Sunday, October 26, 2008
Valencia –interview with George (bassist) and Brendan (guitarist)
What is the basis of the band name? How did you settle on it?
George: I guess when we first got together. We were kind of trying to figure out what our band would be called. We were so used to being in those other bands that we were having trouble. We came across Valencia. We did a little search on the back-story of what it meant. There’s a lot of different cities named Valencia and like an orange that is named Valencia. But that story of Valencia in Spain suits our band. During the Golden era it went through a lot of progression and evolution and when all of our bands broke up we really clicked when we were writing songs and stuff. WE saw that story and thought it clicked with our band’s story.
Can you list some of your musical influences – both musical and otherwise?
Brendan: Well musically we are pretty eclectic. We all like different things. Specifically I like to listen to the Beatles. I like older stuff, specifically Neil Young and Bob Dylan. I think the same goes for George. But it’s different for other people. As far as non-musically, I think we take inspiration from our family and from our friends. People we love.
How has music been a part of your life? How has it been present?
Brendan: Music’s everywhere. You can’t go anywhere without hearing music. IN Highschool I was in jazz band. Just grew up listening to music my whole life.
George; I went to a Catholic school until I was fourteen and we used to have to go to mass once a month in school. But the songs were so much different than what I used to listen to. That’s when it hit me that music was a big deal. That it was really important. That’s where I took it from. After that it aws listening to my mom’s CDs.
What are your thoughts on the current music scene? How do you feel your band fits in?
Brendan: I don’t know. What we tried to do on this last record we tried to stray away from the current music scene which is going towards shit with auto-tune and no one is playing their instruments.
George: Everything is so cut and paste.
Brendan: We tried to be a real band and play real instruments. And write real songs. Wt don’t fit into it. It’s a good thing because we don’t want to.
Can you describe your songwriting process?
Brendan: It’s usually one of us coming up with an idea. We’ll be sitting at home or in the van with our acoustic guitar or our laptop. Record it real quick. Bring it to practice and flush out the idea. It’s kind of an organic process rather than one person coming up with everything.
George: Sometimes we’ll just be at practice and somebody will play something that just catches everybody’s ear. It changes for every song.
Do you have a favorite track from your material?
Brendan: A song called “Carry On” – the fifth song on our new record. It’s just a sense of accomplishment when we finished that song. Because we’ve never written a ballad song. I mean we have, but they all sucked and that was the first good one. So we’re pretty proud of it.
George: I’m pretty proud of the last song on our record. Because it sums up the record as a whole. If you listen to the whole thing from front to back, it’s telling a story. And that is the conclusion of it. Everything about that song from the lyrics to the structure of it – it’s a good way to go through everything for me.
What do you consider to be your greatest musical achievement thus far?
Brendan: This record.
George: Yeah, I think finishing this record.
Brendan: It was a long process. We recorded it once and then re-recorded it. It was just a long process. So finishing it was a big deal for us.
George: Everything about the finished product is crazy for everyone. I mean, we got to do things we never thought we’d do. We moved out to LA and recorded the album for like two months. Worked in a bunch of different studios with a bunch of different people. The finished product is something we were all stoked about.
Hailing from Burlington, Ontario, the five members of Silverstein have created a following of both youngsters and mature listeners who support them throughout their musical ventures. Shane Told, the band’s vocalist, was kind enough to sit down and chat with me during his tour with guests Escape the Fate, Alesana, and Chiodos. His lively and pleasant nature made for a smooth conversation.
What is the basis of the band name?
That was a long time ago now. I still remember though. It was the year 2000. We started playing music and it was a side project. So we didn’t really know if it was going to last. I didn’t really think it was going to be a serious band. Just something fun. Something different. Then finally we decided we would make a go of it and we would play a show. So we needed a name. It was one of those dumb moments where you are in the practice space and you are looking for some kind of inspiration. And a few weeks before I had picked up this book to sing out of and then one day I picked up a Shel Silverstein book and I started singing out of it. He had just died two months before and then to forward to two weeks before the show, I looked and saw this Silverstein book that I had been reading out of earlier. And I said, “What about Silverstein?” And they were all like, “Yeah, that’s a pretty good name I guess.” And we just went with it.
Who are your musical influences – both musically and otherwise?
Influences are a weird thing. I mean obviously there are musical influences, but we’re five people. So there are bands that inspire me, but they aren’t necessarily bands that inspire our band musically. The Get Up Kids were probably the reason we started Silverstein. Then there’s also like Mineral and Promise Ring. Personally, the Beatles were always a huge influence, too. Billy Joel…I always just liked really great songwriters.
Do you pull from other avenues of life?
I don’t know. Not really. A lot of my main influences are musical and a lot of that has to do with how people are and their ethics. Somebody like Fat Mike from NOFX. He’s always someone I looked up to because he is honest about what he does and what he stands for. Music industry wise, he’s not concerned with what people are going to say about him, so I’ve always looked up to him.
How has music been present in your life aside from the band aspect?
