“It's all about keeping it fresh” – on the road with SILVERSTEIN
Skriven av Bella Qvist   
Skapad 2012-05-15 17:58

silversteinCanadian emo rockers SILVERSTEIN recently finished their biggest European tour to date, visiting as many as eighteen countries. Whilst the band was still on the road, Critical MassBella Qvist got a quick chat with the humble bassist Billy Hamilton who spoke about their many hardcore fans, magical connections and making every day count.

Billy picks up the phone. He is in Malmö in the south of Sweden, hanging with his best friend Jana. Having started out in 2000, him and his band SILVERSTEIN have travelled the globe many a time and now Billy meets familiar faces wherever they go...

– When we get to see friends on the way, it makes it that much better. It kind of saves you from being homesick when you have little pieces of friends all over the world.

Billy speaks in a calm and cheerful manner and I can hear the wind blowing on the other side of the line. It is clear that Malmö isn’t their warmest stop on the tour.

Still, Billy is a big fan of the Noridc country.

– We haven’t been to Sweden in about four years now, so it was just a really nice, warm welcome back.

The fact that the band played their Stockholm show at legendary venue Klubben was extra special to the 28-year-old.

– It was the place we played the first time we were there and actually the last time we were there... It’s kind of good to go back somewhere even after four years and still recognise the surroundings and see how the area has developed with new shops and stuff.

In Norway, the band took the opportunity to meet up with old chum and BRING ME THE HORIZON guitarist, Jona [Weinhofen]. They got to know each other when they played together with Jona’s old band I KILLED THE PROM QUEEN in Australia in 2006.

Jona’s been one of my best friends… We seem to cross paths quite a bit and we’ve stayed really close.

Visiting so many countries in such a short amount of time, do you get time to actually see the cities you play in?
– Yeah, usually the load-in for the shows have been in the mid to later afternoon so we usually have the morning to go and get some lunch and coffee and kind of walk around as much as possible.

– We had a really great day today in Gothenburg just walking around, getting some coffee, seeing some shops and taking photos and stuff so it’s been really lovely.

Do people recognise you when you’re walking around the streets?
– Not so much, we’re just kind of regular looking guys so we don’t really get stopped. I mean sometimes we do, especially if it’s close to the venue and fans have turned up early but that’s always nice, to interact with the fans that way. Because you know, we don’t try to have any kind of separation like that from the fans. We’re not like big rock stars or anything, we want to be accessible.

silversteinSILVERSTEIN began their European tour in Russia.

– I don’t think that I ever dreamed that I would go there, let alone to […] go and play shows and, you know, experience the culture.

– The first show we played in St Petersburg, we had a tour guide that was friends with the promoter, who knew about all the history and all the buildings and monuments and statues and stuff and could tell us […] all this history about Russia.

– It’s just great as a tourist, you know?

How do you choose the countries you go to, do you ever consider politics and social circumstances?
– Sure, I mean, sometimes. I know there have definitely been some places where we haven’t been back to because […] either it’s been dangerous or there has been some sort of economy [problems]…

– I mean, we tried to go back to Mexico quite a few times and it’s just been so much going on there both in the economy and […] there’s been some kind of dangerous climate there, so we haven’t been back.

– I think our goal as a band, we’ve been together for like thirteen years now, is just to try and go to as many places as possible.


Having been in a successful band for so long, what’s changed for you? Do you still have the same motivations? What’s different for you now?

– I think the biggest thing is that you know it’s been so long and I’ve experienced so much and we’ve grown so much as a band and we’ve grown so much as people and changed so much as people.

– I think for me personally I love playing shows still and doing all the music and recording and everything like that. Because every time it’s about making it a new experience and not getting bored or still with what you’re doing. I know as far as creatively being able to do some stuff, I feel that has really helped us.

– We’ve put out this new short songs record and it’s been like a breath of fresh air for us in the writing department.

Billy of course refers to the mini-album with the suitable title “Short Songs”, released earlier this year.

– It’s really something that’s new and fresh for us and it’s really cool. But on a personal level, with touring, it’s all about making a day something new and exciting. Not like the show is going to be the same every day no matter what you see or what country you’re in or whatever.

– It’s just about getting that time to go out and to kind of see the culture and meet some people and try something new. Whether it be food […] or anything, you know. It’s all about keeping it fresh.

Billy adds:
– That exploration and that kind of evolving in that way in the culture of touring is the most exciting thing for me personally.

Do you tend to bring stuff with you from tour like memorabilia, souvenirs and stuff?
– Yeah, especially when we go places like Russia. It’s kind of hard to not get a little something to bring back. […] I’ve got some friends who love Russian literature and stuff so I brought some things back for them […] It’s kind of hard to not be like a tourist and say “I want to get this silly hat” or whatever.

Some of your classic songs like “Smile in Your Sleep” and “My Heroine” have been important in my life. How do you feel performing them today, are you sick of them or do you still have the same feeling when you hear them, does it take you back?
– I think there is definitely some songs, like probably four or five or even more than that, that are just kind of every day staples on the set.

– I mean, it certainly can become tiring playing the same songs every night but songs like those, like you say, they are really important songs to your life. When we get that reaction from the crowd, it’s kind of hard to deny [that] it is still a magical thing for us to see people that are really excited about our music, even after this long. With certain songs you can just kind of tell that people have a connection to them.

– I know we are just big fans of music and have songs in our lives that mean that much to us so it’s kind of hard for us to deny that but at the same time we have probably 75 or 80 songs. So it’s very easy for us to fill out the set with another ten and keep it fresh and not just play the same 15–20 songs every show but maybe play the same five and change the rest.

What songs are important to you?
– I have so many, it’s kind of funny. I have a lot of tattoos that are based off of songs, so many, like a dozen different ones. Like HOT WATER MUSIC, MODERN LIFE IS WAR and DESCENDENTS and REFUSED and lots of bands. There are lots of songs that mean so much to me and I think that music has become such an important part of my life that it’s so hard to not relate to songs. I just hear a song and it just grabs me and it’s like, I just feel like… you know.

When you play gigs today do you see the same kinds of people coming along that you did ten years ago?
– Yes and no. I think we do see the same people; there are definitely some hardcore super fans that have been with us a long time. It’s been really cool to see those people grow up with us and to see them change and some of them even have kids now and they bring their kids up to the shows and that sort of thing, so that’s really cool. But at the same time too, I think we’ve always tried to draw a newer younger audience, with every tour that we do.

– It’s been good to see people come up for the first time and say “oh hey I just got into you six months ago and it’s my first time seeing you” and then you’ve got them next to someone saying “this is the 15th time I’m seeing you” or “the 50th time I’m seeing you”, you know. We always have a big mix of that, and it’s always kind of cool to keep it fresh but also see the true fans grow with us.

Do you think the same people will be coming in ten years time? Will you still be around?
– I don’t know. I mean certainly if you’d have asked me ten years ago or five years ago if we’d still be around now I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. So I don’t know if we really plan things like that, we don’t really have like a five-year plan.

– We have a six month plan and then after that there is another six month plan and it just kind of keeps going and we don’t really have any plan to stop.

SILVERSTEIN are taking some well-deserved time off at home in Canada before they return out onto the road again. Australia, New Zealand and Asia are next for the group that clearly loves seeing friendly faces, old and new and all around the world.

 

Here a video of SILVERSTEIN trying beer in Prague. Billy wasn't lying when he said they like to check out their surroundings on tour.

SILVERSTEIN official website

 

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