Meet Will Levy of The Story So Far
The Walnut Creek–raised guitarist from the pop-punk band checks in from the road.
“It really was a thing for us to do after school,” Will Levy (far right) says about The Story So Far’s early days.
Photo by Jonathan Weiner
Now a world-famous pop-punk band, The Story So Far met in middle school in Walnut Creek and began jamming together while most of its members were in high school. When the group’s original guitarist chose college over a life in music, their friend Will Levy stepped in to play guitar in 2010. Things have worked out well for Levy and The Story So Far, who have spent the past decade touring, recording, and building a devoted international following.
Diablo caught up with Levy, 27, while he was on tour in England to talk about the band’s East Bay roots, its new album Proper Dose—which hit the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s “Top Rock Albums” and “Alternative Albums” charts in October—and its upcoming holiday show in Berkeley.
Q: You joined the band a few years after it formed. Were you a fan of The Story So Far from its early days?
A: Yes, I attended the first show as a fan. I had always been around as their [merchandise] guy. I am a little older than the other guys, so I was the first one who had a car and could drive them around to gigs.
Q: Tell us about growing up in the East Bay. Do you come from a musical family?
A: I grew up in the Woodlands area of Walnut Creek, then moved to the Northgate area after that. My musical upbringing was pretty busy. My whole family plays music: My dad plays guitar, mom plays piano and sings. I have an older brother, Charlie, who does Broadway-style numbers on cruise ships. When I was about 10, my parents took me to see Fleetwood Mac and the Doobie Brothers at the Concord Pavilion.
Q: What are some of the Walnut Creek shout-outs that show up in your music?
A: We have a song called “680 South” and [lead singer] Parker [Cannon] mentions Ygnacio Valley Road. There’s a song called “Snyder Street,” but it’s actually about Snyder Lane, which is right off Walnut Avenue. Oh, and we have a song called “Mt. Diablo.”
Q: The video for your single “Upside Down” appears to be filmed in the foothills around Mount Diablo. Where did you shoot that?
A: [Laughs] It was actually at Malibu Creek State Park in Southern California, but that’s exactly what we thought when we got there. We said, “This looks just like Walnut Creek. Why did we drive all the way down here?”
Q: I’ve read that the Beatles were a big influence on the textures of the Proper Dose record. How does their music continue to inspire musicians through the ages?
A: We weren’t trying to sound like the Beatles, but we took notes about the way they wrote songs and recorded them. We love the later stuff—Revolver, Sgt. Pepper, the White Album—and we looked at the way they would experiment with sounds and instruments and textures of recordings. We are really happy with the result of taking this approach. The album has a flow and layers and textures, and we did not feel pigeonholed into one genre.
It is kind of wild to think about how influential the Beatles are. It is something I can relate to with my parents, or any other music fan anywhere in the world. There’s a reason they’re the biggest band of all time.
Q: Your band gets its name from the title of a song by New Found Glory. If you were to do a solo album named for the song you’ve listened to more than any other, what would it be?
A: Oh, man—that’s a good question. I would have to call it “Something,” after the George Harrison song. I think that might be a terrible name for an album though.
Q: The Story So Far has a number of releases on vinyl. Did you listen to vinyl records while growing up?
A: There was no vinyl that I can remember. Our house flooded when I was really young when a pipe burst, and my dad lost all of his vinyl. But once I got older and started learning about vinyl, I started collecting it. … It’s big and it’s tangible—the opposite of downloading. It’s been good for the music business.
Q: Your tour wraps at Berkeley’s UC Theatre Taube Family Music Hall on December 22. What will be special about that performance?
A: Fans can expect a great show. We will be playing with a bunch of local bands. We’ve done these holiday shows the past few years, and we donate our profits to [UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland]. We are very blessed to be doing this as a job, and it’s an honor to be able to help that cause.
For tickets and information, go to thestorysofarca.com.