Silverstein are some of the busiest bees in the modern post-hardcore scene, churning out six full-length albums and a string of EPs across their twelve-year career. Their latest slab is ‘Short Songs’, a love-letter to the past that pairs breakneck punk and hardcore songwriting with covers of genre pioneers like Orchid and NOFX. Frontman Shane Told recently spoke with Kill Your Stereo about the new album and the band’s plans for 2012.
Tell me a bit about yourself and your role in the band?
I’m the singer for Silverstein. I sing for the band, and I write some of the songs and play some of the guitars in the studio, like some of the acoustics as well. I am 30 years old and I live in Ontario, Canada. I enjoy sports, baseball and hockey, and I like warm weather.
What were some of the highlights of 2011 for Silverstein?
Oh, it was a great year. We’d but out a five-song EP, which was our first EP release since 2002. Then we put out a 7-inch viny called ‘Save Your Local Record Store’, which had a song off our then-upcoming ‘Rescue’ album and some cover songs. Then, we put out our full-length album ‘Rescue’ as well. After that, we played the Take Action Tour and we toured previously as well, playing in some countries that we’d never been to before in Asia and South-East Asia. Also, Soundwave Festival of course in 2011, and after that we continued keeping it busy throughout the year. It was a great year.
Your latest album harkens back to the early days of punk and hardcore. What were the reasons for adopting this style?
You know, I think it was just something we wanted to do. When we put out ‘Rescue’ and we’d done a lot of touring after the release around Europe and America and Australia, we found ourselves sitting around in September and October with a lot of time on our hands. We had this idea to do something a little different and to write some short songs that were 90 seconds long, and I think the hardcore style creeped in more so than anything we’d done on our other albums. It was something we sort of embraced. We wanted to do those kinds of songs, and that’s just how the record came out.
Did the band have a particular style of hardcore punk in mind when writing the album?
I don’t think so, I don’t think we had any in mind. I think all of the songs, the eleven original songs, are all pretty diverse. The first song is obviously a pretty straight-up hardcore song, and the second song is a skate-punk song. I think number seven is almost like an acoustic ballad, and track ten is sort of like a pop punk song. We tried to give it the diversity that you’d find in a normal Silverstein album, just in a different format.
Half of the album is devoted to covers of classic bands like NOFX. What influenced this decision?
Well, we needed the songs to be under ninety seconds, and that was the first thing. We pretty much put all our songs in a library by generation, and looked at what songs were under ninety seconds. It’s weird because there’s not many bands that do a lot of short songs, but there are a few bands that do, like NOFX. They have a lot of short songs. We tried to pick a few of those bands that have those songs that we love and can perform and pull off, and also we wanted to have diversity on the covers side of the record too. That’s why we went from NOFX to Orchid to The Promise Ring, it’s about diversity and it’s about short songs, not punk songs necessarily.
Just looking back at Soundwave 2011, what is the best thing about playing the festival?
Really, it’s the hangouts with the other bands. Soundwave is all these American and Canadian bands all hanging out in Australia, and it’s paradise and we love it. We’ll be coming out on an aeroplane and there’ll be 150 people made up of 150 band members and we’re all hanging out and having a good time. It’s just a really, really awesome tour and I think it’s great.
Is there a certain place in Australia that you’re particularly fond of touring?
I really like Melbourne a lot, I think it’s a really cool city and it reminds me a bit of Toronto in some ways. When we first came to Australia we spent the most time in Melbourne, so it kind of became our most familiar city there, but now we spend a lot of time in Sydney and that’s a really beautiful city as well. Our opinion on Australia is you can never really go wrong wherever you are. It’s an amazing country, but I think Melbourne is the city we’re most attached too.
Are there any plans for the band to tour Australia again in the future?
Yeah, there actually are some plans and we’re coming back soon, so stay tuned for an announcement. I don’t know if it’s locked in, but I know that we have a window where we are seriously looking into coming and I think it’s gonna happen, so stay on the lookout.
Are there plans for a more traditional Silverstein release?
Yeah, I think we want to get back to writing pretty soon. I think ‘Short Songs’ isn’t to be confused with a new record, like a new full-length record. It’s something we did in between records for ourselves and for our fans, but we do plan to put out another full-length record in the near future. We just have to get around to writing it and seeing what comes out.
So the ninety second rule won’t apply to this album, I take it?
The ninety second rule, I like that! Yeah, that’s exclusive to this record and something we wanted to try, just something different. I think in the future it could affect the songs we write, because we did enjoy writing these songs and enjoy playing them live. Our new record could have short songs on it, but this is a one-time thing and we’ll go back to writing longer songs right away.
Plus it’s easier though, because you only have to write half a normal song, so it wouldn’t take as long.
Yeah, it’s weird though. Sometimes short songs do take a long time to write. Just because they’re shorter doesn’t mean you have to think them through as much. Some of the songs were complicated and took longer to write. The short songs take less time to record, simply because it takes less time to track, but writing can still be pretty complicated.
