Silent Planet: “There were times we wondered if we should keep doing this… Now, we’re having new life breathed into us”

A horrific 2022 van crash could have, quite literally, spelled the end for Silent Planet. But with the band now recovered and armed with ambitious, sci-fi-driven new album SUPERBLOOM, vocalist Garrett Russell reveals how a spiritual and musical awakening inspired their most daring music yet.

Silent Planet: “There were times we wondered if we should keep doing this… Now, we’re having new life breathed into us”
Jake Richardson
Aaron Marsh

Greeting Kerrang! with a beaming smile as he joins our call from a California beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Garrett Russell looks the picture of serenity. A contemplative deep-thinker, he’s clearly at ease with his surroundings, seemingly channelling the peace of his immediate environment throughout the course of a conversation which regularly veers into the realm of spirituality. It’s a pleasure to see him in such good spirits, because even though the Silent Planet frontman is speaking on the eve of the release of fifth album SUPERBLOOM, it’s not exactly been plain sailing for he and his bandmates in recent times.

In November of last year, Silent Planet were involved in a terrible road accident. Travelling through a snowstorm in Wyoming, their van flipped, flinging the members from their vehicle in scenes that sound reminiscent of a harrowing disaster movie. Garrett was hospitalised with a fractured back, an injury which he thankfully recovered from, but it was nonetheless a trauma which means his body will “never feel as healthy as it did before”.

Silent Planet bear the physical scars of their brush with death, but it’s the emotional ones, and the accompanying spiritual awakening Garrett felt in the immediate aftermath of the crash, that have altered their course most profoundly. Silent Planet aren’t the band they were before that bleak day in November 2022.

“My perception of reality was altered heavily,” Garrett says of the accident’s impact on his outlook. “I felt like I started to experience moments in time like portals, and I became convinced that our linear perception of time is not real. Going through that lived experience and seeing things differently… it gave me a new sense of wonder.”

A man with a keen interest in both psychology and the paranormal, this new worldview encouraged Garrett to dive even deeper into those academic pursuits. He spent time pondering subjects including the significance of UFOs and extra-terrestrial activity, Einstein’s theory of time and the mysticism surrounding his childhood home in northern California, where legends like Bigfoot and various fringe cults and religious groups reside.

In the midst of all this, Silent Planet – the band completed by guitarist Mitchell Stark, bassist Nick Pocock and drummer Alex Camarena – were partway through making an album, with the fallout from the accident prompting them to significantly change course, adopting a more outlandish, experimental and fearless approach.

“Nothing was off the table,” Garrett recalls. “I could see someone critiquing the record saying that, sonically, it’s all over the place, and I’m fine with that, because the nature of the topics we cover made us do that and really brought us out of our element. It felt true to the story that we were trying to tell to allow ourselves to take these different sounds and put them all together on an album. It might feel too far this way or that for some, but we felt a strong desire to pursue that course.”

Garrett’s not wrong when he says SUPERBLOOM is an eclectic affair. Silent Planet’s most adventurous body of work yet, it remains rooted in the metalcore scene from which they emerged, but the rich soundscapes they conjure take the sonics to many extremes, covering post-rock, synthwave and industrial stylings which reflect the science fiction concept around which the record is centred.

Very much a concept album, SUPERBLOOM tells the story of a teenager who happens upon an extra-terrestrial encounter and goes missing. Linking the narrative to the spiritual awakening he felt following Silent Planet’s tumultuous recent experiences, Garrett considers the band’s ambitious new storytelling to be an example of how art dictates reality, and vice-versa.

“It’s a story about someone undergoing a transformation,” Garrett explains. “I found myself writing about our transformation as people and a band, and what it means to go from one state to another. On SUPERBLOOM, we do that via this story of someone encountering an alien biologic, and how it enters their system and changes them. I don’t even see it as a fictional story, really, because over the course of writing this album, the possibility of extra or ultra-terrestrial beings has become an increasingly common conversation in the world.”

It’s complex stuff, and yet despite all the talk of aliens and other dimensions, the story of SUPERBLOOM and Silent Planet is deeply human. It’s about trauma, lived experiences and how they change us and open our eyes to new possibilities. It’s about taking the good from the bad and turning something horrific into something beautiful. It’s something that, ultimately, we can all relate to, in one way or another.

For Silent Planet, the hope now is that the worldwide fan community they’ve built continues to relate to their latest incarnation. For 14 years they’ve steadily progressed into what is now one of contemporary metal’s most respected names, and in the wake of all they’ve been through, Garrett and his bandmates are more thankful than ever for their followers’ enduring support. It’s one he says has its foundations in the most powerful emotion of all: love.

“For over a decade now, we’ve had this really cool community that I call ‘lovers’,” Garrett concludes. “It’s based on the notion that if you want to understand a person, you have to understand what they love. We’re relational beings – people thrive in the right relationships and suffer in the wrong ones – and I’m really grateful that our band has become well known enough to create this diverse group of listeners who have this shared love of our band.

“In the last couple of years, with everything that’s happened, there were times when we wondered if we should keep doing this, but the community around Silent Planet kept me going and renewed my passion for writing songs. Now, I feel like we’re constantly having new life breathed into us.”

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