Story of the Year surprised fans this year by, not only hitting the summer tour trail with a stint on the annual Vans Warped Tour, but by announcing a 10-year Anniversary release commemorating the acts debut disc, Page Avenue and tour to support it. Considered by many to be one of the finest releases in the emo/post-hardcore genre’s, hearing the songs of Page Avenue live is sure to well up a lot of memories in many fans, as well as have them seeing the songs in a whole new light on ’10 Years and Counting.’  

It’s been quite some time since the Missouri foursome gave their South Florida fans a show, so in celebration of their upcoming Revolution appearance (Tuesday, October 29thbuy tix here), we caught up with lead guitarist Ryan Phillips to discuss the new disc and subsequent tour. Are you as excited as us? Read on…
Story by Matthew Pashalian

First off congrats on the ’10 Years and Counting,’ it sounds fantastic. How did the idea to ‘re-imagine’ the album come about?
Thank you very much! First and foremost, we wanted to do something rad for our fans, because without their support there would be no ten year anniversary. So many people from all walks of life grew up with the Page Ave record, and we thought this was a great way to celebrate these songs; to breathe new life into them and to offer our fans an alternate way of experiencing the album.

What was the toughest part of recording the albums songs in these new forms?
To be completely honest, at this particular moment in my life just getting to the studio was the toughest part. Perhaps the most significant source of personal pride in regards to this record is the sacrifice it took to even make it. During this time period I was writing & recording a Greek Fire record, traveling & working full time on my documentary, doing free-lance design & film jobs, spending many hours a day addressing never ending emails & conducting SOTY related business, designing all of the visual content for both of my bands, trying to be a family man, all on top of showing up to the studio to create this record. Every hour in the studio meant a personal sacrifice had to be made in some capacity. To say it was easy is a gross understatement, but we grabbed the bull by the horns and I am filled with pride in knowing what I put into it. 

Obviously after an album has been out a while and you have had years to perform and hear the songs a countless number of times you start to think of things you could have done differently or added in. With 10 Years and Counting were there a lot of ideas like that that had been floating around and which ones do you think would surprise fans the most?
There is a famous quote that more or less goes something like this.. “No album is ever finished, it is abandoned”. Translation: there are always things you wish you could go back and change or tweak, especially if your band is a democracy, as ours is. An album is never quite finished and getting 5 people to all agree and love something is a monumental task and for the most part un-realistic. However, Ten Years and Counting is such a departure from the original Page Ave record that I don’t think any of us were in the mindset of “going back and fixing anything”. The goal was to give each song a new (or alternate) atmophosphere & dynamic while staying true to the integrity of the original, and I think we nailed it. I think “In the Shadows” will surprise people the most, as there is nothing “acoustic” about it. It was very much inspired by Trent Reznor’s cover of Immigrant song with a little bit of Phil Collins for good measure.

Some of the tracks more known for their intensely heavy guitars and signature melodies are replaced with piano. As more of the lead player in the band, how does it feel to kind of take a step back a bit for the keys to take center stage?
Awesome. I truly love pianos, synths, programming; I play my mac almost as much as my guitar these days. I love that the piano has such a prevalent voice on this record. It was treated as the guitar or vocal even.

Then there’s the blast of a song like “In the Shadows.” Was there a particular influence for that song?
As stated above, Immigrant Song- Karen O with Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross. The vibe of that song was a major influence. 

Was there something you guys did on this disc that you never thought you would do, or an instrument you never thought could or would have a place in the band’s music?
I can honestly say I never thought an Oboe would make it onto a SOTY album.

A lot of bands the past few years have been doing these anniversary tours performing one of their landmark albums front to back. This came as a bit of a surprise for some fans of the band, I was curious how this idea came about or if it was something you guys had been anticipating for a while.
We’ve been planning and looking forward to this for a couple of years. Our fans come first, and it’s very evident that the Page Avenue album is the overwhelming fan favorite and the way most people discovered our band. So many people grew up with that album; as a work of art it is our defining “moment” as a band, the album that will probably be our legacy. We feel this tour is an awesome experience for SOTY fans, and when it’s all said and done, that’s truly what it’s all about. Period.

