Silverstein chooses rock over academics

So you’re a university student, concentrating on your assignments, exams and the daily stresses of university life. Have you ever wondered what you would do if a record label called you up one day and wanted to sign you to their label?

Would you leave school for the glamorous rock star life, or stick with the books and maybe miss your shot at making it?

The boys of Burlington, Ontario’s Silverstein have been faced with this dilemma, and decided that living the musical dream was too great an opportunity to be missed.

The band was recently signed to the internationally renowned punk and hardcore label Victory Records, and they are enjoying every minute of their new found success.

Silverstein formed in 2000 as a side project for its five founding members, who, at the time, were focusing their attention on various other projects.

Then things started to change. “People started really focusing on what we were doing with this band and seemed to care a lot more about it,” recalls Silverstein’s drummer, Paul Koehler. “The other bands were more about good times with our friends. Whereas with this band, we had kids all over the place that were really into it and really serious about what we are doing.”

The name Silverstien may ring some nostalgic bells in heads of those who grew up reading Where the Sidewalk Ends. The band took its name from legendary poet and author Shel Silverstein, whom they credit for a great deal of inspiration. Koehler remembers Silverstein’s naming process vividly: “We thought he was a big influence, and it was something unique, so when we needed a name, we decided that his last name worked perfectly.”

However, Shel Silverstien served as more than just a moniker for the members of Silverstien. “When we started the band, we had some of the works of Shel Silverstein scattered in our practice area. When we started practicing, [Silverstien vocalist] Shane used to pick up the books and start singing out of them to make up vocal melodies.”

Being a Canadian band on an American label can often cause some anxiety about being lost in the big business world of the American music industry. Silverstein however, have taken their new found American success in stride. “Because we have a U.S. label the U.S. has almost become our homeland as far as our music base goes,” explains Koehler.

Even though they have a new home away from home, Silverstein hasn’t turned completely away from their Canadian fan base.

“Since we’re from Canada and we all grew up in this music scene, we can really become a part of this too. We can take it a step further than if we were a band from the States and didn’t know anything about Canada or have any experience up here.”

Silverstein’s members come from a background that most of us will find very familiar. Before Victory Records picked up the band, they were all students. Koehler admits that had they not been so lucky with the label, they’d probably still be hitting the books. “If I wasn’t doing this, I’d probably be in second year engineering at McMaster University. Shane would be finishing up a Science degree at the University of Guelph. We’d be doing real life stuff: going to school, working some jobs, and trying to make it.”

Silverstein will be performing October 18 with Rise Against at the Rainbow.

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