Q&A: Gear Talk, Studio Secrets and All Things 'I Want To Disappear' With The Story So Far | THE NOISE

Photos: Moe Horta, Will Levy, Kevin Geyer and Eric Soucy

Forming in 2007 with four Billboard-charting albums already under their belts, pop-punk trailblazers The Story So Far find themselves with one of the most anticipated records of 2024 due out this summer. 

Leading up to the June 21st release date of their ten-track LP I Want To Disappear, the NorCal outfit has dropped singles “All This Time,” “Letterman,” and “Big Blind,” quickly amassing over 10.5 million streams on Spotify alone.

Six years removed from their previous release — the subdued Proper Dose — The Story So Far looked to shake things up as they enlisted, for the first time, producer Jon Markson (Drug Church, KOYO). 

Working tirelessly together, the band and Markson set out to record I Want To Disappear with only 20 days to capture the magic. 

“During guitar tracking, we made a point to constantly experiment with the pairing of guitars, front end color/pedals, and amps,” says Markson. “We weren’t afraid to change the setup on a per section of each song basis. It just had to ‘feel’ right.” 

Known for their heavy-hitting riffs and dreamy acoustic tones, guitarists Will Levy and Kevin Geyer have curated a one-of-a-kind sound using a variety of vintage and specialty gear, which Markson quickly took note of. 

"Taking shipment of their guitars,” he adds, “I immediately noticed the well-curated, vibey, and varied guitar collection. A quality selection with separate sonic purposes tuned well to the style of both of their playing.” 

Diving deeper behind the scenes of I Want To Disappear, The Noise sat down with Levy and Geyer to hear more about the work they put into their band’s forthcoming album.

To see what they both had to say about vibing with Markson, having to re-record their new album, plus a full breakdown of the gear used during the recording process, be sure to read below. Afterward, make sure to pre-order I Want To Disappear here.

Let’s dive right in and discuss some of the gear used while recording your new album I Want To Disappear. What would you say is the biggest difference gear-wise for this record compared to your previous releases?

WILL LEVY: In the past we’ve taken the approach of, “We're going to bring 12 guitars to the studio or as many guitars and options of amps as possible.” This time, there was a little more focus because we had to ship everything. So we were very selective like, “I know I need these four guitars and I need these one or two amps, and whatever the studio has, we can use.”

Even though the studio had a million options, I think the approach was, “Well, we know what our sound is. We know what kind of tones we're striving for. And I know that these tools will make that possible.”

When reviewing the list of gear used for recording this album, I noticed the Ed O'Brien Stratocaster was listed. Was Radiohead specifically an inspiration sound-wise or is that just a guitar you happened to have and wanted to use? 

KEVIN GEYER: I mean, Radiohead's hella cool and honestly, like that Strat specifically, I got a while ago and the stock pickups that come in that are called sustainer pickups. The whole thing is made so you can like wring out a quarter note and it’ll kind of like sustain that for really long. That's the kind of Radiohead thing, that's like his signature guitar. And I just ripped all of that out. 

My pickups are just like regular Strat pickups in that one. And I really like that guitar, but I don't think we were leaning towards Radiohead-specific tones. We all like Radiohead, obviously, but it's a whole different world.

In a few of the behind-the-scenes photos you guys posted, you used what appeared to be gaff tape, or something similar, over most of the strings on a couple of different guitars. Can you explain what was going on in those photos and what song(s) you used that method for?

KG: Pretty much every song. Everything. 

WL: So basically, I play, let's say, out of the six strings on said guitar, I probably play about three or four of them. So we tape the bottom ones. I play really hard and really sloppy, so my hand will just hit the extra strings creating extra noise. So I'm just muting them. That's literally all it is. We say it's recording with tape. It's the analog way. That's just our inside joke. But yeah, it's literally just to mute the other strings.

The producer on this record, Jon Markson, mentioned that you guys would change gear sometimes multiple times, even on a single song. Is that the norm for The Story So Far or did that inspiration come from somewhere else?

KG: Throughout all the records we've done, I think something we learned from Sam Pura [producer] was from part to part we switched guitars just to fit the vibe of the part pretty often. So on any given song, the leads could be played on three different guitars and then the doubles for all those parts on different guitars. And then amps, I think we switch around a little bit less just because those kind of glue everything together in my mind. For all the records we've done, that's kind of just how I remember always doing it. So it made more sense to keep doing that rather than playing everything with the same gear, it all just kind of sounds the same. We want to give each part the song its own voice.

WL: Yeah, it becomes pretty obvious while you're playing something and tracking it. Like you already have the drums tracked, you might have the bass tracked and something's not feeling right or sounding right. It becomes very obvious to me. Like, “Okay, well, this isn't cutting it. We should try something else.” It's usually pretty obvious, and it's like, “No harm, no foul. Might as well just try it while it's there.” And sometimes you go back and pick up the guitar that you were already tracking with, but something just kind of comes up in your ears and doesn't feel cohesive.