Interview With Silverstein Frontman Shane Todd
May 12th, 2009 at 8:58am

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SILVERSTEIN has been an asset in the music world for me. For one they have music that is so memorable, lyrics that are emotionally and reality driven and they have to be the most down to earth guys I have ever met.

A SHIPWRECK IN THE SAND is the band’s fourth release and the most pleasurable in their collection. A storyline from the mind of Shane Told, everything from heavy and pounding to harmonious and layered. These beautifully crafted songs have been developed redefined and laid out on this album. I love the way they write and they perform I love the way they are open and honest in an interview and I love the fact that they don’t try to be anything then what they are. This is Canada’s SILVERSTEIN

I was able to catch up with friend and front man Shane Told right before his sound check in Rhode Island to talk about the meaning behind the concept, covering songs and how life is out on the road again.

I WILL SAY THIS EVEN THOUGH YOU KNOW I’M BIAS, THE NEW ALBUM IS AMAZING!
Yessss you are bias but I am happy the way it came out also.

silverstein-photo1IS THIS THE FIRST TIME YOU ARE COMPLETELY HAPPY WITH AN ALBUM?
I was a 100% Happy with DISCOVERING THE WATERFRONT too. So I guess this is the second time because the last record I wasn’t 100% happy with, just because it was kind of like not done. We ran out of time and there were things I wanted to do that we never did

ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THE SONGS?
Oh yea, I am happy with that. I’m happy with all the songs we have ever done. There is no like song that I wish never happened, well maybe STILL DREAMING but there is really no songs that I just hate. But in terms of just making a record and finishing it up, there are things I would do differently on ARRIVALS & DEPARTURES. This last record I was stoked about. That wasn’t even a question and I already knew the answer!!

WHAT MAKES YOU WANT TO DO A CONCEPT ALBUM?
Pretty much just boredom. We did three records the same exact way, as in we went in and wrote songs and recorded them and didn’t think about track order or anything. Each song was its own thing. So this time we just decided we needed a change and to do something more fun and creative, that was all it was.

WAS THIS A LONGER PROCESS?
It was way harder, way more of a challenge but I think I knew that it would be. It was my idea and I said to the band this is what I want to do and they were kind of like ok and good luck with that, you’re the one that writes the words. It ended up working out really good. I had the idea or the concept of the story and what I kind of wanted to say which generally a record doesn’t start with that. Generally a record starts with music but this didn’t, it started with an idea and a story, then the music and at the same time the music was happening I was kind of putting lyrics to the story and concept. It was like an extra step on this record compared to the last one.

SO ARE THERE DIFFERENT STORIES IN ONE STORY SINCE YOU HAVE CHAPTERS TO IT?
When I set out to write this record the idea of the record has nothing to do with a relationship. Here is the thing, the world is fucked up right now and normal everyday middle class families like I’m from are struggling. My parents who are retired, I’ve watched them literally lose all their money because they had investments they thought were safe and weren’t and now they are scared that their pensions are going to go away and they are going to have to sell the house and who knows what for the next how many years. They are going to live pretty much cheaply for the next 20 years or however long they live. This is very much a concern, so it has affected me and I’m sure it’s affected many people and basically that is what I want to talk about in this record. So it’s about how that is happening and how messed up the world is right now. But how do you do that when you write a story?

I basically took a story of a regular American family, which is a husband and wife and daughter and it’s about the problems they go through in life and how the system creates the problems and without the system being flawed and messed up like it is these people would be fine but they go through problems. Like for example the guy is sick and is dying and it’s because he can’t get healthcare because that is not something the government decides people should have for whatever reason. So that is a big issue on the record.

Another issue on the record was even just people being happy. The way the media and Hollywood portrays the celebrities, people watch cribs and they think that is what they need to inspire to be and they need all that shit to be happy and in reality it is a very small percentage of people that live like that and you don’t need to live like that to be happy but people think that. It really ruins people’s lives and destroys them so that is what the record has to do about. Now the whole shipwreck/captain thing that is in the middle of the record and it is the title track and it has confused people but that part of the story if you listen to the track really good you will hear a page turning. The father is reading a storybook to his child which is called A SHIPWRECK IN THE SAND and its about like a Christopher Columbus story you would read but basically its like an analogy for the whole thing that the family is going through, with their struggles of being happy and trusting one another and believing in love and life and being happy with what you have and what you are given. So that is kind of the idea of the concept album. To say it’s about a relationship, well it is in some ways based on the struggles this husband and wife go through, but I want to present it based on the political and economic social systems so that is the real concept idea.

