Interview || The One With Garrett Russell from Silent Planet

While at Knockdown fest in Karlsruhe, we met up with the lovely Garrett Russell, vocalist of Silent Planet. During our chat we discussed the new album, "When The End Began", misconceptions about the band and their views on the current state of the world.

U: Let’s talk about the new Silent Planet record, "When The End Began". I think you guys have grown a lot since your last album. It’s more mature, the lyrics are a lot more thought out, the drumming and screaming has gotten stronger and heavier. But what would you say is the differentiation point is between "When The End Began" and your previous work?
Garrett Russell: It’s much darker. I’m very open about what I go through with people. I have depression and I was very very depressed when I was doing this album. I also just had gotten surgery on my ear, so I constantly had headaches and blood coming out of my ear when we were doing it. So physically and emotionally it was kind of a difficult time and I think the presence of the pain really made me have to push harder and try harder and I think it brought out like a new sort of thing. And I am of the believe that any kind of true growth that we make in life usually involves some level of discomfort or pain. I think some of the pain of doing the recording process probably helped me grow.

U: How has the reception been so far?
G.R.: It’s been really positive! I’m really happy, because I was very depressed while doing it, so I was very nervous that everyone would hate it, you know? And I had to confront a lot of myself, because I don’t do music to make other people happy, I do music because I believe that’s what God wants me to do and I do music because I have a passion for it. So even my fear that other people would reject it was actually a good thing for me to confront. It made me realize why I’m doing this. I don’t do this to be like cool or to have friends or to be known. I wanna help people, I wanna write songs about topics that matter, I want to make people just uncomfortable enough that maybe they’ll learn, maybe  they’ll grow. Maybe people that have always been like “Oh America is the best country in the world and it’s the only country. Donald Trump is the best.”, can actually reexamine their thoughts through listening to our music or maybe people who never had depression can hear me talk about it and say like “Maybe I care more about that now. Even though I don’t experience it myself, I care for you”, we call that empathy, for people who have that. I guess that's kind of a goal. A long winded way of saying that the feedback was good, but I’m learning to not care as much about the feedback and care more about the art itself.

© Michelle Ritzmann photo
U: Favourite song of the album? And which one is the most fun to sing live?
G.R.: My personal favourite is probably a song called “First Born”. It’s about my friend losing his son and it’s very emotional. It still sometimes makes me get tears when I think about the song, because this is one of my best friends and I was at the hospital when this kid was born. The child died at the age of 9 and it really made me ask a lot of hard questions about life, God and fairness, because it’s so unfair. But that song probably means the most to me. My favourite to do live is probably a song called “Invisible Unseen”, it’s a song about LGBT kids in America and how they’re often homeless, because they got kicked out of their homes, but its also about redemption. Like finding a new family and finding people who will accept you for who you are and it’s just a very like bouncy, fun song and it’s a lot of fun to do live and jumping around the whole time.

U: When listening to "Visible Unseen", what struck me was the line "This isn’t love this is escape". What do you mean by that?
G.R.: It’s more of a problem in America I think but families will reject accepting their kids. So their kid will say like “I’m gay” and their family will say “I love you, but that’s not okay”. And I’ve realized that that’s not love. If your love is only like “I love you as long as you’re like this.. And as long as you fit into my little bubble of who you need to be”, that’s not love, that’s what escape is. A form of not actually letting people be people, it’s just a way of saying you love people but really are just escaping who they are, running away from who they are.

U: You guys are a Christian band and you talk about some Christian themes in your songs. What’s it like being on a tour where people have different perspectives on religion? Has it ever caused any tension or awkwardness?
G.R.: No, but to be fair we don’t see ourselves as a Christian band. We’re often told that we are and it’s okay, I’m not offended at all. But we have never said that we are a Christian band, a lot of people think we are though, because I’m very passionate about my relationship with Jesus. I don’t consider myself religious, because I don’t consider Jesus a religious figure. I think he’s a revolutionary figure and so I’m a follower of Jesus but we are not religious. A lot of times we are either told we are a Christian band or a prog metal band 'cause of all your sources and I’ve realized that a lot of times people take the first category they can find and throw it on it because then they don’t have to take it seriously. If I say like “Counterparts are just another hardcore band”, but they’re more than that, you know what I mean? So yeah not all of the guys in the band are Christians, but we do talk about spirituality and politics and I think a lot of people have focused on the Christian thing. We’re never mad when people say or think that but I usually do say that we’re are not necessarily. With that being said, there are a lot of listeners, fans or bands who hate us because they think we are a Christian band and it’s kind of annoying. One, we aren’t and two, why would you pre-judge who someone is? It is kind of unfair. A lot of people who aren’t religious say “I don’t like your band, cos you’re Christian”, but then again people who are Christians hate our band, because we talk about how much we love the LGBT kids and we talk about refugees, and how America maybe isn’t that great -and these are things people in America don’t want to hear. We’re kind of in this awkward space where people on the left will never listen to us and people on the right are pissed at us and we’re just here like “Cool!”. We’re just gonna make the music that we feel like is honest and ultimately if people want to listen to us, they will but a lot of people won’t and that’s okay. I’ve learned in life that you just need to let things be, like the Beetles “Let It Be”. (laughs)

