Interview with Silverstein guitarist Josh Bradford

- Aug 26, 2007 at 03:11PM
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One of the most popular bands to come out of the greater Toronto area in the last few years is the post-hardcore group Silverstein. These guys have been together since about 1998, but just last year started to garner some major mainstream popularity which has resulted in spots on major tours and steadily growing album sales. The group just released their third full-length LP in July titled Arrivals and Departures which has already become Silverstein’s best selling album to date. The band is currently on a very lengthy tour of North America before heading over to Europe later in the fall which will see the band on tour almost non-stop right up until the beginning of 2008. We recently caught up with Silverstein’s guitarist Josh Bradford to ask him about the band, the new album, the tour plans and also the recent loss of a close friend.

Although Silverstein has been around about seven years now and has made quite a name for itself in that time, how did you guys originally meet and form a band?
Josh: It’s pretty simple, we were all just playing in bands in our local scene and most of us had met each other through playing shows together in different bands and anyone who didn’t know each other... like I don’t think we had really met Paul, but we put up a little ad on a message board just looking for people into the same sort of thing that we were and wanted to start a band and he replied. So we kind of all met through the internet and just the local bands we were in.

Currently you guys are on tour with Rise Against, a tour that will last right up until the middle of September. How did you get added to this bill and is it the most extensive tour you’ve ever done?
Josh: This is one of the most extensive tours we’ve ever done; yeah it’s definitely a very long tour. I guess the way we got added to it was um basically, Rise Against was one of the first bands to ever give us a chance and take us out on tour back when our first record came out. So we had met them then and formed a really good relationship with them and it’s been several years, at least three or four since that tour, growing now to the point where we can now play main support for them since we’re all just buddies already, it just made a good fit.

Just to touch on your current album Arrivals and Departures, how do you personally feel about the record and how does it match up to your previous records?
Josh: I really feel it’s the best stuff we’ve ever done. We put a lot of time and effort into it and we’re all super proud of how it came out and I think for most of us, it’s the most personal record we’ve ever done. We’ve been living together so long now since we’re on tour the majority of the year that anything that one of us experiences, generally the rest of us are right there for it. All the lyrics really hit close to home in a lot of cases and there’s definitely been some pretty big shifts in all of our lives in recent years, even months so it’s interesting. I definitely, like when I listen to the record, it hits me a lot harder than anything we’ve done before, I just identify with the songs and I can relate to them.

You just mentioned how the new record is your most personal record to date, could you just elaborate a little bit on the personal aspect of the record?
Josh: Yeah, we lost a couple of friends that were pretty close friends to all of us in the past year or two of touring, Bill lost his grandfather, Shane lost his cousin, we lost our friend John from the band Bayside, so we’ve all kind of been there as each other’s support groups. And on top of all those kind of deaths we’ve been through, Shane just broke up with his girlfriend of seven years and I just broke up with my girlfriend of six years so we’re all kind of in the same boat here. And I would really not be too hesitant to say that a lot of the reason these relationships fold is because we’ve been out on the road for years and it’s hard to make a long distance relationship work. We did pretty well for a long time but eventually it just sort of fell apart.

You mentioned right there John from the band Bayside which leads into my next question. A couple of years ago you were on the Never Sleep Again Tour and tragedy struck when John was killed in a road accident. What was it like being apart of that whole tragedy and what was it like carrying on with the tour after that?
Josh: It was really hard, that was probably one of the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through and I’ve lost a lot of friends in car accidents, but that one really hit close to home because this is our lives, for the last couple of years we’ve been living in vans and buses and stuff like that. Traffic accidents do happen all the time, but it hits extra close to home when it’s like pretty much actually your house when you’re living in a van. It was really tricky, the first couple of shows back, I know I personally just burst into tears a couple of times on stage. It’s such a weird feeling knowing that a week ago, you were on the same tour with the same bands playing the same shows but now one of your good friends that was there with you is just not, it’s really awkward. And when Bayside actually came and joined back up on the tour and was just playing acoustically, that really tugged at my heart every night watching them.

