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 what’s going down with Story of the Year these days on the Taste of Chaos tour.
So this Friday is St. Patrick’s Day, what luck have you had on this tour so far?
I haven’t 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). That’s about it.
Give us a little taste of the chaos and tell us what crazy shit has been happening on this year’s 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, I’m not a beer drinker but I’m 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…that’s a bit…
That’s 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. It’s very strange to be touring with THAT band!
Tell me this…you’ve headlined, played the Nintendo Fusion Tour, Warped Tour, opened for bands like Linkin Park and are now a big part of Taste of Chaos. What’s 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 they’re not what you’d think of a band that’s sold thirty million records would be like. They’re 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 don’t even think I’ve missed one of your Chicago stops in the past two years. Do you think that someone who hasn’t seen you guys play live is missing part of the Story of the Year experience?
Yeah, we think so. Coming from our perspective there’s 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 we’re 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 don’t 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. It’s 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 it’s your web site, your myspace page or even this conversation. Do you think that’s one of the qualities or band “traits” that keeps Story of the Year grounded on success?
We certainly don’t take ourselves seriously! (Smiling)
You guys just always look like you’re having a good time.
Judging by what I’m wearing tonight…It’s smokin’ dude!
We definitely don’t take ourselves as seriously as we take the actual music side of it. So…
Yeah, we take what we’re doing seriously but we love what we’re 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. It’s fun to screw around constantly to make each other laugh. I’ll do something to make him (pointing to Josh) laugh if he’s looking like he’s too focused on something and he’ll do the same thing. We all do that just to entertain ourselves as well. And, hopefully, that comes off as “these dudes love what they’re doing. They’re 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.
Ryan’s 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 – SOTY’s tour manager]?
Ummm…I’ve gotten bruised but…
Dan’s [ 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 we’re playing a football game basically every single day so we’re bound to get hurt. But, we’re ok; we’re 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 can’t even remember the past couple nights! But, uh…
That’s fair, Honestly, that’s 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 don’t 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, didn’t 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, we’re 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 – it’s 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 don’t open with “Hero.” (And the Hero will drown…)
That’s right! Ha Ha. One of the greatest things about watching Deftones every night is that they throw a song in here or there that they’ve 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 don’t even necessarily know what you’re gonna see. Even if you read online what the set list was in Philadelphia, you don’t know what they’re 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, we’re just a hard rock band man.
I’ve just never heard a band with so many classifications.
Most of it is dumb shit. But, when it comes to you guys, it’s something new every day.
Metal, screamo, nu-metal…
Hardcore…classical. We’re a performing arts band. (Smiling)
The only thing is, every one of those 19 names we’ve 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 you’re calling us punk, is it this punk or this punk?
Subsection A, B, 1, 2, 3?
Yeah, we’re not punk, we’re not metal, and we’re not emo…
Most classifications came out from now how they are now.
Yeah, we’re not 14 so all those genres have a certain meaning to us that’s different from a lot of people who are calling us those things. So, we don’t know what they’re calling us anymore!
Oh, you’re a metal band. Ah, sweet. I don’t know if that’s cool or not to you.
Is it ok to be this today?
Exactly. So, we’re a hard rock band man. If people like us then hopefully we’re a good hard rock band. If people don’t, then we’re a hard rock band people don’t like. It doesn’t matter. We’re 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 there’s a reason why you like each one. There’s another element that they’ve developed and thrown into each record. Same for every band that has a long career. That’s our goal. We’re not looking to re-invent ourselves to the point of being weird. We’re certainly not looking to do the same record twice. Ever. We’ll see what happens next time.
Final Question. If the Cardinals disappeared, who would it be? Cubs or Sox?
Oh god, that’s a null and void question.
Yeah, I’d be a [ St. Louis] Blues man, brother. Sorry Chicago, love you guys. Love playing concerts here but…
I can’t…If I HAD to choose…
If I had to I’d 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 he’s a sissy though.
He doesn’t have to be here.
Yeah, White Sox it is.
With that, I wrapped up the interview knowing that I couldn’t 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 he’s 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
Intervew by Tim Hargesheimer