Silverstein

author TL date 28/11/13

While it's safe to say by now that the rise of the metalcore and emocore genres is stagnating, one band that has been a constant source of quality material from that neck of the woods is the Canadian quintet Silverstein, whose seventh full lengt album "This Is How The Wind Shifts" came out earlier this year. By the time this article appears online, the band will be starting a larger European tour the same night (Nov. 28th), at their first show in London in four years, and later on they will be returning to Denmark on a visit that feels to us like it's become a regular and welcome occurrence. Seizing the moment then, I caught up to lead singer Shane Told to catch up on the state of the band and their eagerness to come over here on the Tuesday while they were just preparing to take off:

RF.net: First of all you guys are touring Europe again. Have you actually started the trip yet or are you just about to leave?
Shane: We leave tonight! So we're just getting all packed and getting everything settled.

RF.net: You've been over here quite a few times - I think this will be your fifth show in Denmark or so - And I think that's something people over here really appreciate because a lot of the bands from Canada and the US seem to only make it over here rarely, yet you guys seem to have made a bit of a habit of it. Can you explain if this is something that's of personal importance to you or if it's just good for your career, or what the reasons are for you coming over so regularly?
Shane: Well when we started the band we didn't think we were going to amount to anything. We never thought we'd be able to tour outside of Canada let alone go to Europe or Asia or Australia or, well, we've been all over the world.. And every time we get an opportunity to go somewhere foreign it's always exciting for us. And with a place like Denmark, actually one of my best friends when I was growing up who was from Denmark, so it would always be kind of an intriguing place because he'd tell me these stories and it would seem like a special place through them.

So it was really cool to finally get to see it when we first went and it's just something that we're really appreciative of - That we're able to just play music and travel and see the world and yeah, just visit a bunch of cool countries. So yeah, we enjoy touring outside of North America. I think some American bands.. Maybe they don't like it as much, but we really do at least.

RF.net: I think each time you've played in Copenhagen it's been in the same venue Lille Vega. Do you have any special relationship with that place or is it just coincidence?
Shane: Yeah we like it.. I don't know if it's coincidence but we've pretty much only played there except for the first time we were over, when we played in the bigger room with Simple Plan and it's just a good little venue and we really enjoy it. Everything in Denmark treats us really nicely so it's just good times.

RF.net: I guess since the last time you've been over the most "dramatic" development has been that you've had to make a substitution at guitarist. Can you talk fans over here through why the change had to be made and through how it's been going with your new guitarist Paul [Marc Rousseau]?
Shane: It's going great. He's been friends with us forever. He was like this eighteen year old kid that toured with us, selling merch and doing guitar tech work and he's always been with us. So it was cool when we decided we had to let Neil [Boshart] go, that he jumped in and already knew a lot of the songs and he knew us as people so it was a perfect fit. He came in and the first song he wrote for our new record was "Stand Amid The Roar" and we were like "This is AWESOME!" You totally get who we are as a band and as musicians and where we want to take this thing. He just jumped in and it was a really seamless transition into it.

With Neil - I don't to get too much into what happened there, but he was just kind of bringing us down. I think he was getting a little tired of the road maybe. He was increasingly kinda pissed off and acting like he didn't want to be here. I've known the guy since grade one and we talked to him and said that we wanted him to be happy but that we need to continue too and that we couldn't do that the way he was acting. So we told him and then gave him some time, but things didn't really improve, so we had to let him go. But I think it was the best for everyone, and for us at least, with the way the new record came out it ended up being a really positive thing for us.

RF.net: Other than that change your lineup has remained totally stable for ten years and I think that in itself is actually sort of unusual: That the rest of you have managed to stick together all wanting to continue doing the tour life and travel as often as you've done. What do you think keeps you motivated to just keep doing it?
Shane: Well I think that every step of the way - whether it's a new album or a new song or a new tour - there's always something new happening; a new dynamic to get excited about. Whether it was coming over to Europe for the first time, or - like last year we went to a bunch of countries where we'd never been before - and this year we have this new record out that we're really proud of and.. I think we're a much better band now than we've ever been.

So yeah I think it's exciting to just keep improving as musicians and try to do a better live show every time for our fans. Even if it's in the same venue like Lille Vega it still feels the same every time, and we never want to feel like we're just going through the motions. If it ever gets to the point when we feel that's what we're doing and we're just treading water and not enjoying ourselves, then that's the time that we know we need to give it up. Fortunately though, we haven't even got close to that yet.

