I had the pleasure of hanging out with Josh and Paul backstage at The NorVa in Norfolk to chat about the anniversary tour and what it’s been like to be a part of this band for such a long time.
HHM: When you released Discovering the Waterfront, was that sort of a point where you guys found yourselves as musicians or at least a direction musically that felt more comfortable?
Josh: I would say it was us coming into our own, becoming a little more confident for sure. It was the first record that we sat down and wrote collectively as a unit, like all at once. Previously, the record before that When Broken Is Easily Fixed had kinda of been written over the span of over a year, we had put out a demo or a self-released EP and taken some of the songs from that to make When Broken as well as writing some additional ones. It was a bit more mished mashed and Discovering was the first where we cohesively wrote it all. It made us feel like the real deal because we went down to L.A. and recorded it so yeah, I would say that was us finding ourselves a little bit.
HHM: Is that where you felt like you took a better foot hold with listeners and maybe got taken a little more seriously?
Josh: I would absolutely say so. We got a lot of attention with our first record but that was the one where most people took notice of our band. The sound was a little more polished so it was a little more accessible.
HHM: What do you think it the biggest contributing factor to the longevity of a Post Hardcore band, Unit sales or ticket sales. Ticket sales, heads at the door etc.
Paul: Ticket sales for sure.
Josh: *nods head Ticket sales, yeah. There’s a lot of bands I think that sell lots of records, but…I’ve seen a couple of these bands that you go to see their show and there’s actually not that many people there surprisingly for the number of records they sell.
Paul: *laughs well, we’ll just have to see how our show goes tonight.
Josh: Maybe not looking super-hot tonight, we have the weather to contend with.
HHM: The road are fine, I think it’ll be a great turn out man.
Josh: I think there’s fine. We do have a lot of people that have hit us up and been like “Yo, there’s snow in my driveway, I can’t leave the house.” So…we’ll see.
Paul: obviously these people have never heard of shovels.
Josh: You don’t need them here mostly.
HHM: Nope, not generally. Once the record started gaining attention, is that where your touring started to pick up? Bigger and better tours, seeing the US of A.
Josh: Absolutely. I’d say that record is when we started playing real big rooms being like ‘Holy crap, this could be a career.”
HHM: “We’re gonna be rich”
Josh: We got a glimpse of what that could be like. I think early on you feel like you’ve made it once you have a bunch of kids at the show. You realize pretty quickly that there is a lot more that goes on to having a career and longevity than just playing a couple big shows. That is when it started to become very real for us.
HHM: This kind of longevity it not…I’m not going to say unheard of but it’s pretty rare. To have that kind of a stranglehold on a scene for this length of time. I commend you.
Josh: Absolutely and thank you. It’s been a lot of hard work on our part ya know. We just try to be good guys up there doing it for the right reasons. People take notice.
HHM: That sound shift per say from your first full length to Discovering, You headed into the studio with pretty much all of that already demo’ed out or was there any kind of transformation in the studio so to speak?
Josh: If I recall correctly, I feel like that’s the most prepared we’ve ever been for a record. Like, we demo’ed it out even demos with vocals for once.
Josh: Right? Because we don’t normally do that. Sometimes we here the vocals for the first time in the studio. Where as that time, we were a little more calculated. Yeah, I think we had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to do. We just didn’t realize that it would become what it is to a lot of people.
HHM: Are there times that you look back and ask yourself ‘what the hell were you doing?”
Josh: Absolutely. *points to Paul. You probably noticed this because you have had to learn and re-learn a lot of those older songs.
Paul: Yeah…there’s some wonky stuff going on. Some stuff that sounds like it’s all there, then you start actually dissecting it and trying to learn it all on guitar…
Josh: Like how or why would someone do that…
Paul: *laughs It doesn’t make any sense to me.
HHM: You’ve recorded with several producers, what’s the learning curve like when you’re working with a new producer?
Josh: It varies from guy to guy. It depends how you hit it off as people. We’ve definitely had occasions where we’ve struggled to communicate even on very basic levels. I think the record suffers during those kinds of times.
