Interview: Story guitarist talks shop album

Story of the Year’s 2003 debut album, Page Avenue, spawned two huge hit singles with "Until The Day I Die" and "Anthem of Our Dying Day," while their second album, In The Wake of Determination, did not achieve the same commercial success. A shake up at Maverick Records led the band to its new home, indie-juggernaut Epitath Records, and its third album, The Black Swan.

Story of the Year will be on this year’s Warped Tour, but you can also catch them Saturday at The Cynthia Mitchell Woods Pavilion along with the band Madina Lake. Guitarist Ryan Phillips talks with The Daily Cougar’s Mike Damante about touring, the new record and the infamous Godsmack incident.

Mike Damante: How is it having Brett Gurewitz (Epitaph founder/ Bad Religion guitarist) overlook your album?

Ryan Phillips: It is awesome. Most of us grew up on Bad Religion, especially our singer Dan (Marsala). I’m a huge fan too. When Stranger Than Fiction came out I even had the tape, and then next thing you know, the guy from Bad Religion is on the phone saying "Hey, I want to sign your band."

Damante: Do you think you are a good fit with Epitaph with their current direction?

Phillips: I think so. Epitaph is known for being a punk label. If you can look past the stuff we have on the radio, we are a pretty diverse band. We have a wide array of styles that encompass the whole band.

Damante: John Feldman (Goldfinger) produced your first record. Is he helping with the new one?

Phillips: He produced our entire first record and did four songs of the new one (The Black Swan). John was the one who basically took us to the label Maverick, and they signed us. We owe that dude a lot.

Damante: Story of the Year has played some big shows with bands like Linkin Park, as well as the Warped Tour. You guys are playing Warped again this year. Which bands are you looking forward to seeing?

Phillips: The Bouncing Souls, and our friends in Anberlin are doing a couple of dates. I’m just excited to be back on the road. I love the Warped Tour. You play your show, hang out outside your bus and party all night. It’s awesome.

Damante: Can you tell us about the upcoming tour with Madina Lake?

Phillips: We’ve been at home for so long writing this record. The release date was April 22. We didn’t want to wait that long to start touring, so we wanted to get out and play some warm up shows. And it turned out to be a month long trek of April. It is a fun little tour.

Damante: Can you tell us about the new album, The Black Swan?

Phillips: It has some of the heaviest (stuff) we have ever done, but at the same time it has stuff similar to our first record. It is very diverse, political. There are some awesome lyrics and (the album) takes the band places where we haven’t gone. It is just an overall more mature record.

Damante: You guys recently shot a video for the new single, "Wake Up."

Phillips: Yes, we shot it in Los Angeles. It is kind of a play off the movie 12 Monkeys, an underground army coming out to spread the word. We just wanted to shoot an honest, raw performance video.

Damante: Was (the label’s) concern between the time gap between the new record and the last one that maybe the band would lose some momentum?

Phillips: What matters to us most is the music. There was pressure from the higher ups. What was really important to us was to take time off to make a great record. If we lose a little momentum, but get a better record out of it, that’s cool.

Damante: Care to shed any light on the infamous brawl with Godsmack?

Phillips: To clarify, it wasn’t with the band. It was with their crew and security. It was lame. We played a radio show. It wasn’t our show, and it wasn’t Godsmack’s show. We got the crowd really excited during our set and their security got pissed off. Those guys were probably just mad they got beat up in high school or didn’t make the football team.

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