Despite their show in Lawrence, Kansas nearly being canceled due to snow, pop-punk quintet The Story So Far arrived just in time, and Tim Dodderidge had the chance to speak with bassist Kelen Capener. The two talked about the band’s current co-headlining tour with Man Overboard, their new album What You Don’t See, and influences both for their sound and for the band to keep making and playing music.
How’s the tour been so far?
It’s been good. Unfortunately, we had to cancel a show. We had to cancel Colorado yesterday because the driving conditions were so bad. We barely made it out of Utah.
Yeah, they got even more snow than we did. Or at least that’s what I heard.
Yeah it was crazy, but up until then, everything had been going really well. We were sad because Colorado was sold out and we love playing there and have good friends there. But we went over the first mountain pass and everyone’s vans were slipping. It just wasn’t going to happen. They started closing freeways and things.
Since this tour consists entirely of pop-punk bands, how have the shows been unique in terms of audience, atmosphere, and overall feel?
I don’t know. Like, every show is different, obviously, when you have a different lineup. But these ones have been pretty consistent as far as people coming to see most of the bands. I would say all of the bands for most people. There are some that might come for one or a couple, but the majority of the crowd I think is there for the whole show and is reacting to all the bands, which is not usually something you see. At least, even for the opener, The American Scene, they’re a little bit outside of pop-punk – they’re more like an indie band – but kids still sit there and listen and react, and in a way they should do that.
Many of the shows on the tour have sold out already. Why do you think so many people are attending these shows?
The simple answer is because they like our music and Man Overboard’s music and the rest of the bands’ music, and they feel like it’s a good enough bill that it’s a tour they want to come see and experience.
Yeah, and it’s cheap too.
Yeah, we kept ticket prices at $15 at the most – at least of what I’ve seen so far.
You guys are about to release your second album as a band. How do you feel about the finished product?
I think the quality is way up there. We looked at what we already had released as far as music and saw where we needed to grow. And just the album quality, the sound is more polished, the parts are more audible, and I think overall it’s just a better quality release than anything we’ve ever done.
What was the recording process like for this record? Was it any different than you guys had done in the past?
It was a little different. We were all there for pretty much the entire process. Whereas, before we would have to kind of be in and out to do our various parts because a lot of us were in school. So for this one, we actually finished writing the record, all five of us. It was a lot quicker than sending parts back and forth. We actually spent the first couple weeks finishing writing the album and the next few weeks tracking it. I think there’s a lot of good performances on the record. Sam [Pura, engineer] really pushed us and Steve [Klein, producer] really pushed us, and I think there was a lot of potential that came out of our recording process.
Is there an overlying theme to the record? If not, what would you say this record covers lyrically, and what do you want your fans to get out of it?
The concept of What You Don’t See is everything that is behind-the-scenes as a band. We are a cohesive unit but there’s so much to everything that goes into making the record and touring that people just have no perspective of. I mean, the energy of the record is sort of fueled by that. Lyrically, the concepts are Parker’s [Cannon, vocalist] (he writes the lyrics), but we all sort of decided on the album theme being “what you don’t see” for what I just said.
Is there a song or two that stand out to you? Why?
Yeah definitely. I would say “All Wrong” is one. It’s a lot more of a developed song and it sounds a little edgier and has more of a rock vibe than other stuff. Yeah, so that song stands out probably, in my opinion, the most compared to the other ones. But I don’t know. There’s definitely a lot of standout songs. I don’t think any two sound alike.
Your first release boosted the band’s popularity and broke you guys into the pop-punk scene. What do you think fans see in your band?
I don’t exactly know. I don’t know what they see in it or what they like so much about it, but they keep coming out and supporting us, and there seems to be a lot more kids every time we go through the cities. Whatever it is, I think what I’ve sort of taken, from when I peruse comments or our Twitter feed, is that the songs are of a very honest nature and we’re out here without a shtick. We’re just playing music, and it’s just kind of upfront. There’s no gimmick. It’s just the energy of it all that brings kids out to the shows and has them listening to our albums.
Speaking of energy, obviously there’s a great connection between your band and your fans, especially in a live atmosphere. What do you think makes your songs translate so well live, and why do you think there’s such a big connection there?
For the same reason. I think it’s for that energy. Music has the power to inspire actions out of people. And I think in our case, our shows have a reputation for being a place where kids can just come and dive off stage and let it all out, so they step into our show expecting that kind of atmosphere. I think the music and the energy it brings is kind of the invitation. It sort of ramps kids up to do those sorts of things.
What are the band’s main lyrical inspirations, and how do you guys go about writing your songs (specifically on the new album)?
We all – for the most part – write the music. The four of us who aren’t the vocalists sit down, jam, and make sure the songs have the appropriate energy and tempo and all of that kind of stuff, like all of the right parts. Then Parker will obviously write his melodies and all of the lyrics. I can’t say much as to what inspires Parker. I know in some cases, and I used to write some of the lyrics but not anymore as far as the last two albums go, they’re all just themes that are personal to him. It’s just themes that hopefully people can relate to and dissect truths from.
Who are the band’s biggest influences in general, and how would you say they have helped influence the band’s sound?
There’s sort of a general one. Obviously, we have our families and friends that are probably our biggest influence. They’re the ones who keep pushing us to do what we’re doing. And obviously our fans are too, because we sort of know what they want and have received their love as we began touring and putting out new albums. That’s obviously the biggest influence: what leads up to the live show. That’s sort of our place; that’s sort of what we do it for. Musical influences? We listen to a lot of things. Third Eye Blind is a big one. I don’t know, man. We listen to Deftones and we’re on to this new guy named Leonard Cohen who is this old folk artist Bob Dylan-type guy. Everything. Every genre. Our driver will put on hip-hop. We just love music and I don’t think it’s so much about a band or genre influencing us, it’s writing music that influences us and that creative process, like harnessing a good sound and orchestrating songs that influence us.
Do you think The Story So Far has a main philosophy or vision as a band? What are you attempting to do as a group, and where do you hope to go with that?
It’s funny, I think we’ve gone very far without necessarily having a vision. The band just started as us just getting together. We’d get together at the school and play music. And it still sort of has that feeling to it, where we all still live within two minutes of each other. We’re still just meeting up and jamming, and doing the same things we’ve always done. It never was like something where we got together and were like, “Hey, we want to be a successful band” or had goals. Since we’ve been seeing success to our band we’re just trying to up the ante – just sort of with our personal expectations.
Are there any bands in the scene that you especially enjoy or like touring with?
Yeah, I mean we have a lot of friends. For instance, we’re out here with Man Overboard and some other friends. Man O and our band put together all of the bands that are on this tour. We try to tour with people that we see the potential of getting along with, or already do. That’s always good – having friends in the genre. But as far my own preferences, pop-punk is something I listened to when I was younger, and honestly, if I wasn’t a part of this band, I wouldn’t be aware of what is going on.
Is there anything else you want to tell your fans?
Yeah, just thank you for supporting us. Sorry to Colorado. We never want to cancel a show. It’s really upsetting when you don’t have a choice. I hope we didn’t let anyone down. But thanks for supporting our band and buying our music. We appreciate it.