Will the band continue to release music with Hopeless Records?
Yeah, well they’ve got us for at least one more record, so we’re stoked right now on everything we’ve done. It’s a great relationship.
After your contract with them is fulfilled, do you think you’re going to renew it?
You know, I think there’s a great chance. I can’t really speculate on that, and obviously there’s a lot of factors, but we’ve enjoyed working with them every step of the way. As people, professionally they’ve done a good job and it’s a great relationship, as I said.
The band has maintained the same lineup for over a decade now. What is the secret to its longevity?
It’s hard to say. We don’t really know that much about how bands work. We’re pretty laid back. If somebody makes a mistake on stage, we’re not freaking out or grabbing them by the throat and screaming at them. We all have our own lives outside the band too. We all don’t live in the same cities and we all have different friends, so I think that keeps us closer when we’re together and leaves us some breathing space when we’re not together. I think that keeps it good, where we miss each other a little bit when we’re not together, but never get sick of each other.
So you guys are like a good couple. You’re great when you’re together, but know when to give each other space.
Yeah, like I still see Bill and Josh all the time when I’m at home, we hang out and we’re still great friends. Some bands I’ve seen where they all went to the same high school, all have the same friends, they spend seven weeks on tour together, and then when they get home, they’re all at the same bar together and dating the same girls. I think if you keep that going for years and years and years, the can create a problem, so it’s something I guess we don’t have.
Tell us about the craziest thing the band has ever done?
Um, craziest thing the band has ever done… That’s really hard to answer just off the top of our head. We’ve been to some crazy places and done some crazy travelling. We’ve done three shows in one day and done crazy stuff like that, but I think the craziest thing we’ve ever done is dedicate twelve years of our lives to this band, and every day we’ve given it 100% in this band. I think it’s a pretty crazy thing to do anything for twelve years so intensely, and I think to be able to continue to do it is a great feeling. It’s also very, very tiring, and there’s days that I look back and can’t believe it.
What are some newer bands and releases that you’d like to recommend to your fans?
There’s a lot of great bands in the new hardcore scene right now that we’re fans of. Touche Amore is a great band and they have a great new album. There’s a band that I was on tour with who I saw called Pianos Become The Teeth that are sort of picking up some heat right now and they’re really great. Of course, Fucked Up from Toronto is a really great band. There seems to be a lot coming up right now, and it’s a really great time for music. We all listen to such different bands, like, if I was to ask Paul the top ten bands that he was listening to right now, I probably wouldn’t have even heard of any of them. He’s really into the newest and greatest things, so he might be able to answer your question better!
What does the rest of 2012 hold for Silverstein?
Well, we’re coming to see you guys in Australia, and I think we’re going back to Japan and some other South-East Asian countries. We’re planning a very extensive European tour, and we’re gonna go to a lot of countries that we’ve never been to. We’re also planning a lot of music videos that we’re gonna make, and we’re gonna do more and more stuff with our fans in terms of online sorts of things. So it’s gonna be a busy year as always and stay on the lookout, because we’re not really taking any time off.
As you guys are getting older, are there any plans to slow down or quit in the future?
I don’t know, man. We’ve been doing this for so long, and sometimes I feel like The Rolling Stones, where it starts to become all you know. There’s other things I wanna do with my life, I wanna start a family and get married and when I do some other things with my life. I don’t necessarily wanna be the singer of a band forever, but at the same time I enjoy it, every step of the way I enjoy it, and it’s always fun, it doesn’t get old, and when it does and I don’t wanna do it anymore, then I won’t do it anymore. It’s pretty much that simple, it’s fun and when it’s not fun anymore then we won’t do it.
Yeah, that’s pretty much what I’ve heard from a lot of people actually.
Yeah, there’s other people and we’re not the first band to be this size and be around for this long. I’m sure there are a lot of people that feel the same way that we do, and I guess that’s just a natural reaction. We do enjoy it, and especially with putting out a record like ‘Short Songs’, we do something that we’re really excited about. When you’re doing these kinds of things, I don’t feel like slowing down at all. If anything, I feel like doing more and more.
One thing I’d like to clarify, to end some arguments with your fans over here: Is it Silver-Stine or Silver-Steen?
We say Silver-Steen, we’ve always said Silver-Steen, so that’s what we consider ourselves to be. There’s places like Germany where we’re Silver-Stine, and it doesn’t matter how many times you try to tell someone in Germany that they’re not saying it right because they won’t understand you! I don’t even hear it anymore, to be honest. It doesn’t even bother me, but it is Silver-Steen, yes.
Are there any comments you’d like to finish on?
We just want people to know that we’re still pushing ‘Rescue’, we’ve got a new music video for that coming out soon and a second main single, and ‘Short Songs’ is coming out as well. It’s just something that we really want our band to enjoy, and we’ll be seeing you guys later in the year as well.