Tuesday 14 May 2013

The Story So Far // Interview, Review & Slam Dunk Festival Preview

The Story So Far are back in the UK on a sell-out headline tour. Since we caught up with them last November they have released album number two,  “What You Don’t See”, to much critical acclaim and are going from strength to strength.

Their live shows have a reputation for being anarchic so Est.1987 headed down to Manchester’s NQ Live hoping we would get out without a broken limb. We also chatted to bassist Kelen Capener about being the people’s band, the album getting leaked and what's next for the Walnut Creek five-piece...

How’s the tour been going so far? You're been in Belgium playing a festival and then sold out UK dates- have they been fun?
Belgium was one of the first times we played in mainland Europe and it was personally one of my favourite festivals that we’ve ever played, just because of how kids reacted. The kids were insane and it was so loud when they were signing along; we’d never experienced a reaction like that outside of home and it was cool to experience it. And the UK is great; we’ve been here a bunch of times before and the weather has been nice this time.

What is the one song live that really gets people going?
It’s funny because it’s always different. I mean “Quicksand” is typically the one where people got the most zany. Off the new album people have been getting into “Right Here” and “Empty Space”.

Your shows have a reputation for being quite energetic- I heard stories of people getting knocked out and broken arms? Have you guys sustained injuries or just the fans?
Some kid got knocked out in Cardiff, and before some kid head-banged so hard in the front-row that he knocked himself out. We saw kids in Montreal stage-diving, dropped like six feet on their heads and got right back up. Personally, I got knocked out; I stage-dived in LA and it was sold out and there was really no way it should’ve happened, but I jumped and fell right on to this smooth floor and knocked myself out. I finished the set though, after I woke up [laughing].

The Story So Far

“What You Don’t See” got leaked before it was officially released. Obviously a bit disappointing for you guys…
Yeah, a little bit. I mean it was going to leak, records nowadays typically do leak. It was a month in advance and the record quality was so bad and that was unfortunate. But it’s out now and that’s all that matters. 

Regardless, though, the album has done incredibly well.
I mean it might have hurt the sales, but I doubt it. I feel like people got more excited to hear it. The quality was so terrible I think they would anticipate hearing the real quality.

Was the recording process different this time around?
It was different because all five of us were there this time. The first record was a little disjointed, because we were all away at school. Parts were handed around but we weren’t in the same room as each other. This time around we were up there at 8am every morning, it was a real job. We worked incredibly hard and worked together to figure it all out. It was much more of a joint effort, and we had a producer too. So when we’d write something we had someone telling us whether it made sense or not.

Is the title “What You Don’t See” referring to the behind the scenes of the band and why did you decide on that?
Essentially, yeah; for example the song “All Wrong” is about touring and being gone and departed  from things. I don’t think people necessarily understand and fail to realise that in a lot of ways we share the same life and it’s not that much different that you play in a touring band. We’re very grounded and it’s not like this [the band] makes us any different. We just want to be the people’s band and people to level with us and not to put us on a pedestal; we never expected this.

You’re also releasing a split single in June with Stick To Your Guns. How did that come about?
We’re friends with those guys and given we’re both doing the Warped Tour circuit we thought it would be a good idea to put that out there by doing something together; it joins the fans. There are already mutual fans but a lot of people don’t know about the other, so it opens up people’s listening selections a bit.

And on it there’s a Pinback cover and a new song?
Yeah, we put a new song on it “Clairvoyant” it’s an acoustic guitar and Parker [Cannon] singing. It’s a pretty simple, stripped down acoustic song we did. We wrote it in the studio that day. Often for these split singles we experiment and see what we can do in a certain time frame. A lot of times the essence of writing and jamming a song is taken away with people trying to write something specific, and so these instances where we have time to create whatever we want and just see what comes about with just sitting down and playing music. Nothing is forced and doesn’t necessarily sound like our band but the voice of our band, is the voice on it.  

And whilst you're over in the UK you're playing Slam Dunk Festival which you’ve played before; are you looking forward to it?
Yeah, last time was really fun so we’re looking forward to it. We know what to expect this time too.

You guys have had an incredible past year- what’s been the highlight?
It’s really been a strong year for us in terms of people who support our band, especially our families.  Eventually we may have to think “hey we need to do something else”, but for now in their eyes it’s something that is credible as an experience and they’re all very proud. And now we’ve been given that time to get out of school and dive into it fully. It’s been nice having everyone around.

So finally, what’s next for you guys?
We’re on the Warped Tour circuit and then taking a bit of time off and probably write, just because we can’t sit around for very long without writing something. We don’t have to push ourselves right now to put out another album, and come August we’ll have had over a hundred booked dates so we’ll take some well deserved time off, I guess.

And here’s what happened when The Story So Far took to the stage…

The Story So Far have quite a reputation for putting on an electric and rebellious live show, and this not being their first time in the UK they have gained quite a following. It’s no wonder that nearly every tour date’s a sell out and each show sure to be a non-stop barrage of energy. Tonight at Manchester’s NQ Live was certainly no different, and if you didn’t feel the energy before then you sure as hell did as soon as their set began, and it’s non-stop from start to finish.

As soon as The Story So Far takes their first steps out in front of the audience there is an immediate surge in the crowd towards the stage. The Walnut Creek five-piece open with the angsty and soaring “Roam” and by the end of the opening riff there are numerous people on shoulders and even more stage diving. The rest of the set follows suit. “What You Don’t See” the new album released this year means the set is an eclectic mix of older tracks and newer favourites. Anthemic “Four Years” is played alongside the more recent “All Wrong”, showing a more matured and honed sound in this newer material. Regardless, both old and new equally rile the audience and the entire performance is high octane. “You can’t stand on stage, you gotta dive into the crowd”, laughs lead singer Parker Cannon urging on the crowd some more. Not that they need any encouragement because as the epic chorus of “Mt. Diablo” kicks in the entire venue is in uproar.

Raw and spontaneous, you never quite know what you’re going to be in for at a The Story So Far Show. However, as they blitz through “Empty Space” and the stirring “High Regard”, it only confirms that they know how to put on a show; all pretentiousness is left at the door and it is all about living in that moment for forty-five minutes and getting involved. Unforgiving and non stop the set comes to an end all too soon. The thrashing and percussive “Quicksand” is the perfect finale and gives fans one last chance to get involved tonight; anything goes, resulting in a relentless amount of stage divers. No messing around, no encores. At a The Story So Far Show it’s common knowledge you go in hard from the beginning; no time for warming up. And with that, it’s all over and the room is left in a sweaty disarray. There was a good reason that tonight and, indeed, most of the dates are sell outs, and judging from tonight there are a lot more great shows to come. 9/10