Interview || The one with Shane Told from Silverstein

While at Impericon festivals, I had a great chance to catch up with Shane Told of Silverstein and discuss the band's latest album, "Dead Reflection", the inspiration behind it and funny childhood memories.

U: You released your latest album, “Dead Reflection”, about a year ago. How’s the reception been so far?
Shane Told: Hasn’t quite been a year yet but every time people like to talk about the milestones of things [like a one-year or ten-year anniversary], you think about it and you think about things [you would change] about the record or do differently, “Dead Reflection” is a record we still think very highly of, we really like and I believe we wouldn’t change a thing about it. That’s a really good feeling to have. Can’t say that about all our records.

U: What does “Dead Reflection” mean to you, both the album and the title?
S.T: It was written in a very dark time in my life so both the title and the lyrics and the imagery speaks to a time of struggle for me, when I was in the darkest place I’ve been. That side of the record doesn’t always bring back great memories but I think that music is therapeutic for people listening to it and it’s also therapeutic for people making it. For me, writing those songs and writing those words, “Dead Reflection”, helped me get through that time and be here today.

U: What is passion for you? How would you define it?
S.T.: Oh Jeez (laughs) I would define it as the things you care about strongly and put your own effort into them, an honest effort. Whether you really care about making music or you care about making other kinds of art, following a football team, whatever it is, you can be passionate because you care about it.  I think that, for me, the things that I care about are the things that I express through music. There’s other things that I’m passionate about, like my family life and other things I’m into. It’s good to have balance with your different passions. 

U: What would you say is the differentiation point between “Dead Reflection” and your previous work?
S.T.: I think the biggest difference is that “Dead Reflection” was written in the moment; I was writing a song about something I was going through that day whereas a lot of the other stuff we write about, I’m reflecting back on something. You have sort of a clearer picture and you can take your emotions out of it because you’re understanding the process of the story of what happened to you, but when you’re writing it in the middle of the story, then it can be more confusing, how does it end, you know? 

U: You can shape the end.
S.T.: Well that’s the thing, you can shape the end and, in some ways, the way you write the song is the way that you either shape your life based on whether the ending takes a very very bad turn, or maybe that’s something you write about, and maybe you realize you need to pull yourself out of this.

U: And it becomes a lesson.
S.T.: Exactly. So that’s the big difference between this record and the previous records, because the record before [ed –“I’m Alive In Everything I Touch”] is about previous stories that happened to me years ago because at the time I wrote the record, I was in a very good place so I wrote about times that I wasn’t.

U:  And I think that, when you draw inspiration from past events, you can always romanticize them a bit in order to fit what you’re trying to say. 
S.T.: I think there’s always an element of art and poetry in everything I do. We make fun of some of the pop punk bands that write lyrics about what they’re doing (laughs) We don’t write like that so we’re able to take more liberties in terms of what the story happens; is it 100% true or..? Doesn’t have to be. Obviously the listener is not gonna know, they’re gonna take away what they’re gonna take away from it.

U: True. How do you feel about Warped tour coming to an end?
S.T.: We were part of it for so many years, so many great memories from it and it’s sad. I’m happy at least they’re telling us it’s the last one so we can appreciate it one last time and we are able to go and do a few of the shows… It’s sad but all good things must come to an end. Maybe something else will come out, this generation’s Warped tour will come out and it will be the next thing that’s running for 25 years. 

U: Do you have any favorite memories that really stand out?
S.T.: Most memories I have are just aligning myself with friends and other bands that I probably wouldn’t have gotten the chance to otherwise. 

U: Like creating a supergroup.
S.T.: (laughs) Absolutely, Silvertooth lives and will never die, and that is definitely a memory I’ll never forget. That’s kinda what I’m alluding to in a way. The shows, the stage, the fans, they’re great and that’s why we’re there but my favorite memories are just hanging out with the other bands. Becoming friends with NOFX and those bands that I really looked up to, playing poker with them, forming those kind of relationships was really cool; [I remember being] 16 years old, my friend stealing his mom’s car and us going across the border to see NOFX, and then becoming friends with them… Warped tour made that possible. 