RF.net: It's actually interesting to hear that Paul wrote that song, because as well as your lineup, your musical output has also been relatively stable. I think especially for people that haven't heard you before it can feel a lot like you've tried to hone and refine your sound, more so than bringing in a lot of new elements the way some other bands do when they make new albums. Can you tell us how you guys feel yourselves that you're progressing creatively these days?
Shane: This is going to sound kind of funny, but we've always tried to make a conscious effort to not make a conscious effort to change our sound. Because I think if you force it... Like a couple of years ago dubstep got really big and you had a bunch of rock bands that had been around for ten years all of a sudden putting like dubstep in their music. And that's just a trend you know? And that is not smart!

So we've always wanted to just get in a room and we don't talk about the direction of the album. We don't talk about wanting to make a heavier or a poppier album or anything! We just kind of let the music flow out of us using the same influences that we've always had and that way it progresses naturally. That way nothing sounds forced and I think our fans appreciate it. Rock journalists like a story right? So they like when a band go crazy, changing their sound or something like that because it gives them something interesting to talk about. But fans don't like that?! You know? If I buy an album by a band, and I love the album - Why would I want the next album to sound completely different? That doesn't make any sense!

So for us, we just keep going and we keep writing the best songs we can and writing the best music. We don't try to write the same songs over and over again either but we let the progression remain natural and I think that's something that we pride ourselves on.

RF.net: Well it's working for you at least, at least in my opinion since I've heard all the albums and you have some great songs on each of them, so as long as you have that going then there's no reason to reach desperately for any changes I guess?

Shane: No - I mean I should point out that we did the "Short Songs" record and obviously that was different because we set out to write songs that were under 90 seconds. But I think when you hear that it still sounds like us. It's perhaps a little bit more punk rock influence just in the nature of having a 90 second song, but at the same time it's still us so.. You still hear it and know that it's Silverstein. So yeah, I think it's important to have a sound.

RF.net: Personally I recently started paying more attention to lyrics I listen to, but even though I might not have in the past, it always seemed to me like you guys definitely had either meanings or stories that you wanted to communicate with the lyrics to each song. And I think that's actually sort of rare, because at least when I'm reviewing albums I can often get the feeling that the lyricists just threw some incoherent stuff together when the songs were otherwise done. So I'd like to ask you what kind of importance you think the lyrics have to your band and at what point in the songwriting they come in?
Shane: Well obviously they hold an extremely huge importance. I think it's interesting because... I don't know how many songs we've written. Probably like over a hundred songs, or close to it, and every song really is different. For example this last record being a concept record where the songs are tied together in stories... And "A Shipwreck In The Sand" was also a concept record where I'm telling a story and.. Doing that there's a lot more planning that goes into it. We had to know what the track order was going to be even before we started recording to know how the songs would flow into each other. And lyrically, with "A Shipwreck In The Sand" for example, the songs have to be in the same order for the story to make sense. So there's all of that which has to work out..

I'd say usually a song would start out with an instrumental part, typically guitar but also some times a drum or a bass part, and then once we have the skeleton of the song that's when I start thinking about what the melody is going to be. I'll just hum over it and some times we might then change the music to fit the melody so that the vocal melody can be better. And a lot of bands don't bother doing that. They finish the music completely and just assume that the vocals are going to be okay. We try to put a little extra step in there and make sure that before we've committed to the music, I know what the vocals are going to do.

It's different though. If you take "Discovering The Waterfront" or "Arrivals And Departures", those aren't concept albums. They have eleven or twelve songs on them which we just recorded and then figured out later how they would fit onto an album. So it's different. When you do a concept record it's definitely a lot more complicated and a lot more difficult but at the same time a lot more rewarding when it's all finished.

RF.net: I was going to say that perhaps that's one of the exact ways that you can challenge yourself and keep yourself motivated.

Shane: Yeah exactly. I mean we did the first three albums pretty much the same way. We got in a room and wrote a dozen songs and we didn't know what order they were going to be on the record and none of them were related to each other. And after doing that for a few records I was like "We have to try something different", so I came up with the idea to do "A Shipwreck In The Sand" like a concept album.. And that was a lot of work and it nearly killed me.. (laughs) So when we did "Rescue" we went back and did it the old way again, and then on "This Is How The Wind Shifts" we decided to challenge ourselves again. I think it's important for us to switch it up and keep things interesting.

