Toronto post-hardcore veterans Silverstein
recently released their fifth studio album, Rescue
via new record label Hopeless Records
. Produced by Jordan Valeriote
and mixed by Cameron Webb
, it is filled with driving melodies, intricate guitar work and pounding drums and sees the band building upon their punk rock roots.
guitarist Neil Boshart
sat down with Joe Matera
to discuss the new album, the group's evolution and the future of the post-hardcore scene.
UG: Rescue is the group's fifth record to date, so how do you think it compares to the group's previous efforts?
Well, I think what sets it apart from the other records we've done is that we have gone back to our roots as a collective unit. We've gone back to our punk rock background in many ways. You'll find that there are some songs that have double time parts and some really punk beat type stuff. That is the sort of thing we've gone back to. It was a breath of fresh air for us. It was really great stuff to play that got us really excited because we just like fast music in general.
You switched producers for this record, working with producer Jordan Valeriote for Rescue, what did Jordan bring to the process?
We initially did some demoing with him for the new record because he was so localized within our area. He was close to us and his studio was also close to our location which was a perfect fit to do some demoing at his studio. But after that, the demos that we did turned out sounding really great. And because we were already looking at localizing ourselves while making a record, because it provides a calm like atmosphere, where you get to sleep in your own bed and have more of a home feel, it seemed pretty fitting to get him to produce it for us too. And still having Cameron onboard, but this time to do the mixing for us, just made it even better because we have always loved Cameron's work.
Did you end up recording extra tracks besides those that made the final album cut?
Yes we recorded extra tracks as we needed some b-sides for certain releases. We also recorded some cover songs for our Record Store Day release. It was a special limited edition 7 inch. It featured three cover songs we did by some punk bands that we've grown up listening to and that we have a lot of respect for. We really feel Record Store Day is a really special occasion and one that bands really appreciate in regards to what local record stores do for the Canadian indie scene. So we felt we needed to do something special for our fans as well as doing something for Record Store Day. So we recorded a cover song by a band called Propagandhi, a fellow a Canadian band, a song called Fuck The Border. It is a song we all have an appreciation for because we're always crossing borders when we're crossing into the US and sometimes there are people that are not nicethough I'd say most of the time people are pretty cool. But we have noted some other bands that have tried to cross into the States too and vise versa like American bands crossing into Canada that they have had problems too, so the song is kind of fitting of how we all feel in some ways. We also covered a song called Hearts by a band called American Nightmare which is a band that most of us grew up with. And another track Pits and Poisoned Apples by Kid Dynamite another band we've been listening to for many years.
What type of gear, in regards to guitars and amps, did you use for the new record?
"We've gone back to our punk rock background in many ways."
I mainly used my signature B.C Rich Mockingbird, as well as a Gibson SG Custom for some of the thicker tones, and a couple of Gibson Les Paul Customs. I also used Shane's [Todd, vocals] Fender Telecaster. As far as amps went, there was a Peavey 5150 which was great for those thrash-y tones and for a lot of the faster parts.
I used my modded Marshall Vintage which is absolutely awesome for doing guitar leads, as it has some really great singing tones, and some great sounding distortion. I also used a Marshall JCM-800 for some rhythm type stuff too. And those heads went through a Mesa Boogie cabinet that was fitted with Vintage 30s in it.
Do you tend to do a lot of double tracking to achieve some of those thicker tones?
I wouldn't say I do a lot of that, but there is some double tracking for sure. You don't really want to do too much of that stuff, otherwise all the stuff will tend to get lost.
Are you one for experimenting in the studio environs?
Yes, sometimes I will try some different pedals to get a particular sound I am after and so will try different effects to suit the song's needs. But when that happens, it's the most fun part of the recording process because everyone in the band, including the producer, has some sort of input as far as how that all goes. So it makes it much more of a pleasant experience. So everyone is putting in their own ideas and it's a mash of everyone's ideas which will become the final result.
You also recently signed a two album deal with new label Hopeless Records having left Victory Records. Why the change in labels?
It just seemed fitting to go with Hopeless now as they seemed to really care a lot about what our band wanted to do. Also it is more independent and so allows for us to keep control of what we're doing. Hopeless really cares about what we are doing and they really respect what we want to do. They treat us very well.
Silverstein are very much an integral part of the post-hardcore genre. Being part of that whole scene, how do you think the post-hardcore genre itself is evolving?
I think the genre is and will always, be thriving in one way or another. A band we are going out on the road with is Polar Bear Club who are doing a great job in regards to helping the scene thrive. I first got into that band sometime last year, and when I saw them play, it made me feel that the genre of music was so much appreciated and that it is going to thrive further and will continue to thrive for a long time. Personally I think that band is a great representation for that genre.
Speaking of evolution, you've been a band for over ten years now, how do you think Silverstein has evolved within the music industry in that period?
When I first got into the business, I was pretty naive about the business aspect and what it was like in the music industry. But there have been a lot of changes in the past ten years. I think it was for everybody in the music industry, more of a learning curve. There have been some bumps in the road but it has progressed to something really special again. I think we're back on track when it comes to distributing music, touring and playing music. In regards to the touring aspect, what has really changed is that it is a lot more fun now. For us, we have developed a bigger following than we used to have and I think we're in a good place right now.
How do you find post-hardcore audiences compare around the world?
"So we felt we needed to do something special for our fans as well as doing something for Record Store Day."
Where ever we play, it is like a cult following in many ways. In Australia we are very well embraced and in Europe, it is the same. Those places in particular, we have always been successful. The only thing that is really different between audiences is the size of the venues. All of the kids are still excited to watch us play, but it's the venue sizes that differ. But generally, everyone has the same vibe in each country.
If I was to ask you for one fact that would surprise your fans, what would that be?
People would be surprised to know that I am more easy -going than I look. I feel that a lot of fans see me as, not one of the most approachable people around. I suppose being tall and looking very serious at times doesn't help, but I am actually really a nice guy and if you came up to me, I will always give you the time of day.
Speaking of fans, ever met any overly fanatical types for want of a better word?
Well there is a fine line that it draws over and I am fortunately yet to cross something like that and meet someone that actually crosses that line.
The group has also recorded a song featuring Ryan Key of Yellowcard called Stay Posi (Stay Positive). What led to the collaboration?
Yeah Josh [Bradford] our guitar player wrote that song. When we were first rehearsing it, we were feeling the song had such a strong positive vibe to it, but was missing a certain something. And that something was Ryan. Once he became involved, we had found that missing link.
Are there any plans to possibly release a DVD in future?
It is possible, and obviously over the past ten years we do have accumulated quite a bit of video footage. It is something that we have talked about as a band but ii something that still needs to be elaborated and thought through more. There is so much that we have, that we have to go through it. Josh has actually been shooting a lot of footage for us on the road and has collected stuff over the years too. If it was to happen, then it is a matter of us needing to go through everything. We also need to come up with something cool for fans to appreciate it. I think it'll be great for fans to see us grow up that way.
Finally, where do you see yourself in five years time?
Probably doing the same thing I am doing now. Being still in the band and touring the world. We've done over 1200 shows in our career so far and I can see us pushing at least 1500 and maybe even more in the next five years. I would like to personally see us make it to 2000 shows.
Interview by Joe Matera