam of the Cancer Bats, what the band has in store for 2009 and more.

K: So, how's the tour going so far? Has anything memorable happened?
S: The tours been going awesome, it's been a lot of fun. The memorable thing would be that Norma Jean left the tour after the first few weeks because they had some family issues to deal with, so that was a bit of a bummer. But we were really lucky that our friends in Static Lullaby were available. They jumped right on the tour and we didn't look back and it's been really good. We've been friends with them forever, so it's really good to see them again. All the bands are getting along, it's been fun!

K: What would you say that you miss most when you're on the road?
S: Definitely family, friends, and girlfriends are the things we miss the most. A lot of people that lead the normal life (where they live in one place and work and sleep in their own bed every night) don't understand the little things that sometimes you're annoyed with. Like "oh, I gotta go to my grandmas birthday party.." and I'm like "man, I'd love to go to my grandma's birthday party!" Ya' know? We miss everything. I'm at the age now where a lot of my friends are getting married and stuff, so I'm missing weddings and a lot of important occasions. So that's probably the worst part.

K: So what would be your favorite part?
S: Playing! Actually playing a show, being out there standing on a stage and just being surrounded by people that are so excited and passionate about your art and your music. That's why we do it; it's the only reason. But also, it's cool that we have friends in every city now that we hang out with and there's always little things in every city that we get excited about. Like, we don't have Chipotle in Canada and across the street right now is a Chipotle! Things like that are kind of cool.

K: Definitely! So, getting to the new album, 'A Shipwreck In The Sand'. What was the inspiration behind the title?
S: The title was actually kind of random. I had the idea written (conceptually) of what I wanted to do with the record, but I didn't know what to call it. I knew that at some point in the story that I was writing that there was going to be a story within a story where the main character reads a storybook to his daughter. I didn't have a name for that either, and Paul somehow was just brainstorming a bunch of titles and ideas that he liked and one of them was 'A Shipwreck In The Sand' and it really just struck me. Then I thought about that whole thing and how it could kind of be an analogy for the main story. And that's how the title came up!

K: Why did you decide to make it a concept record?
S: Well, the reason that we decided to do a concept record was basically boredom and just wanting to do something different. Because it's our fourth record, and we had done the first three records virtually the same way. This time we wanted to do something different. We were just getting bored of the same old same old, and this was a lot more of a challenge, for sure. It was also a lot more creative and we had a lot of fun making this record. Now that it's done I think we're all happier than we've ever been in this band. We're getting along really well and it's great; everyone is really stoked!

K: What's your personal favorite song on the album (if you have one)?
S: It kind of changes. When we first finished the record, I really liked 'Vices' a lot. I actually still really like it! But now I think my favorite song might be track 12, it's called 'The Hero Loses Everyday'. I really like that one. I really like 'Warm bed'; it's the fast one. I mean, I really like how all the songs came out. So it's hard to pick a favorite!

K: How would you compare 'A Shipwreck In The Sand' to your last album in terms of sound and personal growth?
S: Sound wise, we went for a totally different approach. The last record we went for more a rock sound. We wanted the record to sound more like, just the 5 of us in a room playing, and we did it. We were successful in what we tried to do, but I don't know if it translated that well. With this record we just went all out. Like, there's layers and layers of guitars and layers of vocals; it's very slick and big, which I think works better for our band. As far as personal growth, that's an interesting question! The last record, I think, was very personal in terms of subject matter and what I was going through at the time. I had just ended a seven year relationship, basically during the writing process, and when you're in a situation like that it's kind of hard to write about anything else. But this record, I think because I was personally content, I was able to kind of see outside the box and be able to write, not from my perspective but from perspective of the character. So, it was different, but part of me getting to that place in my life where I'm happier and more positive and content probably allowed for this record to happen. A lot of it's inspired by what's going on in the world, and how kind of messed up everything is right now.

