Silent Planet’s upcoming third album, When The End Began, has some high-minded concepts — apocalypse, eternal return and the crisis of the modern world, according to frontman Garrett Russell. But on the track “Visible Unseen,” whose video is premiering exclusively below, any abstraction associated with those ideas is channeled into a much more concrete meaning.
“‘Visible Unseen’ is about the epidemic of homeless LGBTQ youth — a statistically observable phenomenon where disproportionate numbers of LGBT youth are homeless in America,” Russell, who holds degrees in philosophy, English and clinical psychology, tells Billboard. “The song was inspired by heartbreaking conversations I’ve had at shows, hearing the pain of kids who have been abandoned by families and shunned by communities, simply because they don’t fit a traditional paradigm of sexuality. I call these youths the ‘Visible Unseen’ because this is a phenomenon that is happening around us, but often goes overlooked.
“So this is an anthem for them, and a challenge for us, to recognize an often-isolated, needing group of young people in our society.” The video ends by hailing the work of The Trevor Project, True Colors Fund, RAINN and more in combating LGBTQ homelessness.
Recorded in New Jersey with producer Will Putney, When the End Began — out Nov. 2 — finds the California quartet still in ferocious mode but stretching beyond its metalcore roots, exploring different dynamics and textures including more straight-up, mainstream-leaning rock on the track “In Absence.”
“We’re doing our best to be a band that seeks to take chances and do some unique stuff within the confines of a genre that in the past hasn’t been very open to taking risks,” Russell explains. “You’d think when you’re doing a bunch of loud music and screaming and stuff that there’s no real rules, but, surprise, there’s a lot of rules artists and listeners seem to impose on the genre. That just made it clear to us that the only constant for us would be change. We chose early on that we’re not going to hold on to the formula that works for success, especially when there’s already a crowd of people at the top who are doing the same thing.
“If you’re going to try to get to where anyone can possibly give a shit about your band, you’re gonna have to take a chance or two and show them why they should listen to our band when they can listen to 20 others out there.”
Russell faced another significant challenge before Silent Planet began working on When the End Began. He underwent ear surgery two weeks before the sessions began, forcing him to drive coast to coast rather than fly and possibly do damage to his hearing.
“I was pretty much unable to hear out of one ear, and it was definitely causing me some problems, especially with live music,” Russell explains. “I wouldn’t say my career was in jeopardy, but my ability to enjoy music was, and it was not easy to make music, so it was something that had to be repaired.”
Silent Planet has just launched a tour to get When the End Began off to a good start, with North American dates into late November and a European run starting Nov. 23 in Belgium. “Now that we have three albums out we can really make a set list and pick certain parts from the albums that we really believe in,” Russell says. “We’re really growing here and getting really excited to get stuff out knowing it’s going to be fun to play live. Every time we do a tour and people come out to support us, it’s such a relief ’cause sometimes you have a fear you’ll go out and no one will come and that’s the death knell. So far we’ve been able to really just continue to build, and I think this tour will be a good chance to see that we can really be in the big leagues with headlining bands.”