U: Before this European tour you were on a US tour with The Contortionists. How has this experience been?
G.R.: It was so cool! We’re like a very weird band, we don’t listen to a lot of metal and hardcore. It’s not to say that it’s not good! All these bands are cool, we just don’t really listen to them. The Contortionists is one of the very few bands that everyone in the band agrees on. We all love them! So it was funny to tour with a band where we where like “I would pay money to be here.” In our opinion, we all believe that The Contortionists is truly one of the great bands in the world. When you watch them musically, you’re watching six absolute geniuses at their instruments, doing music and improvising. It’s so musical and fulfilling that we just stand there in trance. That was very fun for us. and also awkward, because you get on stage “Well, we’re not half as good as this band but whatever!” (laughs)

© Michelle Ritzmann photo

U: How does it feel to be part of a label like UNFD, that isn’t afraid to stray from the beaten path to support and promote their artists?
G.R.: We love it! UNFD has done a really good job. We just finished our first ever European headliner and I would say we’re somewhat popular in America and Australia, maybe Canada, but not so much in Europe. No yet and maybe part of the reason may be the Christian thing, but regardless… UNFD has really pushed us a lot and this headlining tour I honestly thought there would be like five people per show, I’m not kidding! And a hundred people or so would show up, and they weren’t big shows but small rooms packed out and it was really fun and people sang along. We are very grateful for UNFD, because they have helped us a lot.

U: What superpower does your music have?
G.R.: Superpower… To put it in superhero terms I would say supervision, because I think my goal of having people listening to our music is that they see, and with that I mean really see not just look at things but understand them. And not that our music can’t actually do this but I would like to think that my goal for people that listen to us is that they would be changed and that they would go back and look at the world and ,like say our song “Vanity if Sleep” which is about american consumers, that they listen to it and they would look at the world like “Oh my god! Money controls everything.” And that people would hear the critics of society or hear the themes about forgiveness and maybe grow as humans.

U: Your house is on fire. You only have time to grab 3 things before running away. What do you take?
G.R.: I’m homeless! So, I don’t own a house but let’s pretend I do! (laughs) And let’s also pretend there are no people, because of course I would grab humans or animals first, so it’s just objects. I would grab whatever book I’m reading, I would grab my laptop… I wouldn’t grab my shoes, I don’t need those (laughs). And I would probably grab my Nintendo Switch, because I’m a nerd.
U: What is an album you can listen to without skipping a song?
G.R.: There’s a lot of them. Actually not a lot, there’s probably like 7 or 8. I’m gonna go with Death Cap for Cutie’s  “Transatlanticism”. [ed -after I said I'd never heard of that band, he was very shocked and told me that I need to check them out and that I would probably recognize some of their songs]. This album was put out in 2003 and lyrically and musically, it’s Indie- Rock, it’s so good! I’ve been listening to it since I was 14, I’m 28 now, so I’ve been listening to it for literally half of my life at this point, which is crazy. I am also old as dirt (laughs).

© Michelle Ritzmann photo
U: If there was one problem/issue you could wipe off the face of the earth, what would it be?
G.R.: I’m gonna say political corruption, because the reason children starve in Africa and so many of them die of AIDS and malaria isn’t because we don’t have the resources. A lot of the time It’s because the government is so evil that they wont give it to the people.They don’t care about their people. But I don’t even know how you can get rid of that, because I do think that deep within the human heart is, if you give someone utter power they become utterly corrupt. I don’t have a very positive view of humanity if that makes sense. I think that humans are capable of incredible evil but I also believe they’re capable of incredible good. But so much pain and the suffering in the third world is just because evil, greedy men won’t surrender their power and they wont help those under them. But if I could I would take away the corruption, especially in Africa so that children could get medical supplies and food.

U: Whats the biggest trouble you ever got into?
G.R.: I’ve almost been arrested several times but I’ve never actually been arrested. I’ve almost been kicked out of college too…(long pause) I almost got arrested in China, I guess that would’ve been really bad because we were touring China and I don’t think chinese prison is a good place to be so I would probably say that one.

U: To wrap this Interview up I have one more question. What can we expect from you in 2019?
G.R.: More visual content, more audio content. I’m starting some side project bands, because I want to make other stuff. I’m working on this super metal project and then I want to do this like not- metal but Indie project. I’m gonna re-start my book club so people can read along with me. I’m going to learn how to speak Spanish better and I’m going to get better at performing, so our shows can get better as well. I’m also gonna go to the ocean a lot! Hopefully I’ll be a better lover. When people are mean to me I’ll be better at loving them and always be kind.

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1 σχόλια :

  1. Amazing interview! Glad you took the time to talk to Garrett and have this conversation!