April 21, 2020 Interview – Shane Told of Silverstein
Beginning in 2000, Canadian rockers Silverstein burst onto the scene to earn themselves a devoted, international fan base. Their exceptional debut, When Broken Is Easily Fixed, introduced many to their unique sound, one that would see them billed as everything from Screamo to Post-Hardcore throughout their early career. Time has only served to broaden their musical horizons as the quintet consistently dished out exceptional releases such as 2005’s Discovering the Waterfront, 2011’s Rescue, and 2017’s Dead Reflection.
In March 2020, just as the world was changing, Silverstein gifted their fans with the phenomenally diverse A Beautiful Place To Drown. A juxtaposition, much like its title, the collection sees the Canadian outfit exploring new sonic terrain but continuing to deliver the heartfelt emotions that fans have come to expect from their heroes. To celebrate its release, Vocalist Shane Told recently sat down to discuss the band’s legacy, their eclectic new album and postponed 20th anniversary tour, plus more.
Cryptic Rock – As most of your fans know, February 2020 marked two decades for Silverstein. What have the past twenty years taught you about yourself and music?
Shane Told – Don’t sweat the petty stuff and don’t pet the sweaty stuff.
Cryptic Rock – (Laughs) How does it feel for you and the band to have outlasted so many trends and to still be creating music all these years later?
Shane Told – It feels great that we have stuck to our guns, our beliefs, and really did what we thought was right even when it was called “stupid” or “bad business,” or whatever. I mean, we still had some bad haircuts but we always focused on the songs, and that is what has stood the test of time. That legacy we are really proud of.
Cryptic Rock – As you should be! That legacy has led to your most recent album, A Beautiful Place to Drown, which arrived on March 6th. What has the reaction been, thus far?
Shane Told – It’s been awesome! People really dig the album and it’s a bit different so it’s great that people seem to get it. A new album is always a bit scary, but with some of the production ideas and sounds, it’s great that people are loving it so much. I was a bit worried some people wouldn’t be able to see through some of the sonic changes, but I was wrong.
Cryptic Rock – It’s a phenomenal album. Title-wise, A Beautiful Place to Drown is a very poetic yet oxymoronic name for an album that is itself a bit of a juxtaposition of melancholia and sunshine. Was that the mood of the band going into the album’s recording?
Shane Told – I think that’s just it—juxtaposition. We are, in a lot of ways, doing so well with technology making things easier and so many great social ideologies being accepted, but then anxiety and depression are at an all time high. Politics are so fucked up and so far apart. I think that’s the reality of where we are right now, and we thought the title really shed some light on that.
Cryptic Rock – It’s very fitting of the album as well as life in 2020. That said, did you have a clear idea of how you wanted this album to sound or did it evolve as you began writing and got into the studio?
Shane Told – I’d say it was clearer than most of our albums; the songs were a lot more finished in the demo stages. Still though, there’s always some surprises and some songs take some radical journeys. It’s always fun to mess around with that stuff and see your ideas change.
Cryptic Rock – Absolutely. This is an eclectic collection, a fact that also shows in your array of guests, including Aaron Marshall, Caleb Shomo, Aaron Gillespie, and Pierre Bouvier. How did each of these musicians become involved?
Shane Told – With each guest we really have a unique relationship, and their involvement was unique, too. It’s really important for any feature we have to be the perfect voice, the first choice, and it has to make sense. We’d never put someone on a song with no backstory. So whether it’s me and Pierre being friends for 15 years and me being a super fan of his old Punk band in the 90’s, or Princess Nokia being a huge Silverstein fan, it’s always special. It has to be!
Cryptic Rock – Not knowing that she is a huge fan of the band, Princess Nokia seems like the most unlikely match for Silverstein, and yet “Madness” works brilliantly and, dare it be said, she even elevates the track. In particular, what inspired the band to have her on the record?
Shane Told – Absolutely. That song wouldn’t be the same without her. We knew we needed a strong female voice for that subject matter and we’d been wanting to collaborate with her for a while. She’s a big fan of ours and we hung out in NYC at our show and just really hit it off. She’s a total sweetheart. She knows what we do so well, she wrote the perfect part for “Madness.” It’s cool for her to bring her vibe into the mix, but still understand how to make it fit.
Cryptic Rock – She fits flawlessly. A Beautiful Place to Drown is a phenomenal album full of stand-outs, but some of our favorite tracks include “Bad Habits,” “Burn It Down,” “Say Yes!,” and “Coming Down.” Is there anything you can share about each of these songs, perhaps about something special that happened in the studio or an anecdote related to the track?
