Before Chino Moreno was seen skateboarding around UIC, before As I Lay Dying demonstrated what an actual taste of chaos tasted like and even before Adair hopped on the myspace.com second stage (if you want to call it that), I set down with Phil Sneed and Josh Wills from Story of the Year to see how the St. Louis guys were doing. As the guys went on to play a 30 minute set that began with Stereo, I had the opportunity to sit down in person with Josh and Phil to get a real pulse on whats going down with Story of the Year these days on the Taste of Chaos tour.
So this Friday is St. Patricks Day, what luck have you had on this tour so far?
I havent died!
Yeah, none of us have gone to the hospital or seriously injured ourselves. Except, I got hit in the face with a guitar (pointing to a scar over his left eye). Thats about it.
Give us a little taste of the chaos and tell us what crazy shit has been happening on this years tour so far. Any good stories that you can share?
We were in our hometown yesterday in St. Louis and we had a party till two something in the morning. And, Im not a beer drinker but Im still impressed by the number our party consumed over 20 something cases of beer or whatever. And, that sounds like a lot to me. So, ah
thats a bit
Thats 440 beers.
About. Maybe 480?
It was a bit rowdy and so that was fun. We had a blast. Just a bunch of friends and some of the bands and crew and everyone just wanted to hang out. It was just a really good time.
How excited were you when you found out that the Deftones were on this tour?
EXTREMELY. Extremely, extremely, extremely excited.
Yeah, we were asked about the tour and we heard the about the rumors and all that. They were here working on it. Yeah, it was a nice day when it was confirmed. Its very strange to be touring with THAT band!
Tell me this
youve headlined, played the Nintendo Fusion Tour, Warped Tour, opened for bands like Linkin Park and are now a big part of Taste of Chaos. Whats been your favorite and why?
Linkin Park, they had catering.
(laughing) Yeah, the food was great on the Linkin Park tour!
Yeah, that was just our first experience with an enormous tour. So, like, playing for that many people every night
For us, like from going from 500 to 1,000 people a night to the least we would ever play to was 8,000 people a night. So, that was kind of a dramatic jump. It was awesome. Just catering, and
the Linkin Park dudes were like so cool and down to earth and theyre not what youd think of a band thats sold thirty million records would be like. Theyre just normal dudes
The whole tour was like that. P.O.D. and Hoobastank were the exact same way. We made a lot of good friendships on that tour. That would be the favorite if we had to pick one.
The first time I saw you guys was here in Chicago when you opened for Linkin Park. I remember getting there early because of all the good shit I heard about the band. You guys got on stage and just kicked ass. I dont even think Ive missed one of your Chicago stops in the past two years. Do you think that someone who hasnt seen you guys play live is missing part of the Story of the Year experience?
Yeah, we think so. Coming from our perspective theres multiple reasons. Maybe for somebody having that view. But, we have it mainly because we like to play the songs differently sometimes. We add stuff here and there. Ryan [Phillips] will do more solo and stuff and more lead stuff and on top of the physical aspect of us enjoying what were doing on stage and trying to cover every inch of the stage its definitely a nice twist that we think deserves to be seen and heard in the way that we want to present it live and not just on the record. So, you know. Especially in headlining gigs when we dont just play a song and play a song and play a song. We mix it up to make it fun for us and everyone else.
On your myspace page, Dan notes, We felt like we were always a little heavier than [ Page Avenue] sounded. Live, we always played heavier than our record actually sounded, so we wanted to try and capture our live sound on this record. When you look at the songs off In The Wake of Determination, do you think this was captured?
I think so. We succeeded in our goals.
Yeah, long story short you always look back and you wish you would have done this little thing differently or that. But, as soon as we finished the first record we knew what we wanted to change on the second record and how we wanted to do it. So, the second record we were much more focused on how to do what we wanted to do and how to accomplish what we wanted to accomplish. And, I think we succeeded as much as we could with the time. Its not like we took a year or two to do the record. We kinda blasted through for the most part. But, um yeah, we did what we set out for on this record.
You guys come across as never taking yourself too seriously. Weather its your web site, your myspace page or even this conversation. Do you think thats one of the qualities or band traits that keeps Story of the Year grounded on success?
We certainly dont take ourselves seriously! (Smiling)
You guys just always look like youre having a good time.
Judging by what Im wearing tonight
Its smokin dude!
We definitely dont take ourselves as seriously as we take the actual music side of it. So
Yeah, we take what were doing seriously but we love what were doing
so we have fun with it.
It always comes across as being a good time.
Yeah, and at the same time, in no way is this negative in any way
playing the same songs over and over for two and a half years. Its fun to screw around constantly to make each other laugh. Ill do something to make him (pointing to Josh) laugh if hes looking like hes too focused on something and hell do the same thing. We all do that just to entertain ourselves as well. And, hopefully, that comes off as these dudes love what theyre doing. Theyre having fun up there!
