Interview with Silverstein frontman Shane Told & drummer Paul Koehler

- Feb 09, 2006 at 03:13PM
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Having come together in Burlington in 2000, the guys from Silverstein have made quite a name for themselves. After just six years, these guys are already known around the world! 2005 was a huge year for them, but 2006 promises to be even better. Absolute madness I say! The band’s latest release, Discover the Waterfront, has been a huge success since its release last August, and the album tour has sold out shows all over the world. And the touring hasn’t stopped yet; not by a long shot. The band is currently winding up the tail end of a European tour with Simple Plan, and will be touring all over Canada and the USA until mid-April. I caught up with Paul (drums) and Shane (vocals) on the set of their newest video, the title track off the album, "Discover the Waterfront."

You guys formed in Burlington in 2000, and just three years later you signed with Victory Records, and you’ve been with them ever since. How did you end up on the Victory label?
Shane: Well, another band from Burlington called Grade used to be on Victory, and I knew their drummer, Charles, very well, and he put in a good word for us and actually, in return, I put in a good word with some people I knew that work for Avril Lavigne. Now, he plays bass for Avril Lavigne. So we kinda helped each other out there.

Awesome. After signing with Victory, you released When Broken is Easily Fixed, and that’s sold like over 200,000 copies. Then in August, you released Discover the Waterfront. What kind of a reaction has your second album been getting from your fans?
Paul: It’s been very similar to the first. People just reacted really well and they really enjoyed it. We tried to create a record that followed the first one in a way that people could still relate to it and enjoy it… those who enjoyed the first one at least. So, it’s been really positive and we’re really excited about how people have felt about it.

You’re about to go on a European tour with Simple Plan. Do you find the audiences in Canada – especially Ontario – are any different from those in any other part of the world?
Shane: One thing you find when you go to Europe is that, a lot of people… English isn’t their first language, and some people don’t speak English at all, so it’s sort of harder to communicate things with them. And I find because of that, sometimes people are more…. They listen a little better, rather than like… sometimes in North America they aren’t even listening to the music, they’re just rockin’ out. So it’s definitely different like that, but it’s interesting how much kids dress the same & kinda act the same all over the world. It’s kind of… kind of cool.

Right on. So your first video was for “Giving Up”, and basically it’s about a really rough break-up, but from what I understand, the video didn’t really turn out how you guys expected. What were your original intentions with it?
Paul: I think we just wanted to make a video that looked good and the quality, I think, was the most disappointing factor about it. The actual image was kinda distorted and… not very nice, and the shots were very dark as well. Just not what we expected and definitely not what we’d planned on having.

Shane: It’s really hard. I mean, when you make your very first video – we never made a video before, we didn’t know anything about it… we had a very small budget and we just kinda went for it. I mean, it’s always something I’ll look back on and remember as our first video experience. I kinda don’t hate the video as much as maybe I lead on anyways, but it’s definitely not my favourite.

Cool. After that, you guys released the video for “Smashed into Pieces”, and it was totally different. It just focused on, like, you guys playing in a room. It was very basic. But then all of a sudden you’re covered in this kind of… pudding… stuff? I’m assuming that video didn’t go how you expected either. What was supposed to be happening there?
Shane: Well if you watch the video – and it’s not kinda shown the best, but – what happens is the cymbal breaks and there’s supposed to be oil all over us, which is with the whole robot theme we were kinda trying to go for. The whole point is how we were wearing the shirts and ties, too – it was to show that we were clean and then we get really, really super dirty… that was kinda the idea. Maybe it got lost a little bit….

Paul: [laughing] Yeah, it probably did. We just wanted, like… as opposed to the first video, which had too much story and that kinda lost the whole theme and made it all cluttered… we just wanted to take away all that and in a bright room just see us playing the music that we play, y’know? And to try and show us as individuals, more than trying to mask it with all this story line.

Yeah. Well, I think the part that threw it off anyway was that, all of a sudden it’s gone, you’re clean again, and I personally was like… “What just happened?” I didn’t understand.
Shane: Yeah, again, when you make a video on such a small budget, things can change and things will change. If you don’t get the right shot, or if something gets messed up, then all of a sudden, y’know, the video’s completely different. Actually, what’s interesting about that is the original “Smashed into Pieces” video had cuts going back to this old Superman cartoon, which we couldn’t use cause of legal reasons. But it just looked really, really awesome cutting back to the Superman footage. So, maybe you can find that video some place, I don’t know, if it exists… I don’t know. It just looks really rad.

Okay. So, before this, you released “Smile in Your Sleep”. That had a pretty wicked concept actually. It was all based around Clue, and you guys each played characters, and there was a murder and this butler just kinda… butlering around or whatever he does. Whose idea was that?
Shane: That was the director - our director - Mark’s idea. We were on tour and we were like, “What’re we gonna do for our video?” And we were kinda thinking about stuff and he just sent us the idea and we were like, “Yeah! Let’s roll with that!” And this time we had a lot more money and with a lot bigger crew and stuff, so I think that that was one of the reasons that that video turned out so well. We had such a great time making it. Everyone was just in such a good spirit. The first two videos were pretty frustrating, but that video was a lot of fun to make.

So then right now you guys are shooting for “Discover the Waterfront”. Who’s directing this video? It is the same director that you used on the last one?
Shane: No, actually his name’s Benjamin…

Paul: Weinstein?

Shane: Weinstein. It’s someone that we never worked with, but we really liked his work.

Paul: His previous work is very diverse and captures some really cool elements of bands and stuff, and his treatment was far superior to anyone else we got.

Shane: … Yeah.

So can you tell me a bit about what you guys have in mind for the video?
Shane: I figured that was the next question. I was gonna start talking about it… The whole concept of this video is that everything is being shot from overhead. The entire video is being shot from overhead and you could do a lot of interesting things where… you can have somebody lying on the ground and it looks like they’re just standing there, but then you can pan to something else that’s actually on the ground and you can se that they’re lying on the ground. The whole video will be like that, so it’ll be something that no one’s ever seen before.

Right on. And finally… You guys have played a lot of shows with some really, really good bands. You’ve gone from being an opening act, fairly little known, to headlining your own tours, but are there any bands that you guys haven’t played with that you would absolutely love to play with in the future?
Paul: I dunno, it’s a hard question. Personally I’d really like to play with one of my favourite bands, Cave In, and we’ve wanted to bring them out on tour. We’ve really wanted to play with Comeback Kid… a bunch of random bands like that… Lifetime, now that they’re back together… stuff like that. Even playing with a band like NoFX would be really cool. We’ve kinda got the ability now to be able to play with bands like that that we never thought possible. Like, we did a tour with Hot Water Music and that was definitely one of our all-time favourite bands. It’s cool to be able to get to that level where you can play with them.
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