Homegrown heroes

The Story Changes celebrate release of Static and Trembling 

By Zach Rogers
Photo: [l to r] Mark McMillon and Christopher “Poppy” Lee of The Story Changes will celebrate the release of their new album, Static and Trembling,at Blind Bob’s on May 18

How much noise can two people make? How loud can it get? And most importantly, how well-crafted and catchy can the songs be? If you’re new to Dayton’s The Story Changes, you might be pleasantly surprised. Listening to the band’s music is already an enjoyable trip back to the energetic pop-punk anthems that ruled the mid-to-late ‘90s alternative scene, but the second you find out there’s only two people in the band … well, prepare to have your head explode.

Singer/guitarist Mark McMillon and drummer Christopher “Poppy” Lee have been making vigorous, melodic rock n’ roll for eight years now, and even with that length of time behind them it doesn’t look like they’ll be stopping any time soon. On Saturday, May 18 the band will celebrate the release of their third full-length album, Static and Trembling, with a show at Blind Bob’s, in the city that gave birth to the group.

“The two of us have a lot of love for Dayton, our friends here and the music scene that exists,” said McMillon. “We don’t play Dayton very often these days, so the release show is going to be a lot of fun. Hometown shows are always special.”

The band started with McMillon and Poppy knowing each other as friends first before bandmates, with the two playing shows together in different bands throughout the area. “We always got along really well,” said McMillon. “He was hard-working and shared a love for a lot of the same bands I did. Once I started an early version of The Story Changes, we went through some lineup changes as, most young bands do. Eventually, when Poppy came on board, things solidified rather quickly and we started touring and released our first album.”

As for carrying on as a duo, the two see it as a glass half-full kind of thing. For one, there’s less equipment and mouths to feed on the road, making touring that much more efficient. More importantly, it comes down to the right kind of chemistry, and these two seem to have the formula down pat.

“Being a two-piece makes the most sense for us,” explained McMillon. “We have a lot of fun performing with just the two of us. The dynamic between us works really well stripped down on stage, and it makes for a fun live show.”

The Story Changes made a name for themselves through relentless touring, and the results are evident by the strong following the band still retains after nearly a decade together. For Static and Trembling, the two slowed down a bit in order to focus more on writing and recording the new record. “It was really important for us to take our time on this album,” McMillon said. “We were in a position to spend a lot of time writing without any sort of real deadline. I think the entire album sounds different than anything else we’ve done before, yet still sounds like a Story Changes record.”

The album was recorded locally at Popside Studios in Troy with producer/engineer Micah Carli, who pushed the group to expand upon ideas outside of their normal comfort zone. The outcome is indeed an album that sounds oddly familiar and strangely different. Songs like “Song Inside Your Head” and the single “Hashtags and Therapists” (the latter of which got a recent write-up from the A.V. Club) have the same dynamic flair the band is known for, but songs like “We Were Numb” and “Nobody’s Poet” find the duo in slightly different territory, making use of new thoughts and ideas. At times, they succeed in incorporating outside instruments like cello, viola, mandolin and even a lap-steel guitar to achieve a bigger sound when it’s needed. Overall, it’s an album full of surprises that will leave fans both old and new hungry for another listen. Trust me, this thing rocks.

As for the release show, one thing the band can’t wait to do is see the people they don’t get to normally see between touring and recording. “We are extremely proud of Static and Trembling and we’re looking forward to celebrating the release with our friends and family,” said McMillon. As for what they have in store for the show, the band hinted that they may have something on reserve for their hometown allegiance. “We plan on playing a good mix of new songs as well as some favorites from our entire catalogue – there might even be a surprise or two thrown in!”

Needless to say, it’s a special show for a special band whose roots are firmly planted in Dayton music lore, and this is something that both men never take for granted. “Being from Dayton means you have to work hard in order to achieve your goals,” said McMillon. “Nothing is handed out freely here, but this city has always been full of very talented and hardworking musicians who have learned to make things happen on their own, and that’s what makes it so great.”

The Story Changes will celebrate the release of their new album Static and Trembling Saturday, May 18 at Blind Bob’s, 430 E. Fifth St. Also on the bill are Lovely, Kris N., and Good Sir Con Artist. Admission is $5 for 21 and up. Doors open at 9 p.m. For more information, visit thestorychanges.com. 

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