We Chat with Shane Told of Silverstein
Post hardcore screamers Silverstein were last in the country for 2011′s Soundwave festival. Their latest release is the unconventional Short Songs – dubbed a “mini-album” by the band, the record contains 22 songs, each one with a running time of less than 90 seconds. Silverstein are returning to the country soon to showcase Short Songs, as well as tracks from last years acclaimed long player Rescue, and The Vulture caught up with vocalist Shane Told ahead of his arrival in Australia.
I’m very interested in your most recent release Short Songs – what was the appeal in recording an album of songs under 90 seconds, and where did the idea come from?
Well, we did a 7″ record for Record Store Day in 2011, and wanted to cover some hardcore bands from when we were growing up. Problem was you can only fit about 4 minutes of music on one side of a record, and we wanted to do a few songs. So we picked 3 short songs. All of them were under a minute and a half. We had a blast recording them and playing live and then we got the idea to record more, and also try to write some of our own.
The second half of Short Songs is Silverstein covering some classic punk songs. How did you choose the songs and bands you covered?
We wanted diversity, but also bands that shaped us. All the songs are pre-2000 when we started, and we cover everything from punk to hardcore to emo to power violence to acoustic. It’s about the songs being great short songs, not just being one type of music.
As well as the second half of Short Songs, you’ve done plenty of other covers (The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, among others), and you’ve contributed to the Punk Goes Pop series. Obviously it’s not just limited to you guys though. Punk and hardcore bands doing covers of other songs is almost a genre in itself, and it seems like the more distant the style of the original is from punk rock, the better. Why do covers appeal so much to punk and hardcore bands?
It’s weird for our band because when we started we didn’t do any covers at all. In fact, it wasn’t until 2005 after we had been a band for 5 years that we did our first cover, which was Lifetime‘s ‘Rodeo Clown’. That’s when we discovered covers were actually really fun. I think we had just done so many covers in our earlier bands before Silverstein, that’s why we didn’t do any. I love punk and hardcore bands doing covers.
Are you going to be playing much from Short Songs on this tour?
Yeah, we love the record so we play as much as we can get away with.
You’re touring Australia and New Zealand soon, and then heading to South East Asia - what are the big differences you encounter with fans from different parts of the world?
I find the more remote you are, in any country, the more crazy the reaction is. In places like SE Asia and South America where they don’t get as many bands, they are completely nuts. Australia is a bit like that too, but Australians by nature tend to be so laid back that it ends up being a really great vibe. It’s has the excitement without resulting in complete chaos and rioting.
Your last full album (as opposed to the mini album Short Songs), Rescue, has been out for about a year now – after this tour, will you be getting started on the next album?
Yes! We have some riffs and stuff ready and are going to get together and start putting it all together. Hopefully recording again this fall.
You have been a band since 2000 – how have you seen the punk and hardcore scene change in the last decade?
It’s really changed. It seems to go in waves from where having a crazy image is cool, to where it’s not, to where it is again. And musically it’s similar too. For awhile things will be really out there and theatrical, and then the next thing you know it’ll be stripped down again. So I’m not sure what’s happening, but the bands that are true to themselves and also write great songs are the ones that last through the trends.
You’ve been playing with an almost unchanged lineup since you formed – how do you maintain a healthy relationship with your band mates after all this time?
Well we all are on the same level goal-wise with the band. We’re all here to have fun first and foremost. Also, we don’t have all the same friends outside the band. We all have our own lives so I think that makes us not get sick of each other.
Finally, what bands are you listening to right now?
Today I listened to La Dispute, Single Mothers, Frank Turner, David Bazan, Defeater, The Movielife, and Armor For Sleep.