PropertyOfZack Interview : : Silverstein

by Zack Zarrillo - Feb 9, 2012

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Silverstein are out on tour with August Burns Red, but PropertyOfZack recently had the chance to catch up with Paul from the band for a great interview. Paul and I discussed Short Songs, the shift in nature from writing for a full-length to a project like Short Songs, Hopeless Records, touring, releasing material again sooner than later, and much more. Read up and enjoy!

For the record, can state your name and role in Silverstein?
My name’s Paul and I play drums in the band Silverstein.

So, back in October you guys announced this whole short songs concept, but when did you guys start thinking about doing it?
It was kind of like a progression since last summer in 2011. It kind of extended from our Record Store Day 7”, which came out in April. We covered songs by Propaghandi, Kid Dynamite, and American Nightmare, and those three songs together were under three minutes long. So we kind of got it from the mindset of that the whole thing, plus we were starting to play those songs live cause we could just through it in the set. It’s not super long, you know for the kids that are at the shows who don’t know the cover, it’s over in less than a minute. It keeps it moving but it’s also fun for us and some of the people. We just recorded a lot of music last year. We did Rescue and the Transitions EP, the Record Store Day 7” and we did a couple covers. We were just in the studio a lot and enjoyed being creative again and the freedom to do it. We were initially like, “Let’s do an EP. Let’s do a little short song EP.” And as we wrote it, it came out to be a lot bigger project than we anticipated.

Yeah, this is a really big project with 22 songs. So you guys originally wanted to do an EP but when you realized that you wanted to turn it into this big thing, did it take a little while to just get that into motion, just because it obviously had to be a bigger undertaking?
Yeah. I think what we wanted to do was give a good value to people. We were inspired. We didn’t just write songs to pick up writing, like we just wrote them all. We thought about just picking a couple, but we wanted people to pick it up and have something to listen to. It’s still like, 20 minutes and there’s a lot of peaks and value. It’s up and down. I really feel like it’s interesting. Originally, I think it was supposed to be a five song EP, but it would have been over in probably three minutes. It would have been cool, but I feel like we took it a lot further. The originals came together really quickly and we were really inspired. We were writing and we took a moment to sit down and talk. We said, “Well, let’s just go nuts and let’s do 22 tracks. Why not?” I’m super happy that we did.

Like you said, you’ve recorded so much this year and you’ve done covers before, but was it a freeing experience? I mean it was literally on a whim, it’s not like you planned out recording your album in October from a year ago. Was it just kind of freeing to just know what you want to do and do it?
Yeah. I think there’s two parts to it. It’s just like saying, “Yeah, we’re going to do it.” We were supposed to be on tour and that sort of fell through. So that opened up some free time and it was too short notice to book anything else. I think that was part of it too because when the tour was booked, we were going to have a lot less time to write and record. And when that fell through, we ended gaining a few extra weeks, which was super beneficial in the end. I feel now – and I think it’s something a lot of musicians come to realize – when you kind of set a concept, whether it‘s thematic or lyrical, but you set that point. You say, “That’s the concept that we’re working to.” So whenever you do things, you relate to that point. I feel it’s a lot easier to just go and do it. Like when we did our concept of Shipwreck In The Sand, it was easy but it was also just really fun and creative. Because you were constantly like, “What’s the focus? What’s the goal?” and you relate back to that and it just lets you be free. And just do what you need to do. And I think you have a better result when music has a concept like that.

Was Hopeless into the idea right away too? It can obviously be a weird sort of thing to release.
Yeah I mean, they’ve just been super awesome for us ever since the Transitions EP. We’ve never, since we’ve been a full time band, done an EP before. They figured out how to make everything work on their end and told us to go ahead and do it. They’re the kind of label that inspire artists and are super artist friendly. I think we could probably come up with the craziest ideas and they’d probably let us do it. We’re really grateful for that.

You definitely had a different label situation with Victory before Hopeless. Has Hopeless been breath of fresh air for Silverstein?
I think it’s a matter of seeing some change. Some people can’t work at the same job for their whole life. I feel like going to Hopeless was almost like getting a new job. It feels new. They have a totally different way of thinking and releasing and marketing their records and inspiring their artists. It’s a totally different angle. I think that’s cool because we’ve been a band for 12 years. You kind of need to change things up once in a while just to keep making it fun and unique, really.

