Interview: Shane Told of Silverstein


Recently I was able to schedule a Zoom interview with the lead vocalist of Silverstein, Shane Told, to discuss the band’s tour preparations for their anniversary tour of their sixth record, This Is How The Wind Shifts. In this interview, I asked Shane about what went into the writing process for they current album (Misery Made Me), the band’s thinking behind doing the REDUX album re-recordings, and some advice he has for young bands navigating the changing music business. Silverstein will be embarking on their This Is How The Wind Shifts tour starting November 23rd in Toronto, and tickets can be purchased here.

First of all, thank you so much for connecting with me again, Shane. Can you tell me about how the band’s preparations are going for your upcoming This is How the Wind Shifts tour?

Yeah, I’ve got a lot for that one man. That’s a big undertaking because whenever you decide you’re gonna play a full album, you gotta make sure you have all those songs ready to go. And that album, it’s our sixth album, and we’ve done tours for our first album and our second album, and all those songs. We played them all before because when you’re on tour, when you’re touring on your first album, that’s all the songs you have! So you kind of have to play them all. And with the second album, you played a lot of those too, in the early years, but this is album number six. And there are quite a few songs we’ve never played live. So it’s like, I haven’t even thought about playing them since we recorded them ten years ago. So yeah, it’s a big undertaking for that tour. Figuring out how we’re going to do the songs. And it’s also probably my favorite album we’ve done. And it’s a very, very creative album. It’s got a lot of ups and downs, twists and turns, so to speak. And there’s a lot we can do creatively to make it really cool. So right now, we’re kind of definitely talking about like, “Okay, how exactly are we going to let this roll out for people to make this really special?” But yeah, lots of work to do to get ready for that. And then at the same time, plan out the production and things like that.

Nice!  I believe that tour kicks off in November, right?

Yeah, it’s coming up. But yeah, it’s about a couple of months away now.

Nice. Yeah. I’ll be attending the Silver Spring version of that at The Fillmore. It’s only ten minutes down the road from me, so I have no excuses not to go! I reviewed your last album, Misery Made Me that I just happen to have over here…

How did you review it if you didn’t even open it?

<Laughter> Oh no, it’s opened, see!

I’m kidding. Because I mean, there’s obviously other mediums you can listen to music on than vinyl, right? It’s not 1965…

I’ve got a record player right over here, but that’s funny you called me out on that! <Laughter> The record has a lot of hard hitting tunes, as well as some “vibey” and introspective tracks on it. Can you walk me through how the songwriting sessions went for that LP?

Yeah. It was kind of a weird one because it was like, prime-COVID. So we started the writing process for that one, and as far as getting things going, we didn’t even get together. Everything was done kind of remotely like, here’s a song. Here’s an idea. What do you think? Then someone would send it back. It was really different because most of the time, especially with our earlier records, we got in a room to hash it out. So this was very much with computers. But what was cool I think was once those songs left the computers that they were written in and they entered the studio with all five of us there every day…it’s really the songs. And the songs in the record really took a shape of their own. And the songs at their core, they’re dark, very depressing. It’s a very depressing album because of what we were all going through at that time. That’s the subject matter. But what was really kind of a cool duality was that when we were in the studio, we were having the best fucking time ever. It was the first time in so long that we were able to get together and see each other. The COVID restrictions in Canada were insane. So even when we were recording the record, there were limits on how many people in a gathering you were allowed to have. So it went from like five to ten <people>. And we were like, okay, we can make a record now! Because if it was only five people at a gathering, then we wouldn’t have been able to make the record because there’s five of us, then a producer, plus an engineer, then the assistant at the studio…shit like that. So we hadn’t seen each other in awhile, and we got together, the golf courses were open, so we were able to play golf. We were also playing basketball in the parking lot, and just drinking wine late at night like we do on tour. It had a really, really cool vibe with kind of living at the studio and doing it all that way. And I think you can hear that on that record. It feels fun, somehow. There’s a certain cool  kind of energy to it that I think resonates in this record. But obviously the songs are still dark as fuck.

Yeah, but it has some cool collaborations on there, too, which you guys have kind of been known for over your career to go and bring in outside voices or outside players, and stuff like that. So I think it all turned out really well…

Yeah, when we do collaborations, it’s really got to be the perfect voice or whatever, and at the perfect time. I think we’re, we’re kind of picky about it. I know a lot of artists, especially in certain genres, where the collaboration thing is very important. That’s what everybody talks about. And I don’t know, that’s like maybe a newer kind of thing? Not to say we didn’t always have a collaboration…our first album had a guest vocalist on it. But I think we will never do the thing where it’s like, “Oh, this person’s popular. So let’s see if they’re willing to be on our record…” <We wouldn’t> get them on a song if it’s going to compromise the integrity or direction of the song. So I’m really proud that over the last couple albums, we’ve had so many features, but every single one was perfect for it. Whether it’s the voice of the person, or what they’re saying…so thanks for noticing that. But yeah, it’s been, it’s been cool, kinda to see how some songs can really come to life when you add that extra element. That it isn’t just my voice over and over again.

