A Conversation: Thriving When Others Continue to Fall: A Conversation with Shane Told of Silverstein

Thriving When Others Continue to Fall: A Conversation with Shane Told of Silverstein

There once was a time when screamo bands thrived, sold records and were successful. Well, much like the powerpop and metalcore scenes, the screamo scene became saturated and flooded with too many carbon copies. Sure, there exceptions to the rule, one of them being Canadian quintet Silverstein.

With their latest, and arguably best, record, ‘A Shipwreck in the Sand,’ out now, the band seemed poised to once again stand atop the mountain of their respective scene, looking down upon the scattered ashes of their fallen brethren. Their newest, and fourth, album to date finds the band returning to some of their heavier roots that fans haven’t heard since the days of 2003’s ‘When Broken is Easily Fixed.’ Sure, there is the occasional pop fueled effort to please fans, but this time around the listener can expect to be blown away with furious guitars and serious breakdown.

While on their latest tour in support of ‘A Shipwreck in the Sand,’ band frontman and matriarch Shane Told chatted with me about the tour, how the new material is going over, how different it is touring overseas and in the States, and why he thinks this record is different from what Silverstein has done in the past.

Get eXposed: Tell me about the tour. How has it been going so far?
Shane Told: It has been going really great so far. It has been fun. We’re touring with a lot of heavy bands this time and it usually more a mix; usually a couple of bands and a little more poppy and then there is a heavier band in the mix but this time we brought out three bands that are heavier than we are. It has been fun.

GE: Who is out on the road with you? Did you get a chance to pick the bands?
Told: We’re on tour with Norma Jean, Blessthefall and Before Their Eyes.

GE: Yeah, all of those bands are all substantially heavier than you.
Told: Yeah, they are. They were all available and we all liked them. Our new record (‘A Shipwreck in the Sand’) is a heavier record, so I think it works.

GE: So you had the chance to pick out who you took out on tour with you?
Told: Yeah, we always do.

GE: How much of ‘A Shipwreck in the Sand’ will we hear live?
Told: We have been doing about four songs off the new disc. As the record gets out for longer and longer we will start to play more of it. As of now, the record really just came out so people aren’t really that familiar with those songs yet, and we don’t want to bore them. They always want to hear the older songs and we do our best to always try and please the crowd.

GE: How has the crowd reacted to the new material live?
Told: It has been great. The reaction has been awesome. Like I said, they are heavier songs so they are easier to rock out to live. I think like three of the four songs have pretty serious breakdowns so it has been a lot of fun.

GE: Do you have any live surprises in store?
Told: We have been doing some cool little transitional things. We have pretty awesome lights too on this tour. But in terms of some type of Wizard of Oz type of surprise, then no, its pretty much going to be a straight up rock show.

GE: Are you playing any covers?
Told: We have been doing one yes. We are doing the one we did on the Punk Goes Pop 2 (OneRepublic – ‘Apologize’) compilation so that has been really fun to play live.

GE: How is touring different in Europe than in the States?
Told: Obviously, overseas it is different. The way you tour is different and so are the buses you use. Life over there isn’t quite as comfortable as it is here, like they don’t have things that are open late, like food and stuff, and that’s rare over there. They don’t have things like Best Buy and CostCo and stuff. They don’t have a lot of chains. It’s a lot harder to take care of your business when you are on tour over there. It is a little more uncomfortable. Show-wise, it’s not too much different. They actually treat you very well. Like in Germany they will give you a ridiculous rider with all types of food, so that is cool. I like touring in both places.

GE: Do you find that the fans are different?
Told: Yeah, I think in most places yes. It’s like anywhere though, like the bigger the city the more pretentious people are. Like in New York or Los Angeles, they get the chance to see every band since every tour goes trough there, so you get a little less excited. It’s the same in London, but if you go to a smaller city in the UK or in Germany, people are crazy. We went to South America and no bands ever go down there and it was insanity, complete insanity. It was like they had never heard music before. People were just freaking out all over the place.

GE: Is there a language barrier?
Told: They always sing along, which is funny, especially in Japan when you talk to the after the show and they don’t speak any English. It is surprising to see how many people speak English all over the world. There really isn’t anywhere we go that we are stuck, like even if you go to a Burger King in South amerce, the people still speak English. It’s not really that bad.

GE: Are your records translated into other languages when they are shipped to other countries?
Told: I know in Japan they are, but in the rest of the world I don’t think they are.

GE: Now that the new record has been out can you tell me a little about why this is a different record from those you’ve released in the past?
Told: Well it is a concept record. We took a completely different songwriting approach since we wrote it as one big album and not song by songs. It’s a record that tells a record from start to finish rather than just 12 different stories. It just flows better and it is a lot more of a completely record. We went into it knowing what we wanted to do, we had it all mapped out. We gave ourselves more of a heads up with this one. It was a lot more planned out.

GE: Do you find it took longer and more complex to record since it was a concept record?
Told: It was. We spent more time on this record than we did on any other record. The cool thing was we had a lot of extra time, which we needed, and while we used it all, we didn’t feel rushed. On the last couple of records we have felt pretty rushed, and on the last one we felt really rushed. I think it sounds a little unfinished to me and there were things I wanted to do that we just never got around to doing. It was good to have the extra time. We had a better work ethic this time around because we started earlier in the day and ended later at night. We did the record in Canada so we were able to sleep in our own beds which let us focus a little better.

GE: You mentioned the album was heavier, does that come with it being a concept record or was that decided on as a band?
Told: We didn’t set out to make it that way, it just happened. I don’t really know why it did but while it is heavier I don’t think it sounds like a different band, it definitely sounds like us. There are songs on there that are poppier too, but overall, I don’t really know why it turned out heavier, it just did.

GE: What can expect from Silverstein the rest of 2009?
Told: We are doing two weeks of the Warped Tour on the West Coast, and then we’re going to Germany and the UK which will be fun. I’m not really sure after that really. Hopefully this fall we’ll get on a package tour throughout Canada and the States. Hopefully too we will be able to hit some countries that we haven’t played before. That’s the thing we like to do with this band is see the world. We want to go to even more places.

GE: Do you get the chance to pick and choose where you go or that something the tour manager or label takes care of?
Told: We plan out everything we do ourselves. We take care of everything when it comes to that. Everything we do is something we want to do.

Head over to their site, at www.myspace.com/silverstein.