The Story So Far: Pop-punk is a zombie
From putting off University to making an album on next to nothing to sharing a stage with their childhood inspirations, West Coast quintet The Story So Far are moving from strength to international strength. I sat down with bassist Kelen Capener to talk all things pop-punk.
How has the UK tour been?
The tour was successful. We headlined it, the shows went well and there was great turnout. It’s cool to get that amount of people going to your show in another country. Sometimes you play and you don’t realise that, but when you do, it really enhances the feeling of who you’re playing to and how far your band has come.
Is there a real difference with the UK fans?
I think it’s a different appreciation here [in the UK]. They appreciate the music much more, you know, what it represents. They have clubs here – rock clubs – that they don’t in the US. Kids just go to these clubs and the genres aren’t so limited to any other particular setting. In the US, you can’t find a rock club. Plus, people in the UK can go to festivals just to hear the music and they don’t have to be in to your band particularly, but they’ll go anyway just to see the show. I think it’s a lot harder to convince people in the US to like your music and to check your band out, but people in the UK are a lot more inclined to because they appreciate the music.
A lot of American bands find it easier to tour in the UK, just because it’s so much smaller. Is this the case for The Story So Far?
Yeah, people will go to shows purely because it’s a social thing, even if they haven’t heard of your band. But in the US, it’s hard to get someone to pay over $10 to go see a show because they won’t know who the band is and they won’t want to waste their money.
The Story So Far have become the poster boys for the California pop-punk scene, are there a lot of bands on the West Coast that could be the next TSSF?
To be honest, I don’t really listen to pop-punk! I think it’s a good period of time for our style of music. It’s had resurgence, but before that it died down for a little bit, but it’s coming back! There’s a lot of opportunity for bands now, it’s a completely different marked now, compared to when the scene first emerged.
So pop-punk is becoming ‘cool’ again, almost?
Back then it was mainstream, you would see it on MTV and things like that. Now, it’s different, it’s got a fighting chance and it’s crawling its way back up. It started out with a pretty selective crowd but now it’s opening up to more and more people. It’s definitely getting there.
New Found Glory promotes this idea of “pop-punk’s not dead”. Did it ever die?
I think pop-punk is a zombie. It hushed down for a bit but then it got brought back to life in an almost undead fashion. It didn’t die for us, either. New Found Glory are a band that came before us and they’re one of the reasons why we play music, it wasn’t really for anything else. We loved that music when we were kids, and then we were fortunate to have our band find some success in that genre. The music we grew up on we couldn’t find it any other relevant band, so we wrote the music that was absent in this re-emerging pop-punk scene.
So some of you were at university when the band exploded, how did that affect the momentum of the band?
It so happened that when we were recording the album, a few of us had gone to school [university], Parker [Cannon] was at Santa Barbara, I was at college too, Ryan [Torf] was planning to go Santa Barbara too with Parker, but we recorded the album and did a tour that first summer and it showed us how things were going for our band. At first, we didn’t think the band was going to obstruct any plans to finishing our degree, but things started to pick up for us and it was a real opportunity for us. At that point, Ryan and I were committed for another year – so we couldn’t get out – so we had fill-ins on the tours. But now Ryan and I have taken leave from college, so we can make the most of this amazing opportunity that we’ve been given. It was a matter of timing.
Was there ever a turning point where the band became the priority?
Yeah, this was the dream! When I was a kid, this is what I wanted to do. But, you rule it out in your mind that it may become true, because that’s what dreams are, right? It’s a goal that’s better imagining than pursuing, in some cases. I didn’t dream about becoming an economist, but I was just in university because that’s what I should do, if the band didn’t work out. I was playing my cards the way I thought best. The band worked out, so I’ve postponed my education because this is my dream, and that takes precedence over school. I wanted to play music to people, so there was no question. Ryan felt the same way; we’ve been doing it for five years so it would be stupid not to live it out.
Given the new technologies that are available now, how important is a label backing?
I don’t think it is that important, it can do a lot for you in the way of publicity, but nowadays we have the internet as our biggest resource, and it’s relatively cheap to record and produce an album, you don’t need that big of a label. With our album, we had a total budget of $5000, so that includes recording and publicising it. That was dirt cheap for an album, we recorded it, our friend put it out and he booked us shows – we have a lot of security and trust within our network. I don’t think we could get that out of a major label.
It’s definitely dying down.
Yeah, it’s becoming irrelevant. I don’t think there’s a huge need for it anymore.
Was the reaction to Under Soil and Dirt expected, or did it surprise you completely?
It blind-sided us completely. We loved playing music, and we only wrote it for ourselves. So when people take on our band and love that album is amazing. We only hear positive feedback, we never expected that. Like I said, it’s pretty aweing to see and experience all that we have in regards to our band.
Is joining New Found Glory on tour daunting?
I didn’t experience that whilst we were performing, I try to treat each show the same. I hadn’t seen them perform since I was kid, so it was a bit emotional to realise where we were and we named our band after the last track on Sticks and Stones, and we’re on the Sticks and Stones tour right now, so I get to see them perform the album – which was what inspired us to play when we were young. When you’re a kid, you never think ‘I’ll be on tour with this band’, but 10 years down the road it’s happening. It’s hard to wrap your mind around but it’s very humbling. It’s a gift.
We head back to the studio, where we’re working on our second full length album. We then go on tour with New Found Glory until December, then we have a little break before we head out to Australia. It’s a busy year!Tagged in: New Found Glory, punk rock, The Story So Far
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