Story Of The Year

Hard work, determination and success go hand and hand—and no one understands that better than STORY OF THE YEAR. In that spirit it should come as no surprise that these post-hardcore sensations decided to title their fourth full-length The Constant. However that doesn't mean that the band's latest disc isn't a logical progression for St. Louis' favorite breakout act. In fact in many ways The Constant is a fresh burst of energy for the band who exploded onto the scene in 2003 with their ubiquitous single "Until the Day I Die" and also marks the beginning of an exciting new musical chapter for this fearless fivesome. While the band have already released three studio full-lengths: 2003's Page Avenue, 2005's In The Wake Of Determination and 2008's The Black Swan, The Constant picks up where the band left off and proves that STORY OF YEAR sound more top of their game with each subsequent release.

Recorded with Elvis Baskette (who also co-produced The Black Swan) at his secluded studio in Virginia, The Constant was written and recorded in a scant three months—a fact that allowed the band to capture these songs' inherent urgency without getting bogged down in the process. "This was the fastest recording and writing experience for us ever and it was cool because we didn't overthink everything," explains the band's vocalist Dan Marsala—who alongside guitarists Ryan Phillips and Philip Sneed, bassist Adam "The Skull" Russell and drummer Josh Wills make up STORY OF THE YEAR. "Writing and recording The Black Swan was a long, grueling process and this time we wanted to do the opposite: just have fun, be spontaneous and make it exciting—and it worked out better," he continues. "Everyone is so happy with the end product and it was a great time."

While countless acts have come and gone since STORY OF THE YEAR formed over a decade ago, Marsala credits the band's success to their ability to form a unique niche in the punk community. "We have such a wide range of tastes and influences that we can continue to progress in any direction and stay relevant at all times, and we've always taken pride in having no boundaries or limits with the music we write" he adds—and STORY OF THE YEAR's unwavering relevance has never been as evident as it is on The Constant. From emotional rockers like "I'm Alive" to driving, post-hardcore masterpieces like "The Children Sing" and the heartfelt piano ballad "Holding On To You," The Constant sees STORY OF THE YEAR sonically stretching out to create their most varied and accomplished collection of songs to date.

"This was the first time musically that we wrote the entire record together," Marsala explains. "We tried not to over think it. We just got together every day and jammed until something caught our ears. Our only real goal was to make sure we were having fun during the entire process. That's why we started playing music in the first place, and I think we definitely achieved that goal. I had more fun writing and recording The Constant than any other record in our career." This relaxed environment allowed STORY OF THE YEAR to experiment with ideas that they hadn't pursued in the past as evidence on tracks like "Eye For An Eye," a one-take punk song that started as a joke at practice or "Holding On To You," which sees the band showcasing a more vulnerable side to their typically aggressive sound. "That's probably the lightest song on the record but I think it turned out better than I ever could have imagined," Marsala says about the aforementioned track. "Musically, The Constant ranges from fast hardcore punk to melodic piano ballads with everything in-between."

This newfound freedom of expression also extends to The Constant's lyrics, which see Marsala exploring his own psyche with remarkable clarity. "I dug a little deeper personally with what's going on in my head with the lyrics this time around," he says. "There are still four or five songs that are socially political and similar to what we did on The Black Swan, but I definitely think it's a progression for me." The album title also embodies the band's work ethic and commitment to both themselves and their fans. "Music is the constant thing in life for us," Marsala explains. "When I go to bed I think about music and when I wake up it's the first thing on my mind," he continues. "The Constant can mean anything; hopefully our band will go on forever and we want music to remain a constant thing in our lives no matter what."

Ultimately having already conquered the mainstream charts and converted countless cynics via their music and incendiary—and acrobatic—live performances, which are documented via their DVD Our Time Is Now (Two Years In The Life Of…) and CD/DVD Live In The Lou/Bassassins, at this point STORY OF THE YEAR are making music simply because they love it without any other outside influences creeping in to distract them. "We're not trying to be the biggest band in the world or write songs to be on the radio," Marsala acknowledges. "We just want to make music that we love and that people will come see live; it's not about making millions of dollars, it's about having a solid label that will release your stuff and help you deliver honest music," he summarizes with more than a hint of hope in his voice. "We plan on doing this until we're old men and The Constant is just the next step on our musical journey."

