Silverstein: Against The Grain
Sixteen years and eight albums in to their career, Silverstein vocalist Shane Told admits the band have always gone against the grain with their music and attitude – whether intentional or not.
“I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing!” laughed Silverstein vocalist Shane Told when we asked him how the band handled their early success.
“None of us did, we had no idea. We were five kids from Canada and to us we were just a punk band. We didn’t understand the game. People talk about the game which I think is a hilarious term but there is a game. There is putting on the right clothes and doing a proper photo shoot and making a good video and saying the right things in the media. There’s all these things that happen that successful bands understand and do but we didn’t and in a way I’m proud of that.
“Everything we said and did in those early days was just honest and real and we didn’t know how to be mysterious or whatever. We came from a place where you would be at a show and I would literally go from moshing to a band to getting up and playing and when we finished playing I’d go back in the pit and I’d mosh again. I was as much a fan of music and a part of the scene as I was the singer of a band. I didn’t understand that people wanted me to be this certain way and to be honest with you even today I still don’t completely get it. Now that we’ve done it so long I also don’t care. I wear what I wanna wear, I do my hair how I wanna and I don’t let a label or a manager tell me what to do and in a way I think that being real is just as important as the music.”
Silverstein came out of Canada with their debut album When Broken is Easily Fixed in 2003 and quickly filled a musical void that resonated deeply with unsatisfied youth. It was an edgy, confronting style of music that blended elements of aggression and melodic punk that put them at the forefront of a new wave of music and quickly established them as the benchmark and poster boys of a musical revolution. Now, eight albums into a 16 year career, Told looks back with honesty about the bands career to date.
“I have a podcast called Lead Singer Syndrome that I started about six months ago, and for one of my latest episodes, I had Paul Marc from the band interview me because a lot of people were asking for it. Paul asked me to rank the Silverstein records and I’ve had a bit of time –it’s been 12 months since we put out our last record – so I had a bit of time to evaluate things and it was a big toss-up between whether I am Alive in Everything I Touch was my favourite or if This Is How the Wind Shifts was. I knew they were my top two, but I didn’t know which order – but at the last minute I decided I was gonna go with This Is How the Wind Shifts purely out of straight honesty. It just has this magic to it that is hard to explain.”
When a band has survived this long and maintained its popularity, it can be hard to pinpoint exactly what the defining point of their career was, but Told remembers the moment vividly.
“Definitely our second record,” he said emphatically. “What’s interesting is – because I’m a bit of a nerd myself and I like to analyse bands careers – and what I’ve learned over the years is as an artist in a rock band or a punk band or an emo band, whatever you want to call the genre, I don’t think any band has ever put out a second record that was bad and survived. I think of bands that had great first records and flopped on the second and there’s only a very small handful that have ever recovered.
““We’re not the main act, so for us, we’re just gonna get up there and rock it – play the best we can, and say what we wanna say and express ourselves, and hopefully people dig it.”
“For us, I think the fact we didn’t flop on our second record – in fact, Discovering the Waterfront is still loved to this day – was our defining point. I think us flopping our third record – Arrivals and Departures was not our best album and I have a lot of regrets about that record – but I think that was something we had to do as well. We had to flop that album to be where we are today. We had to make that record in order to become Silverstein and really put ourselves out there and be ambitious and I think that era of the band was just as important in paving the way to what we’re doing now.”
When you start in a band only the most optimistic would be thinking that their music and lyrics would still be listened to and read over a decade later, and Told admits that while that thought never crossed his mind in the early days he is more than a little relieved it didn’t.
“I would have done things completely differently if I had have known,” he laughed. “Those songs from our first EP… when we did our first album it was basically a compilation of all of our music we’d written up to that point so two and a half years worth and you have to understand I was putting those words down on paper and expecting to go in to a hall with a shitty P.A and scream and no – one would ever know what I was saying! Then all of a sudden we started putting out albums on Victory Records and I looked back at the songs and it was like, “Shit, do I want people to know this about me?”
“What’s amazing about it though, and my point here, is once I realized later on that people really gravitated to those lyrics that I wrote and didn’t want anyone to hear because I was self conscious and because they were real to me I started to understand that that was why the lyrics were so good and that was why they meant something to people because they meant something to me. So at that point I had this self realization where I needed to get over that and really put myself out there and write lyrics and not care what people are going to think about me and that’s what I’ve done now for seven more albums and I think that’s why we’re successful because I don’t censor myself, I don’t dumb myself down. I say what I mean and I think that’s a big thing.”
Silverstein are back in Australia supporting Pierce The Veil in August, and Told is enthusiastic despite it not being a headlining tour.
“We’re not the main act, so for us, we’re just gonna get up there and rock it – play the best we can, and say what we wanna say and express ourselves, and hopefully people dig it,” he says. “I know Pierce the Veil have a bit of a younger fanbase than we do so for us we’re looking forward to the opportunity to get in front of some of the younger fans and show them where a lot of the bands that they listen to come from and just have fun. We don’t worry too much about it. We get up there and play and realize not everybody in the room is gonna love us and not everybody in the room is gonna hate us and that’s fine.”
Pierce The Veil / Silverstein / Beartooth / Storm The Sky
Tue Aug 16th – Eatons Hill, Brisbane (AA)
Wed Aug 17th – Big Top @ Luna Park, Sydney (AA)
Thu Aug 18th – Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide (AA)
Sat Aug 20th – 170 Russell, Melbourne (U18)
Sun Aug 21st – 170 Russell, Melbourne (18+)
Tue Aug 23rd – Astor Theatre, Perth (AA)