The following fill in the blanks come from LA-based hard rock trio, Story’s End. The band formed in Orlando back in 2011. Story’s End is comprised of members, Michael Folds (guitar/vocals), Dan Lacey (bass/vocals/keys), and Troy Wickliffe (drums). The band is gearing up to release their sophomore EP, Turning Point, due early this year. Learn more about Story’s End and their plans for 2016 from their responses below. Don’t forget to check out their title track, “Turning Point.”
How would you describe your music to others?
We’ve always a hard time describing our music to others. What we’ve kind of landed on and what seems to work the best is telling people what other bands we think we’d go well on the same bill with. That seems to help people figure it out. When it’s broken down to it’s least common denominator, it’s rock. Or maybe alternative rock? We like to think we’re continuing the tradition of modern rock from the early 2000’s. We’re heavily influenced musically by Muse, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, System of a Down and many others. We like to focus on strong melodies and harmonies, driving rhythms and bass lines, and heavy guitar. But occasionally like to throw in other instrumentation when it’s called for.
How did you guys meet?
We actually met working at a golf course. We were all kind of taking a break from music and needed more regular work. Separately, we each ended up working at a golf club outside of Orlando, Florida. Spending such long hours together and in that kind of position, we became friends and quickly realized too our shared love of music. One night we decided to get together for dinner and jam some at Michael’s house. And that’s pretty much all she wrote. When you play with other musicians and things just click the way they did for the three of us, it’s tough to turn a blind eye to it. And so… here we are. Four-and-a-half years down the road.
What is the story/meaning behind the band’s name, Story’s End?
Believe it or not, we don’t get asked this very often. We struggled with a band name for a long time. Everything seemed too trivial or like it didn’t fit us, as a group. We had a bunch of potential names written down in a list, and the more we looked over it, the more and more we liked what “Story’s End” meant to us. Honestly, the name, like a lot of our music, has a level of satire to it. The obvious conclusion you could draw from it is the literal “end of a story” being told. But to us it’s more of a reminder that the end hasn’t happened yet or hasn’t been written yet, and that there’s still hope and an opportunity to finish it your way—or at least try… The raven icon we picked up very early as well. Ultimately, musicians are storytellers—our own, those of others, metaphorical ones meant to drive emotion in the listener—and the raven, throughout literature has symbolized a messenger. Oftentimes misrepresented as dark and deadly—it may actually represent those things too in some cultures as well—we like to think of it and ourselves as messengers, or minstrels. Sharing stories through song. A lot of people don’t eve notice our logo has the raven as the apostrophe, standing watchful over the word “End.”
Who and what influences your music? Why?
Life. And other art. Both have a lot of influence over our music. We all grew up listening to very similar bands, but also with fairly different musical educations. Our own life experiences and emotions and those told to us are what lead to most of the songs we write. And ultimately that’s what music should be about: Feeling something. It should stir an emotion inside of you when you hear it, you know?
How would you describe your writing process?
Usually, in our process, someone brings something to the table—whether its a riff, or a chorus, or a rhythm, or whatever it is—and we all just kind of embellish on it. Sometimes that idea was really fleshed out and pretty far along before the rest of us even see it. With this record we did a lot of the writing as a group. A lot of the songs still start as someone’s idea that needed developing, but they were much smaller ideas and there was a lot more contributing from all of us. Michael still handles a majority of the writing for melody lines and lyrics, but not until we all kind of land on a theme for the emotional direction the song.
How often and how long do you practice together?
That’s changed drastically, and sadly, since our move out to Los Angeles. Until 2015, at least two of us always lived together in a house and which gave us the opportunity to leave our living room set up as a permanent rehearsal space. That was great! We’d play any chance we could. Usually a few times a week for a few hours at a time. Now, we have to be a little more judicious with it. We’ll always randomly pull out guitars and things when we’re together in order to write and have fun, but full rehearsals have become more of a show or recording preparation ritual since we don’t have the luxury of a full time rehearsal space. We’re working on fixing that this year, though. It’s how we create the best.