Paul: Jordan Valeriote. We never had that.
Josh: Yeah, what a guy. We’ve done the last 4 or 5 projects with him. He’s a youngster, so we relate on a peer level. He is a very talented, very focused guy who helps us achieve what we’re trying to accomplish.
HHM: They all have their own unique style. What’s it like working with Jordan in comparison to someone like Cameron?
Paul: Cameron seems like he’s a lot more high energy than Jordan. He’s pretty hyped up. Jordan’s really reserved and never speaks louder than this. (in a moderate even tone) He’s there though. You can tell when he gets excited but he has this weird little smile.
Josh: Jordan is kind of a reserved guys.
Paul: Yeah, he’s super reserved. He only cares about what the best thing for the record is and doesn’t care so much about having fun so much. Except he had one of those table hockey games, ya know, the one with the dome on top? There was one of those in the studio and we had an ongoing competition and we called it the Stanley Cup, where we had to play 7 games to win. That was one of the times where Jordan cut loose a little bit with us and had some fun.
Josh: He is very business. He’s about getting down to the nitty gritty and working all the time.
Paul: He should work on his table hockey skills because I wiped the floor with that guy. *laughs
Josh: Comparing him to Cameron it is a very different experience. With Cameron you feel like you’re not really working, you’re just hanging out goofing around but at the end of the day, “Oh, we just recorded a song.” “Neat.” Both very enjoyable experiences though. They both have their own knack. Of the guys we have worked with, those are our two favorites.
HHM: That’s what I figured. You guys have worked substantially with both of them.
Josh: We have worked with other guys, but not as much and not as many. I think that is telling about how good of time we have working with those guys.
Paul: You’re just still saying words after the sentence is done… *laughs
Josh: Ya know, I’m just adding, I’m spicing it up.
HHM: It’s all good. It’s better than Yes and No.
Josh: Is it? *looking to Paul
HHM: He’s the Yes guy, you’re the No guy.
Josh: He says no in that case.
Paul: No, I just think that where the period happens in the sentence, that’s where it ends.
HHM: I have to transcribe this asshole…
Paul: This is what I’m saying. Your semi-colon key is gonna wear out.
Josh: I feel like don’t transcribe it so much, just pull the good stuff from it. I’m giving you more to work with…trim the fat.
HHM: Gonna fill the cutting room floor with this one. When you do work with a producer on a regular basis, do find yourself getting a little lazy and complacent sometimes, because you don’t have to be so on your toes with him?
Paul: I think someone that contributes to the long running success of a band like Silverstein is never being lazy and never being complacent.
Josh: We have worked with Jordan a lot. I think it just allows you to know how to work together more than being lazy or complacent.
Paul: There are times when we’re writing a song and doing pre-production and we can’t decide between this kick pattern or that kick pattern and it’s like “Jordan will know.” We have our favorite, but we’re going to wait and show Jordan and let him make the call on that. I don’t think that makes us lazy or complacent, that’s as far as it goes.
HHM: I think there is definitely a difference between relaxed and lazy.
Josh: Relaxed and comfortable.
Paul: We will definitely argue about it a lot at the time but then we decide, that Jordan decides.
Josh: It’s easier than having us decide then having someone mad about it.
Photo by Anna Lee
HHM: This isn’t the first concept album you’ve done, referring to your upcoming album, what can we expect from this record and the where did the idea come from to release an album that way?
Josh: We have both enjoyed and had some success in doing records with a heavy concept to them. It definitely gives you a goal to strive towards when you’re creating music and writing lyrics. That plays into it.
Paul: Conceptually, this one is less..
Paul: Yeah, Less narrative based. There’s sort of an over-arching theme that it has a lot to do with. Things being cyclical in our lives. Tours starting and ending at home. It’s easy to imagine it being one big loop. Every song is based around a different North American city, where we may have experienced it in a positive or negative way. For instance, maybe you were on tour and your girlfriend broke up with you while you were in St. Louis. So, now St. louis feels like this to me, forever. Or maybe we each found out we all won 10 million dollars while we were in Chicago, it hasn’t happen but as an example. I would move to Chicago just because it felt right.