With all the jumping, diving and running around on stage, I have to ask - have any of you ever gotten hurt?
Oh yeah man. I was supposed to get stitches right here (pointing to his left eyebrow) but I got super glued together instead. A guitar, my guitar hit me a few days ago.
Ryans gotten some stitches on his shin. And, Adam [Russell] tore some ligaments in his ankle. We had a roadie get hit with a bass. He had stitches above his eye.
You steering clear of the pain though Tim [Mergenthaler SOTYs tour manager]?
Ive gotten bruised but
Dans [ Marsala] had the back of his head cut open. Chipped his tooth on his own mic!
I have three scars on my face just from the same guitar hitting me for instance. Yeah, we
I just have some hand injuries.
I compressed my spine. That was lovely. But were playing a football game basically every single day so were bound to get hurt. But, were ok; were big boys.
What is the dumbest thing you have ever encountered while on stage? Any weird shit?
On stage? I have slept so little last night that I have nothing. I cant even remember the past couple nights! But, uh
Thats fair, Honestly, thats fair.
In Philadelphia, I was getting ready to start a song and I turned around and there was a life-sized camel and Josh was on top of the camel. I dont know where the camel came from.
It was in the dressing room. (Smiling)
I guess he left and went and got the camel and brought it on stage while I was doing an intro. So, that was quite surprising and strange!
And, didnt the camel stay on the stage for the rest of the show?
Yes. Ha Ha.
Why not, right?
Bassassians simply kicks ass and captures your live experience. Do you have anything else new and different coming out that fans should know about?
Well, were really happy with the new record which we did after the DVD so people that saw us live on the DVD record and are contemplating seeing us again its definitely a different show. We have more music now obviously and we switch it up constantly and we have more stuff to switch up.
We dont open with Hero. (And the Hero will drown
Thats right! Ha Ha. One of the greatest things about watching Deftones every night is that they throw a song in here or there that theyve only done maybe once on the tour. When you have a lot of songs like that its fun to be a fan of the band and you dont even necessarily know what youre gonna see. Even if you read online what the set list was in Philadelphia, you dont know what theyre playing in Detroit. So, being a band with tow records out now with more stuff to come, its fun switching it up a bit.
I want to hear the answer to this one straight from you guys, how would you define your sound?
Yeah, were just a hard rock band man.
Ive just never heard a band with so many classifications.
Most of it is dumb shit. But, when it comes to you guys, its something new every day.
Metal, screamo, nu-metal
classical. Were a performing arts band. (Smiling)
The only thing is, every one of those 19 names weve been given meant something different at one time anyway. So, no one knows even...
what the original meaning is.
Yeah, exactly. Like certain stuff
by calling us metal, are you calling us this kind of metal or this kind of metal? If youre calling us punk, is it this punk or this punk?
Subsection A, B, 1, 2, 3?
Yeah, were not punk, were not metal, and were not emo
Most classifications came out from now how they are now.
Yeah, were not 14 so all those genres have a certain meaning to us thats different from a lot of people who are calling us those things. So, we dont know what theyre calling us anymore!
Oh, youre a metal band. Ah, sweet. I dont know if thats cool or not to you.
Is it ok to be this today?
Exactly. So, were a hard rock band man. If people like us then hopefully were a good hard rock band. If people dont, then were a hard rock band people dont like. It doesnt matter. Were just a rock band and hopefully we continue to evolve and do what makes us happy and everyone else happy as well. But, bands that have tons of albums and keep on going are bands that are able to stay ahead of themselves.
Like the Deftones. Each record sounds different and theres a reason why you like each one. Theres another element that theyve developed and thrown into each record. Same for every band that has a long career. Thats our goal. Were not looking to re-invent ourselves to the point of being weird. Were certainly not looking to do the same record twice. Ever. Well see what happens next time.
Final Question. If the Cardinals disappeared, who would it be? Cubs or Sox?
Oh god, thats a null and void question.
Yeah, Id be a [ St. Louis] Blues man, brother. Sorry Chicago, love you guys. Love playing concerts here but
If I HAD to choose
If I had to Id be a White Sox fan by default. Just cuz we hate the Cubs.
Yeah, our tour manager is a Cubs fan.
Oh there we go!
But hes a sissy though.
He doesnt have to be here.
Yeah, White Sox it is.
With that, I wrapped up the interview knowing that I couldnt stand hearing my beloved Cubbies get ripped any more! The guys went on to mention in passing that the clothes they were on stage were getting donated to the Hard Rock Chicago after the show. Phil also mentioned that hes had gas all day and had to go to the bathroom for the fourth time.
A very special thank you goes out to Lauren Valencia, Ellen Gold and tour manager Timmy Mergenthaler who helped make this happen for SOTY fans everywhere. Also, thanks to Phil and Josh for taking a few minutes out of their busy schedule to sit down with UnRated Magazine. Questions? Email me at tim @ unratedmagazine.com