Both bands have released two of the best releases of 2017 with Silverstein releasing their 8th album Dead Reflection and Comeback Kid releasing Outsider.
We caught up with one of the busiest men in the industry Shane Told as he enjoyed a well-deserved break from touring Silverstein’s new album, his solo project River Oaks and his podcast Lead Singer Syndrome.
Upside: So, you’re coming back to Australia again and it seems like you’ve been to Australia basically every year since Soundwave 2011 whether it is with Silverstein or doing River Oaks, are you just looking for a citizenship at this rate?
Shane: [Laughs] I’ll take one, absolutely man! I love Australia, we all love Australia so much. It’s one of our favourite places to hang out. It’s just gorgeous. Fans of music there are so passionate. Always a good time in Australia. I don’t know if we’ve come every year… Geez, maybe you’re right! I came 2017, we all came in 2016, 2015 we came, I don’t know about 2014. Definitely, 2013 and also we came for Soundwave 2011.
Now Dead Reflection was one of my favourite albums of 2017 and people are calling it your best album, how are you feeling having toured it for most of the year?
It really is, it’s crazy because we made the record and it really was just a studio record. The way it was written and the way we played it all together, it wasn’t done in a live way at all. We never physically got in the same room and played music together, that didn’t happen once. That was the first record we have ever done like that.
We had a riff, it was recorded into a computer, it was sent around, there was never a time where all five of us played together at the same time. It never happened. The record came out great in the studio, but then it’s like we have to translate this record live, is it going to work? Not only does it work, but some of the songs pop off in a way that we never expected. I mean ‘Afterglow’ especially, we didn’t know about that song. It’s a really catchy song, it’s upbeat, but it’s not a heavy song, there is no screaming in it or whatever. Once we started playing it, wow, people went crazy for this song. It still blows my mind everytime we play it how crazy people go for this pop-punk song, essentially.
With the album, it’s weird, I can’t pick one particular stand out song which is like the single or the one which is above the rest because it’s such a solid album all the way through. For me, if I had to pick one, for some reason ‘Aquamarine‘ stuck out to me straight away. Are there any other favourites apart from ‘Afterglow‘ that stick out. I don’t know which song is the number one song off of the album, which is awesome.
Yeah, I think that’s the thing. When we put the record out we loved all the songs, we weren’t sure which songs should be the singles, or which ones people liked the most or what songs to play live. So we asked and it was across the board, everybody said a different song. So that’s a pretty good sign that you have a pretty good album on your hands when everybody is picking different songs as their favourites.
It’s funny that you bring up ‘Aquamarine’ that’s one that, I don’t know how sure we were on that one. But that’s one of the ones that we hear all the time that seems to resonate with people. For me, that’s probably the most personal song I’ve ever written about going through a pretty dark time over the past couple of years. For me personally, that’s a very meaningful song. Another song that we really enjoy is ‘Lost Positives‘, that’s a song when we wrote it initially we thought to ourselves, wow, we’re really going outside of our comfort zone. We were kind of making a song that we maybe weren’t capable of writing a few years ago. So, for us, we really enjoyed that one and I think it’s been a stand out track for a lot of people.
Another band who released a massive album in 2017 is Comeback Kid, and seeing both of you tour together is exactly what I needed. I’ve been listening to you both so much in 2017 because of the new albums. Are you a big fan of Comeback Kid and was it one of the albums you were listening to in 2017?
I’m a huge fan of Comeback Kid and I love their new album. It’s cool because we toured with them back in 2007. I was a huge fan of them back then, I think that was when Wake The Dead came out and I’ve been a fan ever since. They’re one of the best live bands, they always sound so good and we’ve become really good friends. They’re from Canada as well, from Winnipeg, but a couple of their members live in Toronto now. I see Andrew the singer around Toronto all the time and we’ve become really good friends. So it will be nice to hit the road with, not only one of my favourite bands but with friends as well.
It’s cool to see the Canadian love as you both tour together. There have been some great Canadian bands in the alternative scene, but are there any current upcoming Canadians you are listening to who readers might not know about?
That’s a good question. I’m not sure if you have heard of The Dirty Nil, they’re an awesome, kind of newer band, they’re a 3-piece power trio, it’s like punk rock mixed with classic rock, really great band, and a great frontman. I’m sure you guys all know Counterparts by now, who have been tearing it up for years. There is also a band from my hometown called Seaway, a pop-punk band, who just put out their second album Vacation it’s an awesome record too.
Now, I’m a massive fan of Lead Singer Syndrome and I actually find it quite weird interviewing you as I’m used to you being the host. I remember listening to the second episode with the Wonder Years for the first time, and I don’t know where the time has gone but you have now just hit episode 100, and that seems to be a big part of your life now. How have things changed since starting the podcast?
Yeah, [laughs] it’s funny man, you’re right, it’s funny how you say it’s weird you interviewing me because you’re used to me being the host, well now, it’s weird for me getting interviewed because it’s not me doing the interviewing. Like you said, I’m over 100 episodes now that I have done, and I’m sure that’s more interviews I’ve done interviewing people, than I have been interviewed in the past two years.
