In the 2004 music video for “Smashed Into Pieces,” Shane Told of Silverstein first introduced himself to the music world headbanging into a microphone sporting a red dress shirt, a white tie and short hair with a twist in the front. 14 years later on the Mutant White Lightening Stage at Vans Warped Tour, Mr. Told still has a bit of that twist in the front of his hair and can still headbang like nobody’s business. But now he’s wearing a Propagandhi t-shirt, the sides of his hair are shaved to emphasize the slickness of the top and he’s sporting some solid facial hair. He and Warped Tour have seen change surround and inhabit them, but that doesn’t mean they slack off for their audiences.
Silverstein’s energetic set at Warped Tour’s stop at Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, NY, turned out to be their final set on the legendary “punk rock summer camp.” After the set, Mr. Told chatted about the nine times he and the band have been on tour and what’s changed as Warped prepares to say goodbye to its cross-country endeavors.
TYF: Have you noticed if there’s been a big change in the audience or the set-up or anything specific about Warped Tour?
Shane: The biggest change is the music and the way that the music has evolved. The first Warped Tour I went to was in 1997 and it was pretty much all punk bands with a few hip-hop artists. There was definitely not a lot of metal bands and metalcore and that stuff that seems to dominate now. In fact, there’s two stages dedicated to heavy music now and that wasn’t a part of Warped Tour at all. So that’s been a big change, but I always marvel at how little it’s changed. Like we walk into a venue like this one in New York and it’s amazing how little it’s changed: the set-up’s the same, the door on the production office is the same it was in 2004, all the people that have been working on the tour, people setting it up, people running the merch, people who’ve been running the catering. They’ve been the same people that we’ve known for 15 years. Warped Tour really is a family behind the scenes and it’s been pretty cool because we feel like we’ve been brought into the family as well and that’s part of why this being our last Warped Tour show ever today is bittersweet.
TYF: Everyone is billing this as the last cross-country Warped Tour. Does it feel like that for you guys?
Shane: Oh yeah, absolutely. Not just us but all the bands, the production and the fans coming out too, everybody feels it because they’ve been doing this for 24 years and like I said, I’ve been going since ’97. How many years is that? 21 years, 22 technically. I’ve been either a fan just going to the show or playing it, 22 times. It really is just weird because everyday is the last for someone. If you’re in Detroit, like we were last week, there’s people who’ve been going to the tour for 24 years and now that’s it for them. Sure there’s more people coming around, but that’s their last day at Warped, just like today was my last day at Warped.
TYF: How do you approach going into something that has been a part of your life for so many years and this is the last thing ever?
Shane: How it shook out was, we did the whole thing last year. Typically bands don’t do back-to-back years but they asked us, “Hey you guys wanna do Warped this year?” We’re like, “Well we did it last year so, no. We’ll do it next year when it’s the 25th anniversary.” And they said, “It’s gonna be the last one,” and we’re like, “Oh s**t, ok!. We’ll do like one show.” And they said, “How about half of it?” “Errr, how about four?” They’re like, “How about eight,” and we’re like “All right, we’ll do eight shows.” So I think we knew that we wanted to be a part of the last one. I think some of the bands that either their schedule couldn’t do it or they chose not to do it this year, seeing how well it’s been and how exciting it’s been for everybody I think a lot of them are probably sitting at home upset kicking themselves. We’re happy that we’re here, probably wish we did more than eight shows in hindsight but at the same time it’s gotta end somehow and somewhere. What better place than right here in New York.
TYF: You guys are incredible onstage, you have so much energy and get the crowd so amped up. How do you keep hold of that energy onstage as you go further down the setlist?