K: I got to sit down & talk with Liam Cormier of Cancer Bats last month, and he mentioned how much liked the album and how stoked he was on his guest appearance on 'Vices". How did that whole thing come about?
S: That's cool! I've known Liam for probably ten years, just from us being kids and going to hardcore shows. We lived in the same area and he used to be in another band, and they and Silverstein used to play shows together, so we became friends through that. He ended up being in the Cancer Bats, and things had started taking off, and we started running into them all over the world. Like, Prague and stuff! So it's cool to see those dudes, and see them do so well. With this record, a couple of the songs, ('Vices' being one of them) was that I felt like I was doing things different from what I'm used to doing vocally. So when it came time to do it, in some of the spots I just wasn't that comfortable, or didn't think it sounded right. And with 'Vices', there's the part where he comes in, and it's just the kick drum; I was originally doing that part. There's a recording of that somewhere, where it's me and him, and I just didn't feel like it worked for my voice and I felt like we needed someone else there. I was trying to describe exactly what I wanted it to sound like to someone and I was like "kind of like a Cancer Bats thing is what I'm after" and then I was like "wait.. maybe I should just call Liam and see if he wants to come do it!" It was rad. He came in and did it and it was really fun.

K: It sounds awesome; I can't really picture anyone else's vocals in his part of the song.
S: We made a video for it too; he's in the video!
K: I haven't seen it!
S: It's not out yet! it just got finished, like, we just approved it.

K: That's awesome. Do you think you'd ever invite him back to appear on another album?

S: Maybe! I mean, it depends. Like, I didn't get him just to have him; I thought that that was what the song needed. Same with the song 'Born Dead' where Scott Wade sings, and the song 'The End' where Light sings. It was my wishlist of people, ya' know, of who I wanted in those songs and we just got our first choice on all of them and it was great.

K: Silverstein's been a band for an impressive nine years. What has kept you together as a band?

S: A lot of bottling up our feelings inside and not talking about them! [Laughs] I don't know, I don't know! It's hard and it's funny because a friend of ours whose here, a guy we haven't really seen in probably like, four years, was talking about all these bands like "I go see them and I don't know any one because it's all new members and stuff" and it gets you thinking, ya' know? Like, how come our band has never had any member changes (except at the very beginning of the band)? We've still only had six people in the band, ever. It's like...I don't really know if I can answer that question, because I'm inside it all the time. I'd maybe ask someone who works for us why, and maybe they'd have a better answer. When it's you, you don't really know. I think we're all pretty good people; we're pretty good dudes at our core. I think we're all pretty selfless. I don't think there's anyone in the band that has an attitude where they feel they deserve more than anyone else, and I think everyone just puts up with everyone else's shit and knows how to deal with it.

K: Just the perfect chemistry?
S: I think so. I think we kind of just agree on the vision and what we want to do musically and where we want to go as a band creatively. I think we always agree on that. But also, we aren't five people that are all the same. We've got a couple of guys in the band that are straight edge, and we got a couple guys that are definitely not straight edge, and it kind of just keeps everyone at different levels, you know? It's not like we're all hanging out together all the time doing the exact same things, so I think that helps as well.

K: How different do you think things would be for Silverstein had you initially signed to a Canadian label?
S: I think it would've been completely different! I don't even think that we would be here talking right now, had that been the case. Canada is such a strange place for music, I guess. As far as bands in Canada, it's hard for them to get out of Canada. I mean, the border alone; it's hard just to get over the border as a band. Then, once you are across the border, the United States is so big, and just so daunting to most Canadian bands; they don't know where to go. It's really hard to break into. So us starting in the States and being from Canada, it's a lot easier to go from the States to Canada in terms of popularity carrying over. We're really lucky that that happened. I don't know if we would've really caught on in the US had we started out as a Canadian band.

K: Are your American & Canadian followings about the same?
S: Pretty much the same, yeah. It's always been about the same. Probably our biggest market anywhere is Toronto, but I think that's also because we're from there, too. So yeah, we do well in the US and Canada. And we do really well in Europe too.

K: Do you have any plans to tour Europe?
S: Yeah we do, we're going soon! We have Bamboozle, and then we leave like five days after that.

K: How long is the tour?
S: Three weeks!
K: Nice!
S: Yeah, it's cool! And talking about Europe too, we were smart that we never turned our backs on it, because a lot of bands do, and a lot of bands only tour the US. They tour it over and over and over again. Then they ignore the rest of the world, and when the US starts to not care anymore, they don't really have anything else going on. So, we were smart that we went back to the U.K. even though we weren't that big there. We just kept going back and we kept going to Germany and kept going to different countries all over. I mean, we wanted to see the world, and we were interested in that. We didn't go because we wanted to make a shit load of money or anything like that. It was fun because we got to see the rest of the world; now it's kind of paid off because we do well there and we have a good time whenever we go.

