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Interview: Silverstein

After taking a break in 2010, Ontario's Silverstein have returned with a new album called 'Rescue', and having moved over to Hopeless Records, the Canadian group have been touring the UK with There For Tomorrow and While She Sleeps, promoting both 'Rescue' and their recent 'Transitions' EP.

Alter The Press recently talked to vocalist Shane Told, before the Birmingham date of the tour where Shane discussed the forthcoming album, joining up with Hopeless Records, touring with new label mates There for Tomorrow and more.

Alter The Press: You left Victory last year after 7 or 8 years of working with them, how did you end joining with Hopeless Records?
Shane Told: Yeah the contract ended, we signed for four records and we did a few extra things with them like the live DVD we did and the compilation stuff. So yeah, it was just time to explore other options and we talked to just about every label out there, we were really close to signing with a few other labels but, Hopeless just really won us over with everything and everybody, they're just really really cool and we really thought they were the right fit for us.

ATP: Do you feel like that's a step to increasing your fanbase?
Shane: No, not about that really. If it was about that then I think we would have, for sure, gone with the major label route.

ATP: Aren't you with Universal?
Shane: Yeah, we are in Canada yeah, the weird thing about that is that we didn't really go with them to increase our fanbase either, they were the right fit for us. Yes they are a major label and yes they have a lot of resources and stuff but we didn't sign with Universal Canada to be rock stars or anything like that, we've had a relationship with them and they've distributed our records for the last 3 records and they're just awesome people and they're friends. That's what we did, we went with our friends and I think at the end of the day, maybe you'll sell a few more records on a bigger label but I don't really care. We want to be feeling good about what we're doing and we want to be working with people we like and people we enjoy dealing with everyday. We don't want to be working with assholes and people we don't respect. That's why we chose Hopeless and Universal.

ATP: Hopeless do the annual Take Action tour every year and this year, Silverstein are taking part with old label mates Bayside. Was that a recommendation on your part?
Shane: The Take Action tour is sort of separate from their label, they don't only put Hopeless bands on it, it's not 'The Hopeless Records tour'. But we were available to do it, originally we weren't going to do it, but at the last minute it just kinda got brought up and we said we'd love to do. Bayside are our friends and they were looking for a tour and it just kind of worked out, there wasn't any schemed plans or anything, it just kinda of happened and we're really stoked because Bayside are our best friends.

ATP: In the name itself 'Transitions', did you feel as if that EP was the first step to showcase a new direction?
Shane: Yeah, the title definitely is pretty obvious. When we recorded that, we weren't officially signed with anyone yet and it felt like a transitional phase in our career. We really felt like the first chapter of our band was over, we did the four records with Victory and we did the live DVD which was kind of like a best of celebrating our career and we feel like now it's a new chapter opening up. There's also a revitalization, I think we all felt as if we were starting the band again. It was weird because we were getting with all these new people and writing all these new songs. We had a lot of time off in 2010 too, so we kind of felt recharged so we felt like Transitions was an ideal name.

ATP: 'Rescue' is out in April and you have Anthony Raneri on a track called 'Texas Mickey', first and foremost, What is a 'Texas Mickey'?
Shane: A Texas Mickey is what we call a bottle of booze in a 3 litre bottle, it's essentially a giant bottle of alcohol so that's where the title of the song came from.

ATP: Did you write the song with him in mind?
Shane: No actually we finished writing the song and we recorded a demo of it and I sang his part and afterwards we were thinking about some guest appearances for the new record. I thought about that song and I thought his voice would fit so perfectly in that one spot. It's actually kind of cool because on the deluxe edition of our CD we still have the demo of it, so people will be to hear how I sang it versus how he sang it. I think it's just cool for fans who care about that stuff to see the process from the 1 minute demo to the final finished product.

ATP: How do you think your songwriting has developed since writing a concept album?
Shane: Writing the concept record was very challenging and it took a lot out of me. What happened was at that point we wrote 3 records and we did them exactly the same way whic,h was just to get into a room. We didn't talk about the kind of record we wanted to make and we didn't talk about the songs and then we put them onto a record, for three albums.

When it was time to make 'Shipwreck', I was very much wanting to do something different and I didn't want to do that again because that to me was boring and we had done it before so I came up with the concept, I wrote a story almost, about what I wanted to say and fit it all in the songs together. It was very difficult and challenging and I love that we did that. I love that record.