Yeah, and to that point, I think you guys are very conscious about who you put on an album and make sure it’s not sounding forced

Oh yeah, never. 

Yeah, I never really came to that conclusion at all. So, you and your bandmates in Silverstein are obviously road warriors. It’s probably harder to find days you aren’t on tour versus a future booked date. What are some of the core lessons you’ve each learned over the years about each of you taking care of yourselves on the road?

Well, yeah, we certainly don’t, don’t tour as much as we used to, like looking back. But we have on our website, we have our tour archive on there…

Oh yeah! I was checking that out earlier today. It is crazy to see all the shows of all time you’ve played.

It’s pretty cool that you can go back and see every single show we’ve ever played. And I think we’re over 2,500 shows now. But with those early years, we were doing like 200 shows a year. And obviously, if we’ve been touring for 20 years, we haven’t quite kept  up that pace. Otherwise, we’d be at like 4,000 shows, right? In the more recent years, we didn’t tour as much, but for example, we’ve done a lot of “fly-ins.” A lot of weekend shows and stuff like this summer we’ve flown into Europe for a weekend. We’ve flown to Mexico for a weekend. We’ve flown to Iowa for a weekend, Chicago for a weekend, and Canada a couple of times. Doing all that stuff, is just as much work as a full tour. But it’s been like, go go go every weekend. And I think about maintaining health and stuff, both physically and mentally, I think that we’ve always been a pretty good support system for each other. We’re always there for each other. And in terms of that, if somebody’s going through it, and whatnot, I think we try to be a little conscious of staying healthy and doing the right things and not getting too out of whack. But it’s not easy, man. And it’s not easy as you get older. A bunch of us are in our 40s now…so it’s not going to get any easier, but we do our best. We’ve done the vegan/vegetarian stuff over the years but we also drink a lot.

And to that same point, what advice would you give for younger bands who are considering giving up on their music dream due to the difficulty and the rising costs of being on tour?

It is so hard right now, man…I don’t even know what I would tell somebody. I always do my own podcasts, and I had an interview this morning with an artist from Canada. His name is Sam Roberts. He’s massive in Canada. Like double platinum albums and all these awards and he’s done all this stuff. And we were literally talking about how, back when he started, his debut record that’s now 20 years old, there was kind of a checklist of the things that you would do to set up an album. Like, okay, we’re gonna make a video, and it’s gonna get played on MTV. Then we’re gonna have the song and it’s gonna go on the radio, and hopefully it does well. Then we’re gonna go on a tour and we’ll release the next single from the album that’s already out. And you do that again and again, and carry that on. And then our records will be in stores…all that stuff. I mean  younger people maybe don’t even understand that stuff. I think that, generally speaking, that world was a lot easier to understand…”The checklist” of what you have to do. And now, dude, I would not even know where to start. We’ve established ourselves as a band, and so we have fans and we can already kind of do things. And a lot of our fans sort of understand the process of this is how they’re going to do their stuff, and this record album is coming out. There will be vinyl preorders, and then go on tour and whatever, right? But nowadays, with younger artists, some artists aren’t even really releasing albums…or not for a long time into their career. I think of the band, Hot Milk. They just released their debut full-length, but they’ve been making singles and EPs for years, and getting pretty popular. Done all of these festivals. It’s just so hard because today there’s no roadmap to where you’re going. You might kind of know where you’re going. And I don’t even know I wouldn’t even know where to begin. So that’s my advice…maybe get a Tik Tok account?

The music business has changed so much in the last 10 years, not to mention 20 years…

It’s crazy. I think the cool thing about it now is that there are more ways to make money now than there were. Back when we started, the only way we made money was playing shows and selling T-shirts. And then sometimes you’d get like a kickback from a label, like a royalty check, a relatively small one once in a while. Nowadays, if you’re a young artist, if you have a big following on social media you can actually get money! You can do livestreams, and people make money on Twitch, YouTube and all this different stuff. There’s all these different avenues that if you’re savvy, it can kind of keep you afloat. Then you don’t have to do 200 shows a year like we did. So everything is wildly changing, and I don’t claim to understand it. I obviously try. And this is my life, but man, it is crazy out there right now.

Yeah, do you guys have any plans to do any type of other cool projects like a new REDUX? And if not, what are some of the things you’re most proud of as each album celebrates its own birthday, so to speak?

