Following the release of their debut full-length Under Soil and Dirt last summer, The Story So Far seem to be going from strength to strength. Punknews interviewer Faye Turnbull caught up with vocalist Parker Cannon and guitarist William Levy before playing with Man Overboard in Kingston, UK, where they talked about their "hype," being able to balance band life with college, and writing music while high.
You seem to have exploded from nowhere; can you tell me a little bit about The Story So Far? Parker: We formed in the winter of â07, weâve all been friends for a while. One of our original guitarists left to go to college and then Will joined the band in â08. Ever since then, weâve been seriously writing, recording and touring, and just living the dream. Itâs awesome. I canât even explain it; itâs been really fucking cool.
Itâs your first time in the UK and youâve been an obvious draw, getting crazy reactions every night - probably better than the actual headliners, Man Overboard, at times - how does that make you feel? William: We definitely werenât expecting it at all. Itâs been a lot of fun, every showâs been really cool in some way and the kids are really nice.
Parker: Yeah, the kids have been really sincere, itâs a blast to be able to come over to a different country that weâve never been to before and play shows besides the States. Thereâs been kids hanging from rafters, itâs wild. Itâs been incredible, to be honest.
Iâve heard wild shows are common for you, I read a story that you played a show with Hit The Lights and it got so rowdy that the venue threatened to shut it down. William: Yeah, kids were stage diving during our set when we were playing and the sound guy turned the house music up and the band vocals off, like all the microphones, and we just kept playing, and kids kept stage diving. We started arguing and the kids started chanting, "Fuck this place!" The whole venue, there were like 150 people all chanting it. It was fun. We kept going.
How old are you guys? I know that some of you are still in college and youâve had to get a couple of fill-ins for this tour. How is it balancing college life with band life? Parker: Willâs going to turn 21 pretty soon next month and Iâm 19, turn 20 in May. The rest of the band are around the same age. There is no college life for us anymore. Kelenâs nearly done with his school and Torf is a freshman at UCSB, heâs going to come on tour with us soon and take a leave of absence. It sucks having to deal with it, but at the same time, we have really awesome friends that fill in with us and are down to tour with us, and able to play well, so itâs still a cool time. Iâm bummed Torf isnât here smoking with us. Iâm bummed that Kelen isnât here being weird to everybody, but theyâll be with us soon, so itâs all good.
Jake Round, owner of Pure Noise Records, is tour managing you over here; itâs cool that heâs involved with you so much. William: Itâs great, we wouldnât be anywhere without that guy. We owe a lot to him. Heâs the dad of the group and the responsible one, heâs good to hang out and party. Itâs good that he still gets the shit done and can party with us.
Parker: Yeah, heâs done a couple of Warped Tours, so he knows whatâs good. Heâs not a civilian.
Are you surprised by the amount of hype youâve received this past year from your debut full-length Under Soil and Dirt? Parker: I mean, I hate âhypeâ with anything.
William: Itâs great that people are noticing it, but as far as weâve come now and if it goes any further, I donât want it to not go away. I want to be a band thatâs always respected.
Parker: Let me put it this way, itâs cool to have people talking about your band, but for us, we want to play for those people and play well for those people, to prove that weâre a good band, and keep playing for years and years. Weâre not in this for the short run. Youâve got to be able to walk the walk.
Compared to this time last year, howâs life changed? Parker: Itâs completely changed.
William: We were writing music, going to school, going to work, Parker lived six hours away from us. It all kind of happened over night, to be completely honest. We were getting ready to leave California for our first US tour and woke up to emails saying we were going to keep touring for a while.
Parker: We kind of all had to make a decision. Itâs been a crazy, crazy past year, in a really good way.
It hasnât been out long, but since Under Soil and Dirt was so well received, is there now pressure with future releases and being able to top it? Parker: Nah, not at all. Itâs not about topping anything. I think itâs just about writing music that we love.
William: Itâll be a new experience; I think thatâs the only pressure we have, within the five of us. We didnât write those songs on Under Soil and Dirt together, everyone lived in different places in California, but to actually sit in a room together to write and jam. I think thatâs why weâre all really anxious to get back home and start writing; itâs just another reason to hang out.