I’ve always been a fan of music. It’s always been something that has been in the background of everything I have ever done. Even when I was three years old I can remember listening to Michael Jackson and Kiss and those bands. Putting on their records and how I would hang out with my family those records were always on in the background. I just associated that music with a good time. It’s always been important to me. As I got older, I found that no matter what happened music was always there for me. Through the good times and the bad times, music will always be there. I think a lot of people that listen to our band feel that same way. Maybe that’s the reason there is a connection there.
What are your thoughts on the current music scene and how do you feel Silverstein fitting in?
I don’t know. If you had asked me that question a couple years ago I would have had a different answer. A lot of bands now are doing things differently than I grew up doing them. A lot of people are worried about their image and that is coming ahead of a lot of other factors in the music. Which is something that Silverstein never thought about until we were a big band. When we realized that some of these things were important. But we never really thought about what we were going to wear on stage or backdrops. IT’s kind of changing the face of it. Punk rock is less punk rock now – it’s more of a major label thing. It kind of bums me out in some ways, but you know whatever. I think musically a lot of bands have really stepped it up and progress – a lot of people can play now. But there is less focus on songwriting. I don’t know where we are viewed compared to these other bands that we sometimes tour with. It’s always hard to be on the inside looking out. I think in some ways we do things like them but ethics wise we’re quite a bit different.
Can you describe your songwriting process?
It’s different every time. I play guitar and write some of the songs all the way through myself and then show everyone the parts. Then other songs, we’ll get in the room and someone will come up with a riff and we’ll grow from there. Put words with it and write it that way.
Do you have a favorite track from your material? Either to play live or to listen to?
That’s hard, you know. It’s kind of like picking a favorite child. There are definitely one’s that I like less. I’m pretty happy with all of them. There are some that are more fun to play live than others, like “Smile in Your Sleep” and “My Heroine” are two that kids really go crazy for live, so those are fun to play.
What do you consider to be your greatest musical achievement thus far?
That’s a hard question. It’s not like I’m writing symphonies. When you’re writing a three in a half minute song, can that be a great musical achievement. Or is a great musical achievement doing an entire a tour. I guess it could be an album. It’s really hard to say. I wish I had a straight answer for that. I think a lot of it is the progression that we’ve made as musicians. Coming from eight years ago when we started the band to now. How much better of a band we are, how much better of a show we have. I think that would be our greatest music achievement – our live show.
How do you feel that your musical outlook has changed over the years of being a band and touring?
I think I have become a lot more open minded about music. When we first started the band, I was pretty much only listening to punk rock, double-time fast music. And then a friend of mine, this girl I liked, made me a mix tape with “emo” bands on it. Which I’m sure nowadays they wouldn’t be considered emo bands. Bands like I mentioned earlier: Promise Ring, Saves the Day, The Get-Up Kids. I listened to it over and over again. I was like this is not fast punk rock, but I like it just as much. And it touched me. I really wanted to explore more of that side of the punk rock scene. So I did. And over the last eight years…
[door opens to green room slowly.
Shane: That was weird. Me: Yeah, that was odd. Shane: Is this venue haunted? Lauren: I think I saw someone push the door open. Shane: Oh you saw someone? Sorry, I watched this show about ghosts and now I’m all freaked out. You know when you watch that late at night and then you go to bed afraid you are going to see something out the corner of your eye.
Shane gets up and closes door]
But anyway…I’ve grown a lot over the years. I used to hate bands with keyboards in them. Absolutely hated them. I don’t know why I felt that way, I guess it was my punk rock background. I always hated when bands would use dance music kind of tones and now I’m like way into that. I guess I’ve just gotten older and way more accepting.
Do you have a favorite aspect of tour?
Touring isn’t very much fun except for the show part. The level we’re at now with a bus and everything is a lot better. A lot more comfortable. And there’s a lot less to worry about. We get a good night’s sleep every night and don’t have to drive. Back in the day we slugged it out in the van for a long time. I don’t know how I got through a lot of those weeks and months of shows. But you know, if it weren’t for those shows. Having the worst day ever, you get up on stage and the kids are there and there are excited about what you do. That is inspiring and makes you able to go on. All the sacrifices you make and being away from home. Tour sucks, but playing the shows is good.
I think if you look back at anyone’s life, over the last eight years, they have things that they would do differently. Personally, looking back at my past relationships there are things that I would have done differently. I made mistakes of course. I definitely have regrets in that since. But musically I feel pretty confident with everything we’ve done. We’ve been lucky and we’ve had fun with it. But the main thing I try to do every day is to look ahead and not regret. You don’t want to be living in regret at any moment.
Any upcoming projects?
Well, we’re doing a new album. We’ve almost done it. We’ve written all the music. I’m starting to get my notebook ready. I’m writing down lyrics. We’re going to be recording that right after Thanksgiving. Hopefully that will be done by the end of January and will come out by April. The new stuff is coming out great; we’re becoming more open minded with our music. I think we’re going to be doing some things differently.
Thanks for the interview and your time and everything. Yeah.