Following the 2011 release of their debut full-length, Under Soil and Dirt, the Bay area punk band, The Story So Far, has gone from hometown heroes to a full-time touring band. Having just wrapped up in the studio with New Found Glory's guitarist Steve Klein, the punk rockers are now on tour in support of NFG's Sticks and Stones 10th anniversary tour. A dream come true to say the least for a band whose name is a song off the celebrated record
One-fifth of The Story So Far, bass player Kelen Capener, spoke to the New Times about being a band without a gimmick, work on their upcoming album, and getting to play in Florida for the first time.
New Times: So, you're out on the road with New Found Glory for their anniversary tour, and the name of your band is actually a song off the record, Sticks and Stones, correct? Is this a surreal experience for you guys?
Kelen Capener: Yeah. Completely. We were kids when the album when it came out, and now to be on tour with them is crazy.
What kind of bands did you grow up on?
Well, my dad introduced me to all the classics like AC/DC, Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, that kind of stuff. But, I remember listening to the radio one time and hearing "All the Small Things", Blink-182, and I started getting into bands like Green Day and Sum41. I listen to a lot of bands, but I distinctly remember those types of bands.
When or how did you decide that you wanted to be in your own band?
Probably, I was in middle school. I started playing guitar when I was in fourth grade. I remember starting a band with a friend in middle school, and it was fun. I remember seeing this local band, and the show they put on, so after witnessing that I really decided it was something I wanted to do. I was in awe of the reaction and the show they put on. So, I started to pursue that really heavily, playing with a lot of bands. From seventh grade on, playing with whoever I could.
Are you guys a full-time touring band, or are you guys still working jobs when you're back home?
We're full-time. We're touring so much so that we don't honestly have time to seek employment. We won't have time off for a good while.
A few of the band members were in school at one point, but quit for the band. How does your family feel about that?
They support me. They know I'm not going to try and jeopardize my situation. I'll probably go back one day and finish out my education. But, they understand the value of the opportunity that I have in front of me right now. They want me to chase it. My family is incredibly supportive. They follow everything we do.
Do they come out to all your hometown shows?
They try to. It gets a little difficult at some of the venues for them to just watch. Especially if it's a smaller club, with all the bodies flying around and stuff.
What's it been like to go from playing smaller venues to bigger ones like the U.K. Warped Tour?
It's different. You put on the same show, but it's different than we're used to because most shows we played before didn't have barriers or as many people. It's a bit more movement, more going on.
Do you feel like there's more pressure on you guys as a band to perform for a crowd that size?
I don't think there's more pressure. There's more people listening, and we have a lot more people who haven't heard the band, since it's not just our audience. So, we want to focus on putting on the best show that we can, so that way they want to check out our band, and they'll be there the next time.
What's your favorite thing about touring?
I think the whole thing with us is that we're all good friends. We've been friends since the beginning, and we're on the road with our friends, so that's great. I love playing the shows, obviously. It's the reason we love going out on tour. And if you don't love it, I think, then it's not worth it.
In the music scene, pop-punk or punk specifically, it feels very over-saturated with so many bands out. How do you guys stand out and stay relevant against all the other bands out there?
We just strip down our sound to what we felt was essential to this genre. There are a lot of bands, I just don't know how many broke through, or will stay out there because of how over-saturated it is. But, that's just the music industry in general with the internet, and how many methods of recording at home there are. There is a lot of pop punk bands, I think we're in a good place. But, there is also a lot of growth still outside of the little pop punk pocket. Ya know? Like, if someone asks me what kind of band I'm in, I tell them punk rock, just to keep it simple. At heart, that's what it is. There's some many sub-genres, it gives you a headache at the end of the day.
Do you think the internet makes it easier or harder to break through in the music industry?
That's a good question. It's easier because people can listen all over, and it makes it more readily available. It puts you in a position where it could be easier to break through. But, you're also competing against so many other bands and musicians. How we ever got the attention of so many people, I still don't know. It's not like we put all this money into marketing or anything, ya know. It was just word of mouth. I think it's cool because our music really spoke for itself. We didn't advertise it or anything, it just happened.
Growing up, there wasn't really Twitter or this access to bands or musicians like there is now. Do you think that's a good or bad thing?
I think it's a good thing. You can have live communication with your fans. You can find out what they want. We can update people really quickly, so if there's a change of plans, or our set times, we can just post a tweet, they can see it immediately. They can know what's going on, as opposed to not that long ago it was very hard to get the attention of so many people.
Do you ever have to deal with haters on Twitter?
Not really. I don't really pay attention to it, to be honest. I look to see what our fans say to us, but I rarely see people saying things to us, personally, that are malicious. I'm sure it exists, but I don't go peruse for it.
Do you ever feel like you have to be censored or careful with things you say on the internet?
Yeah. Each of us are a piece of the band, so we all represent the band as a whole. Even if we don't want it to necessarily. I still have my family, and friends, and old bosses and people that pay attention to my life. I would've probably been saying the same things regardless if 2,000 kids were listening to what I was saying or a couple. I've never been that much of a controversial spokesman. [laughs]
Do you think your band is on the more "clean cut" side of punk rock?
I don't know. I think we're just normal. [laughs] Like I said, we were all friends before this band, so we don't let the band define us. We don't feel like we need to carry a certain image. Some of us have tattoos, some of us don't. We're all individuals at the end of the day. We don't let our band dictate us.
There seems to be a lot of bands or musicians nowadays who do come out with a gimmick or character persona, how do you feel about them?
I don't understand. I think the music is all that matters. Our gimmick is not having a gimmick. All we care about is writing the music and playing the music. At the end of the day, that's all that should matter. That music should translate to people, not like some image or some gimmick. At that point, you're not selling music, you're selling a product. Music shouldn't be about influencing people to dress or look a certain way. We just want our music to mean something to people and translate to individuals, not those who are influenced to dress a certain way.
For the next record, you've been working with Steve Klein of New Found Glory, how is this album going to be different?
It will be different because the songwriting itself is smarter in how we choose the parts and play the songs a little more to the point. It'll sound like our band, it won't sound like a different band. But, I think the songs will pack more of a punch and hit a little harder. It's going to be presented in a more refined way.
When is it supposed to be released?
We just finished recording, it's going through the mixing process now. It's usually about a three month turnaround before the album is ready to be released. It'll depend on when we want to do it. Probably March at the earliest, but I'm just guessing. It's just speculation.
You'll be playing in New Found Glory's home state, have you been down to Florida before?
I haven't cause I was actually in college the last time the band played down here. I've been to Florida, but not to play shows.
Are you excited?
So excited. It's funny, we used to have a joke cause kids from Florida would always complain that we'd never tour down there. They'd get real mad. We used to post tour maps without Florida, like cut the state out. It was funny. We have a lot of fans down there, and they're anxious to see the band. So, I'm real excited to go down there and see what I missed out on.
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New Found Glory Sticks and Stones 10 Year Anniversary Tour with Candy Hearts and The Story So Far. Sunday, December 16, at Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $25.