Rescue isn’t even a year old at this point. Why did you guys want to get back into the studio so soon?
I think one thing about it is before we were in the studio once every two years. We made a record and then released it. A lot happens to a band in two years. You get inspired by a ton of new artists. You go on the road, you have new experiences. I think it can be a bit of a disconnect between a full two year period. So I think going and forcing yourself to be creative more frequently, really helps think things out and furthers your ability, your focus. Shipwreck In The Sand was only like a year old when we started writing Rescue. That album was written over the course of a year, which is why I really like the record. We wrote a bunch of songs and worked on them. We trashed some, refined some, and wrote new ones. It was an easy and stress free experience.

I think fans sort of saw Rescue as a fresh start for Silverstein too. Are you happy with how the album went over, in terms of reception?
Yeah, I’m really happy with how it went over. Rescue was written without any label and we actually entered the studio without even having a label in the picture. Hopeless was going to be the label, pretty much at the time, but we hadn’t really got there yet. So we really had nobody saying, “You should try this.” But Short Songs was the first time that we had had conversations with Hopeless for. Hopefully just wanted to talk to us about our approach for recording it like an A&R relationship when making a record. They weren’t telling us how to do it, just giving us ideas. We didn’t have that with Rescue we didn’t have that with RescueShort Songs was like what we could do with Hopeless hand in hand from the beginning. I think that’s what’s really special about it for us.

These songs, the original songs, are all incredibly short. Can you talk about the writing process and how to limit yourself to writing shorter songs?
Our typical original songs usually have a regular structure. We stick to a pretty normal structure of repeated verses, choruses, and a bridge. We have to repeat a lot of stuff like most people we do, but we like having verses. Some bands don’t do that and do multiple different parts, which is cool, but we like to have a lot of verses. We just didn’t get bored with writing like this, and it was really exciting. It was awesome and really funny. 

Do you think that you’ll sort of be able to take the writing process for how you did this record for the next LP?
Yeah I think so. There are even the die-hard fans that think these songs are cool, but think that they’re not for them. I understand why. It’s definitely different, but we’re still going to write long songs and ballads. The last track on Rescue is a really emotional ballad. It’s a totally different vibe from anything on Shirt Songs, and we love that. We love making songs like that and we still will. There are a lot of bands like Converge that have short blazers and then have five minute jams. It’s cool because it keeps you interested. You can have both on one record without getting sick of either style. 

Like you’ve said, some bands aren’t into it, but have many enjoyed the songs so far?
Yeah they have been. We’ve been playing “SOS” on the road and it goes over great live. It was the song that everyone said they loved when we posted it online. I think that song was more of a risk for us too because it wasn’t anything that we had really done before. It doesn’t make any structural sense at all. It was the first song that our bass player Bill ever wrote for the band. It was a cool angle because of that. 

So you guys are on tour right now with August Burns Red and it’s a pretty long tour. How’s it been so far?
It’s been great. It’s really cool because we’re really great friends with August Burns Red and even Texas In July. We’ve been on tour with both bands before. So it’s like already one of the most fun times we’ve ever had on tour, from the hanging out aspect. But from the live angle, they really bring a lot of different fans to these shows. It’s cool to be twelve years into your career and have these kids come up to you and be like, “I’ve never really heard you guys before, but your set was awesome and I’m going to check you out.” It’s a tough crowd too because there are a lot of metal fans that like harder music. So we’re trying to win them over, and it’s worked so far. It’s been a really good experience for us. 

Once a band sort of hits the ten year point it can be easy to lose ground. Has doing Short Songs and a tour like this been a great way to ensure more Silverstein in the future?
I’d say so. I think we were smart by doing a different sort of record and tour. We’ll probably do another normal tour and a studio record, but we’ll keep switching things up. You need to headline and support and write and support different material. That’s what we realized this past year. We don’t want to slow down. 

You guys are significantly busy. You end this tour with August Burns Red in early March in Philly and then you guys are pretty much gone less than a month later for another month. Are you guys going to take some time off after that?
We’re basically doing this tour for 51 days and then we’re in Europe for five weeks. We’ll probably be coming home for a few weeks, then we’re looking to do more international stuff. We might do a bunch of scattered stuff in the summer. The fall will probably see us writing and recording a full-length. We didn’t talk about it to anyone, but I would love to see a new full-length out in 2013, and i don’t see why not. Our minds are already inspired for it. I want to be in the studio this year and I think that can happen.

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    Call to Gandhi? Hahahahaha
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