We got Silverstein – Live at the Drive-in folks. You heard me right, Silverstein. Billed as Canada’s largest drive – in experience, The Ancaster Fairgrounds play host to the new concert series. Kicking things off is Canadian hard rock band Silverstein from Burlington, Ontario, formed back in 2000. Silverstein has a substantial catalogue of great music and amazing live shows. We got to spend time with Lead vocalist Shane Told to talk about the new drive – in shows happening today!
Shane! It is great to have you here, congratulations on 20 years of music! How does it feel to be hitting such a milestone?
Hi! I feel…. old. Haha, I kid. Not really at all actually. I always find it interesting that I still feel like I’m 21. Maybe a little smarter and a lot slower, but I still have the same passion and excitement for music that I’ve always had which is nice. No one likes the old, jaded rocker dude.
You have a huge library to work with, I believe we are at 9 or 10 full studio albums, and a myriad of other works? How difficult is it picking a show setlist when you have everything from the mid-2000s hit “My Heroine” to your latest single “Madness”?
Haha! Yes, 9 or 10! We are starting to lose track even in the band at this point, but you’re right that picking the songs for the setlist is getting increasingly difficult. Generally, we hate to cut some of the staples from the set so the shows just keep getting longer and longer. Our last tour was 2 full hours. Not quite Springsteen territory but getting there! The other thing we’ve experimented a little bit with is some medleys. That way if you really love some of the deep cuts, you at least get to hear a piece of them. It’s also fun and creative to figure out how to do that, and surprisingly challenging.
Let us talk a bit of your musical journey, I remember first hearing you in I think 2004-2005. During the height of the emo-pop punk days, being one of Canada’s heavy hitters in the scene how has the scene changed for you? (Can be for better or for worse)!
Well for us really not that much has changed! Haircuts are a lot better that’s for sure, but I hear a lot of people talk about 2004 or 2005 as being the “glory days” like we were so huge. The reality is we are more popular now than we’ve ever been. A lot of people remember My Chem and Fall Out Boy and the massive mainstream attention the scene got for a second but for us, we always did our own thing.
Yes, we toured with those bands but we never got played on the radio very much and we never played the game to try to get a cheap hit. We made music for our core fans, we still do, and guess what they are still supporting us! It’s not really rocket science. Be honest, make music your fanbase likes and you believe in, and it will all work out. So many bands get a tiny strand of popularity and their next move is to completely turn their back on their fanbase… it’s like what the fuck? How is that the right approach?
I have seen you several times live, so to see you boys getting on board with this concert series was especially exciting for me. Is it weird to think though, that you will be playing for a crowd in cars?
Oh, it’s weird as HELL! I have tried to mentally picture it in my head, but I know there’s no way it will be the same. I have always had this thing since I was a little kid of cars always looking like faces and certain ones being “happy” looking (like a VW beetle?) or “angry” (maybe a Chevy truck)… So, I’m just going to focus on the happy cars. But you know 20 years of touring, almost 2500 shows, 50 countries or whatever, and still, we are having new experiences. We’re also excited as hell to get back on a real stage and just jam out! It’s been 6 months which for us feels like an eternity.
You recently released your latest album A Beautiful Place to Drown back in March, just before the shutdown. Tell us a bit about what the album means to you, and the work that went into it?
Yeah it came out March 6th and the entire planet shut down March 12th, so we had like 6 days of a little spotlight on it before everyone was freaking out with eyes and ears glued to the news. It’s a shame because it’s probably our best album in so many aspects. It’s all bangers, all the songs could be singles and performance and production-wise it’s head and shoulders above our other records and A LOT of work went into it. So many demos and so many conversations about the songs, more than we had had before. I think the biggest challenge was deciding on the singles. I’m still not sure we made the right call because “Shape Shift” and “Where Are You” should have been singles but I love the other ones too.
You have a variety of collaborators from past endeavors, including Pierre Bouvier (Simple Plan), Aaron Gillespie (Underoath), Caleb Shomo (Beartooth) amongst others, what drew you to have them in particular on this album?
Well, the 3 you mention are 3 of my really close friends in music. We’ve spent so much time on the road together, I’ve seen them perform a million times but more importantly, I feel like I know them personally and what makes them tick, so Infinite for Aaron seemed just so perfect. Same with Caleb and Pierre actually. We don’t do that many features on albums, the 2 albums before didn’t have a single one, but these songs felt like they could really benefit. I think the approach has to be to think about what the song needs not to find a way to squeeze another artist onto something that doesn’t need it. Princess Nokia was also a really cool collab. You talk about lifting a song… wow!
When it came to joining Live at the Drive-In, what was the conversation like? Where you sold right away, what was your involvement?
I just wanted to know about the safety measures in place because that’s everything right now, and they already had thought all those things through and had answers for all of my concerns. Then it was just a matter of figuring out how to make this show BANGING. Once that was discussed and I was confident everyone coming out would be able to see every little nuance and hear it with amazing sound, we were in!
You have 20 years of being in the industry, and collaborating on multiple projects, tours, and endeavors. What are your opinions on the impossible situation for struggling musicians, and local scenes? What do you think can be done if anything can be done?
It’s such a complicated situation and I don’t claim to have the answer. Every venue and band and crew guy are struggling up to a point. Many are at the point that they’ve lost everything, some are treading water, and some are okay, but no one is doing great. All we can hope is that fans realize this and can do what they can to support. Whether it’s buying merchandise or helping venues with their fundraising, or anything outside the box going on. We’ve all been forced into that, and in some cases, it’s led to awesome things like this Drive-In show, but we’re a long way away. I hope people can try to do the right thing and stop the spread because ultimately that’s the only way we’re going to get back to playing live again.
Local music venues have been closing in Canada for years now. With COVID the caravans are closing in on a lot of places, what do you foresee for the live music scene here in Canada?
I wish I could say it didn’t look bleak, but it does. Hopefully, venues can weather the storm and when they come back people won’t take them for granted anymore.
If you could give any advice to help the music scene during COVID, what would it be?
Buy merch, support venues any way you can, buy live streams (they help bands and crew), buy records, stream music, and help spread the word for any gofundme’s or anything as well for venues.
What are some of your personal/favourite local haunts that you want to give a shout-out to/shameless promote?
I don’t need to shout out my personal favourites. Anyone reading this has places just as cool and important in their town. THEY NEED YOU NOW. Before you go shopping for food or supplies or anything at a big box chain store, ask yourself if there is a local business that you can support. In many cases ,you will get a better quality product or service for the same price, and you’ll feel good about it.
What do you want to say to your fans?
Thank you for supporting Silverstein so much through this horrific time. The merch, the live streams, and now this Drive-In are all we have so it means everything. Thank you for supporting my podcast Lead Singer Syndrome as well.
Big thanks to Shane Told for taking the time to chat with us. Silverstein – Live at the Drive-in is going on today and we wish the guys the best of shows. Im sad we can’t be there in person to check it out. For more information on the Live at the Drive-in events make sure to click the picture below!
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