Parker: And smoke and just kick it. When we write music now, weâre not like, "Oh, letâs write a song because we need to." Thatâs how it was for the last record, we had a time limit, but this one will be a little different. Weâve been touring for the past year-and-a-half and met so many new people, and seen so many great bands, and started listening to other types of music.
William: Everyoneâs in a different position in their life; some people arenât so sad anymore.
One negative thing Iâve read a few times is that some of your songs, like "Daughters", seem to be quite heavy on slut-shaming, how do you respond to that? Parker: I donât give a fuck about what people say about my writing. I know what Iâve written and try to portray it as well as I can. If some people donât like it, then some people donât like it. You donât have to listen, itâs all good. Everyoneâs a critic. I appreciate the time that people take to really dissect it and provide introspection.
How do you feel to be apart of this nu-wave of pop-punk? Parker: We donât really listen to pop-punk, so itâs kind of hard to say. None of us really listen to it at all.
William: We still listen to New Found Glory and shit, but I think what new pop-punk bands are doing is cool, because to whoever says the music scene is dying - it obviously isnât dying with bands making money and be able to tour and see cool places. We played in Scotland the same night as Four Year Strong and Panic! At the Disco, and all three of those shows sold out in the same city. Thatâs cool.
You said you donât really listen to pop-punk and I see Parker is wearing a Harmâs Way long sleeve, would you say youâre mainly into hardcore? Parker: Yeah, pretty much. I listen to a bunch of stuff, though. We all listen to a variety of different stuff. I really like hardcore, but I also really like The Weakerthans. Itâs kind of hard to put yourself into one genre, especially after weâve been touring for so long. You canât just listen to the same CDs in the van, you have to change it up.
William: Iâm really, really, really into Riff Raff. Heâs a rapper from Atlanta, Georgia and heâs nasty. He basically just drives around in a car, does drugs and raps. Itâs pretty awesome. Itâs funny, and heâs playing Bamboozle the same day as we are, so Iâm pretty excited about that. I get to see Riff Raff for the first time.
Parker: I didnât listen to mainstream shit until like a year ago, but I think the new Drake record is really good. I listen to it all the time. I would just say are tastes are just really broad. When you have a closed mind, thereâs no room to grow.
It does seem that you appeal to the hardcore scene as well - at the Brighton show yesterday, a load of hardcore dudes came up to the front for you. Parker: Yeah, we all love that shit, because we donât like to go to shows and just fucking stand there, we want to stage dive and get into it and sing-along. To have kids recognize where weâre coming from and have that reaction is all I could ever ask for.
William: I think we draw the energy from how hardcore bands play. I love the energy. Iâd love to tour with hardcore bands. We did a tour with Stick To Your Guns, Make Do and Mend, and Senses Fail, and that was great, because every band was so diverse on that tour. It was great, we got a chance to watch new music every night and I really liked that. It was a lot of fun. Iâd love to tour with bands like Seahaven and All Teeth.
During your acoustic in-store show today at Banquet Records, you said something about wanting weed, so I take it none of you are straight edge? Parker: I mean, thereâs definitely a huge straight edge scene within hardcore, but at the same time, straight edge is for peopleâs own self. It shouldnât be a militant movement at all. Whatever floats peopleâs boats, everybodyâs got their own way of doing things and we love to get really, really, really high, and just talk about things and write music and have fun.
Do you write all of your music while high? Parker: Yeah, we get stoned as hell. The whole album was recorded while we were high. I didnât record one vocal sober. It makes us look at ourselves from an outside perspective and not be assholes.
What else is The Story So Far getting up to after this? William: We get home, we do a tour with The Wonder Years, Polar Bear Club, Transit, A Loss For Words, and Into It. Over It., which weâre all really, really excited for, and then we do Bamboozle. We get home after that, we might be doing some other stuff, write, hang out with our dogs and friends at home, sleep and eat. Not having a normal life, I guess.
So, your lives are totally centered around the band now? William: Yeah, this is something Iâve always wanted to do. My dad did it when he graduated college, his dadâs in a band, too.
Parker: My dadâs in an all-dad cover band, theyâre called Other Peopleâs Money, because they all used to work in retirement plans and stuff. He sings in the band too and they play four hour-long sets. They cover anything from The Beatles to Guns Nâ Roses to Jimmy Eat World; they cover a lot. I donât know how he does it; heâs a champ.
Is there anything else you want to say before we finish? William: Thizz or die.