K: How would you compare the general scene in Europe to the one here?
S: One thing I was surprised with when we went there was like, fashion wise; how they seem to be right up there with all the latest shit. When we went the first time, I guess the fashion is a little bit different, not than it was back then, but I remember seeing everybody looking like...everyone at the show looked like the coolest person in North America [laughs], in terms of wearing all the latest stuff. And they'd be wearing band shirts that made me think "there's no way that band has ever been overseas, but you know about them and are wearing their shirt!!" So they always seem [snaps fingers] to really hop on things.

K: What are you currently listening to?
S: Well, I went to the store yesterday, actually in Rhode Island...
K: Which store?
S: Newbury Comics.
K: Yeah!
S: Yeah! I was looking at new stuff and was like "ehhh..", then I was looking through the used section, the "wicked cheap" used section, and I bought seven CD's for twenty one dollars! I've been listening to those CD's and they are Undying, which is a great, old, metal core band. Then this old punk band that I used to listen to when I was seventeen called The Nobody's. I listen to a lot of stuff that's doesn't have to be good, it just has to kind of speak to me, you know? I got a John Ralston record, I guess he's a Vagrant guy. I haven't listened to that yet. That's my next thing on the list to do! Then I got some Sloan, which is a great Canadian band. I've been listening to that and Slick Shoes, an old Christian punk band, which was a great pick up for $2.99! Oh, and, a band called The Rise who used to be on Ferret Records. They kind of sound like The Refused; they're really, super good. So yeah, I've been listening to lots of old bands that kind of never were that popular, from a few years back. There's a lot of bands that start out, and they're good, and then they get a little bit of success.. I think they get too much success early on and then when they don't turn into the biggest band ever, they get sort of disappointed and end up breaking up.

K: Yeah, I think that happens a lot unfortunately.
S: Definitely! Because bands don't have patience, and that's one thing we always had. We just went with it and took it one step at a time. Our whole thing, our motto if you will, was "If you don't have any expectations, you can't be disappointed." Which is a little negative in a way, but I mean, it's true. We'd roll up to a show and like.. well, there could be 20 kids at a show or there could be 200 kids at a show, but we'd always be like "if there's 50 kids we'll be happy!" Then we'd show up and there's a hundred! It's like "Yeah! There's a hundred kids, we're so stoked!" But had we gone into it being like "There's gonna be two hundred kids tonight!" you're just setting yourself up for disappointment. I think that's something people need to realize, and be happy with what they have.

I work with bands and I've also managed. I have a label that I run and stuff, and all the time I'm like "Look, I'm going to put your record out and it's a good record, whatever. But you know what? You're gonna tour, you're gonna do this, & no one is going to give you any recognition for a year. You do this for a year before you expect anyone to care." Seriously, straight up, I say that. And they're like "Oh yeah, no no, we know" and then they do it, and everything is going fine. But six months later they're like "What's going on?" They get all frustrated and talk about going back to school and stuff and I'm like "No, you're doing fine, you just have to keep it going" because you have to really hit people over the head these days to get them to pay attention and that takes time.

K: Spending so much time on the road, what do you guys do to pass the time?
S: We watch a lot of baseball. A lot of sports! We play hockey on Xbox and...I don't know. Seriously, you'd be amazed at how fast the day goes by, between doing things like soundcheck, interviews and signings and stuff. It goes by pretty quick; it's weird. I don't get bored a lot, really. There's always work to be done, like, I'm putting out a record on my label so I've been working on that today!

K: What does Silverstein have in store for the rest of 2009?
S: Well, we're finishing up this tour, then Bamboozle. We go to Europe, and we're doing two weeks of the Warped Tour (but just on the West Coast), and then.. we don't know! Hoping to go back to Australia again, and Japan. Maybe do something else in the US later on in the year!
Thanks to Shane for taking the time so speaking with us.

Kristin Stubblefield

Alter The Press!