From start to finish, how long did it take to create the new EP?
Well the writing process took quite a bit of time. We didn’t really set out to put together an EP at the time, so it wasn’t as if we set a goal and aimed to stick to it. It was recorded pretty quickly though, in two sessions: The first four songs in mostly eight- to ten-hour days for about six days, and the last song we recorded, mixed, and mastered in another three. One of the songs from the first session was the third thing we ever worked on as a band. It just looks us that long to finally get it to a point we knew was right. That last song was written only weeks before it was recorded. So although recorded fairly quickly, it was a labor of love and about two, two-and-a-half years in the making. The artwork wasn’t finished until even more recently.
Can you talk about the inspiration behind “Turning Point”?
“Turning Point” the name and “Turning Point” the meaning are kind of two different things. In name, “Turning Point” started as kind of an experiment in a new writing process for us. It was one of the first times we all sat down together and wrote through the song as a group. Typically, things get pieced together as each person brings their own flavor to the table, but this one was kind of a group effort start to finish. Originally, there were so many pieces and parts floating around, it was hard to see it as a single song. But eventually it really took shape. And now it stands for something very important to us. As far as what its about—we’re not sure what you know already—but the song is really about taking the big leap and not losing sight of who you are and what you really stand for. Not letting the outside forces of the world change you into something you’re not, making sure you stay true to yourself, and keeping your innocence.
Do you play covers at practices or shows? If so, which ones are your favorites?
In practices? Of course! We play music because we love it, so we always like to tinker around with other bands’ songs. We try to throw them into our sets from time to time, too. Sometimes staying true to the way it was written, sometimes putting our own little twist on them. Our song Monster Meat has a really difficult bridge to reproduce live, so nearly every show we try to surprise the crowd with something special there. It makes it about a 12-minute song, though. We take pride in a couple of medley’s we do. There are two in particular that go over really well at shows. One’s a movie theme medley and another is a combination of different themes from The Ocarina of Time, the Zelda game from Nintendo 64. We love that one.
What do you typically do post-gig?
Have dinner. Nearly every time. Show nights are always kind of nuts and we don’t always have time to eat before we play, so after practically every show the three of us, and sometimes a couple of fans and friends go grab food somewhere and talk about the show. Doesn’t matter where, usually, but we love diners and the like.
What image do you think your music conveys?
What image? I’m not sure if our music conveys a particular image. More often than not, we play in a minor key, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s about anything particularly sad or depressing. Even with song lyrics about love and loss, we like to talk about those themes satirically or in jest and use them as statements of hope and present them in a more uplifting or positive way.
What has been your biggest challenge as a band?
The relocation has been tough. And definitely one of the biggest challenges we’ve had the fortune taking on. Without being nationally known before making the move, it was just like starting over again—four years in. Moving to such a saturated market and one so important to the industry as a whole was daunting. It created just a myriad of other little challenges, each with it’s own struggle. Rehearsals, booking shows in a town where you have no draw, trying to pay the rent while playing for practically no money, everything. We’re making it happen, though. Otherwise, why move out here?
What has been your funniest or craziest experience working together?
There are too many crazy things to rank them, really. But we have seen our fair share of stuff. Back in December, before the holidays, we played a show down in Orange County and bumped into Fieldy, the bass player from KoRn, at the place we stopped to grab food—one of the rare times we were able to grab food beforehand. That was pretty crazy.
Anything funny or interesting your fans should know?
Troy has the uncanny ability to fall cold asleep while mixing. Which we find hilarious. Nothing but loud rock music coming from the speakers. But because of the hours, sometimes you need to catch a couple of winks. One time it was even on a cement floor. Carpeted, but cement none the less. We also like to have funny hat day at some point during our sessions.
What can we expect from Story’s End in the coming months?
Lots! Of course the launch of this EP and more shows and more writing. The move out to Los Angeles has been really exciting and inspiring. We’re already starting the writing process again. Things are a long way from ready to be played, but it’s hard not to create, when the inspiration keeps coming in. Between that and trying to play as many shows as we can, we’re not slowing down any time soon.