Silverstein – Re-Telling The Story

On a break from his relentless touring, Silverstein frontman Shane Told, caught up with FasterLouder to talk about his band’s upcoming tour of Australia. Silverstein are returning to our shores as part of their –  “Boys of Summer Tour’ with pop punk band Set Your Goals. The band are also touring in support of their latest release Arrivals and Departures which has received critical acclaim and positive reviews all over the globe.

In an era where bands post MySpace bulletins asking fans what they think would be their best band name, Canadian rock/hardcore outfit Silverstein, break the mould with their impressive story of how they named their band after well known author Shel Silverstein. “It started when we used to jam in Josh’s (Bradford, Guitar) basement and there were random books lying around. I would sing out of the books because I hadn’t written any lyrics at that stage. So one day I picked up a Shel Silverstein book and then a couple of weeks later, we had our first show and we still didn’t have a name, so we chose Silverstein.” While the novelist’s works are not of any real significance to the band, bassist Bill Hamilton has a tattoo with a quotation from the poem Hug O’War by Shel Silverstein to show his connection to Silverstein and what the band means to him.

For a band that has been around for close to eight years, Silverstein have certainly earned their stripes, having had to work through the tough developmental stages as a young band, to become an international force to be reckoned with. Being subjected to such a gradual growth as a band, has resulted in the five piece being infected with great humility and modesty. Told shared some of the infinite wisdom and valuable lessons which he has learnt over the years. “Being professional and not burning your bridges is a very important part of the music industry, I think. One other thing I have learnt, is to take your damn time when you’re in the studio, keep going until you know you have put down your best stuff and you’re really happy with the material.”

As a songwriter, Told has a superior prowess when it comes to creating lyrics which tends to put him above the rest in the punk/hardcore scene. Not only does Told write evocative lyrics to accompany moving melodies, he also consults literature and other art media for inspiration to write. For example; the track Your Sword vs. My Dagger is based upon the story of Romeo and Juliet, Already De__ad is based on the novel The Lovely Bones, Ides of March is based on the assassination of Julius Caesar, and Forever and a Day recites Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends verbatim. When asked about the reasoning behind choosing to make literary comparisons, Told responded by saying “In my time I guess I have read a lot of books and watched a lot of films. And when you are creating your own literature, other stories you have read or heard of pop into your head. It’s almost like stealing from the best. Regardless of what you say, there is probably somebody out there who has said it better than you ever could.”

Silverstein have always proudly been an independent band, having close ties to their label Victory Records. However, Silverstein’s music almost went commercial on January 31, 2006 when American Idol Contestant Ryan Hart covered the Silverstein track Smashed Into Pieces much to the disapproval of the judges. Told explained that he was really flattered that his song was chosen and he “...found Ryan on myspace and said thanks and we wrote a few messages back and forth. Then we met him a couple of times and he came up and performed with us on stage”. There may be a lesson there for diehard music fans. If you want to meet your favourite band, maybe creepy myspace messages aren’t the way to go. Try covering one of their songs on national television instead.

It is this sort of down to earth attitude which Australians can expect on the upcoming tour of a band consisting of two straight edge members and one vegan vegetarian. Although a lot of band members keep their moralistic lifestyles private from the stage, Silverstein are quite the opposite. When asked about how their lifestyles affect the band Told explained they “ an organisation called PETA and we usually have a table at our shows where people can get information about the vegetarian lifestyle and about animal cruelty because they are things which we strongly believe in”. Musically, Told also said that fans can expect a high energy show filled with material from all three of their albums. “We will probably play a lot of new stuff because we’re really into it at the moment and enjoy playing it. That being said, our old music is definitely very important to us so we will also be playing songs like Smashed Into Pieces and Smile in Your Sleep, we will play a good mix”.

At a time when oversized egos and grandstanding are common place amongst rock bands today, it is refreshing to see that Silverstein exhibit such openness, honesty and humility. Be sure to catch Silverstein at one of the following dates:

Silverstine tour dates:

The Arena, Brisbane (18+) – 8th Jan

Princess Theatre, Brisbane (AA) – 9th Jan

Roundhouse, Sydney (AA) – 10th Jan

Billboard The Venue, Melbourne (18+) – 11th Jan

Billboard The Venue, Melbourne (AA) – 12th Jan

The Gov, Adelaide (AA) – 13th Jan