Interview: Silverstein Embracing their Teen Years
Prior to this story being published, Silverstein revealed that guitarist Paul Marc Rousseau was forced to undergo emergency abdominal surgery during the band’s current Canadian tour. As a result, the Silverstein shows scheduled this week for Windsor, Kitchener, and Hamilton have been postponed. This interview was conducted ahead of that announcement.
As someone who grew up in the Burlington, ON, stomping grounds of internationally-recognized post-hardcore/emo band Silverstein, it’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly 14 years since their emergence.
During that span, the band – which consists of Shane Told (vocals), Paul Koehler (drums), Bill Hamilton (bass), Josh Bradford (guitar), and newer guitarist Paul Marc Rousseau – have played over 1,500 shows throughout the world and released a half-dozen full-length albums.
Their latest, 2013’s This is How the Wind Shifts, holds true to the classic, heavy, yet melodic sensibilities of the Silverstein sound, but according to vocalist Shane Told, it’s also become their most celebrated piece of work thus far.
“It’s been the most well-received record we’ve ever had,” he explains to Riffyou.com from a frigid tour stop in Quebec. “Not only by the press, but by the fans – that’s an amazing feeling. This is our sixth full-length record and we’re not a young band anymore, so to be able to put out our best music [this long] into our career is pretty special.”
Told says that the addition of Rousseau to the fold was one of the keys to this album’s artistic success. Before replacing Neil Boshart in 2012, Rousseau performed in a number of other bands, plus served as Silverstein’s guitar tech, stage manager, and merchandise table overseer on various occasions. Told says that when Rousseau arrived, he understood how the band operated and the progression it was going for. He fit the mould right away.
“With progression…it’s an interesting thing. You can’t overdo it, because if you try to overdo progression, you’re just forcing it,” replies Told when asked to discuss how Silverstein wanted to move forward on …Wind Shifts. “Bands that force [progression] and are forcing themselves to make a certain type of record, are going to miss the mark and it’s going to go all wrong.
“With our progression, we have to take it in small steps and let what comes out naturally pave the way for us,” he continues. “It’s important that you’ve created this band and this sound, and you fall into a musical realm somewhere.”
It’s a slippery slope, however. Told understands the balance of a band not wanting to sound exactly the same on every effort, but also the importance of not trampling upon their fans with a sound that’s way too left of centre.
He says that with Silverstein the focus is always on writing songs that can be represented well on acoustic guitar, have memorable melodies and lyrics, and be able to subsequently “stand the test of time.” Avoiding trends is also a key strategy.
“A couple of years ago [the trend] was dub-step and all of these bands in our genre were putting dub-step parts in their music. That might be cool [at the moment] because Skrillex is selling all of these records, but that isn’t going to make a better song. People are going to look back at your music and go, ‘what the fuck was that?’”
As the band grows older, there’s even less of a desire to alter their sound or image in order to cater to what’s going on around them. That said, Told still finds it “pretty cool” to see multiple generations of fans now diving into his band, and appreciates instances where Silverstein has shared stages with younger bands that became motivated to get going because of them.
In terms of the younger fans now just entering the Silverstein mix, they can expect Told to give them what he has given others throughout the years – himself.
“I’m not getting any younger and there’s not any point to try to,” he concedes. “I’m not going to start wearing fluorescent colours – or whatever kids will be wearing in six months – to try and fit in. I’m just going to be myself like I always have and grow up just like [the fans] – I have to embrace that.”