Josh: That must be my lucky city.
Paul: It touches on a wide range of emotional value in a sort of tour cycle.
HHM: With that theme, as far as writing, since you do tend to string tracks of an album along together, Does that mean that you do a large portion of your writing at the same time? Are you able to keep that thought or emotion with for a long period of time?
Paul: I think we’d both be speaking for Shane here, since he writes almost all of the lyrics. From watching him work, he sort of powers through it. He jots down ideas, like all year probably, then when it comes down to actually writing the lyrics he does it in a pretty focused manner.
Josh: We spend a long time putting the music together, then he sits with that, then kinda of sprinkles his lyrics over that in a much smaller time frame. SO, I think they’re very cohesive in that way.
HHM: I think it would have to be pretty tough, if you’re just trying to right singles, that is a different story. When you guys are trying to bring to life this bigger picture that you tend to do, outside of say Short Songs, everything else has been some sort of a story that fits together.
Josh: We try to approach every album as a unit and make it stick together.
HHM: Not many bands do that.
Paul: Yeah, bands are dumb…
HHM: I will quote you on that one. *laughs You’re going to get some hate mail for this one.
Paul: Go ahead, I didn’t say which ones in specific. I’m talking about us too, we’re dumb. No doubt about it.
Josh: We are a band, which would make us dumb. We fit into that category.
HHM: With your body of work as whole, even with different producers, it flows. It’s like your entire career is a conceptual project so to speak. It’s linear progression but it’s constantly ever-flowing….how do you do that??
Josh: I think a lot of our music is really about and from personal experience so in a way it’s been a bit of an autobiography. We’ve been progressing and doing this for a long time so it’s just naterual that it follows the same course as us. It speaks about what we do, where we’ve been and where we’re headed.
Paul: Even the tone of the music is something that has been pretty consistent. You can listen to a song from this first record and this new record and tell that it’s the same band.
HHM: I mean It sucks, but it’s the same band right?
Paul: Yeah, you can tell. “That’s the garbage I recognize.” I’m just kidding, I think it’s all very good stuff.
Josh: We do tend to sound like us. Even if we do change it up a little bit, progress, what have you.. mature, It still sounds like us because we don’t have a choice…
HHM: Who whoa whoa, easy with the…
Josh: I’m not saying that we are mature, but maybe our music and sound has matured.
Paul: Yeah, Josh farted earlier today and I laughed.
Josh: In fact that happens almost daily.
Paul: And I always laugh.
HHM: How much fun was Short Songs to write and record? It’s super dope, I’m a huge punk rock fan…
Josh: It was a lot of fun for us because as are we. I feel like it came together the quickest of many records that we’ve done..
HHM: Because they were Short. Songs.
Josh: Because they were short. That doesn’t always play in because longer songs it is just repeated verses and chorus’ and stuff. We were in the zone and we banged them out. It was quick and easy and a real passion project for us. I’m glad people listened to it and give it a little bit of a care.
HHM: Is it something you had wanted to do for a while, something a little off the cuff.
Paul: We want to do Long Song.
Josh: We’re thinking about doing Long Song next, not Long Songs, but just one song.
Paul: One long song that is as long as all of Short Songs.
HHM: Like some Glenn Danzig Black Aria thing?
Josh: Like…NOFX The Decline
Paul: Yeah, like The Decline, so it’s still basically like 5 songs. You just stitch them together so you can’t skip around. You have to listen to the entire song.
Josh: You gotta listen to the whoooole damn thing.
HHM: That’s good! That’s pretty ingenious actually.
Josh: I mean it’s better that Short Songs 2.
HHM: It’ll never make the radio…but
Josh: I mean, our shit doesn’t get played on the radio anyway. That’s not even an issue for us right now.
HHM: Speaking of which, have you guys ever had to fight that urge that many bands fall victim to, to fight through that mainstream canopy?
Josh: I think it’s always been in the back of our minds, that maybe we have this one song that is pretty catchy, that maybe people will like it and it’ll get picked up. We never write with that in mind though. We’re just sorta always just kinda doing what feels right to us. If something comes out well we’re like “Hey, you want to play this on the radio?” They say “Nah” we’re like “cool!” We’re quite content doing what we do which is exist in this nice little world.