Like Moths to Flames

"Emerging from Dayton, Ohio in 2010, Like Moths to Flames hit the ground running from their inception and haven't had the time to look back. The band came together after singer Chris Roetter (formerly of Agraceful and Emarosa) and bassist Aaron Evans (of TerraFirma) decided to collaborate after their respective bands had broken up. Not wasting any time, the two recruited guitarists Zach Huston and Eli Ford and drummer Lance Greenfield, and by the end of the year the band had signed to Rise Records and released its Sweet Talker EP. In 2011, the band made its full-length debut on Rise with When We Don't Exist, which found the fledgling metalcore outfit breaking onto the Billboard Heatseekers chart with its bludgeoning, breakdown-heavy sound." – AllMusicGuide

Hawthorne Heights

Remember when today's middle-aged working stiffs were once young Generation X-types who were wearing ironic T-shirts reading "FREAK" or "LOSER," words that mirrored their grunge-centric ennui? Then there was one band who made that pervading nihilism even more stylish by rocking black shirts with the word "zero" in silver glitter. But while the z-word has the capacity to taint test scores, bank balances and attempts at self-actualization in ways no other common integer can, it does represent more positive ideals. Consider the terminology used by project managers to herald the beginning of a big project: Year Zero. What's the numerical equivalent used when someone uses the metaphor of "hitting the reset button" on their lives and/or careers? That's right: zero.

For the members of Hawthorne Heights, the word (or number) isn't the providence of losers, nor a bastion of stylish disconnection. Zero, the fifth album from the Dayton, Ohio, outfit, represents a positively incandescent future. Now aligning themselves with Red River Entertainment, Hawthorne Heights—singer/guitarist JT Woodruff, guitarists Micah Carli and Mark McMillion, bassist Matt Ridenour and drummer Eron Bucciarelli—are rising above their post-hardcore roots in ambitious measures. Overseen by producer Brian Virtue, Zero marks a wider breadth of the band's capacity to create compelling work, regardless of the social implications found in certain music subcultures. (Translation: Team HH tossed the punk-rock rulebook into a wood chipper.)

"When people hear Zero, they're going to be hearing a new band," Eron Bucciarelli beams. "What we're trying to accomplish is to reinvent ourselves and not be so attached to our history. I think there are elements of Zero that pay homage to Hawthorne Heights' past, that we should by no means attempt to ignore. To a certain degree, we are the same people that wrote The Silence In Black And White. We're just older now."

While many of the participants in America's post-hardcore sweepstakes have toiled in the underground with a mere modicum of success (if any), Hawthorne Heights achieved much in their 12-year existence. Since their inception in 2001, the band made heads swivel with their brand of melodic post-hardcore heightened by the interplay between frontman Woodruff's "clean vocal" and the late rhythm guitarist Casey Calvert's screaming. Their 2004 debut, The Silence In Black And White was not only a benchmark for the band (the release was certified gold-status), but also for the attendant "screamo" aesthetic both critics and fans credit the group with bringing into the forefront. 2006's If Only You Were Lonely repeated gold-selling success for the band, further establishing them as a dynamic live act.

"I think for a lot of people, Hawthorne Heights were that bridge band that got people into more commercial acts like Green Day and Blink-182 to transition into more underground music," Bucciarelli opines. "For one reason or another, we were people's first introduction to screaming in music. So for better or worse, that's one of the main things people think about our band. Maybe our contribution to the larger canon of underground rock is to be a segue into that underground world."

After the untimely passing of Calvert in 2007, Hawthorne Heights carried on as a quartet, issuing two more full-length albums, Fragile Future (2008) and Skeletons (2010). But after extricating themselves from their last label deal, the band returned to the roll-up-your-sleeves, DIY aesthetic that got them on the post-hardcore radar all those years ago, recording, distributing and marketing two EPs Hate and Hope. "When we made those EPs," Bucciarelli begins, "we had a chip on our shoulder. But all the while that we were angry, we still had a lot of confidence in ourselves and our ability to make music our fans wanted to hear. We were definitely a lot more optimistic for the future."