Since the tour hasn’t started yet I have to ask, will you guys be performing Page Avenue as a full-on electric set like it was 2003, or will you be stripping it down to bring 10 Years and Counting to life?
ELECTRIC! Sweat, jumping, back flipping, guitar whipping, ninja kicking, screaming, beer soaked, rock and roll fury.

With such a huge bill of acts on the Scream It Like You Mean It tour, is there any room for interesting surprises in the bands set such as collaborations?
Maybe….. You’ll have to come see the show.

So far you guys have two great DVD releases, are there any plans to film one of the shows from this tour for release, or a webcast of any show?
I always have between 37 – 758 ideas going on in my brain at any given moment, and some video related SOTY content is definitely one of them.

You and Phillip also have a new Greek Fire disc coming out soon as well. How difficult is it for you guys to split your time between the two projects?
Anything involving time is difficult, because there is never enough. Ever. On a creative level, it is not difficult at all, as both bands are so different from each other. They are just two completely different animals, which makes it surprisingly easy to have defined lines of separation. 

When you write music, what instinct tells you which song would be a better fit for either band?
When I am writing and stumble upon a piece of music I am really digging, it usually takes me all of 2 seconds to know which band I am writing for. It’s just a feeling I get, and I can instinctually interpret it right away. It’s tough to articulate, but I’ve never had to pick which song or riff to send to which band. I just know.

Another thing keeping you guys busy is the fan-funded documentary Who Killed (Or Saved!) The Music Industry you started with Adam [Russel] that a lot of fans are waiting for. From seeing the YouTube preview it seems like a pretty honest and intense documentary that may surprise a lot of people. What was your initial mindset going into that project? What do you expect the end result/outcome will be after fans and other bands see it?
I cannot explain to you how excited I am about this film. To a certain degree, our initial mindset was a sense frustration with the entire industry. The music industry’s monumental implosion has drastically affected the lives of so many people, us included. People don’t pay for music. Technology has changed everything about the way we create and experience music. The old rules no longer apply. The music industry is in a transitional phase and we feel that is worth documenting. BUT, this is an exciting time to be an artist. The connection economy and network culture just might be great for art. The internet just might be great for art. This is an exciting time- the industry is starting to catch up to the technology and embrace it instead of fighting it. True, so many people are struggling, but change is always a bit painful. Every revolution is bloody. One thing is for sure though: people will always want great music, and there will always be authentic artists that must create art. I hope after watching our film, kids are still inspired to pick up an instrument and the industry continues to adapt. Most of all, I am excited to give so many artists a voice on the matter, as I think getting a firsthand glimpse into the lives, thoughts, and opinions of artists will be fascinating as hell.

Being in this industry since 2002 and seeing the many changes it’s undergone in the past ten years, what advice do you have for new, local, unsigned bands trying to be seen/heard hoping to make it to that next step?
Go into your bathroom. Turn on the light, and look into the mirror. Look at yourself. Really look at yourself. Ask yourself if you truly love your art, If you would sacrifice everything for your art. Ask yourself if you are willing to grind it out for years with (chances are) little to no income. Ask yourself if you are willing to sleep in a pool of your own sweat in a van in the summer heat. Ask yourself if you are willing to face rejection 1000 times, and still dust yourself off and keep pushing. Ask yourself if you are willing to live like a smelly vagabond while all of your peers graduate college and get jobs, cars, and a great dental plan. Now the most important part: answer honestly. If the answer is no, you will fail. Go to school, do something else. If the answer is yes, WORK. Work your ass off. Fuck sleep- work on your art. Be the guy or girl who wants it more than everyone else. Do that for thousands of hours, maybe tens of thousands of hours, and believe you will succeed. And it helps to not suck. And it might only last for 15 minutes. Really.

Thank you very much for the interview, looking forward to the show in Ft. Lauderdale, FL

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