WEST HOLLYWOOD, California — Joining friends Hawthorne Heights, Bayside and Aiden on tour was supposed to be a dream come true for Canadian emo-rockers Silverstein, but that dream quickly turned into a nightmare in the early morning hours of October 31.
While traveling to Salt Lake City, Bayside's touring van hit a patch of ice on a Cheyenne, Wyoming, highway and flipped over, killing drummer John "Beatz" Holohan.
"It's been real, real hard the past week," Silverstein lead singer Shane Told said. "We rode in a van for two years and didn't wear seatbelts. We drove through ice storms with bad tires, so we just feel really lucky that nothing ever happened to us like this. [It has] really opened up our eyes."
"It brought all of us together in a different way," drummer Paul Koehler added. "We're really tight as friends, but I think we really got to support each other and see each other in a different light. You know, it's hard to see your best friends cry, but it's good to be there for each other."
It's been less than a month since the accident, but Silverstein said the remaining members of Bayside — including bassist Nick Ghanbarian, who was hospitalized after breaking his back — remain in good spirits considering their loss.
"[One night] somebody came in right when Nick had just broken his back, and Nick said, 'Dude, how's my hair?' The guy's like, 'I don't know, man.' [And Nick's] like, 'Cause the nurse is real hot!' " Told recalled, laughing. "It's just a perfect example of how those guys remain positive after going through the worst thing ever."
The bands canceled four dates of their current Never Sleep Again Tour so some could travel to New York to support Holohan's family and friends. But Silverstein said they resumed the tour days later because Beatz wouldn't have wanted it any other way.
And after missing two weeks' worth of dates, Bayside's Anthony Raneri and Jack O'Shea rejoined the tour on Wednesday, performing as an acoustic duo.
"Everyone's kind of still a mess and that's probably not going to change for a little while," Told said. "But the best thing is that Anthony and Jack from Bayside are going to ... play, which I think is really important for them to get past this."
"It's a good inspiration for a band like us who goes through a lot of hard stuff as well," Koehler added. "It's like, [we] know it could be a lot worse, and if they can keep going, so can we."
Silverstein — Told, Koehler, bassist Bill Hamilton and guitarists Josh Bradford and Neil Boshart — first formed in Ontario in 2000, and released two EPs that sparked the interest of Victory Records. After signing with the label in 2003, the band put out two full-length studio LPs — its debut, When Broken Is Easily Fixed, has sold 200,000 copies — and toured alongside Fall Out Boy and Senses Fail.
The band recently experimented with a more playful vibe with "Smile in Your Sleep", the first single from Discovering the Waterfront.
"Basically it was loosely based on the board game Clue," Bradford explained. "We each played a different character from the board game, and we're all in different rooms of a big mansion with different murder weapons. It was probably something that we would never have come up with. We always approach things from a more serious angle. It gave us the opportunity to have a little more fun with ourselves."
The concept stemmed from a dream Told had during his first trip to England. "It was the very first time we ever went over and so my sleeping patterns were all messed up. The first day I didn't sleep at all and then the second day I slept for 20 hours straight and when I woke up, I had no idea like where I was. I was totally confused and then I had this ridiculous dream and thought that it had all actually happened."
Produced by Cameron Webb (Motörhead, Social Distortion), Discovering the Waterfront features catchy songs with a metal edge that explore central themes like self-determination and the ability to cope with change.
"One thing we really wanted to show on this record was a lot of hope and that it's not the end of the world," Told said. "Bad things happen to everyone and people can move on. It's just something everyone experiences, whether you're in a dead-end job or a relationship that's really not good for you. You really need to take a chance sometimes, move on and make your life better."
The Never Sleeps Again Tour wraps up in Chicago on December 11.