Interview: Silent Planet Talk New Album ‘SUPERBLOOM’

Silent Planet have just released their extraordinary new album ‘SUPERBLOOM’ via Solid State Records. Their fifth full-length in a decade-long journey into the most crushing and cathartic corners of modern metalcore, it finds them at their most intriguing and intense.

Photo Credit: Aaron Marsh

The band take influence from the unknown throughout the record. Looking up to the skies and realising just how little we know about what is staring back at us, the result is a collection of songs that bristle with science fiction wonderment and savage storytelling. Jumping from razor-sharp riffs and pummelling breakdowns to curious synths and alien atmospheres, it is an album that feels as otherworldly as it is all-consuming. Crafted during a time when everything could have easily changed for the band following a road accident in November of last year, it is testament to the quartet that they have faced off against potential disaster and come out the other side with something so potent and powerful.

To find out more about the paths they have travelled down to create such a stratospheric statement, we had a chat with the band about every step of this monumental journey.

ROCK SOUND: How does it feel to be at this point in your journey and be able to produce a record that looks, feels, and, most importantly, sounds like this?

GARRETT RUSSELL: “The gift of doing this music for about a decade now means that this record comes with something special. We have been able to sync up our ability to make music that feels accurate to where we are right now. We have made enough albums where we would put ourselves into it but also do the thing that we thought that we were supposed to do. With this album, and this is in large part thanks to Daniel Braunstein, we were able to capture a specific moment. It comes from spending a lot of time together as a band and having countless conversations about what we want to be. Our hope is that Silent Planet isn’t a static sound but an evolving sound. This particular record allowed us to dial into that. I don’t think that would have happened without the amount of time that we have had together.”

RS: What would you say were the most fruitful of the conversations you had? What were the initial thoughts you shared with each other about what this album could and should be?

GARRETT: “The pandemic was definitely part of it. Mitch, Alex and I started living together, which shows with the initial direction surge. That’s in terms of making the album more sci-fi alongside the trying of new things.”

MITCH STARK: “Yeah, chiefly, when we started writing for this one, we were all feeling different levels and different shades of frustration at how things shut down. It was a horrible thing to live through, and being stuck at home and unable to travel, tour and maintain our livelihoods was the main catalyst. Being cooped up, restless and aggravated meant that I resonated with heavier and more aggressive things coming out at that time. I felt it would be interesting to push the band in that direction as well. The first things we wrote were ‘:signal:’ and ‘Arunnaki’, with the more synthy and sci-fi-based stuff coming later on. At first, it was centred around that feeling of, ‘Man, being at home sucks and I hate this’. I wanted to tour, and I wanted to make stuff that represented what we were feeling. COVID really sucked the life out of us for a minute.”

RS: It shows because the effects of it are still reverberating even after all this time, not just in the art being made but in our actions and reactions to things. However, what comes from those hard days is the pursuit of making art that makes you feel completely opposite to that. Is that where the otherworldliness and focus on the bigger and broader picture of the world we live in really start to take hold?

GARRETT: “There is that desire for something grand and bigger than ourselves. It’s funny that the most major UFO release happened at the start of the pandemic when the US Navy released the Tic Tac footage. Then, even more recently, there have been more congressional public hearings, alongside other countries, speaking about extra-terrestrials and the chance of alien life. It makes you wonder if it’s because this world is burning that we are looking for salvation outside of ourselves. Or could it be that these things outside of ourselves are returning because of the state of things? Either way, it is an interesting thought.”

RS: Is there a comfort in that, or does it serve as a terrifying inspiration? The idea of there being something more than we know right now and not being able to explain it fully?

GARRETT: “I find comfort in it. If you think about the universe and how it is constantly expanding, we are less than a speck of sand on the entire beach in the grand scope of things. I do find that really beautiful. I know that some people find it horrifying when they consider how microscopic we are. I think about the meaning and the depth of what we feel, and to think how small we still are it truly shatters our paradigm. I feel as though that is a lot of what this album is trying to point to. We need to keep our sense of wonder and possibility open because no matter how far we have come, we still have only just started to scratch the surface of what the greater sense of reality could be.”

RS: It’s been around a year since the road accident which the band was involved in whilst out on tour, right in the middle of the creation of this record. What was it like to recover from the trauma of what you went through and then return to trying to continue writing?

MITCH: “To be honest, the amount of time we spent reeling from what had happened was maybe two or three hours. Knowing that nobody was seriously wounded and everything was okay. Then, it was right back to business, for better or worse. We were traumatised and everything, but we were in a position where we couldn’t really just stop. It took a little time for us to get back to thinking about the album because we had just started the tour. We were in the middle of a pretty long grind. So getting home from that, I definitely remember getting in my bed and thinking, ‘Holy shit’. Like, that was one of the craziest things that has ever happened to me, maybe all of us. But coming back home and being safe definitely put even more of a fire under me to push the album creatively as far as we could. We have toured for ten years without incident. Having that happen wakes you to the possibility that these things can happen to you. Having that sense of human fragility presented to you, that life or death, there’s no way that it will not force you to look at everything you’re doing and think, ‘I need to give this 120%’. This could be the last one. We could all walk out of our front doors and slip and fall, and that’s it. But when you do this for a living, you are always at risk of something happening. I think we all maybe woke up a bit after that. We put ourselves into the music but did what was expected of us like Garrett said earlier. This time around, we knew we needed to do fully what we wanted. Leave all of ourselves within this, because you never know if it is going to be your last statement.”

