If you’ve spent even a little bit of time in the punk/pop-punk/emo scene in the past decade or so, you’ve undoubtably come across the band Silverstein.The veteran post-hardcore Canadians have become a staple in a scene where they’ve thrived, and they show no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Silverstein has since announced their upcoming European tour, and singer Shane Told was kind enough to take a few minutes and talk to us about the state of the music scene, his connection with his fans, and the Save Our Scene campaign.
A Voice For The Innocent: How do you feel about publicly siding with a cause, or at the very least providing a cause with a platform to speak on? Do you have a history of it?
Shane Told: Of course. I mean if I believe in something I am not shy about my thoughts and my position. I’ve been involved a lot with certain animal rights and human rights groups over the years, so I’m very comfortable with that.
AVFTI: How do you think your fans responded to you supporting nonprofits?
ST: I think people understand that while I am a musician and my job is to entertain, I also have my own thoughts and beliefs and it’s important for me to express myself. Music is all about expression, typically on a more emotional level, but intellectually expressing and spreading information about issues that I care about is also very important. People get that.
AVFTI: Have you ever had fans confide in you with their personal struggles? If so, why do you think they confide in you? How did you feel about it?
ST: Of course. When I write a song and I put it out it isn’t just mine anymore. It belongs to everyone who takes something from it. And there is a bond that forms between myself and the fan and there becomes a connection. We can understand each other on a different level. So when people tell me that I have helped them with a certain issue it also helps me. It helps me want to continue to create and provide them with their music. Music that makes them think and feel better and believe in themselves.
AVFTI: Speaking of personal struggles, there seems to be a lot of turmoil in the music scene today, in that there are a lot of people speaking up about sex crimes and violence. Do you think that there is a problem in the industry? Why or why not?
ST: I think people speaking up is amazing. I don’t know if it’s it gotten worse, if there is more of an issue in our scene with sexual assault and violence, or if it’s actually the same and more people are just speaking up about it. I hope that that is what it is. People showing support for the victims and the victims feeling like they can come forward and they are not going to be somehow blamed and ridiculed or shamed. But of course it is a problem regardless. Music venues and shows and everything should be a safe place and a place where this doesn’t happen, where this can’t happen. I think more can be done from an organizer standpoint, vetting bands and artists and their crew, and also providing security and other ways that women feeling in danger have somewhere to go or someone to tell.
AVFTI: You’ve got a good amount of influence – how would you choose to steer the conversation revolving around sex crimes and violence in the industry?
ST: I think more and more people in the industry need to be vocal about it. I think the general consensus needs to be so obvious that there will be no question that a victim coming forward will be supported. And then of course having the conversation grow in general I think will result in making the music environment safer.
AVFTI: Speaking of your influence, there are a lot of young artists on tour who will be adjusting to life on the road coupled with fame and an instant connection to people through social media. Any advice for them?
ST: I don’t think there’s an excuse. People know right from wrong. Just because someone is viewed as a person in some position of power does not give them the right to use that to take advantage of someone. I think the only advice would be to make sure people realize that they are looked up to and recognize when they may be in danger of somehow overstepping that. But again, I don’t think young artists are stupid. I think they will learn how to navigate that properly but it starts with recognizing what’s appropriate.
AVFTI: People in this position of fame are often looked up to as role models and their words and actions are heavily scrutinized. Is that fair?
ST: It depends. Sometimes famous people have things they say taken out of context and sometimes their actions are exaggerated or not even true. But sometimes they say or do things they shouldn’t and there needs to be accountability in those instances. I am constantly surprised by the things people are scrutinized for and also not scrutinized for. But of course I have my own opinions and my own beliefs and so does everyone else. So I can’t really say for sure since every case is different.
AVFTI: Do you have any other thoughts on the changing industry or the state of the scene now?
ST: I think the amount of conversations going on right about this is really really positive. It is helping change the climate, raising awareness and I think it will actually help prevent these awful things from happening in the first place. And more victims speaking up is a super positive thing as well.
And if you’re a podcast junky, check out Shane Told’s podcast Lead Singer Syndrome, and hear interviews with the singers of all of your favorite bands.