Mark McMillon of the Dayton, Ohio-based band The Story Changes recently took the time to answer some of my questions. A variety of topics were discussed including the band’s new music video for “Golden Age”, the Gem City’s music scene, and maybe a funny story.
Featuring members of Hawthorne Heights (Mark McMillon and Christopher Popadak) and The Stereo (Chris Serafini), the Gem City natives’ newest album ‘To Hell With This Delicate Equation’ is an energetic blend of late 90’s/early 2000’s emo, modern rock, and a moody aggressiveness that supplies a gritty edge in all the right places. The album was mixed by longtime friend Jamie Woolford (Gin Blossoms, The Smoking Popes, Punchline).
The band’s new music video for their single “Golden Age” is meant to provide some laughs as it parodies a familiar galaxy that is far, far away. It was animated and created by Chris Fafalios of Punchline.
The Story Changes released their latest album ‘To Hell With This Delicate Equation’ via Magnaphone Records. The record, which features “Golden Age”, is available on all streaming platforms as well as CD and vinyl.
Stream/Purchase Here: https://smarturl.it/TSCdelicate
All questions were answered by the band’s vocalist/guitarist, Mark McMillon.
Q: While everyone is at home and drinking their weight in coffee daily, what is your ideal coffee to make at home, and what do you put in it? What is the best coffee you’ve ever had anywhere in the world?
A: When home I tend to make a French press in the morning. I also tend to pick up a cup from a local shop in the afternoon after lunch. On tour, it’s kind of all over the place. We have our favorite coffee shops to hit up in various cities and are always looking for new places to try.
Q: Okay, let’s move to music. What first inspired you to create music? Were there any specific bands or musicians that influenced you heavily from the beginning? If so, how do you feel they have helped shape the musician you are today?
A: Faith No More was my first favorite band and Nirvana was the first band that inspired me to want to go out and buy a guitar and start a band. Both of those bands along with Smashing Pumpkins were heavy influences when I first started playing. Once I discovered punk rock, Face to Face was a huge influence on me. I think those three bands have stayed with me in my playing and songwriting enough that I still hear their influence on our latest album.
Q: The video for “Golden Age” parodies a galaxy far, far away. What made you decide to pair this track specifically with the animation parody?
A: The lyrics to the song kind of reminisce to our youth and the song itself musically is a little bit of a throwback for us stylistically, so we wanted to do something that tied into our youth and turned back the clock a little. All three of us grew up loving Star Wars and it was fun to bring the project to life. We have wanted to do something with our friend Chris Fafalios providing the drawings and animation for a while, so the whole thing sort of clicked for this video.
Q: Your latest album ‘To Hell With This Delicate Equation’ builds on the evolution of your sound by keeping key elements of previous releases while exploring some that are new including some shouting. How did the writing process for it differ than writing you’ve done in the past?
A: For this record, I built a small studio setup at my house and wrote and recorded most of it here. It was the first time we had taken on the bulk of that aspect by ourselves. Doing it at home and not having a deadline on the clock elsewhere allowed us to take our time and work on the record throughout the year whenever we had blocks of time off the road. It really took the stress of it away and kept it fun and exciting for us.
Q: Since that album was released almost a year ago, if you are able to give any hints, are there any plans for new material in the works?
A: I’ve been working on new music here and there, but I don’t want to spill any beans on that just yet. Right now we’re still just focused on promoting To Hell With This Delicate Equation.
Q: The music scene of Dayton has become a second home for me, and I’ve seen you guys play many shows at a variety of venues in the area. When did you first feel at home in the city’s scene as a musician? Has there been anything that has changed over the years, and what has always stayed constant?
A: We were lucky to make so many friends right out of the gate in the Dayton music community. The biggest change that we’ve seen is all the various venues that have come and gone over the years, along with so many great bands. The one constant thing is how original and talented the music scene here is. Dayton tends to produce talented and unique bands that are doing their own thing and not really following cookie cutter trends in whatever is popular at the time. It’s really great.
Q: From the bands, bars, and venues to the promoters, booking agents, fans, and everyone else involved, the city’s local music scene has a lot of heart and perseverance, which was further proven following the Oregon District mass shooting last year. How do you feel this current COVID-19 pandemic will impact the city? What positivity have you seen come out of this difficult time?
A: It has been a trying year to say the least and now with the pandemic, my biggest concern for the local music scene is making sure that our venues and performance spaces survive the financial hit of being closed for the time being and not able to host events. Many of our local venues are still operating and offering takeout food and drinks to try and stay afloat. I know that both the Yellow Cab and Blind Bob’s are doing this and I encourage everyone in the Dayton music community to continue to support them with a takeout or delivery order. The Brightside has a number of items you can purchase on their webstore to support them. The Dayton Has Heart t-shirt initiative from Teamwork Ohio donates $10 of each sale to an area business or venue of your choice. You can choose these Dayton venues and more local businesses to help at teamworkohio.com.
Q: Since no one can actually go on tour right now, let’s reminisce for a moment. Mind telling me a story (or a few) about something shocking or funny that has happened while you were out on the road, whether at a show or otherwise?
A: Hmm, this is hard because we have so many inside jokes and that kind of makes up most of our funny stories between us, haha. One time as a dare early on when we were first starting out, our drummer Chris went into a Walmart after a show on tour in the Midwest, convinced the lady working at the front to let him bring in a box of our cd’s, and then proceeded to sell every single cd while hanging out and talking to people in the store. All of which had never seen or heard of our band. It was a site to see, haha. He later duplicated the results that same night at a fast food restaurant. Hustler!
Q: I know you’ve told me several times in the past about bands I should check out. What are some bands you’ve been listening to lately that you feel deserve to be highlighted?
A: Here are some great Ohio artists that I think everyone should check out. Abertooth Lincoln is a force to be reckoned with and is from my hometown of Dayton. They are chaotic, but technical, catchy and brutal all at the same time. Nightbeast is on top of their game. Their new songs are so fun, catchy and powerful. You can’t watch their live show without smiling. Moira is a great dreamy pop act with cool rhythms, fun synth sounds, and haunting vocals.
Q: Is there anything I haven’t covered that you would like to mention about what is currently going on with The Story Changes or anything else you’ve been working on?
A: Thanks to everyone that has supported us over the years. We love making music together and are really proud of our newest album. To Hell With This Delicate Equation is available now on all the major streaming services along with vinyl and cd at thestorychanges.com. Cheers!
Photo Credit: Jeremy Ward