INTERVIEW: Silverstein’s Shane Told on “Dead Reflection” and Touring!
With an earlier then normal Warped Tour announcement this year, some Warped classics were out on the road much earlier then the traditional touring busy periods and we’ve been there for many of them. One of those classics? Toronto’s Silverstein who just celebrated being a band for eighteen years. Something lead singer Shane Told says he could have never predicted in our new interview. The band has released eight albums with it being the same unit since the band’s inception with the exception of lead guitarist Paul Marc Rousseau who has been with the band for the last six years.
With the latest album “Dead Reflection” only coming out last July, Told spoke at length about the album with me and how the writing process has really transformed. Find our chat below and peep Silverstein performing on the last Warped Tour for several dates in July, including Mansfield on July 27th!
You just celebrated eighteen years as this band.
Yeah it’s pretty crazy.
How has this tour been? You sold out tonight and you’ve been touring consistently. There’s never really been a big dip. Maybe something you would have told yourself at the beginning of this band, something you wish you had done?
That’s a really good question and it’s a great way to start the interview. We didn’t really ever have any thought or visions of this happening. I just turned 37, I didn’t think I was going to be doing this when I was in my thirties, let alone almost pushing my forties. It’s crazy. When we started the band and started actually doing stuff, got signed to a label, even then we didn’t have the visions of this happening. We thought, okay we’re going to put one record for sure and then maybe a second record then we would break up. Because that’s what all my favorite hardcore bands did. So to be here, we put out our eighth record and like you said tonight’s sold out. Which is great.
I think something that we don’t talk about a lot is you said we never really had a dip. And you’re right, but we haven’t had a reverse dip either. Like we never went through a period of time where we had a huge song on the radio. Tonight’s like 950 people, we never went through a period where we had a hit song and now we’re playing to 9,500 people. Because the problem when that happens is you get this extreme success for a short period of time and you can’t keep that and then eventually your band just fades away. So I think the fact that we’ve been consistent and we’ve had a great fan base and our fans are real fans who have stuck with us and the fact that we’ve never had a big song or anything or like radio/mainstream success, I think that that has actually been very good for us. I don’t think we would have been here if we had some single explode on the radio. Maybe we would, maybe I’m wrong but I think that that stuff can be more of a curse then a blessing for some bands.
Because people would just cheer and only scream for that song.
Yeah and I think your existing fans, they roll their eyes at all these other people that are coming out of the woodwork. Because they look at them as that they aren’t real fans, they’re fair-weather fans and they’re right. They only care about one song. I mean I guess there’s always a chance you follow it up and you have other great music. There are some of my friends’ bands, Rise Against, they’ve had an amazing career with mainstream success. And they still do bigger shows then they’ve ever done. It can work but the worst thing to have is to be a one hit wonder and be known for one song. That would be terrible.
And you only released the last record in July, “Dead Reflection”. How present is that album in this tour? You’re coming to the end of this tour, only three dates left including today.
Oh it’s present. Whenever you put out a new record, there’s always a little bit of anxiety. Like are our fans going to like this? How much do I like this? Am I going to like this in a year? And I’d say with the last three records we’ve done, we’ve been really, really happy with them and our fans have been really, really happy with them too. Which is incredible because that doesn’t always happen. With this new one especially. It’s a little different, it sounds a little different production wise, it’s a little more modern sounding and we weren’t sure how our fans were going to react. It came out and everyone was so excited about it.
So it’s great! We feel like we can do quite a bit of the songs. We’re doing about five songs from the new record and they go over the best I think of any of the songs in the set. Other then like some of the real big hits like “My Heroine” or whatever. But like those songs go so well.
Then the band has been a unit really since the beginning. I know Paul Marc came on officially about six years ago just from interviewing him before and like when he first came in but he’s known you guys for a very long time, was around for a long time before it was official. Do you think the writing still changes? Obviously I know you being the lead singer of the band, you have a strong hold in the lyrics but do you think it still changes?
