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Garrett Russell On What Inspired Silent Planet’s New Album: “It Was Actually The Election Of Trump”

Jack Rogers
Jack Rogers 5 November 2018 at 14.56

"The problem with Donald Trump is that he may say a lot of dumb stuff and lie everyday, but he also makes the conversation about him. Negatively or positively, he makes it all about him and nothing else." - Silent Planet's Garrett Russell.

With their brand new album 'Where The End Began' available everywhere now, we had a chat with Silent Planet frontman Garrett Russell covering everything from Donald Trump inspiring the direction of the album through to theology and its place in the scene.

HOW DID YOU ARRIVE AT THE POINT WHERE YOU KNEW WHAT ‘WHERE THE END BEGAN’ WAS ACTUALLY GOING TO BE ABOUT?

Says Garrett: "It was actually the election of Donald Trump. I always just write about things that I see in the world. Though when I saw him get elected, I knew that I didn’t want our album to be explicitly about him. The problem with Donald Trump is that he may say a lot of dumb stuff and lie everyday, but he also makes the conversation about him. Negatively or positively, he makes it all about him and nothing else. I also think that the problem with Donald Trump is bigger than Donald Trump.

"People moan about Trump but they never say anything about the fact their best friend voted for him. It’s down to the deeper issues in American and Western society. Humanity is kind of at a crossroads. It’s at this crisis point where our technological advancement is meeting our desire for equality but we are still the same greedy humans that we were in the 1920’s. We may not act like it but I don’t think the core of humanity has changed very much.

"So I really wanted to write an album about apocalypse and about where we are all heading. When I started delving into the idea of apocalypse, the things that are threatening us aren’t just global phenomenon. Apocalypse in Greek means paradigm shift. Apocalypse is when you encounter something that changes you and everybody around you forever. It’s like a comet hitting your mind. I started to understand apocalypse as personal and public. This album tries to link the threads between end of the world scenarios that we have always been so afraid of and these deeply personal versions. I don’t think they are any different. When one person dies, to them the world dies."

HOW DID THE FINAL ALBUM COMPARE TO THE WAY YOU PICTURED IT WHEN YOU STARTED THE PROCESS, OR HAS IT TAKEN ON A DIFFERENT SHAPE TO WHAT YOU EXPECTED?
"I think the first thing that stands out to me now is that I can’t call anything that we make our own. That’s a hard thing to come to, but part of the deal of art is that if you’re going to make something that is going to impact people then you also have to let it go at some point. Though it was your thought process, it leaves your hand at some point and you get to see other people’s understanding of it. We wrote a song called ‘Share The Body’ about the opioid crisis in America and if I was to write that song again after it being out and talking to people about it, it would be completely different.

"My understanding has shifted so much because it’s so interesting to see how this song means something completely different to someone else. I feel like a different person to the person I was when I wrote it. The thing about music and art is that it can become its own organism. I should have known that from our previous albums but something about this one has really showed me that now. I was actually in a pretty deep state of depression when I wrote this record and that was a new thing to me. I’ve never really dealt with that so well when writing music. So going through my own paradigm shift while trying to figure out what is going on in my head and now being in a state outside of that depression state and talking to people who maybe are depressed, it’s really fascinating. I don’t know if things are thing in themselves or if they are things in what we perceive them to be. I’m watching people interact with these ‘things’ and they are almost autonomous from their creator. That’s kind of humbling and cool but also terrifying. We like to call things our own."

I GUESS IT COMES DOWN TO MUSIC BEING AN ETERNAL THING. IT MUST BE WEIRD REALISING THAT THE THINGS YOU HAVE CREATED COULD BE HELPING PEOPLE EVEN YEARS AFTER YOU HAVE PUT THEM TO BED.
"CS Lewis, the author of Silent Planet, talked about this bias that he sees in humanity. This idea that as we technologically advance we are somehow superior humans to the ones that came before us. You could ask me a question about how far away we are from the sun and 100 years ago you either had to be really good at trivia or understands astrophysics to answer that. Now I can just Google it. So we believe that our proximity of knowledge makes us superior and I don’t think that is strictly true. I think the same thing happens with music and personal growth. We believe that we are becoming more superior in ourselves instead of understanding not as a ladder but as a circle. Anytime people talk about music I try not to see it as old or in the past. It may be distant but it is still me. We are all the same humans but all in different conditions."

HOW HAS IT BEEN FOR YOU TRANSFERING THESE THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS YOU HAVE INTO THE WIDER SCENE AND THE BANDS YOU TOUR WITH?
"The answer to that, no matter how cringe, is Jesus. Our band have no interest in being perceived as Christian and even on a business level no one wants Christian bands anymore. I think that’s great. Historically Christian music was taking pop songs and sanitising them for an audience who has never heard the word fuck. For me, my understanding is that Christ stood in the gap and believed that obedience to the father often will feel like a futile mission. For Silent Planet, I’ve always taken some peace in that it is a futile mission.

"What I mean is that we will never be so popular that we can do this forever in our scene. I know that people think it’s lame that we talk about things like heroin addiction because I know they would prefer us to be just pure aggression. They don’t want the footnotes or to hear about anything else, they just want the riff. We are all quite aware that in 30 years people will forget all this and I take some joy in that. I really do believe that is the path that I’m supposed to be walking. We get purpose from knowing that this is what we believe we need to be doing in this moment and nothing can take away the fact of being able to touch at least one person’s life.

"I believe that everybody needs to be faithful to their calling. I think that utilitarianism can very quickly turn into fascism. I believe that in a way that I can’t exactly explain, impacting one person’s life is better than impacting a thousand. That is why I believe in connecting with people after our shows one on one. Looking someone in the eye and identifying that you exist and they exist and there is something sacred just about human connection. Something beautiful happens. I love that this music scene is personable and passionate like that. I don’t believe that this band is ever supposed to be too big and too popular for that to happen. That’s why we are doing this."

WHAT DO YOU FEEL HAS CHANGED FOR YOU AND YOUR FEELINGS TOWARDS SILENT PLANET BETWEEN THE BEGINNING OF THE BAND AND NOW?
"For me, probably the main thing has been loosening my grip on what this is and simply having more faith. I think that my faith has grown and the path of spiritual maturity where you’re still moving in a circle but somehow my understanding widening as I move through that circle, that path has shown me that I am in control of so much less than I would like to pretend that I am in control of. Everything in society teaches you to be a control freak and to be so obsessed with yours and mine. In a lot of ways this is becoming less about my ego. The ego and the self needs to recede so we can experience something more much complete and something much more profound. Hell is being with yourself by yourself. People live like Hell. Hell is a reality state. There is nothing unexpected and nothing beautiful or surprising coming when you lock the door and let yourself be with yourself. So I really hope that my ego is receding more and more as we work through this process."

Check out the new Silent Planet album 'When The End Began' below:

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