Silverstein is one of those bands that seems like they’ve been through it all — and that’s really because they have. When you’re around for twenty years, this is almost a given. But there’s a few caveats here: there’s a big difference between seeing it all and moving forward, and seeing it all and succeeding. The latter is where Silverstein lies.
The band have sold over a million records worldwide, first really breaking through with 2005’s Discovering the Waterfront. Since then, they’ve spent their entire career’s on the road and constantly putting out new music successfully. Silverstein never stopped putting out new music and fans never stopped listening — something that in my interview with vocalist Shane Told is expanded on.
Silverstein will be releasing a new album, A Beautiful Place to Drown, this upcoming Friday, March 6th — and it’s a perfect record for the band. It’s one that combines everything you love from the band, plus some really good hidden gems and goodies in there. But on top of that, Silverstein have more plans for the spring of 2020, as they’re heading out on a massive tour in which they’ll perform 3 sets everything, a play through of Discovering, acoustic set, and greatest hits set.
Last month when I had to the chance to talk to Told, these are all things we talked about: their longevity, sustained success, and of course all things A Beautiful Place to Drown.
Read all of it below.
Silverstein has been a band for 20 years now, which is crazy to think about for me. So how does it feel?
Yeah, it’s pretty nuts when you put it like that. Two decades. More than half of my life. It’s pretty crazy, and I think what’s just kind of stood out most to me, is just how quickly the time has gone and really how much has happened, but how in some ways the last 20 years feels like one big long day. It’s kind of crazy, but yeah, it’s absolutely amazing that it’s been 20 years.
Looking back on it, what do you remember most when you guys were starting out and then all of the sudden Victory Records comes and offers you a deal.
Well, you know, we were just a local band. We obviously took our music seriously, like we wanted to be the best we could be, but we didn’t really have the grand aspirations of doing this, like certainly not on the level that we’ve been doing it for 17-18 years. We literally started the band as a side project, we all had other things going on, it was my last year of high school. I’m the oldest in the band. I was just thinking this was gonna be something I do for a few months, because I had already gotten accepted to university, and so had our player, Richard, and he was going out to the west coast. So I kind of figured we’d do this band for the summer and have fun and have that be it. And then we played some local shows and pretty much right away, mostly because of our old bands having some popularity locally, people were really, really excited about what we were doing. The type of music we were playing wasn’t really being played that much in our area. Really just after a few shows in to the band, we were like, “Oh man, there may be something here.” I still went to university, I did two and a half years of it actually, we still kept the band going on weekends or whatever. Finally, yeah, we made some pretty good demos, which we also used as an EP, and we got those into the hands of a few labels, and Victory Records was really interested. And that’s kind of how it all snowballed pretty quickly from us just being a bunch of kids in the basement to touring the world.
The Victory-era can’t be talked about without you guys coming up. You guys really played a large part in bringing that label up.
Yeah it’s interesting because I was always a big fan of all the Victory hardcore bands, you know, like Earth Crisis [and others]. What we did musically wasn’t really anything like that. We weren’t a hardcore band. Once Victory started putting out, like, Taking Back Sunday and Thursday, more music that wasn’t just straight up hardcore, when it started doing that, that kind of became the label that made most sense for us. It’s kind of weird that we had a little bit of interest from other labels, but no deals on the table, and then Victory just came in hot and wanted to sign us. Pretty much from the time they got the demo to when we signed, it was like a month, and it was done. It was really, really fast. It was crazy, too, because we looked at Victory as this huge label, but we had no idea what it was about to become. Like while we were recording our first album and in the studio, Taking Back Sunday had just hit 100,000 sold for [Tell All Your Friends]. I think their first album ended up hitting Platinum or Gold (editor’s note: Gold is it’s current certification by the RIAA).
So they had just gotten to 100,000, and we were in the studio joking about how, “Oh well when we sell 100,000 records…”and we were completely joking. We had no — I didn’t think anyone was gonna care, really. Taking Back Sunday was just a phenomena at that time. Everyone liked them, they were blowing up. They were massive. There was so much hype. So we made jokes about that, and what’s funny about that, was we did sell 100,000. And then we sold 200,000. And then we sold 300,000. The next record sold even more. So, for the time that we got hooked up with Victory Records, it hadn’t even started yet, the whole movement hadn’t. It was pretty good timing for us to be in that position.
I’m sure it was crazy you know, I mean When Broken is Easily Fixed was a big record for you guys, then Discovering the Waterfront came out and was even bigger. Then you did tours with Rise Against, Avril Lavigne, and it was sorta non stop.
