Crash Doubt chat to The Story so Far
Keeping that raw power and brutal metaphor but accessing that little bit of catchiness seems the way to go for a successful band, and these guys have it all in bucket loads. Crash Doubt’s Josh Locke caught up with Kelen Capener of The Story So Far at their show at The Old Blue Last in London’s trendy ass east end to talk about touring, the music industry, old and new influences as well as losing all of your music files (grrr).
• Tonight’s headline slot is sold out, since you first UK tour with Man Overboard this is your 4th time here in the UK, how have the crowds changed for you since then?
KC: I missed the first time cause I was still in school, things just picked up too fast for me to change my life for the band but we came back and we played the Slam Dunk circuit which was awesome, then we came back again and did a bit of headlining and then played some shows with NFG. Playing the shows with NFG was awesome, but it was different for us cause we were opening and not headlining, but this is our first time headlining in the UK. We just played Groezrock and Monsterbash last weekend, I just watched the video back and both were incredible! It was insane, that was one of the most amazing things for us to be there the crowd was insane. We walked off stage and it was just emotional. The reaction that we get all the way over in the Netherlands is so awesome; I have so much love for those people.
• That’s always great such a long way from home! You have a split coming up with Stick To Your Guns on June 18th, why in your opinion are splits important and why did you choose Morgan Foster, Maker and Stick To Your Guns?
KC: Morgan Foster is just our friend from home; we just wanted to some kinda wound down acoustic, so we figured since he writes that kinds thing it would be perfect. Approaching the Maker split those guys are from the east coast and they’re also friends of ours so we decided that it would be great to merge our bands from one coast to the other. The same with Stick to your Guns we were both on Warped Tour, we’re all good friends, we wanted to do a sort of experimental split this time y’know? That’s the good fun of splits too, you can kinda do something outside of your character and its good to do a weird song that you wouldn’t usually put on an album. That’s essentially what we did, we like Stick to your Guns they’re really great and we feel like we share some fans.
• It always good for fans to find bands that they may not have heard of otherwise. But how have your listening habits and influences changed since ‘While you were Sleeping’ (2010)?
KC: A LOT! I think at that time I lost my entire music collection, I’ve been kinda scrounging for music for quite a while and its shaken it a lot now that we’ve been touring so much lately. I always feel like its good to shake it up and listen to new bands and find albums I enjoy. I personally don’t listen to a lot of pop punk, I think since the time we started this band my tastes have matured a lot and I’ve kind of resorted back to a lot of the music that my father use to show me when I was a kid, a lot of the classic bands like Sabbath, they’re probably one of my favourites, Zeppelin, AC/DC bands like that.
• Can you name some records from a different genre to your own that you feel have affected the way you write or listen to music?
KC: Probably albums from around 1979, when I was jamming music when I was younger you just saw artists with only a bass guitar and a drummer, which I thought was cool since I was bassist so I put distortion on my guitar and it sounded like a band, like Geezer Butler. Albums like Foo Fighters ‘There’s Nothing Left To Lose’, Fall of Troy’s ‘Doppelganger’, I really liked that album when I was younger its just a spastic, crazy album they’re really revolutionary guitarists. I don’t listen to them a lot anymore but I really respect Thomas Erak as a musician.
• And now they’re back touring again! I can see that as ‘Under Soil and Dirt’ had a much sunnier sound than ‘What You Don’t See’, which seems heavier and darker. Has increasing popularity and constant touring changed the way you write music?
KC: I think that you just have a lot more time to think when you’re on tour. You sit in the van for probably on average around 16 hours a day, it’s a long time so when we get in the studio we’re more detached from things, you kinda rediscover things that you’re not so much a part of anymore. It might darken the mood a bit but I think that a lot of songs that I would pick off the album that are in a different kind of spectrum. Some are pop-ier and more up beat that kids’ll jump to live.
• Vans are definitely the 5 star hotels for bands today! Songs such as Stifled are a lament to touring and band life, how has this changed for you guys since traveling up and down the west coast?
KC: Every time we got through it seems like the crowds are growing. We tour with different bands every time but the reception is always pretty warm, we just try to get more kids at our shows and enjoy the experience that is our band.
• Bands like you guys and Man Overboard are heralding a return to old school pop punk, saying fuck you to the breakdowns and saying what you really feel in the lyrics. How do you think punk is changing today?
KC: I don’t know, we’re just trying to make it more organic, we don’t need all the flashy elements, we just write the music that we like listening to. We saw how it evolved in New Found Glory and so we just really tried to take that out and strip down the songs to a more modern version of what we grew up listening to and related to. We just keep it simple, not making it flashy or weird or tacky, just keeping a song a song and having it drive the energy along.
• That energy seems to be much more rapid on ‘What You Don’t See’, one of the things I’ve noticed about it are the songs are much shorter than on ‘Soil’, what do you think has made it that way?
KC: It wasn’t anything that we did on purpose, and despite the songs being shorter I think the quality of them is in some cases a lot higher. I think before we had parts we didn’t know what to do with so it naturally became longer, but with this record we stripped it down to only the parts that we needed and it just so happened that they turned out to be shorter. But when you write an album, I feel like listeners don’t necessarily have the tolerance for a long album. It’s a good 30 minutes, kinda like watching an episode of something which is perfect length for driving, being stuck in a jam or something. I don’t think that’s necessarily the direction that albums are going today; I just think that it’s easier to digest it when it’s shorter. It comes with the style too, our songs don’t have any elaborate build-ups or big instrumental sections, we used a piano on ‘Snyder Street’ on ‘While You Were Sleeping’ and that was really only for texture.
• So with so many ideas flying around, how do you know when a song is finished and album worthy?
KC: If you just play it and it feels right. That’s one of the things that comes with writing songs is to know when you’re done, its like when you write a paper you just have to know when you’re finished. You can work on something forever and re-arrange it and add parts and strip it down again but at some point you have to just listen to it and be satisfied with it. If everyone’s comfortable with it, at that point its finished.
• You guys have had some great videos so far, from facials from leaf blowers to partying with the king on the south bank here in London, talk us through your newest one ‘Empty Space’.
KC: We did it with our friend Cal who usually film skaters for Thrasher, so we took some influence from skating videos and some of their filming styles and we took it to our city (San Francisco) and did some live shots. We recorded it at a special show in a local venue, and one of those nights we went around SF and used a flash method capturing the lights of the city and make something cool.
• Videos and online content at present seems the way to go for bands, how do you feel about piracy and the state of the music industry today?
KC: We try to sell the album as best we can, just for the sake of getting our quality into peoples hands but there’s nothing you can really do to deter people from downloading it. Especially when people have this impression of you being a successful band, people think that we and all bands are millionaires so they don’t think the bands need the money to keep generating albums or whatever. There’s not really anything you can do about it, we’re just happy that people have the album. We make the money from playing the shows which we enjoy, you have to sell merch essentially to make a living so you just have to hope that kids will buy enough of your t-shirts you know? I mean hopefully if they’ve downloaded the album for free they’ll support in other ways,
• Very true, thanks for your time Kelen is there anything else you’d like us to know about you guys?
KC: Just be on the look out for us on the Vans Warped Tour again, and just thank you Crash Doubt for your time we really appreciate it.