U: If you woke up one day in the opposite gender’s body, what would be your first reaction?
S.T.: Oh my God! (laughs) I would probably get out of the shower and stare at myself, like, “what’s going on here?”, for 5-6 hours. I don’t know what I would do. I think that women have a pretty hard time in this world. I don’t downplay the role of women in society so I think it would be an eye-opening experience. 

U: If you could have a one-minute phone conversation with a younger you, what age would you call and what would you tell yourself?
S.T.: I would call myself 5 years ago and I would say “Bitcoin. Buy all of the Bitcoin” (laughs) ‘Cause now I’d have 300 million dollars, and the rest of my life has been pretty good. I probably would go back to 2006 and call my cousin to tell him not to go for that snowmobile ride that took his life.

U: What is the best tour prank you’ve ever pulled?
S.T.: There’s some pretty good ones. I think one of my favorites was [when] we were on tour with A Day To Remember and we did several pranks to them on the same set… One was that we pretended that the crowd was a swimming pool and we had rafts and water wings and would cannonball into the crowd. We were in goggles and bathing suits… It was pretty funny. 

U: Have you ever been caught doing something you shouldn’t be doing?
S.T.: Of course, who hasn’t?! So many times!

U: Well give me one good story! If it’s not too graphic.
S.T.: That’s what I was thinking, what do I want to include… I’ve already been caught, I guess, but do I want to incriminate myself to the rest of the world? Oh God… [long pause] There is this one time when I was a kid and my dad got this baseball glove. I took it to the baseball park –I was about 11 at the time- and I was playing with my friends, and I left it there. It was a brand new glove! I got home and I couldn’t find it anywhere. I’m looking around, nothing. My dad was looking for it and [I panicked], so I said I left it at my friend’s house and my dad said that I better call him and get it, because he needed it for his game. I didn’t know what to do so I decided that the best thing to do was to save or whatever I had to do to get the $80 I needed to buy a new glove. That’s a lot of money when you’re 11.

U: That’s a lot of money even when you’re an adult! (laughs)
S.T.: (laughs) True. So, I ended up buying this glove and I couldn’t get the exact same model, it was a slightly different color, so I finally got the glove. It had been a couple of weeks and my dad was like “you have to get it, I’m gonna call his parents” so [I played it cool] and said that the glove is in the garage or whatever, so he finds it and he starts using it. A month later I find out that my other friend has had the glove the entire time. I don’t know if he was trying to steal it or what, but his mom found out that he had it and made him bring it to the house. So the friend and his mom come to the door with the glove and my dad is like “no.. we have the baseball glove” and he was so confused. To make a long story short, the kid got to keep the glove ‘cause I got the new glove and I told my dad the whole story. He said that I shouldn’t lie but that it was mature of me to spend my own money on the new glove. I didn’t realluy get a punishment.

U: The kid keeping the glove was your punishment.
T.S.: To this day, if I have to borrow anything from my dad, ever, he will bring up the baseball glove (laughs) It’s been like 30 years!

U: What do you want the band’s legacy to be?
T.S.: I think we’re working on it, you know? We’ve been a band long enough that I think we have a legacy in some ways. Doing an anniversary for the 10 years [of “Discovering The Waterfront”] or 15 years, I believe that it’s a part of our legacy and I think we’re understanding now that there’s two parts to our band; there’s the band we are now, “Dead Reflection”, new songs, new music, and then there’s also the celebration of what we’ve achieved with some of our old records. It’s nice because in some ways we can control our legacy rather than being a band that existed and then broke up and everyone else decides what their legacy is. We really do care about our past and our future, fans that have been with is since those days and we still want to continue servicing them and make sure they continue being stoked on what we’re doing and then, we need to push forward with our own music. 

Check out and support Shane's podcast, Lead Singer Syndrome.

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