A few weeks ago, Silverstein released their latest album ‘Short Songs‘ via Hopeless Records / UNFD. The album features 11 original songs and 11 covers each clocking in at 90 seconds or less from bands like Descendents, Gorilla Biscuits, The Promise Ring, Dead Kennedys, NOFX, Green Day and more. This week we catch up with their bass player Billy Hamilton in The Hotseat. Expand this post to take a read of his answers. Order your copy online now [Here] with free postage.
Name: Billy Hamilton
Job In Band: Bassist
Website Address: www.silversteinmusic.com
Hometown: Burlington, Ontario, Canada
Hometown is best known for: Ryan Gosling went to High School there
Best venue in your hometown: YMCA
Favourite show you’ve seen in your hometown: Grade & Jersey at The Music Center in 2002
Favourite show you’ve played in your hometown: ‘When Broken Is Easily Fixed’ CD Release show, May 31st 2003 with Alexisonfire, The Fullblast & The Turn It Ups
How did the band first come to exist? Our guitarist Josh met our original guitarist Richard in their high school jazz band. They were both playing in completely different bands but bonded over some similar tastes in music and decided to start Silverstein as a side project with a few other friends from other bands in the local scene.
How long has the band been going? 12 years
Any particular story behind the name? Our singer Shane was looking for some words to sing some melodies he was working on over top of the first batch of songs, before he had lyrics written. He picked up a children’s poetry book, ‘Where The Sidewalk Ends’ by Shel Silverstein and felt the author’s surname would make a good name for the band.
What’s your most recent release? Tell us a little about it… We’ve just released a mini-album aptly titled ‘Short Songs’, which features 22 sub-90 second songs, 11 originals and 11 cover songs, all clocking in right around 19 minutes total. After releasing and relentlessly touring our 5th full length studio album ‘Rescue’ in early 2011, we decided to take some time off at home. We had also released a 7” for the American Record Store Day which featured 3 short cover songs, in order to fit as many songs as we could on one side of a 7”. Doing these covers inspired us to not only working on more short covers, but write some original songs, restricting them to the 90 second mark.
Got a personal stand out achievement of your band to date? Being able to tour for the majority of a decade, playing close to 1500 shows in over 30 countries has been a constant growing achievement. We are always excited to get back on the road and overseas, back to familiar places and faces, or to explore and experience new countries and cultures while touring.
OFF THE STAGE
What was your first introduction to music that made you think seriously about playing it? Personally, I got into Nirvana when I was probably 8 years old. This was my first introduction to any sort of “punk”, and broke down the rockstar fantasy. Seeing that a group of seemingly regular people could be famous playing music made the idea of playing music so appealing. As I got a little older, I learned more about punk by sponging up everything that my older brother and his friends were listening to, constantly taking any opportunity I could to sneak into his room and tape his cds. I learned that there were local bands, in my town and the rest of the suburbs surrounding Toronto, putting out records and playing shows. I completely immersed myself into that scene and culture for the entirety of high school, which is how I met the guys in Silverstein and joined the band.
Any particular band / album or song that you personally credit as a major influence? I think both personally and as a band, we are greatly influenced by a band from our hometown called Grade. I saw Grade for the first time in 1998 and was blown away by their unique style of melodic hardcore, which was definitely the first band I ever heard that we pairing singing and screaming, with both distorted and clean guitar tones. Their record ‘Separate The Magnets’ will always stand as a milestone in my musical collection and history.
Your first band name, and what style did you play? I had a lot of fake bands in my childhood, but the first band that actually played a show was a Ska band called ‘Change Of Pace’. We played one show at a high school coffee house in early 1999 and broke up shortly after.
Most prized music related item you own? I have a large collection of records and some really nice musical memorabilia and equipment, but I think at the end of the day, my most prized items are the things that hold the most sentimental memories. The first thing that comes to mind is my collection of tour laminates / all access passes. I keep them in a binder designed for sports trading cards and I think I’ve managed to keep one from every tour we’ve done. Flipping through that binder always brings back many fond memories of the experiences and friendships I have had all over the world and that to me is priceless.
When you’re not doing band related stuff, what are you usually found doing? Hanging out in downtown Toronto, riding bicycles, eating vegan food, drinking coffee or fancy beer, singing karaoke and generally having a fun time.
The thing you most look forward to just before a tour is… Before I leave for tour, I most look forward to seeing my friends one last time before I go. I also look forward to getting back out on the road, playing shows, seeing old friends along the way and making new ones as we go. I look forward to going back to my favourite restaurants and bars as well as trying new food, coffee, beer and experiencing new cultures.
The thing you least look forward to before a tour is… Packing! I always over pack and have way too many clothes to try and fit into a suitcase.
ON THE STAGE
When on offer, what’s your one must have item on the rider? We usually have some staple stuff on the rider: Water, Beer, Pita & Hummus, Chips and other snacks. Lately we have been trying to challenge promoters into showing us their best locally made craft beer so that we’re not drinking the same beer every night.