Shane Told – While we were putting together the tracks we started to realize they all could be singles; there weren’t any “album tracks.” We took the approach to make everything as strong as possible so this album is just banger after banger.
Each song is different. “Burn It Down” was written first, and Caleb [Shomo] wrote and recorded his feature in about 20 minutes. “Bad Habits” was my pick for track 1, but I thought I was going to lose that battle until Aaron [Marshall] ripped that solo and we realized it was a great energy boost to kick off the album.
“Say Yes” I thought was maybe a bit too poppy, but Billy [Hamilton] really believed in the song and got us all on board with it. It’s already becoming a fan favorite. “Coming Down” was actually adapted from an EDM track from another artist that Paul Marc [Rousseau] and I were writing on.
Cryptic Rock – Billy is a smart man! Totally left-field, but is that saxophone on “All On Me,” and, if so, what on earth inspired you to bring saxophone into the mix?
Shane Told – Honestly, the song was already so different for us we thought we should just continue to think outside the box. We also really like Alex Cameron, so I think that was part of it.
Cryptic Rock – At first it’s shocking, but it works flawlessly. That said, do you have a lyric on the collection that really stands out for you at the moment?
Shane Told – Not really. I think lyrically it’s such a diverse album, discussing everything from love to heartbreak to politics and anxiety and depression. There’s so much to grab on to.
Cryptic Rock – It really is a very diverse and satisfying record. Now, sadly, your 20th anniversary tour with Four Year Strong and I The Mighty was postponed until summer due to COVID-19. However, when you were on the road, we read that you had three different set lists that you’re alternating throughout the tour, but are fans requesting any special rarities?
Shane Told – Actually, we were playing three sets every night! But yes, we always play a few curveballs. Our fans are such die-hards we could play pretty much anything, so that’s a lot of fun. I love seeing them so excited after, when they say “I can’t believe you played _____!” It’s rad!
Cryptic Rock – That’s great that they’re totally on board for any curveball you toss their way. Speaking of great music, Four Year Strong also has a new album out. Do you have a favorite song on Brain Pain?
Shane Told – I find myself going back to “Young At Heart” a lot. It’s the closer and super vibey, but also catchy. Great album!
Cryptic Rock – It really is another wonderful album that people should check out. So, with two decades under your belts as a band, it’s safe to say that Silverstein has influenced many of the young bands out there today. Certainly you are still young and going nowhere anytime soon, but when that time does eventually come, what do you hope the band will be remembered for?
Shane Told – I want it to be our consistency. When I read stuff people are saying online about us—and no, I’m not above that!—it always makes me smile when people say things like “They’ve never made a bad song,” and then they are ranking our records and stuff. It’s incredible we’ve been able to put out a lot of great music and I’m proud of that. We also work really fucking hard too to make that happen.
Cryptic Rock – You should be proud: Silverstein has consistently delivered great music since day one. That said, just for kicks, if you had to turn a Shel Silverstein poem into a song, what poem would you choose?
Shane Told — The Giving Tree (book) is everything.
Cryptic Rock – It really is a timeless classic. Okay, last question. If you are a fan of Horror and/or Sci-Fi films, do you have any favorites?
Shane Told – Yes. For Horror, nothing will ever top the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre from 1974. And for Science Fiction, I would watch Star Trek all day if my girlfriend would let me.
Silverstein 2020 Tour Dates:
07/24 Toronto, ON – Danforth Music Hall
07/25 Cincinnati, OH – Bogart’s
07/26 Cleveland, OH – House of Blues
07/28 Royal Oak, MI – Royal Oak
07/31 Atlanta, GA – Masquerade
08/01 New Orleans, LA – The Civic Theatre
08/02 San Antonio, TX – Vibes Events Center
08/04 Dallas, TX – Gas Monkey Live
08/07 Chicago, IL – Concord Music Hall
08/10 Kansas City, MO – The Truman
08/11 Denver, CO – Ogden Theatre
08/12 Salt Lake City, UT – The Depot
08/14 Seattle, WA – The Showbox
08/15 Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom
08/16 San Francisco, CA – The Regency
08/18 Los Angeles, CA – Belasco
08/19 Anaheim, CA – House Of Blues
08/21 Las Vegas, NV – Brooklyn Bowl
08/22 Tempe, AZ – Marquee
08/23 Albuquerque, NM – Sunshine Theatre
08/25 Oklahoma City, OK – Diamond Ballroom
08/26 Houston, TX – Warehouse Live
08/28 St. Petersburg, FL – Jannus Live
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