SO WHEN YOU GETTING IDEAS DID YOU HAVE YOUR TOP 4 ISSUES YOU WANTED TO MOSTLY IMPORTANTLY GET ACROSS ON THE ALBUM?
Kind of I have a notebook somewhere that is pretty cool and I was thinking about maybe auctioning it off to a charity or something because somebody maybe would be really interested in it. It has all my lyrics and ideas in it that I was compiling for this album for a year. So there is tons of stuff like that talking about problems I had with some of the issues and notes about it. It is always interesting because you start with an idea and with this idea it happen a year ago and now what is the record like and how that kind of translates and where it started from and where it went. Actually it wasn’t that far off, healthcare was a issue and the social issue about the American dream and being happy and there is a lot of stuff about war and military funding and how much the United States puts into the military funding and takes out of social programs for the elderly and teenagers, you know what I mean, like kids have to pay to play organized baseball, like is that so hard to make happen. I don’t know!!

SO YOUR SAYING AND MANY OF US SAY THE WORLDS PRIORITIES ARE NOT WHERE THEY SHOULD BE
Well yea exactly and it has always been that way and people don’t question it but maybe now they will because people are really starting to see the affects of it

WEEK BEFORE THE ALBUM GOT RELEASED YOU HAVE IT IN FULL ON MYSPACE. WAS THAT A BAND IDEA?
Yea that was weird because Victory didn’t want us to put up a entire song which I don’t really know why but they wouldn’t let us do it so they originally wanted us to put up a thirty second clips and we thought well what is a thirty second clip  going to do about a song, that is like a verse, who cares but we ended up being able to work with it and put up half clips to get a feel of the song and it actually worked out because it left people wanting more so I didn’t like doing it but actually it was cool. So then we got a chance to do the whole Myspace promotion and put the whole record up. Victory was down to do the Myspace promotion thing so we were stoked to do it. When you work on a record for so long and when its done you just want everyone to hear it right away I hate that waiting between when its done and when it is coming out. So we were stoked and happy to just get it out there and the feedback was so positive so I was happy

DOES RECORD SALES EVEN COUNT THESE DAYS?
That is a good question. It’s true and interesting I don’t know anymore. Everyone in record sales has fallen so miserably

I WAS EXCITED TO SEE GUEST APPEARANCES. WAS THIS  WHERE THEY CAME IN AND HELPED WRITE THAT SONG OR DID YOU JUST ASKED THEM TO DO PARTS?
No I told them what to do. I mean you kind of know me but you don’t know my personality in a musical way I am a fuckin total control freak!! I am pretty crazy and intense. As our producer said I have a very strong vision so I think it was even more true this time because I had started with this idea and it turned into what it turned into so with these people coming in I was on top of things but the girl Lights I let her go a little bit with it cause I really liked what she was doing and it was different from my idea but the other guys I was like NO, It is like this!!

YOU WERE JUST BEING SWEET CAUSE IT WAS A GIRL!
Maybe she was a cute girl (laughing)

DID YOU KNOW HER BEFORE?
Well, no I had never met her before but Bill our bass player knows her pretty well. Plus Bill knows Scott he used to be in comeback kid because he lives with him so that was easy to hook up.

PLUS BORN DEAD THE SONG HE IS ON IS SO FUN I LIKE HOW YOUR VOICES MESH
That is the thing. People always say you never really did that many guest appearances before why now? It just felt right for the songs it wasn’t that we had these opportunities to get these people in and we took it. Like in VICES there is that part where it’s the kick drum and I was like I just don’t feel right with my voice here. Somewhere there is a recording of it with my voice and it just didn’t sound right. So I was like who’s voice am I thinking about for this part and it was Liam and he lives half a hour from me so he came in and did it. With the verses in BORN DEAD, the call and answer vocals I wanted something very different from my voice, I didn’t want to have two of me or me and Bill then its like similar styles so I wanted something totally different

SO LIVE
Bill does the vocals he tries to do the best impersonation as he can!! Liam did come out and did it with us when we were touring and crossed paths with Cancer Bats he came out and sang on it