This time it wasn't going to happen, I didn't have an idea, I didn't want to force it. I wanted it to be real and I had a lot of things I wanted to talk about. I didn't just want to talk about one issue, if 'Shipwreck' was one concept, 'Rescue' is 12 concepts. It's that kinda of a record and it was more natural. Its how we used to make records but I think we were a lot more calculated with some of the direction we took it, and we talked a little bit more about the kinda record and the kinda songs that we wanted to make, rather than we did with our old records.


ATP: On 'Shipwreck' as well as on 'Discovering the Waterfront', you experimented with a softer side. Are there songs like that on the new album?
Shane: The record is straight through rock, there aren't any acoustic songs per se but there are a couple slower ballad songs and on the deluxe edition of our record, we have an acoustic version of one of the songs as well as a piano version of one of our songs.

ATP: You covered Nine Inch Nails' 'Wish' on the Transitions EP, would an industrial sound be something Silverstein would experiment with in the future?
Shane: No, not at all. It's just a band I really like, a song I really like that a lot of people wouldn't expect us to do. We toured on the Soundwave Festival in Australia where Nine Inch Nails was headlining and I watched them every night and they blew me away. I kinda rediscovered them because they were my favourite band when I was twelve years old. I think that's where that cover came from. We just did it because we wanted to do something different, something a lot of people wouldn't expect. We're gonna make records and we're gonna be us, we're not gonna go all Radiohead all of a sudden and do something totally weird because we don't want to. We like what we do but at the same, we want to keep people on their toes here and there. I did an acoustic Elvis cover that nobody expected me to do for the Hopeless Records Valentines day compilation.

ATP: What other musical influences did you have when writing this album?
Shane: I think it was mostly our old influences that we've always had. I guess I can say this because it's true, but we took a lot of influences from ourselves. Mostly because we went back and did the 'Decade' DVD where we played 4 shows in Toronto and we played each of our albums from start to finish on each night. When you do something like that you have to go back, practice and relearn all your old songs because there were some songs we hadn't played in years. I think from learning those songs, it kind of inspired us a little bit of how we used to write, so I think some of that came full circle with our new record.

ATP: What are your personal favourite songs from this album?
Shane: I really like this song we did called 'The Artist' which is the last song we wrote. We intentionally sought out to write a heavy song and it came out cool. We did another song called 'Burning Hearts', which I think is going to be a single. We didn't write it intending for it to be a single at all, we wrote a song for us and then the record companies were like "It's a hit!" So we just went with it. There's another song which is more of a ballady song which I wrote about my cousin that passed away, he passed away in 2006, and I haven't been able to write about it. It really affected me but I haven't able to put words on a page about it and I finally was able to and it definitely is a meaningful song to me.

ATP: What are your plans for promoting this album after touring?
We're pretty much going to keep touring and doing whatever we can to let people into our world and find out about Silverstein if they haven't already and kinda rediscover us. There's no secret, we put out records and we put out songs believe in and we just tour.

ATP: Are you guys going to be putting out any music videos?
Shane: Yeah, we already did a video we made ourselves for 'Sacrifice' that our guitar player Josh filmed it all with his own gear and edited it all, then we have another video coming out which is for 'The Artist' which is a kind of a different little concept. We are also doing another video later on that will be professional, so we're doing at least 3 videos already and hopefully we'll be able to do even more.

ATP: What can fans expect of set list that you are playing on the current UK tour?
Shane: It's going to be a mix of everything, we always try to play something from each album, we always will. We try to play old stuff we've never played before, we've played Birmingham a number of times before so we try to play different songs so that people that come back every time won't see the same show.

ATP: Were you fans of your label mates There For Tomorrow before this tour?
Shane: Actually no, never met them and never heard their band. When I found out we were going to tour with them, I checked them out. When they were put on the tour I had never heard of them, I knew they were on our label.

ATP: And you're also on the same as Yellowcard, possible tour?
Shane: I actually did a song with Ryan from Yellowcard and it's going to be on the Take Action compilation, first song. He did guest vocals on it. We wrote it and he just contributed the vocals. We've always been close with Yellowcard, Sean played violin and viola on 'Discovering the Waterfront'. We've always been associated with Yellowcard but never toured with them before but I back them.

'Rescue' by Silverstein is released on April 26th through Hopeless Records.

Official Website

Silverstein on Facebook and Twitter.

Words by George Gadd.
Editied by Sean Reid.