It does take up a lot of time, a lot of people don’t know that I do the podcast pretty much by myself. I book all the guests, I do all of the recordings, the editing, all the mixing, all the mastering, all the graphics myself, I write the descriptions myself, I do social media myself, so it does take up a lot of time. But at the end of the week, when I have done an episode, it’s really good, people love it and I’m giving people content from their favourite band that they’ve never heard before, from someone that they’ve listened to in five, ten different interviews, it’s really rewarding. I just really enjoy it, talking to other singers, about the crap, like I’ve done backstage for so many years. Now, it’s something that people can put their ear against the door, or be a fly on the wall, it’s really great man.
Some of the friends I’ve met, out of the 109 episodes with the one that went up today with Robb Flynn of Machine Head. I think somebody like Robb Flynn, I’ve never met him before, but now I can call him a friend. A lot of people like that have come into my life, it’s pretty cool to have that as my little side project… well one of my side projects.
I always presumed that when a podcast host who is doing this as a side project, for example, yourself, I thought they had a producer. It’s timing consuming editing it yourself, so are you just sitting on planes editing it or doing it in the van then?
I’ll give you the real information with how all this shit happened. I had this idea, Lead Singer Syndrome, I wanted it to be a Youtube channel originally where I interview other lead singers and film it on camera. I realised that it was going to be harder than I thought, because I don’t know anything about filming or editing video, and you have to physically be in the same room as the person. So someone suggested I do a podcast and I listen to some podcasts but I never knew much about them, how they work, in terms of behind the scenes.
So, I got hooked up with this company called Jabberjaw Media, they took me under their wing and Nick, who’s not with the company anymore, he was my producer originally and showed me the ropes. After the first couple of episodes with him helping me and me figuring my own editing and stuff. He said, okay we’ll get you an editor, we’ll get you a graphics guy, we’ll get you this and that, so all you have to do is the interview. After a couple of other ones were edited and a couple of graphics were done, I realised I’m a perfectionist and I’m fucking crazy and I wasn’t happy with the job other people were doing. Since then I’ve done it all myself.
For me, I want to do the editing, the graphics, write my own questions and have my own conversations. For me, that makes the show mine. It’s my name behind it and I don’t want to just spend an hour a week interviewing people and then whatever is out there is what it is. I don’t want to do it that way. I take the time, I spend the time and at the end of the day I can say this is mine, I did this and I made this.
What’s been the highlight of the podcast for you? My recent favourite is with Matt Heafy from Trivium, his practice routine is insane, he sounds like a fucking Olympian in his training methods.
Yeah, it’s insane, that’s what is cool about what I do I think. I always say I’ll interview anybody as long as they’re a singer, from any style of music, any age, from wherever, whatever. It’s amazing that there are so many similarities with what people do, doing the same job from different walks of life. But it’s also funny sometimes how different they are. For me, I barely warm up, I don’t do any sort of training at all before I go on tour, and I get through my tours just fine. Whereas I talk to someone like Matt from Trivium and he’s like crazy, it’s insane, it blew my mind how much training that guy does.
But what I love about podcasts, and my podcast, in general, is the long form of it. How many times does Matt Heafy talk about that at length in another interview? Maybe never. Because we have time we can talk about not only their new record and their old record and his upbringing, but we can talk about something like his daily routine for his singing, guitar playing, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu that he does. It’s wild man.
There are a few other people like you, like Jamey Jasta, who as lead singers you can go in depth and talk to all these other lead singers without being intrusive. You will ask a question which is about the business, whereas if I ask it, it may seem intrusive. It seems you can get away with asking more in-depth questions, do you agree?
Absolutely, if you listen to my show, you’ll hear people say all the time ‘you know how it is’ or ‘you’ve been there, you’ve done that’ and that’s how a lot of the time people answer questions because they’ll know that I know. They know they can’t bullshit to me, or they don’t have to dumb down their answers for me.
It’s funny because I’m just one person. Like, yes they’re talking to me and answering my questions, but they’re speaking to me one on one. So for them, I’m the only person listening. They don’t always think about the fact that there are going to be thousands and thousands of people listening. Whether it’s me interviewing them, or you interviewing them, all these people are going to hear it. But I get a different answer because of my background, so that makes my show unique. That’s one of the best parts of it I think.
Who still is on your wishlist to interview for the podcast, apart from Caleb from Beartooth you’ve done everybody about once. In three years it might be time to start doing repeats?
To me repeats are cool, I had Aaron from Underoath on again, I had Garrett from Silent Planet on again and those were both people that made sense. I talked to Aaron before Underoath reformed and I talked to them after they reformed and Garrett was the same thing, I talked to them before the album came out and then after the album cycle. I think that that stuff is great, I’m all for doing interviews with a repeat guest.
Obviously, with the wishlist, there are people like Hetfield, Morrissey, and McCartney. Other than that, it’s just talking to some of my favourite bands. I’ve had Fat Mike from NOFX, I’ve had Dennis from 88 Fingers Louie, two of my favourite bands of all time. Chris Hannah of Propaghandi and Greg Graffin from Bad Religion, two of my favourite bands, would be great to have them. I do love interviewing people from all different walks of life. I just really want to explore more about what it’s like to be a lead singer, in all different facets, that’s the goal of the show. That’s what I’m trying to do.
Silverstein tour Australia with Comeback Kid in May 2018.
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You can listen to Lead Singer Syndrome on all podcast platforms, or online here – Lead Singer Syndrome