By Karum Cooper
We caught up with Silverstein drummer Paul Koehler to talk about all things tour, the new record and what it has been like to be in a band for so long in this ever changing music industry.
CLUNK: Hey! How are you, how’s the tour so far?
PK: I’m good. Day 3 in Cardiff here. We’re doing 8 shows in the UK – just a quick one before Christmas. I’m pretty excited.
CLUNK: What are your thoughts on tour support; Hail The Sun?
PK: We’ve been keeping an eye on them over in America actually, trying to work something out over there for a while. Then once it came to looking at tour support for this run of shows we thought it’d be good to look at some up and coming bands in the scene that haven’t been to the UK. We literally just asked them and they said ‘For sure’ and that was that. It was crazy, we couldn’t believe they just agreed to do it.
CLUNK: I wanted to focus on how long you guys have been around, it’s a pretty long time (going on 18 years in fact!). You’ve been great at keeping a really distinctive sound from the first record ‘When Broken is Easily Fixed’ through to the most recent album ‘Dead Reflection’. How did you keep things fresh within the band; songwriting wise and such?
PK: For us it was actually a happy accident. When principal songwriters change in the band, songwriting approaches will always change. It was really nice for a new member (Paul Marc Rousseau) to bring something fresh to the table and look to the future whilst still being respectful of the older material and the earlier years in the band’s’ career. Most of all it was really neat that we were able to bridge that gap from older to newer songs and also take it another step further. It’s all about being understanding.
“It’s important not to just take our friends band out on tour but to do something that’d be good for our scene and good for everyone”
CLUNK: How have your influences changed since the get go? Do you find yourselves listening to more stuff outside of your genre, are you keeping up to date with what’s big in your scene?
PK: So yeah, we’ve got like all the core bands and influences that we’ve had since the beginning that we may kind of throwback to, whether that’s just to listen to or be influenced by. Those bands are really all of our shared influences. Over time as we all grew up we’ve all started listening to pretty different stuff like each one of us individually listens to very different music. Sometimes we get inspired by a rhythm or a melody from another genre of music and then pull it into our own you know, and that’s good!
As far as other bands in the genre are concerned – I think we try really hard to at least be aware of them you know? Just see how they’re doing, check out their songs, try and catch them live and then even bring them out on tour like we have done with Hail The Sun. I mean, there’s a pretty big gap in where our careers are (Silverstein and Hail The Sun) but I think they’re doing something that our fans appreciate and I think they’re doing it well. They clearly come from the same like minded background in some way. It’s important not to just take our friends band out on tour but to do something that’d be good for our scene and good for everyone.
CLUNK: What was it like getting signed so early on into your careers?
PK: Yeah they approached us about 2 and a half years into forming the band. I guess it was pretty crazy! At the time we were like “Yeah we’re gonna sign this deal, we’ll record maybe one album and that’s it!”. Like, that’s what a lot of bands did at the time. If you had 3 or even 4 records that was crazy. So yeah, it was a huge opportunity and we were really blown away by it but we didn’t think it was gonna become such a long, big thing. That’s the difference.
CLUNK: Since the first record, what have been the most significant changes in the music industry for you guys to deal with, and do you think you’ve coped with that well?
PK: When our band started, the iTunes store wasn’t even a thing! There was a resource called mp3.com that people used around that period – this was even pre-MySpace!
MySpace was the first blip of social media – thinking back Myspace was great for us because it was very music-orientated. Like if you were a fan of the arts that’s pretty much where you were. I think that’s why facebook got much bigger because it appealed to older generations and other people that maybe had other interests like sports or whatever. If you were supporting the independent arts community it was all through MySpace. Being a band that fit into that was super helpful. It also started training us (for what was to come later on) like oh, you can post a photo and people can comment on it, or you ask people what they think about something and they can actually respond, you’re able to really interact with these people and that never existed before MySpace and other socials! That was the biggest change for us.
“Thinking back Myspace was great for us because it was very music-orientated”
Even streaming has only really reached its peak in the last 2 years or so, it’s been cool because now you get to see what people are really listening to. They may listen to our album once and never again, they may only listen to one song. Streaming has allowed us to lift the veil on all that information. It helps us know what people are interested in. It’s the same with all this social stuff. It gives us a little bit more indication of popularity to a degree. However, it doesn’t mean there’s going to be a million people at the show and it doesn’t mean that people love your record. With streaming and social media you need to take every little bit of information with a grain of salt.
CLUNK: A lot of people nowadays are going about ‘breaking’ themselves as artists completely independently, without a label or management. What do you think about that?
PK: (The industry) is absolutely great if you’re an independent artist right now. You write the best song you can, you self release it, you try and get a million streams and if you get that, a lot of people think they can have a career. People are even getting signed based off that alone. SO many people forget about touring! No matter what genre you are, touring is super important. As well as the ability to play your songs really well and knowing how to interact with your fans – like, yeah you can sit behind a computer and do all this stuff to make it look clean and perfect but you have to get out there and work too.
CLUNK: Penultimate task. I want to rack your brain – who are some exciting new finds for you? Five bands that you think people should be looking out for at the moment?
PK: I’m gonna reference it specifically within our scene so it’s slightly relevant!
First off I’d suggest a band Hold Close, they’re from the US and have just dropped a new EP via Hopeless Records – interesting pop punk.
I’ll have to mention a band called Trashboat because I manage them and they’re from the UK! They’re doing quite well over at the moment.
I’ll mention two other bands we’re bringing out with us (on tour) in Europe; I’ll mention Broadside and Picturesque. Broadside are a Pop Punk band signed to Victory (Silverstein’s first label) and Picturesque are like a spacey, emo rock band on Equal Vision Records.
CLUNK: And finally! I was going to ask all of you for one each but since there’s only one of you -what are some of your contenders for album of the year?
PK: For me, it’s pretty out of the scene but my favourite is ‘Slowdive’ (self-titled album). They’re from the UK but they’ve just had a reunion after like 20 something years and made this brand new record and it’s the top record this year for me.
CLUNK: Any other honourable mentions?
PK: The War On Drugs’ latest record (A Deeper Understanding) and also Julien Baker’s latest effort (Turn Out The Lights).