DO YOU FEEL WHEN IT CAME TO WRITE THE MUSIC PART OF THE ALBUM, BECAUSE I FEEL YOU WENT AND TOOK STRENGTHS FROM ALBUMS YOU DID IN THE PAST AND BROUGHT THEM BACK OUT ON THIS ALBUM PLUS ADDED NEW ELEMENTS!
Sort of one thing I did do which I never did before was I listened to all the old albums. I don’t know if it is just me but I don’t think so,  but I don’t think any band listens to their own music especially old records. But I did and I went back and listened to them all and I really took them in and thought about them and I think one thing we were going for this time was instead of just writing a song that made sense, like structurally like verse chorus verse bridge chorus or whatever. We just went with what felt right and that’s like how we did the first album because we really didn’t know how to write songs properly so it was just like ok this feels right or that feels good. So we used that a little more so that could be part of what it is. When you’re writing more and more albums and you still try to play the same kind of music I don’t want to say you steal from yourself but things come back a little bit. Someone picks up a guitar and there is always the first three or four things they play and that is just the way they are and their influences and styles and I think that makes things sound like other things.

IT IS BETTER TO STEAL FROM YOURSELF THEM OTHERS!
That’s true I guess! (Laughing)

I HEARD THE BEATLES COVER YOU DID. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THAT SONG, WAS IT MORE FOR FUN?
Yea well what happens is when you’re done with records they always want, and by they I mean Victory (labels) and retailers want extra songs so they want an exclusive. So last record we did the Best Buy exclusive where we did two extra songs but it kind of bummed me out because I actually liked those two songs and they were only in one store and then they don’t even carry the version anymore so you cant get the songs so it was a bum out and this time and since we were so focused on writing one album it felt weird to do extraneous songs, like what the hell would I write them about. I would have been pulling ideas out from something to write other songs so I was like fuck it lets just do cover songs and that would be fun and different and that way we wouldn’t be putting creativity, well I mean, we would but not like real originality into it. So we made a list of fifteen songs we were going to try. So the Beatles and the Fleetwood Mac songs came out the best. The other two acoustic ones I just did in the studio one day

ALSO THE PUNK GOES POP SONG YOU DID WAS GREAT AND A STAND OUT I THINK ON THE RECORD
Thank you

EVEN THOUGH THE SONG YOU DID I GOTTA ASK SINCE YOU’RE A GUY. WHY DO GUYS FLOCK TO THAT SONG?
Is it a guy song?

I THINK SO. EVERY GUY I KNOW LOVES THAT SONG
It’s a good song. I don’t know. Here is the thing when we said ok there are a million pop songs and we want to do this compilation what song should we do. We listened to all these songs to get ideas but there were so many pop songs that have good hitch choruses but the rest of the song is forgettable and shitty and that song is really good from start to finish. I don’t know it’s just a good song and one that gets stuck in your head. I remember we were in Japan when it was at its peak and we were all downloading it from Itunes totally a guilty pleasure song

HAVE YOU HEARD ANY BANDS DO YOUR SONGS?
Well local bands and garage bands I have seen on Youtube and some of them are pretty good but there hasn’t been like a band that is legitimate touring full time band that has done something that I know of. But Before Their Eyes, a band that is opening the tour for us was playing our song in sound check the other day, which was kind of cute

ANY BAND YOU WANT TO COVER YOUR SONGS?
I think I just want it to be someone we know because when it’s someone you know they kind of understand us and where we are coming from. So if it was our friend’s band it was be cool and rad. I don’t know specifically but someone close to us

DOING A VIDEO FOR VICES?
We did one. I thought it would be out  by now but they are trying to figure out where they are going to premiere it and all that. But it is done and its rad!!

IS IT A CONCEPT?
Well our last two videos were really complicated with crazy storyline and people were like what the fuck is going on. This one is not like that it is just bad ass, it is tough. We drove like three hours north in Canada where there is still snow and we filmed it on a frozen lake with a ring of fire around us. Its just bad ass!!

HOW IS LIFE BACK ON THE ROAD?
Good I am happy we are back. We were off for a while and it is like when people go to school and they are like I wish I was working and people at work are like I wish I was in school. It is kind of like that when your in the studio you just miss playing shows and hanging out but when your on the road your like I just want to get creative again I think we were in that studio mode for too long and I was going crazy making this record like literally losing my mind so it was nice to get out and drink beers and hang out.

