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Emo-rock’s subject matter is a well-tilled furrow: Gangs of earnest black-shirted young lads mope ad nauseum over how the girl got away and no one understands them and yakity smakity boo.
But let’s cut Silverstein a little slack; After all, it takes a certain skill for a hardcore screamo band to get the kids rockin’ to songs inspired by history and literature. The Burlington, Ont.-based five-piece, named after children’s author Shel Silverstein, blends metal with Plutarch and Shakespeare, regaling crowds about Julius Caesar’s ghostly apparition after Brutus and his gang of Optimates stabbed him to death on the floor of the Roman Senate, or opining on a pair of star cross’d lovers and the fearful passage of their death mark’d love.
The classics are a creative Gold mine for the band, says drummer Paul Koehler, adding ennui would creep in all too quickly if the rockers stuck to the genre’s usual sulky fare.
“We like to challenge ourselves,” he said. “We all love literature and poetry because there’s such a cultural relevance to them. It really diversifies our sound and shakes things up. We would get bored really fast if we didn’t do otherwise.”
There are highs and lows in both songs and life for the first-time headliners of a cross-Canada tour — that includes illScarlett, Devil Wears Prada and Protest The Hero — and is reflected on newest release, Arrivals And Departures. Their past history includes a couple of lineup changes, forays with Simple Plan and Rise Against, a spot on the 2006 Vans Warped Tour and the death of a touring partner, Bayside’s John “Beatz” Holohan in 2005; A few of the many reasons why the 2006 Juno-nominees for best new band admit long stints on the road can wear them out.
“I think in part the record reflects our hardest moments. We’ve been through a lot on the road,” Koehler said, noting the album’s title was inspired by how tough touring can be. “It’s the soundtrack of getting over it. You could say the dynamics in our music correlate with the dynamics in our lives.”
The sidewalk doesn’t end for Silverstein anytime soon. The band embarks on a U.S. tour after their Canadian sojourn. In the meantime, they’ll continue to put their noses to the grindstone, and pen to paper for another album during downtime.
“Touring makes writing difficult,” Koehler says. “You just accept it, appreciate the moment you’re in and make the best possible use of your time.”