Interview with STORY OF THE YEAR
Story of the Year’s guitarist, Ryan Phillips, took some time out to talk to us about the band’s new album, The Constant. Check out what Ryan has to say about SOTY!!!
Jen: Can you give us a little bit of background on Story of the Year and how you guys got to where you are today?
Ryan: Long story short, me, Dan our singer, Josh our drummer, we all went to middle school together, high school together, we used to skateboard together, super good friends way before the band started. In high school, we started jamming together and shortly after that we connected with the other two, with Adam and Phil, and in 2002 we moved to California for a year and just kind of worked our asses off! Everything about the band is just go, go, go, go and we wound up editing an internet little mini-documentary and Maverick Records wound up getting it and we kinda went from there… We’ve been touring with new records non-stop since 2002.
Jen: Introduce us to each member and tell us something funny about each one.
Ryan: (laughs) Okay, Our lead singer, Dan, was straight edge his entire life… never had a drop of alcohol in his entire life until maybe 2 years ago. Now, he’s a full-on party animal! He was the one that hated the parties and hated when there was a bunch of people on the tour bus and hated drunk people, and now he is a full on rager! I mean he parties hard until 7 in the morning…hard…every day. (Jen: He’s making up for lost time!) Exactly, he’s kind of where the rest of us were in high school. Adam…wow…Adam…Adam Russell plays bass. Something funny about him…he only listens to rap music now. He doesn’t listen to any rock and roll, doesn’t listen to anything other than rap, and most of it is terrible. Terrible, terrible, horrible, auto-tune rap that’s just awful! Josh Wills, he’s our drummer. Let’s see, Josh is super supper irritable. He’s one of my favorite people in the entire world, but he’s so irritable, like everything gets on his nerves. If it’s over 70 degrees, it’s too hot and he’s pissed off…if it’s under 65 degrees it’s too cold and he’s pissed off. If there’s too much cheese on his cheeseburger, he’s pissed off. If someone talks to him wrong, he’s pissed off. He is the best dude in the world but, mega irritable and it’s hilarious! It is the funniest thing in the entire world… spending a day with Josh. Phil Sneed, he plays rhythm guitar and sings. Phil and I are actually married to sisters. We’re like Mormon…we’re married to sisters so that’s pretty interesting. And me…I always liked to party…was probably the hardest partier in the band for a lot of years, and now I’m the one that parties the least. I wake up in the morning and exercise and work on music all day. So I’m the one that parties the least now. (Jen: So you and Dan changed places.) We completely changed places! I’m the one that…yeah, I barely booze anymore. My liver started hurting real bad…
Jen: So you guys have some nicknames in the band as well for each other. Tell us some of the nicknames and how they were derived.
Ryan: Josh, everyone calls him Scoob. I gave him that nickname way back in high school because in high school he was like the skinniest, tallest dude that we knew…and when he’d run or move around real, fast he was really sloppy, and he just looked like a giant dog so we started him Scoob. Adam’s called The Skull cause he has a really, really big forehead. And since I started calling him The Skull, he started calling me The Nose cause I have a…let’s just say, I have a healthy nose. The other two don’t really have nicknames.
Jen: So you have a new album out called The Constant, tell us a little bit about the album and maybe how it differs from your previous albums.
Ryan: It’s weird, The Constant is actually…I think has more in common with our first album, our debut album, than anything we’ve done since. The thing I can say that was so surprising to all of us is how easy this record was written. Like we usually just murder ourselves and kill ourselves writing a record! We just don’t stop until we have like forty songs…we take months and months. Like The Black Swan, it took like a year and a half to write it. I don’t know, we’ve always just worked worked worked super hard to get songs to come together. It’s always such an ordeal, but this time we didn’t write fifty songs, we didn’t spend a year working on it. Everyday we would all get together and the songs just kind of happened. Like one day, we had zero songs…the next day we had like 15-20 songs. It was the easiest record we’ve ever written. Everything just came out really natural, nothing was forced, and it was like the most fun we’ve ever had writing a record.
Jen: How many songs did you have to choose from ultimately?
Ryan: Maybe like 20. I’m the main songwriter in the band, I write music pretty much full time, no matter what. I pretty much write like a song a week year-round, so usually we have like 50, 60, 70 songs. This time, I didn’t do that….
Jen: Tell us about the singles from the album and what was it about these songs that stood out to make them singles for you guys.
Ryan: We’ve released two singles off the album. “I’m Alive,” we just felt like that one kind of summed up where the band was at the particular moment in time. It’s a little bit darker, a little bit more personal. I think Dan wanted to go a little bit deeper with the lyrics on this record, as opposed to just screaming the whole time and just being like a lot of stuff on our last couple albums…kind of got a little prolific…things got kind of political, and the weird kind of went that route. So this one, we wanted to back off that a little bit and go a little bit more personal, a little bit more deep, a little bit more serious with the lyrics…so we thought that song was an example of that mindset. And then, we just started pushing a song called “The Dream Is Over”. We started pushing that as a single, and we felt like it had a good rock tempo…
Jen: What’s your favorite song on the album and why? Do you have a favorite?
Ryan: Hmmmm, honestly my favorite song on the album is probably “I’m Alive,” the first single…just because, with all due respect to Dan and the lyrics writer, I got kind of burned out on political stuff, and I got kind of burned out screaming and all that stuff, and I was really happy when he brought that song in and it was nothing political, no implications. It was just a personal, darker song with great lyrics. I don’t know, I like that facet of our band more than when people start getting political. The world’s so fucked up right now, and everyone’s having such a hard time, people don’t want their music to remind them that they’re having a hard time, you know? It’s like people…I do anyway, I want to listen to music that’s personal…that’s why I like that song a lot.
Jen: Like I said, I saw you guys with Flyleaf a couple weeks ago in Charlotte, tell us about that tour, do you have a most memorable moment so far?
Ryan: You know what, it’s weird because before the idea of this tour came up, a couple of us were a little apprehensive because we don’t really sound anything like Flyleaf. In the past, we haven’t done really any tours like that. We’ve always done like the Warped Tour stuff, kind of like, dare I say, screamo tours and stuff like that. I don’t know, we kind of wanted to get away from that…do a little bit more of the rock stuff. Long story short, we were a little nervous, but after the first show, after meeting all of the people, it only took one show before we were like, “Man this tour is really, really great!” They are the nicest people, their entire road crew are the nicest crew members! I’ve been touring for a lot of years and I toured all over the world, and I swear to God I have never met nicer test roadies, crew people. It was like the easiest, no-stress tour ever! Everyone is awesome!
Jen: That would’ve been my next question. You’ve toured with many, many bands, tell us a few of the experiences on those tours that have stood out for you. Like maybe whose been one of the coolest bands to tour with, besides Flyleaf.
Ryan: We toured a couple years back with the Deftones, and the Deftones have been one of my favorite bands since high school! Watching the Deftones every night for two months was awesome! There was another called Dredg on there which I really got into… super good musicians! So you know, watching Deftones every night, watching this band that I grew up with, it’s one of my all time favorite bands, watching them every night and hanging out with those guys, having after parties and stuff… man, it was so cool! It was definitely the highlight of my touring career!