Yeah, you know, it’s funny, cause within the 20 years, and that’s the first question you asked me, you know, how does it feel, and it feels like just one big long day. That’s because we haven’t stopped. We literally haven’t stopped since we were in the studio recording When Broken is Easily Fixed at the end of 2002, just over 17 years ago, we have not stopped. We have gone from that, pretty much from recording that record, right on tour, putting it out, touring again, until it was time to write Discovering the Waterfront, record it, tour it, and into the next record, and now we’re on…with the new record being album number 9. It hasn’t stopped at all. We haven’t taken a hiatus. We haven’t even taken a break. I think the most time we had off actually was last year we had three months off. We were still writing, but we had three months off where we didn’t have any commitments, and that’s the longest break we’ve ever had in our whole career. It’s been pretty crazy, like, you know, when you think of it like that.
I think that’s part of our secret to our longevity and our success, is we’ve really just kept our head down and worked. Just continually trusted that if we did that, everything would work out. And so far so good. Definitely the two year cycle seemed important to us for a while, we felt like that was the schedule we wanted to be on, just because of how important touring has been to us, too, I mean, we’ve always made our living on the road, so we need to be out there and we need to have new music out there, too, to promote [and] to play. But last year, I guess we just missed the two year cycle this time, but we did put out two records last year, and a single, and a cover. We did end up putting out a lot of material. We don’t feel like we’re slacking off too much.
In regards to Discovering the Waterfront, you guys did a 10 year anniversary tour for it 5 years ago. What made you want to do it again for this upcoming tour?
Well you know, it’s funny, we always think it’s so hilarious when we’ll go play in, like, Columbus, have a great show, and literally like three days later someone will post, “Hey, when are you guys coming to Columbus?” And I’ll like ultimate shade bomb, like, “Dude, we were just there a week ago!” And they’re like, “Oh, I didn’t know.”
This happens constantly. So we did the ten year anniversary for Discovering the Waterfront and it’s been five years now, it’s crazy the amount of people that missed that tour, and still say, “Oh it would be so cool if you guys did that record from start to finish.” And we’re like…we did, we did. But that is, when you’re talking to me about 20 years of the band, that has been our definitive album and album that gave us the place, and success, so we’re not going to turn our backs on that album, we play so many of the songs anyway, so we figured, “Hey, we’ll play that record in full,” but obviously we wanna give people more than that because so many of our fans come see us all the time, they haven’t missed a tour, so we’ll also do a greatest hits portion, and then also we’re gonna do an acoustic set, which we’ve never done before. I’ll usually get up there and do maybe one or two acoustic songs myself, but we’re actually gonna put together a little acoustic part of the set. We really are giving our fans a lot. I don’t know how long the show’s gonna be. I don’t think it’s gonna be quite like Bruce Springsteen level, but it’s definitely gonna be the longest set we’ve ever played, and I think it’s gonna be a lot of fun for people to see that.
How do you prepare for 3 sets a night?
I mean, knock on wood, I’ve been pretty much — pretty okay overall in terms of my voice, my vocal health, so I haven’t had too many issues. Obviously if you get sick on tour, it’s the worst and we’re not cancelling any shows, so you gotta get through it, so that stuff’s always hard. But you know, we’re taking a few more days off on this run than usual.
If you look at the schedule you’ll see it’s not just one day off a week, it’s usually two days off, so that’ll definitely help us a lot to recover. But I don’t know, I think once I’m going, once I’m singing, once I’m warmed up, I can just go and go. So, I think it’ll be alright and like, when we started the band, the singing/screaming thing hadn’t been done that much and there weren’t a lot of bands, or really any bands, that have been doing the kind of vocals I’ve been doing for a long time, so we didn’t really know that 20 years later, I’d still be able to have a voice at all. So the fact that not only do I, I think I’m better than I’ve been, both on the records and live, it’s a really great feeling that I’ve been able to sustain it, and, shit, I’m turning 39 in 10 days, so I’m no spring chicken, but I’m still feeling pretty good.
You know something that’s crazy, I remember when Paul Marc Rousseau first joined the band, and that’s been nearly 10 years. But it seems like the impact he’s had on the records and Silverstein has been nothing but positive.
Oh yeah, he’s amazing. We’ve known him since he was a kid, and he just, I don’t know how old he was, but he started working for us as our merch guy and our guitar tech first. He was like 18 or 19 when he first started coming on the road with us. He’s always been a part of our family. When we had to let Neil go, we were looking for somebody and we didn’t know who, but he kinda came in and said, like, “give me a chance, give me a fair shake” and he came to the first practice with “Stand Amid the Roar” written, the first song on This Is How the Wind Shifts, and we were like, oh shit, not only do we know this guy and he’s a huge part of our friend group and everything, but he’s down for writing Silverstein songs, and he’s able to know kind of what a Silverstein song is a little bit from the outside looking in.
He’s been really valuable in his songwriting and it’s gotten better and better and better, and it’s more and more of a role that we’ve gone on to. It’s been really great and I think when we look back on the four records we’ve already made together, I’d say that they’re all my favorite ones. I think that’s definitely something pretty special there. He’s done really good.