In addition to marking a significant growth in the band's artistry, Zero also represents the culmination of how Hawthorne Heights conduct themselves as a unit. Knowing full well that today's bands are businesses through and through, each member was assigned a certain aspect of the band's affairs, from recording and mixing, booking tours, merchandising and promotion. After playing with the band live for three years, longtime friend of the band Mark McMillion would become an official member. ("It made sense to have him with us," figures Bucciarelli. "He's a great guitarist, he can sing, and it's nice to have another set of ears in the studio.") The band decided that the follow-up release to their two EPs would be conceptual, with a story arc. "We wanted to make a grand album, something we've never done in our entire career," says the drummer. "We focused on what songs would work toward supporting the story line, as opposed to front-loading the album with all the 'best' songs first. At first, there was some hesitation in the studio. 'This is kinda weird.' 'Is this possible?' We all came together and assured ourselves that we just had to commit to it in order to make it happen."

The backdrop of Zero takes place in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian future where a totalitarian government (the Coalition Of Alternate Living Methods, aka CALM) systematically drugs the populace in order to keep them docile. The central protagonist awakes one morning to find his whole life completely decimated, as if he was dropped into the middle of a desolate vista of scorched earth and wasteland. The hero has to battle the government—as well as the constant barrage of memories that haunt him—in order to find answers. While the song-cycle format is an interesting departure for Hawthorne Heights, the songs are still vibrant, even when dissected from the greater concept. Tracks like "Memories Of Misery," "Darkside," "Golden Parachutes" and "Anywhere But Here," contain equal measures of pop sensibility, as well as lyrical heft. But there are also touching and unnerving moments at play: The acoustic melancholy of "Hollow Hearts Unite" is a mix of altruist sentiment and helplessness colliding. The title track sports Woodruff's wounded vocal and a guitar solo that wouldn't sound out of place on a David Gilmour album. "Lost In The Calm" is a deathbed spectator trying to cope, set to a rapid beat that mirrors the song's urgency. When you consider the current controversy surrounding the activities of corporations intersecting with government (stick "Monsanto" or "fracking" in your search engine of choice and see what happens) futures, Zero doesn't sound like contrived fiction. In his role as both recording artist and doting father, Bucciarelli genuinely worries about these constructs.

"Some of the themes [found on Zero] factor into my daily thought processes of things, moments like, 'Should I give my daughter this kind of food to eat,' and on top of that thinking, 'What can we do to stop this from happening?' it's kind of scary to most people, and that's why a lot of these ideas have been branded as conspiracy theory—nobody wants to acknowledge it in a hear-no-evil, see-no-evil kind of thing. If some listeners associate some of the themes from this record to real-life situations and it opens their minds up, I think that's definitely a good thing."

It's also a good thing that Hawthorne Heights are still out there. As one of the founding names in the foundation of post-hardcore/contemporary punk, the quintet are reinvigorated and ready to go where their new vision will take them, from the stage of this year's Warped Tour to the rest of the world. It might sound like a self-deprecating quip, but the truth has a much greater resonance: The sum total of Hawthorne Heights' parts equals Zero. And it's far more valuable than mindless slacker nostalgia.

In just three short years, Set It Off has grown from a humble start on
YouTube to writing and releasing original music that has garnered over
25k fans on Facebook, over 1.2 million plays on MySpace, and earned
them performances alongside My Chemical Romance, A Day To Remember and
more. Set It Off features Cody Carson [vocals], Dan Clermont [guitar],
Zach DeWall [guitar], Austin Kerr [bass], and Maxx Danziger [drums],
who fuse together their classically trained, technical backgrounds
with in your-face contemporary elements to create an explosive blend
of theatric orchestral-pop/rock.

we... have forgotten our place,
we have traded who we are,
for the sake of a comfortable lifestyle

we find our identities in our cars,
and the money in our pockets,
rather then our souls,
which is what truely defines us all

there is a man behind a mask,
swallowing us alive,
yet hidden in the shadows

FIGHT BACK!
GET ANGRY!
YOU have a purpose,
so seek it out

this is a revolution,
and if I AM KING,
YOU ARE KING.

Crisis In Victory

Crisis In Victory is a Post-Hardcore band founded in Flagstaff, Arizona. The band started off by recording a 3 song demo in LA with big time American producer and engineer Erik Ron. While in LA, the band sought advice from Shan Dan Horan of Century Media Records. With his advice, the band moved to Tempe, Arizona to start pushing their music. The band currently resides and rehearses in Tempe.

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The Nile Theater

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Scream it Like you Mean it Tour with Story of the Year with Like Moths to Flames, Hawthorne Heights, Set It Off, I AM KING, Crisis In Victory

Wednesday, October 23 · 5:30 PM at The Nile Theater