Paul: I feel like the world of radio bands is a little more disconnected from our world than people may think.
HHM: I agree, I say canopy but I feel like they’re not above you, it’s just a different world all together.
Paul: It’s like two different channels. Different people working for you. The way things get serviced, you have to have a different team of people.
Josh: You gotta have a big budget behind you.
Paul: It costs a lot of money to service radio. So, it’s a different thing.
HHM: It’s weird because it doesn’t seem like it has to be so hard. It’s like press releases for instance, it’s like, that’s a single. Ship it out towards radio.
Paul: That’s the thing. It’s everything in between you shipping it out to them and them playing it, that is what costs so much.
Paul: And also…fuck radio.
Josh: Little bit. They are so fickle. They are like “Hey, we’re gonna need that big promotions budget and we’ll spin that song a bunch of times. We’re don’t want to pay you a bunch of money, but if you like the song you’d should play it. Some stations do that. We don’t want to give you a bunch of money for that, we just want to play some music.
HHM: How special is this tour for you guys, ya know, being the anniversary and all.
Josh: It’s pretty incredible. I am enjoying myself immensely. I think it’s one of the best tour we’ve ever done.
HHM: I mean, you still those tracks on the regular anyway right?
Paul: Not all of them
Josh: Not all of them though, that’s the special thing about it. The ones that have sorta fallen by the wayside are getting dragged up. People that connected with that record ages ago are now getting to relive those years.
HHM: It’s a pretty exciting time in post hardcore with anniversaries and such. Story of the Year, Senses Fail and bands like that all this stuff going on.
Josh: A lot of things going on. I guess it was a very nice time in music back then.
Paul: It really was. It really was.
Josh: Exciting stuff happening. It’s nice to see a lot of them still around. Celebrating that sort of thing.
Paul: I feel like a lot of them weren’t really around..
Josh: They’ve maybe come back to do it. We’ve been here the whole time. A lot of band are like, hey it’s been 10 years, people are gonna get stoked, let’s be a band again. It’s great though. It’s nice to celebrate something that was very special to people back then.
HHM: It still is.
Josh: It definitely still is. But….it is definitely more special when the band has been doing shit the whole *laughs “We still here!”
Paul: We have a new record coming out! How many records have we put out since then?
Josh: Since Discovering? A lot.
HHM: Six right.
Paul: You’re probably counting all the little stuff.
HHM: No, full lengths, studio albums.
Josh: At least 5 though.
Paul: Like you’re counting Shorts Songs and the new one.
HHM: Yeah, you’re right, the new ones not out yet.
Paul: Gotcha, but still. That’s a lot right?
HHM: Yeah, that’s busy. You guys aren’t pussies. You’re recording.
Josh: People are sometimes like “Oh my God, they’re still a band?” “Yeah!, and we have been!, sorry that you stopped being cool and hanging out listening to sweet music!” We’ve been here and a lot of people have still been hanging.
HHM: Aight, I’ll let you guys go after you answer this…
Paul: Is it a riddle?
Josh: It is a skill testing question.
HHM: Spring and Summer, what do you have planned, time off…
Paul: Well, right after this we’re heading..
Josh: We have a short break
Paul: A month off.
Josh: Do some laundry
Paul: Do some laundry, then we are going to head over to Europe. Then we’re going to be coming home.
Josh: Very short amount of time. Then we go to..
Paul: We don’t know yet. Well…
Josh: It hasn’t been announced yet, but we are touring a whole lot. By the time this comes out Australia should be announced, then Hawaii on the way home from there I believe.
Paul: There’s a lot of stuff up in the air right now.
Josh: But, to be quite honest, we will be all up in your face for the rest of the year. We’ll be all around.
HHM: Well, you’re dropping a record in May.
Paul: May 19.
Josh: Record in May then tour for the rest of the year to support that.
HHM: Grinding after that. Cool. Thank you, I appreciate it. That was fun.
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