You’ve got A Beautiful Place to Drown coming out in a month — just tell me a bit about this record.
We were thinking about out legacy and the records we’ve made and how we’ve always pushed ourselves with each record The biggest thing, I guess, is how seriously we take it every single time. With this record, we knew we had the time to put in the effort, we had to do all those things, and it doesn’t get easier to make records despite having more experience, despite gaining more understanding of the practice and the art of recording, it’s still harder and harder. This time we really put in the time and we spent a lot of time on the whole process, and musically we were way more, I guess, openminded to other sounds, other styles, other textures, whereas before earlier in our career, I think we had a lot of rules in place, self set rules. Based on like, oh, we can’t put synths in a song; we’re a punk band. Or whatever, right, we can’t use fake drums on this part because our band needs real drums. We’ve always had these sort of parameters that we had to follow, and there was just a point where we were writing and recording this record, and we were just like, “Why? Who cares?” Like we’re still making honest music, we’re still writing great songs and we’re taking the time to do that, but we’ve always used cool guitar effects and studio tricks, so what’s the difference if it’s done with a keyboard or whatever. We did that a lot of this record, and I think that it breathed some new life into our sound, we’re really happy with the record. Everyone is freaking out about it, it’s a really great feeling.
Once you sing on something, it sorta just sounds like Silverstein anyway, I think.
I think you’re right — I think honestly, once I sing on something, it just sounds like Silverstein. The music, we’ll write certain stuff like, there’s a few songs, like even the first single “Infinite,” it’s quite a bit different musically, and then there’s a song on the record like “All On Me,” which is very different, but once I’m singing on the songs, all of a sudden, everything just kind of clicks into place and that’s just me, I guess, that’s just the way my voice sounds.
The record has a lot of great features, you’ve got Pierre from Simple Plan, Caleb Shomo, Aaron Gillespie, and Princess Nokia on my personal favorite “Madness.” What were those experiences like, collaborating with them all?
It was all really, really cool. We’ve done features in the past, but we haven’t done a lot of them in the last few records, and a lot of, there’s a few reasons for that, but the main reason is, for us, when we have a feature and we bring someone in, it really has to be the perfect thing. It has to be the perfect spot in the perfect song and everything has to work. I feel like there’s a lot of features for the sake of features out there, where someone said, oh, this is a big name, or this person’s on the same record label as us, so, whatever we’ll get them on the track. But for us it’s not about that, it’s always about the song.
Someone like Pierre, and some people may not think of Simple Plan and Silverstein as the same scene but we’re actually really, really good friends, and we have been for fifteen years. They’re some of the best guys, and Pierre, I have picked his brain about music so many times over the years, and when we had the song, this idea, I was like, “Pierre is the guy. He’s gonna kill this bridge.” And he did. Same with Aaron [from] Underoath, we went overseas together for the first time back in 2005, and we’ve been friends ever since. Princess Nokia is cool too, because shes’ a big fan of our band, so we found out that she was a massive fan and she came out to our New York show and hung out and just thought, it’d be really cool to get her on a track if we had the right part. “Madness” was exactly the right song. The overall tone of the song, we thought it was gonna be great. We sent it to her and she sent it back and she wrote those verses and everything and it went awesome. And like the guitar solo, that’s just fun, that’s just awesome, that lifts the song to a new level. Those kinds of experiences, those kinds of things that are on the record, really just heighten the album and make the album even better than it already was. I’m really excited about them.
You know, the last thing I wanted to touch on — it would be easy to just do a 20th anniversary tour and say “we’re a nostalgia band now” or whatever, but I think this record shows you’ve got a lot left to give.
Yeah, you know, we’ve always been focusing on the next record, like I said, we’ve always worked really hard on it, we’ve always put records out consistently, and that’s always been the focus of the band. When we started to get to the level where we could start to celebrate some milestones, whether it was our 1000th show or our 2000th show, or whether it was the decade shows that we did in Toronto ten years ago, once we started doing those kinds of things, we started to realize that it’s okay to celebrate the past and look back fondly on those things, but at the same time if you’re not pushing forward, then you’re not going to have anything to celebrate in 10 years. My goal would be to in 10 years to do this 10 year anniversary tour, so I hope that this record means that much to pepole and that’s something they want for us, and I don’t think that’s something out of the question at all, but I think if we’re going to do a tour celebrating 20 years like we are, we need to have new music out. The same way that when we did Discover the Waterfront tour, we had “A Midwestern State of Emergency” [out]. We were taking preorders for [I Am Alive In Everything I Touch] on that tour. It’s always been really important for us to not only celebrate the past but continue to push ahead and our new fans, there’s always new fans. It’s important we always are having something new when we’re celebrating the old.
Silverstein’s new album, ‘A Beautiful Place to Drown,’ is out this Friday, March 6th via UNFD. Pre-order the record here.