The Story We Don’t See
By Paul Rogers
As they return with a sophomore album and a likely packed show at Pomona’s Glass House on March 16, maturing pop-punkers The Story So Far (TSSF) are still putting music before message—and sound all the better for it.
The energy this Bay Area quintet saves by shunning trend-chasing imagery and lyrical preaching is instead palpably poured into its music. New album What You Don’t See, released on March 26 through Pure Noise Records, seems set to further TSSF’s rep for super-melodic, deftly arranged and addictively propulsive songcraft.
“I hope people are surprised by some songs—in a good way surprised,” says guitarist Will Levy. “I don’t think that any one song can sum-up the whole record . . . There’s a total swing of emotion on this record, just like the last one.”
That said, “Right Here,” a taster-track released in advance of the album, promises great things. It’s rougher around the edges that most of TSSF’s first album, 2011’s critically-embraced Under Soil and Dirt, with a restless post-hardcore angst and sense of structural adventure.
“That was one of the earliest songs that we wrote for this record,” Levy explains. “So it’s pretty much a good gap-filler from the last record to the new record.”
Formed in 2007 in Walnut Creek, California, The Story So Far (not to be confused with the defunct Chicago punk band of the same name) is completed by frontman Parker Cannon, guitarist Kevin Geyer, bassist Kelen Capener and drummer Ryan Torf. Following its While You Were Sleeping EP in 2010 and a split 5-tracker with Maker in 2010, and an acoustic split with Morgan Foster the following year, TSSF made a stunning qualitative leap with Under Soil and Dirt (which Sputnikmusic declared “A phenomenal, refreshingly consistent debut” in its 4.5/5 review).
“We work really hard on our songwriting; we work really hard on our performance; we’re kinda critical of ourselves,” says Levy. “I think we have a bar set for ourselves and we try and reach that bar every time we play.”
Though pop-punk from the get-go (“We all met at [pop-punk] shows and from wearing band T-shirts at high school,” Levy recalls) and sonically kin to acts like Man Overboard and Transit, TSSF incorporate some perhaps surprising influences into a refreshingly open-minded sound.
“We love hip-hop and reggae,” says Levy. “Parker . . .listens to a lot of rap and it kind of shows and bleeds through with his style of singing—he’s very fast-paced and he throws a lot of words into a verse or into a chorus.”
Citing sonic stimuli spanning everything from mellow indie rock like Pedro the Lion to super-heavy metal like Black Breath, The Story So Far shouldn’t be confused with the often two-dimensional, 4-chord-trick pop-punk that became a cartoon of itself in the 1990s. TSSF’s arrangements, vocals and sheer ambition go well beyond that, and these were honed anew by What You Don’t See producer (and New Found Glory guitarist) Steve Klein.
“He kind of taught us new ways of thinking with song structure and patterns and how we play our instruments. He really opened up a whole new world for us,” says Levy. “As we worked together, everyone just got it . . . We pieced together this album really quickly. Once we started, we couldn’t stop, and I think [Klein] helped a lot with that.”
Yet for its entire studio prowess, it is onstage that TSSF really comes to life and makes maximum sense. From the beginning, a frenetic, inclusive live show has been a priority for the band.
“We wanted to have this feeling of lots of energy going on and lots of noise—and fast,” Levy enthuses. “You just have to kind of feel it—it’s like a blood-rush.
“We wanted to play crazy shows – we were always going to these wild shows, so we wanted to have that reaction . . . We wanted kids to stage-dive and to lose their minds.”
And the Story So Far has only fond memories of playing The Glass House, where all of its prior performances have been sell-outs.
“There’s always kids there; always a packed house,” says Levy. “And it seems to always be a really good time.”
The Story So Far at The Glass House 200 W. 2nd St., Pomona, (909) 865-3802; www.theglasshouse.us. Sat, Mar. 16, 6pm. $15. All ages.