Favourite place you’ve toured… and why? Australia! I am absolutely serious about this one. If it wasn’t so far from everything else, I would definitely move there. I love everything about it! The people are so friendly and beautiful, the shows are always fun, the cities are cool and the countryside and beaches are beautiful. I think that even when we tour Australia in the winter, the weather is still amazing! Paradise!
Most memorable show you’ve played? and why? That’s like picking a favourite child…and imagine having 1500 children?! Yikes!
Got a favourite song to play live? I’ve been loving playing anything off this new ‘Short Songs’ record so far, mostly because all of the songs are fast and energetic and I guess since they’re so short I never get sick or tired of them.
Any embarrassing on stage moments come to mind? Plenty! I have tripped and fallen over and split my pants open on many occasions over the years.
Any pre-show rituals? I find that most of the time I’m saying “Oh shit! It’s set time!” and then rushing into changing into my show clothes and getting my gear ready for the stage.
What do you find is the hardest aspect of touring in a band today? Being away from home, friends, family and loved ones is always the hardest part of touring, but there is definitely a bit of trade off for getting to travel and see friends all over the world. I think it all comes down to your attitude and mindset, and if you let homesickness get the best of you, then you’re going to have a bad time regardless.
Last song you listened to? I just listened to the new John K Samson (of The Weakerthans) new solo album
Last album you acquired? That John K album was the last digital record I got, but the last time I bought a physical record at a record store I think was The Kinks Greatest Hits LP that I picked up at a second hand books and record store in Toronto that I really like called ‘She Said Boom’.
Which band or album is currently on high rotation? Through the end of last year I was listening to a lot of the new records by Bon Iver, Touche Amore, and David Bazan. I’ve also been listening to American Nightmare’s Background Music a lot since I saw them play a reunion show last month in Boston.
Tell us an up and coming band or artist you think we should go and listen to right now? We just finished a couple weeks on tour with a great new band from Los Angeles called ‘letlive.’ They just put a record out on Epitaph and are an amazing band to see live.
What’s on the cards for the next few months for the band? We have a lot of touring planned, we’re right into a 51 day tour of the US & Canada at the moment which we plan to follow up with a full European mainland tour which takes us through close to 20 countries including Russia and all of Scandinavia. Heading into our summer months we look forward to coming back to Australia and parts of Asia. It plans to be a very busy and exciting year for us!
You can pick any one album for your band to cover in full, what would it be and why? I think we would have a fun time covering Propagandhi’s ‘Less Talk, More Rock’ album because it’s collectively one of our favourite albums growing up. Personally I think I would get the task of singing John K Samson’s songs, one of which eventually became a Weakerthans song. Maybe I’m just saying that because I just listened to his new record though.
You can pick any one band / artist to cover one of your albums in full, what would it be, and why? Some of our best friends from home had a band called ‘I Am Committing A Sin’ that joked about playing one of our old albums in full for a local monthly nostalgic album cover night, and I think that would have been hilarious to see.
One band you wish you were able to see live but never had the chance? Jawbreaker
One venue you have yet to play that you would love to? 924 Gilman Street in Berkeley CA
The chance comes up to fill in for a member of a band for one tour, which band would it be, and why? I think I would love to fill in for Comeback Kid, as they are good friends of mine and I love their band. I think I would have a blast playing with them.
A headline tour overseas comes up, tell us two bands you’d take along to support your band. Early last year we did a short US tour with The Chariot, and I don’t think I’ve ever had that much fun watching a support band on tour with us ever. I can’t wait until we get the chance to tour with them again. Another band I wish we could play more tours with are our friends from Toronto, Cancer Bats. They are a rad band and are some of my favourite people to hang out with.
Got any last words? Check out our new ‘Short Songs’ album, as well as our recent full length ‘Rescue’ and keep an eye out for tour dates in your town!
Order your copy online now [Here] with free postage
1 Sick As Your Secrets
2 Sin & Redemption
5 La Marseillaise
6 World On Fire
7 Sleep Around
8 My Miserable Life
9 Truth & Temptation
10 One Last Dance
11 See Ya Bill
12 Short Songs (Originally by Dead Kennedys)
13 236 E. Broadway (Originally by Gob)
14 Good Intentions (Originally by Gorilla Biscuits)
15 Destination: Blood! (Originally by Orchid)
16 Coffee Mug (Originally by Descendents)
17 xOn Our Kneesx (Originally by The Swarm)
18 Scenes From Parisian Life (Originally by The Promise Ring)
19 It’s My Job To Keep Punk Rock Elite (Originally by NOFX)
20 Quit Your Job (Originally by Chixdiggit)
21 The Ballad of Wilhelm Fink (Originally by Green Day)
22 You Gotta Stay Positive (Originally by Good Clean Fun)