Yeah, man, that’s a good question. I think once we realized that Discovering the Waterfront hit ten years, or was about to hit ten years, that was when you started to see some bands celebrating anniversaries for their albums. One of the first ones I remember was Jimmy Eat World doing Clarity. And Taking Back Sunday doing Tell All Your Friends and these kinds of tours to celebrate some of the milestones and stuff. And that’s been really fun to kind of celebrate our legacy. And especially an album, like Discovering the Waterfront that has become a classic and has transcended generations. That record is now 18 years old. And it’s crazy, right? It’s kind of going to come up on 20 years pretty soon. So it’s pretty crazy that people still cite that <album> as such an important record. So I think that as much as we still put the vast majority of our focus into new albums, and new music, I think it’s fun for us to give back to the fans a little bit and say, “Oh we’re gonna go out and celebrate this record, and do something different.” Just like how we’re kind of getting to the end of the <Misery Made Me> cycle. Why don’t we go out and do a tour for an absolute fan-favorite album, This Is How the Wind Shifts, which is now ten years old. And I think being able to do that, and especially with it being our sixth album, to play that for a 10-year anniversary, you don’t hear about that a lot. It tends to be bands usually doing anniversary tours of their first or second album. So we’re proud that we have a really great fan-base that’s supported us all the way through. And as things come up, we like to just say, “Hey, this album came out 10 years ago, 15 years ago…With Arrivals & Departures, we remixed and remastered that album since we found the original Pro Tools files, and we went in and remixed it for its 15-year anniversary. For A Shipwreck in the Sand, we didn’t do anything too crazy. We just released like some merch, but it doesn’t have to be crazy every time. It doesn’t have to be a tour every time. Sometimes it’s just like, we remember this album, or we know that this album means a lot to people, so let’s just celebrate it. We’re not one of those bands that says, “oh, that song sucks now, or that album sucks.” It’s “retired” now, or whatever. We don’t do that. We realize that where we are is the sum of, of everything we’ve done in the sum of all the parts and that people support us all along the way. has brought us here. And yeah, we don’t want to turn our backs on the people that have supported us forever.

Yeah, and kind of with those REDUX collections, it kind of gives the fans a little bit of insight of how you guys change things up on live versions and stuff like that, too. So that’s kind of what I appreciated about the refresh of REDUX. But I was just curious about when you play a full album tour, like you’re about to do, will you be considering some of those types of elements that you’ve learned over the years?

Yeah, that’s a cool question. But with that series, it’s kind of funny how it actually all happened. So we did REDUX, part one, I think it was called the first 10 years or something like that. And the reason we did that record was two-fold. The first, was that a lot of those songs were really not recorded very well, especially the first album. And we really thought that a nice refresh would be great for people. The second was, we were now in a period of time where, because it had been so long since those releases came out, we were allowed to re-record them. Kind of like what Taylor Swift is doing…when we do that, we actually get the full royalties for them. And when we were on Victory, it was kinda sketchy to get properly paid.

<Laughter> That can be a whole ‘nother interview right there!

Yeahhh, so it was like a battle and really sketchy with that. Believe me, Tony <of Victory Records> was not happy that we were that we put out that REDUX record. And while we were legally allowed to do it, there were some legal threats going on and everything, but we did it. And, I love it. We were really careful. We didn’t want to change it really too much on that record. It was more about, here’s a better version of what you already love. Because it’s happened so many times with releases where you’ll hear a re-recording, and there’s something very minor that will be different, but it’ll bother you. For me, maybe a drum fill is different. And so if I’m like, “Oh, I love this drum fill right here…and then it’s not the same drum fill. So we were really conscious of saying, “Okay, we’re gonna do the same thing. Keys, same tempos, same drum fills, we’re not adding a bunch of harmonies that weren’t there originally. We want everything to be just a better version. And that was the point of REDUX, part one. What was really funny was shortly after we released that, Victory sold their catalog. 

Yep! To Concord Records…

And with Concord, they’re the best. Like, oh my god, they’re so easy to work with. Now we are  actually getting proper royalty statements! And now it’s funny, because it was like, of course, right? After we do all that work…but I’m still happy that we have these versions of these songs recorded. Because if I was a fan, I would much rather listen to the REDUX versions than the originals. Just because I think a lot of those originals were not recorded very well.

And I will say, you’re a much better vocalist these days. The last time you and I spoke on the phone, you basically said you were learning how to scream on that first record…

I mean, yes, I was learning how to scream. I was also learning how to sing. I was learning how to do everything. I never made a record before! I think Josh had made a full length album with his other band, but other than that, none of us even ever recorded a full length album. So we didn’t know what to do. We had no idea, and you could hear that. So anyway, with REDUX, part two,  the only reason we really did that was because it was during the pandemic, and we had a lot of time. And it was something where maybe we can be a little bit more creative and do some different versions. And we also were able to re-record some of the Hopeless Records-era stuff too. So we did, and some of the songs were kinda inversions, really fun. And to answer your other question about how we not only have brought in some of these things we do live into REDUX, I think some of the stuff we did on REDUX to bring that into the live environment is cool, too. We were playing “My Disaster,” the 2.0 version. We played that live a couple of times and while  I think it was only on streaming when we were doing that, I think it’s really cool to be able to do that and kind of marry the live vibes with what we do in the studio. 