What was the writing and recording process like for Arrivals and Departures? At what point did you start writing songs for the album, how many songs did you write and where did you record it?
Josh: Yeah we got home from our headlining tour in the fall, the Never Shave Again Tour, um, we got back I think December 3rd was the last show? And I think we took three days off and then started going into a rehearsal space and just jamming. We all had at least a few ideas, like some chord progressions or some riffs so we just jammed them out and I think through the first day of practice, we had the better part of two songs good to go. We spent a couple of months in that practice space just jamming at it and refining and writing more. It was real neat, we didn’t discuss how we’re trying to sound or where we wanted to go with it, we just wrote a bunch of songs and that’s what the record became I guess. We actually did a cool thing this time, we’ve never really written more songs than we needed, it was always like, ok, we got ten or eleven songs, that’s all we’ve got so that’s the record. But this time, I think we ended up with about fourteen or fifteen songs so we had some excess to trim away, but I think you’ll actually be hearing those songs soon, I think we’re going to do some stuff with them anyways, I’m excited about it. From there, we flew down to California, did some pre-production with our producer Mark Trombino which was basically us sitting in a room with him for five days playing the songs through over and over for him so he could get a feel for them. And then we just started recording, tracked drums, bass, guitar and vocals.

You just mentioned working with Mark Trombino, Mark is a very well respected producer having worked with Blink 182 and Jimmy Eat World in the past. How did you first get in touch with Mark and what was it like working with him?
Josh: Well when we were looking into who we were going to record with, we had enough of a budget available to open some doors that we were not able to open before. We had a long list of all these people that had made great records that we all love and Mark was just kind of at the top of everyone’s list so we contacted him along with a bunch of other people and amongst others, he came back very positively and was into doing it. So we were all like, yeah we love his work so let’s go for it.

I read that you tried to integrate different things into this new album that you hadn’t previously done on your previous work. What were some of these different things if you could elaborate on that a bit?
Josh: I’m not sure, where are you hearing this?

I think I heard it on your official bio on your site actually…
Josh: Yeah um, I don’t know, like, some things are a little bit different but not overly. I don’t know who wrote that, but there’s a song that’s got a little more of a dancier feel, like almost a bit of a dance beat behind it, but it’s still got like a breakdown and a heavy chorus and stuff like that. I don’t know, nothing all that different to me I don’t think. It’s along the same lines as our previous records, but it’s a lot more focused, there aren’t too many quiet, clean twinkly parts, it’s mostly just straight up and rocking.

Are there any shows on the Rise Against tour you’re particularly looking forward to?
Josh: Ah, the Toronto show is going to be insane, uh, I’m assuming it’ll come close to selling out and it’s at Arrow Hall in Mississauga which is an old airplane hangar that’s been converted into a venue so it’s huge, it’s like seven or eight thousand people so that’ll be really fun and it’s always a good time to play home, see all the friends and family. Another one that sticks out in my mind is, we’re suppose to be playing this festival in Red Rocks in Colorado, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of that venue, but it’s set in that natural rock formation, it just looks insane from the website. So I’m pretty excited to play there, I’m kind of outdoorsy so I get turned on by that kind of stuff.

Things seem to be going great for Silverstein at the moment, what do you guys have planned for the Fall and 2008?
Josh: Yeah I think we’ll probably take at least a couple of weeks off after this tour because it is such a long one, we’ll do some laundry and regroup. And then we’re talking about doing like a B market tour, like a headlining tour. Hopefully we’ll do all of North America, like we’ll do some Canada and the U.S., just hit some of the smaller cities that we haven’t been to in a while. And I think we’re talking about going back to Europe and doing a full European headlining tour and then I think we’re talking about doing a full North American headlining tour, like all the major cities and everything sometime in the winter, like January or February.
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