RF.net: I think it was a good move as well. At least if I remember correctly I think that "Shipwreck" is currently the best reviewed album of yours on our site, so the challenge seemed to have paid off there.

Shane: Yeah, it's definitely one of my favourites too. When I look back the new record is for sure a really special one and probably our best, and then I think "A Shipwreck In The Sand" is my second favourite.

RF.net: It seems to me there are a lot of bands these days that play a musical style similar to yours, and by that I mean they mix the heavy screamed stuff with the melodic catchy stuff, and I often see bands like that playing shows to fans that are much younger than themselves - And I wonder if it ever feels weird to them to be on stage like a guy aged around thirty or something singing to people in their teens. Do you guys feel that happening at your shows and what are your thoughts about this?
Shane: It's already happening but you know what? I think that is like the coolest fucking thing when I see that. When I'm up there singing a song like "My Heroine" that's ten years old and I look down and there's a bunch of thirteen or fourteen year old kids singing it back to me, that is so cool. Because obviously when the song came out they didn't know it. That's not when they discovered it. Instead the song has stood the test of time and been passed down somehow through word of mouth or something to them. It's cool that somebody today took the time to get that song and to them it's still a great song even years and years later.

So I think that's a really cool thing, seeing younger fans coming out and I think that's really special. We welcome young fans coming out and it's really cool for us to see things coming full circle. I mean let's be honest: The people that were older than me when the first record came out, a lot of them aren't coming out to shows anymore. They have kids, they're married, they have jobs that are demanding and a lot of the time as people get older their priorities change. So because of that it's also good to have a younger fan base coming through that are still excited about our music.

RF.net: Yeah I guess you say it does say something about your stuff standing the test of time because it's the same with like the classic rock bands, as their songs still get found out about by new fans years and years later.

Shane: Yeah exactly. I mean one of my favourite bands of all time is Black Sabbath and I didn't grow up in the 70's. I wasn't born until the 80's and I just got into them because a bunch of other metal bands I liked were always saying that Black Sabbath was their biggest influence. So I went back and bought the "Paranoid" record and I thought it was awesome! And I guess it's a similar thing happening with our band with kids going back and checking out the old records. It's pretty cool.

RF.net: Do you think though, that it's ever something you'd think about going in to write the songs? Because if you know that you have to sing them to a lot of people that are younger than yourself could you see that affecting your writing? Like something can't be about a too grown up experience or something like that?

Shane: No, I don't think about it like that. I guess when I was younger.. I don't know about the first record, to which extent it may have come off as immature, but there was definitely some highschool/teenage heartbreak songs because that was what was going on when I was nineteen and writing these songs. But it's always this thing when you're younger you don't want to sound young. And I think I've actually always had it like that, like I wanted to write from some place of higher understanding of myself and I think that I've always tried to write "mature" lyrics. I think that and just writing from my heart has latched onto people. I mean if I can relate to it then maybe someone else can? But I don't think about it like that much, and I don't try to dumb anything down. You can't do that.

RF.net: Circling back to your impending European tour, is there anything in particular that you're looking forward to this time around?
Shane: Well we're playing in London for the first time in..? Four years? We don't really go to the UK that much.. I think we've gone to Denmark more than to the UK actually. We just kinda stopped going there and now we're coming back for the first time in four years and the show is sold out in London so that'll be cool. We're actually looking forward to the Christmas festivals in the street and.. Do you guys have like the hot wine?

RF.net: Yeah we do! The "glög"!

Shane: Yeah I'm looking forward to the hot wine! (laughs)

RF.net: After you're done with the tour, can you tel us what's being planned so far for the band's future?
Shane: Yeah I mean we're looking to try and visit some more countries that we haven't been to before. Possibly China? We're going to go back to South America I think, maybe Mexico again.. We're working on some touring early in the year. We have two more music videos coming out that are finished and are going to come out really soon? And then...... Well we're going to make a pretty big announcement.... Hmmm I guess it won't be for a little while, but there's going to be one coming down the road. But mostly just continue touring with the new album since it isn't even a year old yet, so we still think it has a lot of life in it - Also because we just did the reissue with the two new songs on it. So we're still mostly firing that on all cylinders and playing shows and hanging out and enjoying it!

RF.net: Well that was everything I had actually so thank you so much for doing this!
Shane: No problem man, thank you and thanks to everyone that's checking us out and have picked up the new record. Hopefully we'll be seeing you in Copenhagen!

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