Sure, so you talked a little bit about This Is How the Wind Shifts, and that what makes that record so special, but do you have any core memories that you remember from the studio that really stood out from your bandmates that made that record hit so hard?

I have so many memories. It was such a magical time. The biggest thing was Paul Marc coming into the band. When our old guitar player was not in the band anymore, and we needed somebody to come in and play with us, we thought, hey, maybe this is a good opportunity to have some really good guitar-playing friends and songwriters come in and see how we vibe with them. So the first person we called was Paul Marc. And Paul Marc lived in our hometown. We already knew him, and he toured with us before as a guitar tech for us, he did merch for us. So we knew it would work out in terms of the touring relationship. But creatively, we hadn’t really ever worked on anything. So he came in, and we’re working on stuff. And then he said, “Hey, I don’t mean to overstep here, but I wrote some music for a Silverstein song…” And it was the instrumental of “Stand Amidst The Roar.” And right away, when I heard that initial riff, I was like this is so sick, and very quickly it became this is “the guy.” We don’t need we don’t need to get our friends from New York City or whatever to come in…we’ve got the guy right here, obviously. And it was really cool working on all those songs together, writing them, and figuring them out. I remember certain songs where we  were kind of banging our head against the wall, like with “Second Chances,” I remember that that one went through a lot of changes. And then the two tracks of, “This is How” and “The Wind Shifts,” was my really weird crazy brainchild-like idea. So I had this idea to have one song in a major key and one song in a minor key that when you played them on top of each other, they formed a third song. And I told this to the band, and they looked at me like I was just like out of my fucking tree . <Laughter> First of all, I’m not that great at recording. My demos don’t sound very good. But ten years ago, I was even worse, or maybe the technology was worse. And I remember I was thinking to myself,  I’ve got to impress them so they know. And I made a demo that probably made it worse because it was way too complicated. And, and they were like, “Yeah, I don’t know about this…”  And then, I thought I’m going to need to simplify this down. I’m going to make this shorter, and it’s going to kind of feel like an interlude. I know how I’m going to do this. Oh, and This is How the Wind Shifts was Paul Marc’s title. Originally, the idea was like Sun / Moon. Opposite things. So for me, it was sort of like the working title of the album. And then from that, we kind of shifted…pardon the pun, into that other idea of the wind, This is How the Wind Shifts. So then I used “This is How the Wind Shifts” to kind of sell Paul Marc on the idea. And when we released the album, we didn’t tell anybody that you could play the two songs on top of each other and make a third song. I think we waited like a week and nobody said anything. Then we’re like…ahhh, we’re just gonna leak it! But I remember working on that song was really special. And I’m really excited that we’re gonna get to play it in full for our fans, I think it’s gonna be a really, really special show.

I can’t wait for it! Any last words for your fans or other things to look out for in the new year from Silverstein?

Well, this is going to be the last tour for a minute, especially in the US, and in Canada. I think if people are expecting us to add more dates to this tour, or something…that’s not happening This is it. So we’re doing only 18 shows, it’s a pretty short tour. And then basically in 2024, it’s going to be all about getting some new material together. Figuring out what we’re going to do next, creatively. So, after this tour, you might not see us for a while. So it’s a good time to get tickets, and maybe even make a little trip out of it. I know we were skipping a few places, so maybe people need to travel a little bit for this one. I don’t ask for much! So that’s gonna be the plan rolling into next year. A lot of writing.

Nice! I can’t wait to see what Silverstein comes up with. Have a great rest of your day!

Thanks, Adam! See you at the show.

This Is How The Wind Shifts Tour Dates:

November 23 Toronto, ON @ The Opera House
November 25 Montreal, QC @ Club Soda
November 26 Brooklyn, NY @ Warsaw
November 28 Philadelphia, PA @ Theatre of Living Arts
November 29 Silver Spring, MD @ The Fillmore
December 1 Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade (Heaven)
December 2 Nashville, TN @ Brooklyn Bowl
December 3 St. Louis, MO @ Red Flag
December 5 Dallas, TX @ Granada Theater
December 6 San Antonio, TX @ Vibes Event Center
December 8 Phoenix, AZ @ The Marquee
December 9 Los Angeles, CA @ The Regent Theater
December 10 Anaheim, CA @ House of Blues
December 12 Salt Lake City, UT @ The Depot
December 13 Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre
December 15 Des Moines, IA @ Wooly’s
December 16 Indianapolis, IN @ The Vogue
December 17 Detroit, MI @ The Majestic