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James is a contributor at The Hudsucker and Indianapolis Monthly. He's also a full-time student at IUPUI where he's one year away from a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism with a minor in Sociology. Music and friends are his main interests. He also loves sports, vinyl records and photography. Born and raised in the Midwest, he loves Indiana. But in a perfect world he would take Nashville, Tennessee and place it on the coast of St. Augustine, Florida, where he would live and never leave.

Pop Punk Needs The Story So Far

In a genre rarely taken seriously, a young band from Walnut Creek, Calif. has the potential to change that.

Pop punk is a genre that makes a lot of music listeners argue with each other. I’m not going to debate who killed the real punk scene, or who is really a pop punk band and who isn’t. But one thing is for sure, in the past 20 years nobody has done more for the rise of pop punk than New Found Glory, and more specifically, Blink-182.

At least for right now, The Story So Far (named after a New Found Glory song), also known as TSSF, embodies everything pop punk was two decades ago. They’re pissed off about failing relationships. They gained a heavy local following playing high octane shows in venues the size of a garage. And if you aren’t stage diving, or on stage singing along with them, you’re bouncing and moshing in the crowd of a maybe a hundred others.

The Story So FarHowever, TSSF is stuck in today’s up and coming pop punk scene, which is full of bands doing whatever it takes to get their poster plastered on a 14-year-old girl’s wall, who calls herself edgy because she went to Warped Tour last year and got a contact high during a hardcore set.

They are stuck because they provide consistent sound, something the rest of the genre lacks today. Their new record, “What You Don’t See,” begs and pleads for the type of screaming you’d hear from A Day To Remember, a band carrying the torch for today’s pop punk. Yet they don’t follow. Chug-chug breakdowns are also key in today’s pop punk genre. Most young acts coming up in today’s scene flood their albums with these moments. Aside from the somber end of “Bad Luck,” TSSF stick to their style.

A simple style of open distorted edgy guitars, with an occasional obvious lead. The drums are fast, but not out of place, which is hard to accomplish. So many pop punk bands love to create chaos with the rhythm section or out of this world guitar noise because it can pass as unique and cool to the majority of their fans, which for the most part are impressionable teens.

Parker Cannon, vocalist, is the glue holding TSSF together. The very first track of “What You Don’t See” sold me on this band. For being in his early 20s, Cannon has a mature delivery forcing you to take him seriously. He creates a believable tone of despair highlighting situations we all went through in late adolescent relationships, and even still go through today.

Cannon is steady throughout both of the band’s records, especially “What You Don’t See.” He’s aggressive, melodic, demanding, and provides well-written material track after track. It’s also important to him and the rest of the band they aren’t glorified for anything other than their music.

In pop punk today, it’s almost a given to do as many interviews as possible in order for them to end up on YouTube for fans to search. You might be lucky to find five interviews of the full band, or even Cannon himself. During a live show in Indianapolis earlier this month Cannon was all about playing his songs. He gave everything he had to the crowd and never bantered too much, but when he did he called a fan out who stage dove, but not for that reason, as they encourage the behavior at every show. A couple guys tried to put their arm around Cannon and snap a pic while up there.

Photo by: Ali Horton

Photo by: Ali Horton

Cannon basically said it’s sad that we have to have our cameras out during a time where everyone is supposed to be, “Connecting for something bigger than that.” Telling the crowed not to worry, Instagram and Twitter will still be there when the set was over. He had a look of real disappointment, wanting so badly to connect with fans the way he presumably used to. That’s respectable in a scene full of look at me bands.

Sure, he might not realize he’s still buying into his role in the scene by claiming to not care about appearance as much as the music. But his concern looked and felt so authentic. I’ve been to so many pop punk shows in the last 10 years, I could write a book on it. And I could always tell when on stage banter was corny and rehearsed, or if it was simply, real. The few times Cannon spoke to the crowd, I was convinced. This genre and scene are his life, and they need someone like him and his band to be the face of the next movement of pop punk.

TSSF released “What You Don’t See” earlier this year and dropped the hammer on the genre. There hasn’t been a stronger record released in pop punk in the last five years. It’s full of simple crafted anthems with high aggression and emotion. Not once does the album try to go somewhere irrelevant. It’s just two guitar players, a bass player, a drummer and a vocalist. And it’s solid.

Solid enough to have the support of one of pop punk’s biggest icons, New Found Glory. Three members of the iconic band had their hands in “What You Don’t See,” including producing, artwork and layout.

Anymore, my everyday records are more on the alternative and indie-rock side. But I’m in no way ashamed to say I love pop punk and it did a lot for me. I only consistently listen to a few of the bands from the scene I grew up in, and now I listen to one more.

Whenever I put a TSSF record on I’m instantly back to the moments that defined my late teen years and early twenties. The concerts, the heartbreaks, the making of lifelong friends, staying up too late, learning how to play guitar, playing in a band and driving around aimlessly with friends bonding over rock ‘n’ roll. That’s what pop punk is all about. Luckily, The Story So Far seems to take that seriously.

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One Comment on “Pop Punk Needs The Story So Far”

  1. Jeremy February 12, 2015 at 11:12 pm #

    Well said. If only more people took it as seriously, and true to the heart like they do.

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