Just over a decade ago, a St. Louis post-hardcore quintet by the name of Story Of The Year recorded debut album Page Avenue with Goldfinger frontman John Feldmann in his Marina del Rey home studio. The outfit’s first major label release, it peaked at number 51 on the Billboard 200 Charts, featuring the likes of ‘And The Hero Will Drown’ and ‘Anthem Of Our Dying Day’, and would go on to be certified gold.
“We had so little money. I was eating one candy bar a day for my meals,” says guitarist Philip Sneed, reminiscing on the recording process for that 2003 album.
“We had nothing. No history, no records sold, nothing like that. The crazy thing is, though, that was probably the best time of my life. I had no concept of success, no concept of failure – we were just kids making music and having fun, memories that will stick with me for the rest of my life.”
The album’s commercial success saw Sneed and his cohort maintain a relentless touring schedule over the next eight years, putting out three more albums along the way. In 2011, understandably exhausted, the band took a hiatus that saw each member explore alternative creative endeavours and take time to relax.
“It was beyond refreshing. It was something that was sort of inevitable; we toured so long and so much. We needed to recharge on every level – creatively, physically, mentally – and it was a good time to slow down and just see what happened. It gave us an opportunity to get out the ideas we were scared of forcing into Story Of The Year that we knew didn’t belong – and that way, when we came back to Story Of The Year it felt fresh and exciting to write music that we hadn’t been writing in a while.”
To commemorate the ten years since Page Avenue’s release, the band released 10 Years And Counting, which featured reworked versions of each track on the original record. Rather than being a simple acoustic affair, it ranged from the balladry of ‘Dive Right In’ to the piano-led ‘And The Hero Will Drown’ and the synth-driven aesthetics of ‘In The Shadows’. Sneed says the creative release of trying the songs in different styles was hugely appealing.
“Whether you’re in a bar or an arena, it’s fun to see people’s takes on a song that everybody knows twisted in a different way. It seemed like a project we could do quickly, that maybe people who lived their youth with that record like we did could find an interesting, fresh take on songs that meant a lot to us back then. We wanted to experiment – take heavy songs and really pull out the mellowness of them, or take a more mellow song and put some aggression to it. We thought that taking that approach would be at least more interesting to us, and hopefully more interesting to other people, and I think we really hit the mark.”
Story Of The Year have spent the past year touring as part of the Page Avenue anniversary, playing the album in its entirety. According to Sneed, “a really nice change of pace” is performing songs they’ve never played before in some cities and countries. They’ll hit Australia this June for a trio of dates before likely heading back into the studio to record album five. Of the past ten years, Sneed says there’s not much he’d change.
“What it has given me as far as education and philosophy about life, travelling, people, and how beautiful this planet is – this last decade has been an absolute miracle for me, because of this band, and music in general.”