One of the most talked about local acts right now is Stories, and for a good reason. Not only do they have their debut album, ‘The Youth To Become’, about to drop, they’ve also changed up their sound rather dramatically. Their debut EP, ‘Void’, saw the boys explore a heavy progressive metal approach, yet now that sound is a far cry from their debut full-length. With less growls and higher tunings, the band plays a raw brand of post-hardcore, with even some clean vocals thrown in for good measure. Killyourstereo.com recently spoke with Stories frontman, Morgan Dodson about the change in direction and on what is a very nervous time for the group.
So Morgan, now that you’re just about to drop the new album and I’m sure you’ve been asked this quite a bit by now, but why the big change up in sound?
It was a very natural change in direction; nothing was forced. We weren’t trying to appeal to a particular crowd or anything like that. We just wanted to play something that we loved, and we felt we had far more of a stimulating experience when writing this new material.
So with that in mind, what do you say to people who suggest that the change in sound is because you’re now on Unified?
That’s actually shocking to hear. There’s no creative control that the label has over us, and we have all the say in what we want to write. It’s purely what we want to do. The genre we were in with the EP, that was basically done for us. We felt it was time for change. We’d been doing it for so long, and we hadn’t been listening to as much heavy music at that point. We began to care about the less heavy elements of heavy music, like the dynamic and more authentic sound. That helped us develop the change, it was not related to the label whatsoever.
Yeah, I know for a fact that would be the case, I just wanted to hear your thoughts on it. Back last year, you told me that you were thinking of working with Will Putney, and then you guys did choose him in the end, so what was that whole experience with him and being overseas like? Must have been pretty nerve-wracking?
It was man, especially with the new sound and [for] me vocally. I had to prepare my voice to be so different, and I spent every day up until tracking vocals, toward the end of the process, just getting my voice into a position I was really comfortable with. It was a very intense experience, you know, not really sleeping, just trying to get the album done.
It was really exciting to go overseas to record, although there were some complications. We were coming home with an album that we weren’t 100% set on releasing right away, and having to re-record things back at home, we wouldn’t go back and change anything.
I’m glad you could rectify those issues, man. With your vocals, as you said, did you feel like you were on the edge, thinking ‘If I start singing, am I going to pull it off’?
Oh, for sure man, you said it. It was such a nerve-wracking experience. I’ve always sung on the side, just not in Stories. I’ve always appreciated clean vocals, and I went with it because the change in style somewhat called for it. We never intended to be cleans, it just worked out that way. Generally speaking, it was the hardest part of our change for me. After these interviews, I’ll be going down into the garage to practice my vocals, like I have been every week since writing the album. It’s a hard world when you’re trying to belt your voice in a whole live set and then jumping between two vocals.
Of course man, fair effort. No doubt you’ve seen and heard a lot of people are likening the new sound to the latter days of Underoath. What are your thoughts on that comparison and are you a fan of that band at all?
Yeah, we’re definitely all fans of Underoath. My brother and I write all the music and lyrics, and they’ve always been one of our favourite bands since we were quite young. We felt that a lot of bands from those years, before progressive metal trends, when we revisited them, we thought, “Holy shit, this is so magical”. The music back in 2005, ‘06, and ’07 was so fresh and amazing when going back to that after what I think is a drought for that style.
I for one am a big Underoath fan, and I think those records from the early/mid 2000’s are lost nowadays with so much technical metal genres and pop-punk. Are there any other surprises in store for fans on this record?
There’s definitely a lot of highs and lows, of soft and hard-hitting moments throughout the album. I think it’s far more dynamic then what we’ve done before. I also think it retains the essence of atmosphere of what we had on the EP, but in a different way.
It’s definitely a more raw sound for sure. The first time you performed this new sound would have been Unify earlier this year, so did you have a make-or-break-it feeling right before playing?
Oh, that’s exactly it man. We never really considered the fact that we would be playing the new material in a live space that soon after recording. We felt it was a premature time for us to play the album, and I had never sung live before in my life before that show. It was such a nervous moment for us, but it as worth it. We really felt we were ready to move on, and we really didn’t want to go back into the mindset of the old material.
I suppose, that would have been a pretty jarring change for you guys, like you would be playing two different bands. On that, do you think some people are going a bit over the top with saying that you should change the band’s name now? I personally don’t think it’s warranted at all though.
That’s an interesting point. When we started re-developing our sound, we joked around with that idea of changing the name. It was never a serious thing though, and we felt as it was the same band, practically same line-up, same messages, same vibe live. So the name was never taken that seriously.
I actually remember you saying that you choose Stories as the name of the band as it was a generic name that would fit with the old metal sound you had. With the title of the album, looking at the lyrics of ‘Under Haze’, I feel a thought the idea is that of a younger generation taking control and rising up. Am I right in saying that?
Yeah, definitely. Everything we are as individuals, our ego and what not, is made up of our entire experience prior to this moment in time. We are a product of our conditioning and I think that some times call for us to let go of what we’re attached to, subconsciously or otherwise.
I did feel that you had kept those abstract themes from the EP days, on this stuff, that’s cool. Well we’re almost out of time, so my last question is, why are you no longer bald, dude?
(Laughs) it was definitely not some marketing approach with my haircut. I just wanted to grow my curls back out.
(Laughs) right on man. When I first saw the new promo photo, I thought “Hey, they replaced Morgan and got a new, oh wait…”
Yeah, I just want to grow it out and have like a flat top kinda thing.
I won’t hate on you because of your hairstyle, I’m not that petty.
[Chuckles] thanks man.
Look with that man, I’ll leave you to it. I wish you nothing but the best for the album dude, very keen for it.
Likewise dude, have a good one, and thank you for the kind words.
‘The Youth To Become’ is out August 14th via UNFD.