DID YOU HAVE TIME TO RELAX BEFORE THE ROAD?
No we didn’t have anytime, we finished recording it and had five days then we went to South America and the record wasn’t even mixed yet. So our producer/mixer was doing that while we were in South America and he would email us the files. So we were on tour while we were still kind of working on the record in a way. Which is hard but it all worked out.

HOW IS THE TRANSITION FROM NORMA JEAN TO A STATIC LULLABY ON THE TOUR?
I haven’t seen a difference, the only thing I see is that people are pretty stoked about A Static Lullaby on the tour. We are all friends with them guys and they took us out on tour in like 2003 so for us to kind of help them out is great.

DID YOU PICK THIS PACKAGE?
Yes we always do the picking.

SUMMER PLANS?
Yea we are doing two weeks of Warped tour which is just the West Coast unfortunately which is everything your against!! Cause you’re the East Coast

I AM NOT AGAINST IT!!
No your not…I’m kidding, your just hardcore East Coast! Then after that I think we are doing some dates in the mid west which is cool because we aren’t really hitting it on this tour. Then some Canadian stuff

NO OVERSEAS?
We are actually going there after this tour. This tour, four days off, then Europe

DID YOU DO A CANADIAN TOUR BEFORE THIS?
We haven’t done that yet. I don’t know why we didn’t do it, we are just going to do it later

ONE SONG I TOTALLY LOVE AND KEEP PLAYING IS YOU’RE ALL I HAVE. DO YOU THINK IT WILL BE A SINGLE?
No

DO YOU PLAY IT LIVE?
No

DAMN YOU SHANE!!
Yea that song, when you write a song and then play it live in a practice space sometimes it drastically changes when it is on the record and that is one of the songs. We have a DVD which came with the deluxe version of the CD and its basically just us just fucking around in the studio and there is one part  where I am trying to workout what I am going to do with that song vocally and I guess our producer just didn’t like it so we kind of argued with it and went back n forth and it just changed a lot not even vocally but musically also. So that song really is different form how we were playing it before so for us to go back and play it on the record is harder. So we are kind of practicing it everyday and probably work on it for sound check today and just work it out. I don’t know, do you think it should be a single?

I THINK IT WOULD DO WELL. I JUST LOVE IT.
So many vocal parts, it’s a song that is everywhere. I don’t know if it will be a single because we don’t plan that far ahead but I’m going to say probably not.

IT WOULD BE A HIDDEN GEM AT THE END OF THE RECORD
Kind of, we have always done that because I hate records that have the first five songs outstanding then the rest is shit. So we intentionally put good songs that people will like in the end of the record just like MY HEROINE was like number seven. I knew that song people would like

PLUS THAT SONG WAS SO WELL WRITTEN. I THINK YOU SHOULD JUST WRITE A BOOK.
Yea?? Thought about it but it is a lot of work

BUT YOU ARE SO GOOD
(LAUGHING)

NO FOR REAL YOU ARE. I THINK YOU SHOULD WRITE MY BIOGRAPHY. I’LL GIVE YOU MY JOURNAL AND YOU CAN WRITE IT AS A STORY.
(laughing) Is that your journal there (as he points to the interview question paper)

NO
(laughing) its only a page and half, just a little boring…lol

BACK TO THE INTERVIEW, IS IT EASIER WRITING A SET LIST OR HARDER WITH SO MANY RECORDS OUT NOW?
Harder right now, it is just longer. We just take the usual set list and adding onto that.

NO FIGHTING ABOUT SONGS?
No really there is always some time to time complaining about it

HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN HOW SONGS GO?
That happens I always remember the words but that is the easy part but sometimes band members are like how does that song go? But yea we just play longer and longer

YOU JUST HAVE TO HEADLINE FOR THE REST OF YOUR CAREER!
I guess. It does suck when you have to play a half and hour set and we were like what the hell are we going to play. I don’t think we did any songs from ARRIVALS & DEPARTURES and someone got mad

LAST COMMENTS
We have a new album out called A SHIPWRECK IN THE SAND. GO GET IT!!

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One Comment to “Interview With Silverstein Frontman Shane Todd”

  1. Kiara.Cullen says:

    I ABSOLUTELY LOVE SILVERSTEIN!!
    (and Shane Told but that’s another issue) haha
    i loved this interview
    DO YOU HAVE MORE?!? =^_^=

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