"We feel so in control of where everything is going," remarks charismatic vocalist Shane Told. "We're feeling recharged. We absolutely feel a sense of renewal."
Rehearsals in preparation for a four night event marking their ten year anniversary, where the group played every song in their catalog, provided an unexpected opportunity to examine, explore and decipher their greatest strengths and mold the next progression from them.
With a new label, new management and a new sense of purpose, the Canadian post-hardcore heroes have crafted their most diverse album to date, channeling the essence of career defining landmark records like Discovering the Waterfront while charging forward into uncharted textures, colors and power.
"We've been able to become a lot more honest with who we are as a band and as musicians at this new stage in our career," explains drummer Paul Koehler.
"The honesty comes from a little bit more creative freedom and the exploration of where we are at this point, what's still driving us as a band and individuals and pouring that back into our music."
Eager to break from the workman like album / tour / album / tour grind that produced four records in six years, Silverstein wrote Rescue over the course of a full year, which was a first for the band. They'd get together between tours and work on songs. They invited outside input and opinions about how the tracks fit together and where it was going. They threw caution to the wind when it came to pairing the heaviest tracks they'd ever written with some of the most punk rock and some of the most daring with some of the most melodic.
Every extreme of the Silverstein sound has expanded.
The album's opening track, "Medication," is a definitive mission statement of sorts that's representative of who Silverstein is as a band in just a few short minutes. "It's a bit bolder in the statement that it makes musically," says Paul. "It's exciting because it touches on so many different things."
"The Artist," which was the last song written for Rescue, was built organically from a dissonant riff coupled with one hell of a breakdown which all crashes into a dramatic, driving ending. It will instantly transport listeners to the dingy rented halls where the hardcore punk community thrives.
Alternately, "In Memory Of" is a beautiful, ballad type song which deals with the death of Shane's cousin, who was like a brother to him.
"It was a real big change in my life. I don't have a brother and we were the same age. It was really, really hard for me for a couple of years," he says. "That's just one song I think that is important to the vibe of the record and everything we've gone through as a band over ten years. We've lost a lot of people, unfortunately. It's a tribute to my cousin but it's also a tribute to everyone we've lost."
"Good Luck with Your Life" addresses a struggle of a different kind: the difficulties a group of friends whose passion for music has had to butt up against the brunt of the business side of the equation. "All of those details, those hoops bands jump through, the compromises they have to make to bring that music to our stereos," Shane points out with the voice of experience.
"The song is about our experience with the music industry and how many things are in your way," he continues. "It's every band's dream to get signed, play music for a living, go on tour, see the world. We've done that and we're happy. But it's a bit of a warning sign to other bands to be careful about what they're getting into."
Now the band has constructed an environment, in tandem with their new partnership with Hopeless Records, where they are free to release the special 7" singles they want, to put on the special shows they want, to create new forms of media. They've stepped back after a whirlwind decade and figured out how to keep it all pure.
What's kept Silverstein surviving and thriving as much as the strength of their songs is the stability of their relationships. The band has had only one lineup change in their eleven year career, which took place before they had even toured. Many groups in the scene with these kind of stripes have only one or two remaining original members.
Each guy is different. Some are straight edge, some party. Some are really into sports, some couldn't be bothered. But there's a unity within their diversity. They have been able to meld a common vision from the spare parts of their differences, cobbling together their various points of view and specialties for the greater good.
"I've seen it with so many of our peers that we've toured with -- they have two or three different members," Paul says. "Especially with these younger bands, they have a new member like every year, or every tour! I don't get it. I don't know if it's egos or people just going in different directions. The key thing is that all five of us have always been focused on the same goal and the same direction."
This positive mental attitude and devotion to Silverstein has sustained them since their first self-released EP, the subsequent genre redefining albums When Broken is Easily Fixed (2003), Discovering the Waterfront (2005), Arrivals and Departures (2007) and A Shipwreck in the Sand (2009), Warped Tour, Soundwave Festival, Scream It Like You Mean It (which they headlined) and endless international tours with bands like Rise Against, A Day To Remember, August Burns Red and Hawthorne Heights. Arrivals… sold over 27,000 copies in its first week in the US.
Incredibly, in 2011, they've done the unthinkable: they've crafted a definitive work in the form or Rescue, an album that summarizes the best of their past while looking decidedly forward to the future. "Scene" bands aren't supposed to stay relevant this long but somehow this band has, proving there's gas in the tank for years to come.
"We've seen the trends come and go; the music trends, the fashion trends," Shane points out. "We've seen a band show up in the scene and become huge for literally just a few months and then disappear. We've never latched on to the trends."
At the end of the day, Silverstein will continue to make albums as vital, as urgent and as impressive as Rescue because they set out to please themselves first.
"We ask ourselves: 'What are we going to do? What do we like? What do we care about?' We don't ask: 'What's the cool thing right now?' or 'What's going to help us sell records?'"
"There will always be progression in our music," he continues. "We're getting older and our influences have changed and there's different things we want to do. But we are what we are. We love the natural progression we've had through our records. But we're not going to make a massive change to appeal to anyone."
Shane Told - Vocals / Guitar
Neil Boshart - Guitar
Josh Bradford - Guitar
Billy Hamilton - Bass
Paul Koehler - Drums
Dec 10 SaturdaySouthampton, UK Engine Rooms
Dec 17 SaturdayToronto, ON, Canada Danforth Music Hall