Yeah of course it changed. It changed big time. I haven’t talked about this a lot. So we did the first five records, I probably wrote like a third to a half of all the music and all the lyrics. And some of our songs that we still play to this day are songs that I wrote myself. So obviously a big part of our sound is my songwriting. And then Neil, our old guitar player, was a force to be reckoned with in terms of writing some real, real cool guitar parts. Which we in turn wrote songs around. Like the “Smile in Your Sleep” guitar part for example, which obviously is a very important part of that song. So that was the dynamic and when Paul Marc came in the band, but before Paul Marc came into the band, we were prepared to write the record that ended up becoming “This Is How the Wind Shifts” as a four piece. With me kind of taking over the bulk of the songwriting and Josh, who also is very competent himself, and doing it that way. Then when we had Paul Marc kind of come in, we weren’t even sure. He was just our buddy, he had toured with us, he did guitar tech work and merch for us and stuff. When he came in and started showing us some stuff he wrote, we were like oh god damn this is right where we want to be. Like this is the direction we want to go, these are the ideas we want but they still sound like our band. He really hit the nail on the head and I think right there and then, that’s when we decided that he needed to be in the band and that his songwriting was going to be important. Over the three records that we’ve done with him, I think his songwriting has progressed, my songwriting has progressed as well. But together I think it works because with me writing whatever like a third of the songs or something like that and him writing the other two thirds, I think that they complement each other. Because we have the songs that are vintage Silverstein which are kind of more my songs and then we have the ones that are a little more modern and progressive which are his songs. He’s been really integral to the band, there’s no question.
I know it was mostly you in the beginning so now it’s something where you work together or you both write your own songs?
It depends. I was a broken man when we were doing “Dead Reflection”. I was not in a good place. I had a lot of trouble thinking, let alone writing. Just existing in my own skin and my own head and not knowing what I was doing. Don’t get me wrong, I still put that aside and was able to write a song, like “Aquamarine” which was really important for me to write and that’s something that I wrote all on my own. And then there were songs that I guess he kind of wrote the music for then I was supposed to help him with the lyrics or do the lyrics. Then in the end, he ended up doing a bulk of the lyrics on some of those songs. So the dynamic shifted a little bit in the last record but it was cool because him and I had a lot of really good communication about it. I think in the previous two records and stuff, it was like alright, Shane, lyrics, your department. Melody is your department so you do that. So here’s some music I wrote, do whatever then I would do it and it was like alright well that’s just my whatever I think, right? So that’s what it would be. But when I have to show it to him and I have to go through, okay this line and this line and this melody, if I know I have to show it to him and it’s not that good I’m not going to write that. Where as when I know it’s just for me, I can be like ehh I don’t know about this line, I don’t know it makes any sense, do you know what I mean? There’s a pressure thing there that kind of comes into play. It’s like when somebody is planning what they’re going to wear to something, an event tomorrow, and they’re like okay I’m going to plan this. Then they put it on the next day and they’re like I can’t wear this, I have to change. It’s almost a little bit like that because in your head, you’re maybe like okay this is good enough and then you actually do it and you’re like no this is not good enough in actuality. And that pressure helped, us together to write some really great songs on “Dead Reflection”. It made that record important. Sorry my answers are really long winded.
No, it’s good! And then, looking on this tour, Tonight Alive, they haven’t been around as long as you have but they have also put out several records as a band but you have these two very still new bands opening for you with Broadside and Picturesque. Maybe advice to new bands in getting started, to kind of keep at making this lifestyle or your band to work? If anything.
Honestly, I think so many bands are so overly stressed out all the time. Sometimes I see bands, whether we’re touring with them not speaking for the bands on this tour, or bands that are on other tours, and I see them and they’re so stressed and they’re so worried. And they’re worried about like oh my god we only got this many impressions on this thing we posted and its’ like are you guys even having fun? I think so many people, it’s just you got to let loose. When we came up and we got some success, all we worried about was making good records and putting on good live shows. Then just being respectful to our fans and the other bands on the tour and having a good time. That’s all we did and now it seems like everyone is buried in their phones. They’re worried about all their numbers and their stats and maybe they’re not paying as much attention to things. I don’t know if it’s that they’re setting their standards so crazy high that they’re just disappointed all the time. That’s a big thing. Obviously there’s writing good songs and putting out good records and doing good shows. It’s all important but it just seems sometimes bands are just so down in the dumps. This is supposed to be fun! Enjoy it.
Then like I keep saying, you’re at the very end of this tour but you’re still so early in 2018. You may not be able to talk about it but what is the plan or the focus for Silverstein over these next few months?
Well, we’re doing a shit load of tours in Europe. I think we’re going back three separate times and that’s just in the next little while. So we’re going to do a bunch of the festivals over there, some club shows. We got some plans to do some stuff in America and Canada. Well, Canada is still iffy but we’re working on it. Typically, the record it came out in July, and we pretty much toured all of last year and we’re going to tour all of this year too. But typically we make a record at the end of the year but I don’t think we’re going to this time. We’re going to ride out “Dead Reflection” a little longer. I think it’s the kind of record that needs to be promoted and it needs to have life breathed into it because we really do feel like it’s a special album. So we’re going to go everywhere I think on this tour and back to a lot of places for the second, third, maybe even fourth time. Then who knows. That’s the main goal. Hopefully go to some places we haven’t been before. Also maybe we’ll cut some new music videos, who knows! It’s all good!