I discovered Nothing More the same night I discovered craft beer. True story. I had heard their single, “This is The Time (Ballast)”, on Sirius Radio but I was not familiar with the band. A friend from work told me that they were playing up the street, after work on a Thursday. Sleepwave, a band fronted by Spencer Chamberlain of Underoath, was the opener. I figured it sounded like a good time. We sat at the bar and ordered Southern Tier 2x IPAs. I had never had craft beer before, and didn’t realize that having 7 or 8 of these bad boys was ridiculous. Maybe it was the beer talking, but something magical happened it the hours that followed. I was introduced to a band with a stage presence like none I have ever seen. Halfway through the set, the entire band (sans drummer Ben Anderson) jumped up on a 10 foot tall bass guitar called the BASSANATOR that I watched them weld in the parking lot before the show. As a bass player and a music fan, it was the coolest thing I had seen on stage in my life. I fell in love that night.
Anyone who follows me on Twitter has seen me rave about this band for the last 2 years. Their full length debut, Nothing More (self-titled) was one of the best albums I had ever heard. There were so many captivating tracks. And Johnny Hawkins, the vocalist and songwriter, sings about things that are personal. He writes about topics that are deeper than your average hard rock band and his vocabulary is astounding. When I heard that the band was set to release a follow up, I was nervous. When you have an album with 17 tracks, every one of which I heard on satellite radio at some point during the years between albums, it is hard to avoid the sophomore slump. The first record was a defining album for me. Could the follow up record meet those lofty expectations?
Absofuckinglutely. The Stories We Tell Ourselves is not an album. It is an experience. It is 18 tracks (12 songs and 6 interludes) of well-written, deeply thought out, musical genius. Johnny Hawkins can write with the best of them, but this guy has a voice that screams rock ‘n roll. The lead single, “Go To War”, is one of the best vocal performances that I have ever heard. Talk about a vocal range — with words written about a deep subject — being at the point in a relationship when you are at odds but don’t quite know what you are fighting for anymore. It is smart. And it is amazing. The album has several different feels to it. There are times where it is heavy and there are times when it is more mellow. Tracks like “Do You Really Want It?” and “Let ‘Em Burn” (which is a heavy rip on the current political climate) are among the heaviest the band has produced. Songs like “Tunnels” and “Still In Love” hold the middle ground, giving a lighter touch to the hard rock feel. The album includes an acoustic track, “Just Say When”, that is one of the most captivating on the album. The final track, which may be my favorite, is called “Fadein/Fadeout”. It is a slow but heavy ballad about watching a parent grow old and pass on that has an epic build to a heavy end.
This is one of my favorite albums of all time. There is no ceiling for this band- they are inventive, they are different. Their music is heavy, but has an appeal outside of hard rock. Their lead singer is the modern day John Morrison (he even kinda looks like him). The songs are meaningful, the music is rock solid, and their stage show is out of this world. If you don’t know Nothing More, do yourself a favor. Sit down, grab a 2x IPA, and listen to The Stories We Tell Ourselves. Fall in love. And then go see them live on their fall U.S. tour. You won’t regret it.