by Jeff Niesel
When the guys in the emo-punk act Story of the Year, who bring their Scream It Like You Mean It tour to House of Blues tomorrow night, were thinking about what they could do to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of their breakthrough album Page Avenue, they knew they didn’t want to release the standard re-mastered reissue.
“Generally speaking — and I know a couple of other guys feel the same way — it’s cool to hear but you don’t go back and listen to it,” says drummer Josh Wills via phone from his St. Louis home. “I bought Pearl Jam’s anniversary box set for Ten and I listened to the re-mastered versions and I put it back in the box and I haven’t taken it out since. It generally is like that.”
So they set about re-recording the tunes as acoustic songs, adding string arrangements to flush some of the tracks out a bit more. The result is a completely reimagined album.
“We did a lot of piano work and orchestra and strings,” Wills says of the rerecording sessions. “We did programming and percussion. We did everything you could do. We wanted to make it something special that our fans could listen to that was a different take on the original album.”
A big challenge was breaking down the heavier songs such as “Divide and Conquer” or “And the Hero Will Drown.”
“When we recorded the original album, we did pre-production with [producer John] Feldmann on acoustics,” explains Wills. “He taught us a great lesson. He said, ‘Every song should be able to be played on an acoustic and sound good too.’ That made it easier. To be honest, the hardest part was finding time to do it. Everyone has lives and families and things they do other than band stuff so finding the time was difficult. We worked on it for a long time. It was self-funded. We had a friend in St. Louis who has a studio here and finding time between his schedule and our schedule was hard.”
While the album might be unplugged, the live show certainly won’t be. The tour’s name speaks to that.
“We’ll play the full-on songs,” says Wills, “We’ve been doing the new acoustic version of ‘Razorblades.’ That’s my favorite on the new record. We have gone back and forth. We don’t know if we’ll play the album front to back. We’ll play the whole album in its entirely. We just don’t know what order yet.”