Warped Tour Interview: Garrett Russell of Silent Planet

D: How’s the reception been to you guys on Warped Tour so far?

G: It’s been awesome. People have been checking our band out. We’re probably on the weirder side when it comes to to the Monster stage, you know? I think a lot of folks might go there and want to just push people, or want to run in circles quickly, like NASCAR, right? They might be a little surprised because I don’t know if that exactly fits the vibe of our set. Thankfully, people have taken to it who haven’t heard of it and then I think, you know, a lot of the people there have maybe heard us before or seen us before. But yeah, it’s gone pretty well.

D: Yeah, it seems like you’re winning some of those “NASCAR” kids over

G: Yeah, exactly, exactly. There’s nothing wrong with NASCAR at all. I love NASCAR. Actually, I don’t love NASCAR NASCAR. I love circle pits.

D: When we say NASCAR, we mean circle pits.

G: But it’s been cool. People have an open mind to it and stuff. That’s all you can ask for as an artist, you know? It’s been cool.

D: I just recently checked out the most recent record, Everything Was Sound. I wasn’t as familiar with your music and it’s very passionate. You can tell it means something. There’s a lot of bands that are kind of paint by numbers and they give you a certain type of music as expected, but you don’t come off that way. Does that happen organically? Or is it a conscious effort to want to write music that has some meaning and significance?

G: It’s pretty conscious for sure. I see things that matter to me, and issues and things that I feel like are surprisingly not talked a lot about. I see things that are talked a lot about outside of venues, and in therapy rooms. Things that are on people’s minds but never make it into songs. I definitely very intentionally try to write songs about that kind of stuff. We come out with an album around, probably once every two years and it’s like, the moment the album is released I feel like we’re back at it for another one. Because it’s such a process for us on a lyrical and musical level. My brain is super deep in the lyrical world right now. I think we’re going to be recording sometime next year, but it’s just kind of this constant thing. But it’s cool when it comes out because it’s like “oh wow. These are the things I was thinking about over the last two years. It wasn’t like “Oh this is what I had on my mind for the month I was in the studio.”

D: It makes sense, because if you are going to do stuff that actually has some meaning to you and hopefully other people, you kinda gotta process that.

G: You do.

D: Any type of internal work any human does can take a while. That kind of process seems like it would take a couple years. So, can you talk about the theme of the last record? Because I know it’s a conceptual album.

G: It is, yeah. It’s basically a journey through a panopticon, through a mental hospital shaped as a panopticon. Room by room, or door by door, is entering someones reality or story. So just imagine the moment you walk in you go through a portal and all of a sudden you’re in someone’s mind. SO the goal is to go through that. The beginning is me finding this building, and the end is sort of the destruction of the building.

D: That’s really cool. There’s tons of concept albums, and there’s a lot that they’re telling a certain character’s story, but to switch into the perception different characters is a different take on it. That’s very cool. Clearly you take your music and your lyrical themes very seriously, do you have any early influences that took you to that type of outlook on music? Or even current stuff that makes you get to that point where it’s like “I want to create something like that.”

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G: Yeah, I saw how Aaron Weiss from Me Without You did sourcing and quoted a lot of other people’s work. That went into my process. As I was doing the band I was working on my masters degree, which involved a lot of research, which is why you’ll see footnotes and citations in our lyrics, because I was just sort of taking what was in front of me and applying it to what I wanted to do. As far as the concept stuff, I don’t know, I’m trying to think of who did concept albums that I…cause I always heard that Coheed & Cambria had crazy concept stuff, but I honestly never cared. I never listened to it. I probably messed up, but I didn’t really. I don’t know who did concept stuff that influenced me…I do know, there’s bands that actually talked about stuff besides breakups and betrayal. I actually loved System of A Down for that. They did that in very interesting ways.

D: They absolutely did

G: My band hates it, but I still listen to System of A Down all the time.

D: You know what, out of that era of bands, they’re kind of the thinking man’s band.

G: They were. Mixed in it was a lot of drugs and stuff, but they talked a lot about the genocide of their people. The Armenian genocide. I thought that was cool they had something to say. It bums me out when I talk to people backstage at this festival, who are like interesting people, and then they get on stage and they’re completely uninteresting. I’m interested by that. It’s like, why do you stop having anything to say when you get on stage? But backstage, you have all these opinions. People say, you know “Fuck Donald Trump!” But they don’t do anything to dismantle any of the systems that create a system in which Donald Trump can thrive.

