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Story of the Year Bio

Dan Marsala - Vocals

Ryan Phillips - Guitar

Phillip Sneed - Guitar

Adam Russell - Bass

Josh Wills - Drums

 

Story of the Year is now getting paid to do what they have been doing for almost a decade now, that is creating and playing music that allows them to express themselves. The members, Dan Marsala (vocals), Ryan Phillips (guitar), Phillip Sneed (guitar), Adam Russell (bass), and Josh Wills (drums), of Story of the Year grew up in Saint Louis, Missouri. Even though they came from lower - middle class families, they found a way to pay for everything themselves, and sweat to make their dreams come true.

The story begins in early 1995 when Marsala and Phillips where in a rap n' roll band called '67 North'. Phillips was also in 'Means Well' with future Story of the Year member Wills. The band 'Locash' was graced with the talents of Russell and Phillips. Sneed spent his time forming the band 'Sound Advice' which later became 'Maybe Today'. Bernard's Pub in Saint Louis is where many of the local Saint Louis bands had their start. These bands were no different, and they began playing shows in Late 1995.

The band Big Blue Monkey (think Deftones) was formed by two Saint Louis guys named John (vocals) and Perry (bass). Marsala was the drummer for Big Blue Monkey and Philips was the guitarist when they played all of the popular Saint Louis venues, and while they toured the Midwest and recorded two EPs.

Soon it was time for high school graduation, attempts at college, and the new millennium. Around that same time John and Perry decided that they would leave Big Blue Monkey. Marsala though decided to stick with the band, but move from drums to vocals. Wills, knowing Phillips from their days in 'Means Well' had gone with Big Blue Monkey on road trips as the Drum tech, and guest vocalist on a few live songs, so it was only natural that such a great friend, and a fellow drummer, would replace Marsala behind the drum kit. Russell, though never having played bass before was one of their closest friends and had the heart and dedication needed to learn and become Big Blue Monkey's newest bassist. Phillips felt that they needed a second guitarist to round out the sound, so fellow Saint Louis Native, Gregory, was given the job as the final member of Big Blue Monkey's new lineup.

The band would wake up ever every afternoon and practice until 5 PM. Then until midnight, Phillips, Wills, and Marsala would deliver pizzas for Papa John's, while Russell was a manager for Imo's, a local pizza place. After getting off work they would get together to work on flyers, their video, and the website, before catching a few Zzz's and waking up to do it all again.

Big Blue Monkey members dedicated all of their time to the band, and worked only so they would have money to help pursue the greater interest of the band. With their own money they recorded 3 more EP's, had a street team, covered Saint Louis in flyers, burned thousands of sampler CDs, ran the bands website, and shot their own video. They went to practically every show in Saint Louis to promote themselves with flyers and CDs. if given the chance, they opened for every national act that came through the area, won local band contests, and even got some radio play.

 

The band decided that it was in their best interest to move from the Saint Louis to California, if they wanted a real chance at stardom. So the members worked as much as possible to save up money for their move to Orange County, California. It seemed that fate was on their side, and they were able to play Point-Fest, a music festival showcasing the best the Midwest has to offer, right before they moved. At Point-Fest the members of Big Blue Monkey passed out thousands of sampler CDs and videos to everyone they came in contact with. They ever snuck onto Goldfinger's tour bus and left four copies of their home video there.

When it was time for the members to drive across the country, they not only took what they needed for the band and themselves, they also took 900 pounds of sound proof foam that they stole from Saint Louis so that they could turn their garage into a sound proof practice studio. There were 8 people living in a three bedroom house in a Vietnamese ghetto, but they made the best of it, had fun practicing. Luckily they didn't have to stay in that living situation long.

Within two weeks of living in California Goldfinger's manager called them and asked them to come out on tour with Goldfinger. The band was thrilled by the offer and decided that it was a great opportunity. While in Portland, Maine the band decided that they have changed a lot since their early beginnings. Though their sound could once be compared to the Deftones it was now a lot more like The Used, with an Emo-inflected post-grunge feel. The members of Big Blue Monkey thought a name change would best suit them. In 2002 they had released an EP with a song that was basically saying that they would move to California, and they would make it big, at whatever cost. That song was entitled 'Story of the Year', and was the title track off of the record. The band thought the song had a lot of meaning to them and decided it was to be the new name of their band.

As the tour progressed John Feldmen (Goldfinger vocalist) who has produced The Used decided he wanted to produce the newly named Story of the Year's album. When there was a break from touring Feldman took Story of the Year's video to Maverick Records (Madonna's label). Maverick was interested in their sound, so they set up a showcase for Story of the Year at The Viper Room for a 10 AM set. Within two hours of performing Maverick Record's offered Story of the Year a record deal.

Once the tour with Goldfinger was finished, the band started writing new music specifically for the album. At the end of the first month Story of the Year went into the studio to record "Anthem of Our Dying Day", "Until the Day I Die", and "Razorblades". Unfortunately as with many bands on their way up, tension began to grow between members. Due to creative and personal differences Gregory decided it was time to part ways with Story of the Year.

The next seven weeks after Gregory's departure the band spent their time writing and auditioning new guitarist to fill the now vacant spot. Sneed who's band Maybe Today had played many shows with Story of the Year while they were still living in Saint Louis and known as Big Blue Monkey. The band realized how talented Sneed was, and decided that since Maybe Today was on rocky ground they would fly Sneed out to California to audition for Story of the Year. Immediately the band decided Sneed was exactly what they were looking for.

Story of the Year wrote a magnitude of songs and within a week or two of being in the studio narrowed it down to the 10 songs they wanted on the album. They spent almost every day of the week, and up to 15 hours a day, recording. Feldmen was tough, but also knew how to have a good time as well. So Feldmen told the record company that the band should record the strings part of their songs in Hawaii. The trip to Hawaii lasted 6 days, and was spent mostly in the sun.

 

The album was finally finished in the spring of 2003 and named 'Page Avenue' as a homage to where they grew up in Saint Louis. The day the last song was recorded the band packed up all of their things and made the trek across the U.S. once again to move back to their homeland of Saint Louis. On the fourth night after they finished recording the band was to set out on tour. On this tour they had a tour bus and a crew of people from Saint Louis.

The band new that radio stations could be very fickle so they set out on tour to win a fan base from live shows, rather than radio air play. This method worked well for them, since they went from playing headlining shows with an audience attendance of 30 people to 2,500 people. Page Avenue was released in September of 2003, and within 6 months had gone gold. They spent almost 20 months crossing the U.S. 10 times, non stop. Winter 2004/2005 Story of the Year has finally taken a hiatus from touring to go back to the studio to begin working on their sophomore album.

 

Megan Carriero

January 2005

 

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