I’ve been inspired by a wide variety of artists—and it’s that same inspiration that has led us into this interesting pocket of the music world which is both somewhat underground but simultaneously appealing to those outside of it. CCM Magazine has kindly asked us to submit five records that have been instrumental in the building of our latest release Everything Was Sound (buy), and I, Garrett Russell, am answering this interview as I’m finding rare power to charge my phone at Vans Warped Tour—so here we go!
1. mewithoutYou, Catch For Us the Foxes (buy)
This album is the only instance where music may have been essential in saving my life. I was depressed, aimless, and unable to walk without crutches. I was riding a bus and surrounded by strangers somewhere in L.A. Then I heard Aaron (singer) yell “If God is Love then Love is real…” Something about those lyrics and his delivery gave me faith again and inspired me to be creative. Silent Planet was started shortly after. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to express faith, awe, love, death, and other themes in a real light that doesn’t have an easy answer but makes people examine their own lives and have a genuinely introspective emotional experience.
2. Brand New, The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me (buy)
The dark tone of this album mixed with hopeful melodies communicates the kind of despair and regret that often comes with honest music. I know many wouldn’t label this a “Christian” record, which I would probably say is essential to be “Christian” in the sense of which I’ve experienced Jesus.
3. Oceana, Birtheater (buy)
Oceana managed to write a record from the perspective of a fetus being aborted in a way that was both believable and emotional. Themes of existential annihilation, mother/father longing, and terror are the sorts of things many metal/hardcore bands talk about, but few bands can actually SHOW you through music and lyrics. Predictably, this album wasn’t well received when it debuted because it went over the heads of their target audience, but it’s lasted through the years now, and I believe it will always be important to our genre.
4. Death Cab for Cutie, Transatlanticism (buy)
I’ve probably listened to this record 1000+ times. This was the first good album I ever listened to (wasn’t cheesy pop or radio drivel) and it blew my mind. Every song is so authentic, and I would say was the perfect place in Death Cab’s career where they knew something was happening, but they weren’t yet celebrities – just dudes following the music. This record showed me what it looks like to tell a story with ample memorable emotional reflection. I will forever appreciate this album.
5. Underoath, Define the Great Line (buy)
Following a massive breakout success, Underoath went into Glow In The Dark studio to write a record that was raw, weird, A-B structured—genuinely a massive risk that must’ve terrified their label and management. What came out of that, however, was one of the truly great records of the metalcore/screamo era of 2000-2010 and something that made my band believe that one can write seriously good music inside a music scene rife with cliche and formula. Furthermore, through the development of our band, we’ve become friends with some of those guys—including a collaboration with Spencer (singer) on our new record. Their guidance and encouragement have been huge for us as we attempt to grow the Silent Planet sound and story into one that will work in the lives of others, hopefully, after we are gone.