D: Some would argue that when given a stage, when given a platform, even an artistic platform, you SHOULD speak you mind if you have something to say. Now don’t get me wrong, I love some of the most simplistic stuff in the world, but, you’re right. If you’re going to be backstage saying it, it is interesting to see that shift.

G: Yeah, exactly. And it doesn’t have to be political, you could even talk about relationship dynamics in a way that’s insightful and helpful. Most people don’t, but you could. It’s possible.

D: Yeah, that interpersonal stuff is just as important as societal stuff, because it’s all related.  Shifting away from that, what other bands are you enjoying at the fest? Who’s standing out to you?

G: A band called Movements is really good. I’ve known them from their very early stages. They’re pretty young, pretty new band, but they’re from Orange County and really good live. Just the sweetest dudes. I’m trying to think of bands you haven’t been told, because obviously everyone says “Go watch Knocked Loose!” Which is a reason why there will not be a lot of people watching our set today, because we play at the same time. I wouldn’t blame people for watching Knocked Loose because they are currently the trending topic of this fest. I’ve always really liked Dance Gavin Dance a lot, and without a doubt, the most talented band on this festival is a band from Brooklyn called Candiria from the 90’s. They are probably the most under-appreciated if you look at their crowds. And you get it, cause it’s like, they’re kind of left of center for the Monster stage, which is funny, because without them, a lot of us wouldn’t exist. But a lot of people don’t know that, because they had a huge van wreck and a bunch of stuff kind of slow their career down. But, they took Lamb of God on one of their first tours, you know? They’re really essential to understanding metal and metalcore.

D: And melding genres, which a lot of bands on this tour seem to be doing.  There’s a lot of bands that aren’t just one genre as it used to be. They’re not just a metal band, they’re not just a punk band.

G: They’re incredible. Their drummer had to go a couple days ago, so their guitarist just started playing drums. It’s very musical. They’re probably the band I’m most stoked on every day. There’s a band called Mothersound from L.A. They’re a catering band, so they’ll play the Generator stage or whatever that place is called. I’m really proud of them for grinding, cause I’ve known them and they’ve been grinding for years and years and years and they just keep going, which is cool.

D: I’m going to give you an odd one, and considering you don’t like NASCAR, you might not have an answer for this one either, but who is your favorite professional wrestler?

G: do you mean fake wrestling?

D: Yes…

G: Sting. I started the band with Sting’s son.

D: Oh, really?

G: Yeah. I love whenever people are into WWF, WWE now because they got sued by the World Wildlife Federation, anyways, whenever people ask me about how the band started, technically I started it with funding from the pro wrestler Sting. Because his son Garrett Borden and I were roommates in college. I remember being like “Dude, your dad’s like, huge.” And eventually he’s like “Yeah, Steve Borden” and I could tell he thought I would know who that would be, but I didn’t know Sting’s real name. So, it turns out that his dad is Sting, who I used to play as a child on N64. He was the one who would get the baseball bats and beat the shit out of people. So, his dad was Sting, and I was like I know who your dad is, so his dad bought us amps and a PA and all this stuff. Technically I started Silent Planet in 2009, but this is like this jam band we had in 2008 in the dorms called Panopticon, which, I wrote the new album about a Panopticon. So, yeah, it’s gotta be Sting. He’s literally the only the only one I know, too. Well, Hulk Hogan. I know who Hulk Hogan is. But Sting for sure.

D: Wow. So we can thank Sting for your deep conceptual album.  Alright, well what’s next for you guys? What do you have coming up after this tour?

G: We’re doing a US tour that we haven’t announced yet. We’re doing a lot of writing, and we HAVE announced a European tour with Stick to your Guns and Being as an Ocean.  Oh yeah, you were talking about bands, I think Stick to your Guns is probably the best live band on this festival. Every day they are just so good, so tight, and just so on it, and Jesse has a lot of cool stuff to say. I really like them a lot too. But I’m very excited, because both those bands we love and both of those bands do very well in Europe so I’m very excited to do that. We’ve never really done a substantial European tour, so that’ll be fun. Besides that, planning some other stuff, trying to get back to Asia, and doing a lot of music writing. And, gonna go home and sleep for a week once we get to California, so it should be nice.

D: That’s good to hear, good luck with everything going forward.  I really appreciate you sitting down with us, thanks.

G: Thank you

 

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Interview conducted by Sean Cantor

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