the AU interview: Dan Marsala of Story of the Year (Missouri) speaks on the Ten Year Anniversary tour!

Story of the Year picture tour

Dan Marsala, lead vocalist and founding member of screamo pioneers Story of the Year spoke this morning to our reporter Dave Roberts, about the band, and what his world looks like eleven years after their critical album Page Avenue, and their upcoming tour Down Under.

G’day Dan thanks for speaking to us this morning, how are you?

I’m doing great, how are you?

I’m very well – you know first of all, welcome back to Australia, It’ll be great to have you guys back.

Oh well, thank you. I’m not really looking forward to the long flight again but we’re really excited to be coming back again and it’s going ot be awesome!

OK let’s jump into it – and first the obligatory question that I’m sure you’ve gotten a few times already. When you guys released Page Avenue back in 2003, did you ever think you’d be around eleven years later talking to a journalist – albeit one in Australia – about an album you released eleven years ago?

Uhh no not at all. It still blows my mind to this day. I can remember in late 2002 when we started recording Page Avenue, I was in the studio and just thinking “alright, if we can just get these songs good enough you know, we will put it out and hopefully we will be able to go on tour with somebody. Maybe we will just be a band for a couple of years – this is going to be really fun.” And yeah, I couldn’t have ever even anticipated the amount that that album would blow up and the impact it would have on so many people. It’s pretty crazy and I know it’s a lot of luck and right place at the right time, and some good song writing as well but for us it all met up and we got lucky.

Obviously PAGE AVENUE meant a lot to you. There are quite a few personal lyrics on there from as well. How does it feel to be playing it in it’s entirety again? As well as that, you’re playing smaller venues at least here in Australia so is it akin to those days when you and the boys were just starting out?

Yeah, it’s different. WE’ve done it in a couple of countries now a few different times and, I dunno I mean, a lot of the songs we’ve played sort of consistently over the years like “Until the Day I Die” and “Anthem of Our Dying Day” you know the bigger songs we’ve consistently played so that’s still the same. But there was at least half the record we had to go back and relearn and sort of re-vibe on and be like ‘wow ok what was my mindset when I was writing this?’ because it’s completely different to what we might think about writing or playing now.

But you know, it’s a little weird going back and relearning and refeeling all the emotions again but it makes you feel like you have a whole new love for it again once you look back at the songs and think ‘yeah how did that come about’ and reflect on what your 22-year-old self was thinking and feeling when you wrote those lyrics. So yeah, it’s still a great album and it’s stood the test of time so far and the songs – with help of John Feldman from Goldfinger he produced that record and he’s definitely a lot to blame for why those soungs are as good as they are because he had a big hand in teaching us how to structure things properly. He taught us how to structure things properly you know, and I mean we had the ideas there but yeah, he was smart with production and he made that possible. Eleven years later and it still holds up.

And speaking of those days – things are very very different now. There’s been an obvious style ‘change’ since Page Avenue – probably most notable in later albums where the band has taken a less heavy route. Is this something which has come with age, or is it something that has been brewing for some time? I mean how did it manifest?

Uhm I think it’s just musical tastes changing over the years. You know our second album In the Wake of Determination it was definitely a purposeful thing to write a heavier record and more of a live album. We just wante dot be the most badass live band of all time – that’s always been our goal. And some of the Page Avenue stuff was always way heavier live when we would play it and it was always our goal – you know ‘lets make a faster, heavier album’. And then you realise that people might like something else better, or something different so you adjust.

Every record has both it’s heavy and soft moments. We’ve always been a band that can pull off both the extremes of both of those ends but yeah, I dunno. We never had conscious decisions like ‘ok we need to change and be this band now.’ It was just like ‘eh lets make this a little heavier, let’s mellow that out a bit.’ We just wrote what came out and still, I mean that’s just our band. We ended up sounding like Story of the Year somehow.

Now your live shows – which I’ve personally seen twice – are energetic and full of stage antics. How do you find doing the backflips is all these years on? Have you guys slowed down a little bit being ten years on or do you still go out onto stage every night and say ‘no, I’m going to do a flip off an amp stack.’

Yeah, we might have slowed down just a tiny bit because you know – we are ten years older now, but now. We still go all out every night, and we give it everything we’ve got every night no matter what. There will still be some backflips and jumping off things and insanity will ensue. We have made sure to stay in decent enough shape so we can pull that stuff off for… well at least for now. Like I said this has always been our main goal you know, I love great live bands. And I love bands that put a lot fo energy into their set and showing that the songs mean something you know – just putting it out there. Any band that just sorta stands there and doesn’t look like they enjoy their music just bums me out and I can’t stand it. I can’t watch it. So we will always put everything we can into every live show – no matter what.