Shane: Man, you’re getting me all choked up right now. I mean, I’m the frontman so I’m the one that has to go out and have to say the things. For me, I’m trying to rev them up and be all hard and f**king hardcore up there but at the same, I’m feeling the emotion myself. And it really wasn’t until I walked out on the stage that I was like, “Oh s**t, this is it.” I know our drummer was pretty choked up afterwards and our very close friend Kate Truscott, who works in production and has become very close to us, she was very upset too. I think I just had to thank the people that I had to thank and I had to convey that this means something to us. It’s meant a lot to us for 15 years because there will never be another tour like this. We’re talking about the way that Warped is, with everyone on the same level and everyone playing half-hour sets for seven weeks with all of these diverse bands all together, it just doesn’t happen. You can do festivals with 100 bands, that happens. But you don’t do it for seven weeks, you don’t have that comradery like you have on this tour. It’s the most special tour in the world.
TYF: How do you think Warped Tour has helped you and the band grow specifically?
Shane: It’s been instrumental. I think it’s honestly just with the awareness of our band and what we’re doing and who we are and everything, because you have to get your music out there somehow. When you can go out on a tour like this where literally you don’t know when you’re gonna play and neither do the kids, they come out and someone’s gonna walk past the stage and your band is gonna be playing and they’ll go, “I don’t know, maybe I’ve heard of Silverstein or maybe I haven’t,” but they check out the show and they like it, they tell their friends, they come see us at our concerts, they buy our records and t-shirts or whatever. That stuff really is important in keeping your band relevant and I think that’s what we’ve done almost every other year since 2004 and I think that’s kept us here. I was having a conversation with a couple of guys from Real Friends about Warped Tour and we were like, “Name a band in our scene that’s just like, ‘Nah, we don’t want to do Warped Tour’ that’s actually been successful.” I can’t think of any! So that’s the kinda thing where Warped Tour really does bring new fans to bands, whatever kind of music you’re making. That’s the biggest thing for us.
TYF: What do you guys got on the docket after you guys go home?
Shane: We’re doing a 15 year anniversary tour for our first album [When Broken Is Easily Fixed], which we’re very excited about. We’re playing our first album in its entirety, followed by a greatest hits set, so two sets. We will be in New York City and all over the east coast and we’re very pleased to announce that it’ll be Hawthorne Heights that will be supporting us, which is pretty cool because our first headline tour we ever did when that was our only album, they supported us. Another great band from that era called As Cities Burn will be on the tour as well and a newer band, Capstan, will also be on. So it’s a really great lineup and it’ll be fun, we’ve spent a year working on Dead Reflection and our new music, and it’s been great because it’s a record that our fans new and old have really latched onto and it’s done really well for us. But now it’ll be cool that, since the record’s been out for a year, to focus back on our legacy and our nostalgia. I think that as you get older as a band, you need to embrace that. So we have and we’ve enjoyed it so we’re gonna keep doing that. Along the way once we’ve done this throwback tour to our first record and celebrate that and celebrate our past, then we’ll be back in the mood to write another record, which will be LP number 9. We keep doing a lot of different things and it keeps it fun for us.
TYF: When you look out from the stage, you see young kids but also parents with their kids. Is it strange to see the varying waves of ages and types of people at Warped Tour shows?
Shane: It’s always been like that. A lot of festivals are like that, it’s the kind of thing where it’s an outdoor event and I don’t know if it’s exactly for the family but people bring their kids. Whether your 15 or 20 or 25 or 30 or 35 or 40 or 50, I think there’s something here for you. I think there’s something to enjoy as a music fan. It’s a great event. I mean where else can you buy the a $40 ticket before service charges for 100 bands in a full day of music? I think it’s a pretty good deal and that’s part of why Warped Tour has been going on for so long.
TYF: What would you say was the peak of your set today?
Shane: I think the very end, just because of the weight of it this time. It’s not always the end, but today we chose to close with the song “My Heroine” because it’s been an iconic song, it’s a song we started playing on the Warped Tour because, originally when the record came out we weren’t playing the song and people were like, “What the hell?” Then we started playing it on Warped Tour and that’s what a lot of people heard from us for the first time, so I think that song and the weight it held and the weight of the situation made it very emotional. I went into the crowd and the fans held me up and singing that last chorus I was like, “Wow, that’s the last time.”