RS: If this was to be the last statement that Silent Planet was to make, how would you sum it up? How does it feel for you as a band if this was your last statement?

MITCH: “It’s that sense of wonder in the unknown. Not thinking that we have everything figured out, but everybody wants to believe they are correct. When you compare that to the rest of our albums, they have a theme or a story being told of different people and different ailments. This record is using a completely fabricated story to do something similar. The end result, though, with the final song, ‘SUPERBLOOM’, to me feels like what we have been saying for four albums now. Trade your certainty for awe. I think that is what our band has been about. We have had catchphrases, but that does summarise everything. Don’t assume that you’re right about everything. Don’t assume that you’re wrong about everything. There is so much that we don’t understand or know, even within our own world. If only everybody walked around less positive that they were always in the right about everything and held this paradigm of openness to other possibilities.”

GARRETT: “That’s it. It’s a common theme throughout us. If anything, this album represents it better. It’s us stepping into a new phase of what it means and represents. It’s our mantra.”

RS: There’s a joy in the awe of what could be, and sometimes that is more powerful and important than the things we can see in front of our eyes. Throughout the Silent Planet story, you have left everything out there when talking about injustice, tolerance and understanding within so many issues. Sometimes, that has led to dark places. However, with this, there is no conclusion to what you are expressing. There is only light and the possibility within the light. Is that something you could feel when you realised just how far you had pushed with these songs?

GARRETT: “The more I learn about astronomy and the fabric of our universe being so largely unknown, the more I realise the scope and scale draw us back to the idea of ‘What if?’. This record, lyrically and musically, centres around the ‘What if?’ and we feel like we were able to simultaneously get weird as well as take steps towards making music that is accessible to a different audience. Maybe even a wider audience, I don’t know. In opening up and still evolving, we have tried to show how important it is to us not to make the same record twice.”

RS: There’s a misguided opinion within heavy music that becoming more accessible is a sin. However, in reality, all you are doing is making something that more people can find themselves within. Silent Planet is about people finding the songs that speak to them, and the more people that can do that, the better this whole adventure becomes…

MITCH: “I feel like this is the first album that we have done that has a gateway song in ‘Antimatter’. We have never experienced something where people have been coming out of the woodwork. I think people in the heavy world minimise and look down on a band when they start to do something that may feel a little bit more mainstream, even including something like synths. Yet people can smell when that pursuit is phoney when people are doing something because they want to get rich and buy a Tesla. For us, it just matters to be that we actually like this and we like writing like this. A big part of what makes this fun and rewarding is approaching each record as, ‘How can we stretch Silent Planet to its limit?’ If nothing else, ‘SUPERBLOOM’ has been a cool experiment, and the reaction means that the next thing we do can be more out there and different. I’m very excited about that, and I’m already stoked to make it.”

RS: To still be finding ways to test each other as well as yourselves is a testament to the ambition within the band. To be making something that the versions of you from a decade ago would never have imagined you could make. What is it that you feel has allowed you to delve into those spaces?

MITCH: “One of the biggest things has been how rewarding it has been to watch other bands push the envelope over the last five years. To see what they have been doing and how people have been receptive to it has helped massive amounts. A decade ago, my perception of a metalcore listener would have been that they were close-minded. No breakdowns are happening, so they don’t care. Maybe back then, that was true! So, it has been inspiring to watch that change because bands are paving the way and taking heavy music forward. I want nothing more than to be seen as one of the bands who are trying to do that. We look around and see our peers reinventing what it means to be a heavy band, and we owe a lot of it to them. Also, to the fans for growing and becoming more open to things within the genre.”

RS: The ‘SUPERBLOOM’ is a particular thing, a blossoming of wildflowers all at once at a specific time within the Californian desert. Where within the creative process did the association between what you were making and what this phenomenon represents?

GARRETT: “I was writing the song ‘SUPERBLOOM’ before we knew we would be calling the album it as well. I knew what it was being from California, but I still googled it to check if it was one word or two. Right when I did that, I saw that there was an article posted just an hour prior by the Los Angeles Times saying that the Superbloom had officially begun. It was really weird that it was happening around us, and it had been subconsciously bouncing around. The album eventually being called it made sense for two reasons. The first is it is the final track. The second is the idea of ‘SUPERBLOOM’ having hidden and extra meanings within the background story of this record’s concept. It is the experience of someone going from one state, which is human, to becoming some other kind of organism entirely. That story is something that we are going to have a lot of fun with over this release, slowly revealing more to people.”

RS: So, within that story, do you personally view that transformation you are describing as something positive? Or is there trepidation in what you are going to be depicting?

GARRETT:  “I really feel as though it is within that wonder and terror of the unknown, and it depends on who you are and what your level of ego attachment is. It will vary from person to person within this experience and within realising that they know less and less as they watch themselves change into something else. That is something we can do kicking and screaming, or it is something we can do as a means of relinquishing control. That’s one of the main themes of the record, but also what we had to learn as a band. There is so much to learn about being patient and being around each other, both in and out of the band. It’s like any relationship or marriage, where there is a loving compromise to be made. We learn to put the needs of all in front of our own, and hopefully, that comes through.”

‘SUPERBLOOM’ is out now.

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