Do you realise that to a lot of people, and people in my circle of friends, you started or at least popularised what was to become to ‘emo-rock’ or ‘screamo’ genre, way back in those early days? Do you agree with this sentiment?

Laughs Uhm, well I think we have discussed this a lot. I mean there were definitely bands doing it before we were, and you know those influences of ours that were the real pioneers. Bands like Boy Sets Fire or Glassjaw, The Refused, and a band called Grade from Canada. These were indie label bands that were doing it really well in the late 90’s early 2000’s. And then there were bands like us and The Used, Taking Back Sunday and that genre which was the next wave and we were sort of the ones who took it to a bigger level I guess.

So yeah I suppose we were the ones who took it to more of a mainstream level and in turn influenced a whole other generation of bands along the same lines. And then it evolved and changed over the years and turned into more poppy stuff and more metalcore stuff. Now there are so many extremes and subgenres that were all from the same idea I guess. But yeah, we were among that first, crop of this kind of music and it’s weird to hear it said like we were a pioneer or anything but I guess it’s accurate on some level.

This one is more of a personal question I suppose – but I think I first heard of you guys on Need for Speed: Underground as I’m sure a lot of people my age did. What was it like seeing your name, or hearing the band’s song on things like video games or shows like Friday Night Lights knowing that there were kids all around the world listening to this, hearing it and loving these tracks?

Yeah uh, I dunno a lot of that year or so when Page Avenue came out was just a whirlwind of craziness. I mean we were on tour so much – about eleven months of the year we would just never come home ever. You know we’d be overseas and we’d come home and do two months in the US and then fly straight back overseas, do a tour there and then come home for maybe five days off in between tours.

So all we knew was ‘what club am I playing today, what city am I in’ and I would hear that this song is doing really well on radio, you know it’s doing great, people love you. But I just saw it from inside of a club, I’d just see that there were 500 people there one day, and now there’s 700 people, and oh look now we’re playing over 1000 capacity clubs and you know everything was just so crazy that… that stuff never really mattered to me. I was like ‘oh cool we’re on a video game now, oh cool we’re on a movie trailer, and people are offering you this to do this’ and it was kinda like ‘is that good for us, I dunno’. And it was just so crazy that now, looking back I’m like ‘wow’. We were on a lot of big stuff and that was insane and I wish we could get that going again but you know, it’s not the same now.

It blows my mind more looking back on it than it did when it was happening because we were young and everything was flying at us. It was hard to take it all in at that time.

Ok, so this is the last question and I apologise in advance if it stumps you because it’s stumped everyone I’ve asked so far. Tell us something we don’t know.

Something you don’t know… wow. Let me think of a good one… that’s a hard one! Well, I can explain like a brief… ok so we did our first four records, and after The Constant which was our fourth record uhh we had been on tour for eight years straight like I was saying. And I think there was a brief period where we didn’t know what to do with Story of the Year, and I think we are now just discovering this again.

So we kinda purposely just took a break, and we haven’t done much for the last three years. But most people didn’t know what or where our standing was in that time. I mean we never broke up, but we knew that if we didn’t go on a break and just get our brains out of just touring and making records and touring and making records… we were just burnt out. We just needed to take a few years and not focus on Story of the Year. And yeah, I think that was crucial to us surviving to the ten year anniversary, and still being a band and still being friends and still loving what we do. We just had to go away for a little bit.

And anyone in a band for that long will understand that at some point that has to happen to everybody and it happened to us. So yeah if we hadn’t have gone away for a little bit I think we wouldn’t still be a band right now, if we didn’t step back and focus on other projects and just kinda step back and realise what this band mean to us. So I hope that kinda answers the question – it was kinda the first thing that popped into my head.

It did! Well thank you for joining us this morning, thanks for the interview and I’m looking forward to the gig next Friday the 27th at the Metro here in Sydney. Thank you very much for speaking with us and hope to do so again soon.

Awesome yeah we’re really happy to be coming back and it’s gunna be great, so we’ll see you there.


Story of the Year tours nationally starting Next Thursday. They'll be playing Page Avenue in full alongside "a slew of fan favourites and a few surprises"!

Thursday, 26th June 2014 - The Hi-Fi Brisbane (18+)
Friday, 27th June 2014 - The Metro, Sydney (Lic All Ages)
Sunday, 29th June 2014 - 170 Russell, Melbourne (18+)

Tickets are available now.