Writing a concept album can not be easy, but with their first attempt Silent Line definitely make it out to be. Vocalist and guitarist Mike Burton had a small conversation with us about writing, recording, touring and "Time II" all for you to read. Sit back, relax and check out what he had to say.
Hello from Ontario, how are you?
Hi! I'm great, thanks for the interview!
Typically this is a question I save but in your album “Shattered Shores” I can hear so many different bands, so tell us, who are your influences?
The main influences on our sound would have to be bands like In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, Wintersun, Amon Amarth, and At the Gates to name just a few. Basically, really catchy and awesome Scandinavian/Finnish metal!
So this is your first time tackling a concept album and as a stereotypical Canadian it involves snow and frost and just all around cold. Tell us a bit about the story and the chapters the songs take you through.
The story is told from the point of view of a person who is stuck on an island with no idea of how they got there or if they will ever leave. The island is tormented by the elements for years beyond count via winter, fire, frost, and ice as the person slowly forgets all that once was and becomes accustomed to this new life of wandering the snowy wastes. It's not all terribly depressing, there are several songs about hope – Summersong and Shattered Shores II: A New Beginning. The idea is that no matter how bad things may seem, giving up and surrendering to hopelessness should never be an option. The album is meant to go up and down, but end on a note of hope. Reading the lyrics while listening is highly recommended!
So this is your second album, correct? What made you decide to try going for a concept album?
This is actually our third album, but it could be considered our first professional album. In the past, all the tracking, mixing, and mastering was done by me in Valhalla Studios, but for this one I only handled the tracking and mixing. The mastering was left to Jens Bogren of Fascination Street Studios who has worked with a lot of the bands we look up to. The artwork was also outsourced to a professional, Colin Marks of Rain Song Design who has likewise worked with our favourite bands. The idea of doing concept album has always been something I've wanted to do, and the rest of the guys in the band thought it would be awesome too. I've always been a fan of Coheed and Cambria, and the cohesion that a concept album possesses. It's more than a collection of songs written at around the same time. To me, concept albums are incredibly interesting and appealing in that they are like a window to another world told through stories, each story being a song. If it makes sense, it seems more involving and immersive, and I hope anyone listening to Shattered Shores feels at least some of that passion.
In my opinion it’s written incredibly well, do you plan to go for another attempt at it with your third album?
Thanks for that, we spent a lot of time on the album! We'll see how it goes at the end of the album cycle, it was really fun to do and I would be more than willing to do it again, although I can't speak for the other guys!
Do you think in the future you’ll ever take an attempt at a Wintersun or Rhapsody style of concept album? Write multiple albums that follow a single story?
That sounds like it might be something for the future, although I wouldn't dare to say we could do it as well as they can! We've done one already, maybe the next one will continue the story...
On the note of Wintersun, do you think we will ever hear “Time II”?
A world without Time II is a world I don't want to live in. It was supposed to be out years ago, and if it turns into another Time I debacle I, along with many others, will be a very sad panda. I hope the record label issues between the Nuclear Blast and the band are resolved, their music is too good not to hear. They've played a few of the songs off of Time II live, and I have to say it only makes the wait harder.
What was recording like? How much of the story came together while recording?
Most of the story came together after we had the music laid out. It's easier to see the full picture once the instruments are all there. The basic idea was there at the beginning and it was easy to expand upon it once we had an idea of the musical direction of the album. The process of recording was just as brutal as ever, probably even harder than ever. No matter how good you think you are, the microscope of recording doesn't care and doesn't sugarcoat anything: every mistake no matter how small is out there in the open for all to see. It takes a lot of work, a lot of takes, and a lot of beers.
You’re currently planning a CD release show from what I understand, is a full Canadian tour to follow? Would love to see you over in Toronto!
Hell yes, we would love to make our way over there! The CD release show is still in the works, we want it to kick ass and if that takes a bit longer to organize, that's OK. We're definitely checking out some tour dates as well, nothing solid yet though.
How are you deciding what to put in the set? Will you pick songs that make sense in a concept or just songs that would work well live?
For the CD release show, we are playing the album front to back in the order it appears on the CD. Randy did a wondering job organizing the songs, I think, and we want to bring that same energy to the live show. For any show where we have a shorter set time, we'll probably organize the songs into the different tunings they are played in to make guitar changes take less time and maximize the efficiency of our on-stage time. We'll probably pick what we think the most popular songs are for the best audience involvement.
Last but not least, do you have any announcements you can make or hint at for your fans?
Yes! We have a very important announcement coming up in just a week or two involving the addition of a member... That's all we can say for now. For that and for show announcements, keep an eye on our Facebook page!
Thank you very much for your time, amazing job on the new album “Shattered Shores” and hopefully you can make it out to Toronto sometime in the near future! Good luck with your CD
Thanks a lot for the kind words and the interview, it means a lot!
Find the stream of Silent Line's "Shattered Shores" on their soundcloud
Buy the album on BandCamp