The Stories We Tell Ourselves

The Stories We Tell Ourselves is the fifth studio album by the American rock band Nothing More, which was released on September 15, 2017. It is the band's second album to be released on the Eleven Seven Music record label. The album's first single, "Go to War", topped the Billboard US Mainstream Rock Songs chart in November 2017. The band received three Grammy Award nominations related to the album; Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song for "Go to War", and Best Rock Album for the album itself. A second single, "Do You Really Want It", was released in December 2017, while a number of promotional singles, such as "Don't Stop", were released across 2017 as well. A third single, "Just Say When", was released in April 2018. The album's fourth single, "Let 'Em Burn", was released in December 2018.

The Stories We Tell Ourselves
The stories we tell ourselves.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 15, 2017 (2017-09-15)
GenreRock,[1][2] hard rock[3][4]
LabelEleven Seven, Better Noise
Producer
  • Nothing More, Will Hofman
Nothing More chronology
Nothing More
(2014)
The Stories We Tell Ourselves
(2017)
Singles from Nothing More
  1. "Go to War"
    Released: June 23, 2017
  2. "Do You Really Want It?"
    Released: December 18, 2017
  3. "Just Say When"
    Released: May 1, 2018
  4. "Let 'Em Burn"
    Released: December 4, 2018

Writing and recordingEdit

Work on the album began at the beginning of 2016,[5] and was written and recorded across 2016 and 2017.[6] The band continued the approach of writing and recording the album in their own home studio, similar to their prior two albums, The Few Not Fleeting and Nothing More; frontman Johnny Hawkins felt that technology had advanced enough to create a professional sounding album with their own home equipment, and this allowed them to work outside of the time and money constraints of working in a professional studio, and work in the comfort of their own living spaces.[7] The band would self-produce the album as well, alongside long-time band collaborator and manager Will Hoffman.[8] Generally, the band members would work separately in different rooms of the house, recording their respective parts and then sharing them with each other through Google Drive.[8] Once they were happy with complete songs, they'd send them to Hoffman, who performed final audio mixing duties.[8] Emphasis was placed on making the listener feel something emotionally over technically proficient performances.[8]

By September 2016, the band had 17 fully developed songs, and were contemplating whether or not any songs should be trimmed from the final track listing.[9] The band took a break from recording at this point to tour with Disturbed and Chevelle throughout the end of the year, before returning to complete the recording of the album in early 2017.[10] The band co-wrote two songs with guitarist Clint Lowery of Sevendust - "Tunnels" and "Funny Little Creatures", who also contributed guitar to the tracks as well.[11][12]

Themes and compositionEdit

Conceptually, the album is about the interactivity of three types of relationships - between oneself and another person, between oneself and society, and between oneself and their own self-understanding and self-awareness.[8] The lyrics were influenced by a wide variety of sources. Hawkins, the band's primary lyricist, stated that much of the album's lyrics were inspired by what the band had been through in the years since their prior album, with him describing it as "not a hypothetical record. It’s a very real, experientially-influenced record".[13] Writing the song's lyrics was Hawkin's way of working through his recent personal issues, and the issues he had experienced around him in the years prior to the album's release.[8]

In the political world, I felt like I was watching two sides that I didn’t have a dog in either fight, and I felt like the stories that people were parroting and echoing in these echo chambers of people who agreed with them were many times half-truths. So this record is really focused on a personal process of being more skeptical of what people say out there, what the media says and also being more skeptical of what your own mind is telling you about your own feelings and where they’re coming from, why you’re feeling it and is it really someone else’s fault or is it something you need to deal with.[14]

- Frontman Johny Hawkins on the political influence on the album's lyrics.

Some lyrics were inspired by people met by Hawkins at a grief counselling session he attended with his father over the death of his mother.[9] The track "Just Say When" and "Go to War" was written about his recent divorce from his ex-wife.[13][8] Another large influence on the album's writing was Hawkin's frustrations with the social and political climate leading up to the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.[14] With both, lyrics were inspired by Hawkin's process of sifting through the details to determine what was "actual reality" versus what was just "thoughts about reality" or rather "the stories we tell ourselves".[14] The song "Do You Really Want It?" explores the idea of whether or not global change can occur without personal reflection, repeating the line "Everybody wants to change the world, but one thing’s clear: No one ever wants to change themselves".[13][8] The song opts to close on a more hopeful tone, rather than accusatory, repeating the line "We can change it all".[13][8] Other inspiration came from a wide variety of writers that the band read during the time, ranging from Carl Jung to C. S. Lewis.[6] Spoken word parts by another influence, British philosopher Alan Watts, are inter-dispersed throughout the album.[15] While much of the song's lyrics were centered around hardships and frustrations, the track "Who We Are" focuses on more positive relationships, primarily the strong friendships between band members, and a newly formed romantic relationship by Hawkins after his divorce that changed his more pessimistic views on relationships.[8]

The album's sound was described as primarily having a "heavy rock sound" by rock music website Loudwire,[2] with a variety of different rock and metal influences and subgenre being heard in various individual tracks.[16] HM Magazine described the album as "blending hooks that could be straight out of pop anthems with hardcore guitar riffs, mathcore rhythms, and perfectly executed balance between clean and dirty vocals."[8] Loudwire described the track "Let Em Burn" as being a high energy song with "forceful" drums, "catchy beat", and vocals that start as a "garbled guttural voice" before erupting into a full scream.[17] Similarly, the song "Ripping Me Apart" " chugging guitar line" with Hawkin's screaming the song's title over it.[17] Hawkins vocals on the track were described as combining Chester Bennington's screaming and Chris Cornell's soaring vocals.[15] "Don't Stop" was described as having "nu metal rhythms" with a more pop rock influenced chorus, while "The Great Divorce" was described as "synthy post-hardcore.[16] Contrary to the rest of the album, the track "Just Say When" has been described as an acoustic ballad, consisting of just vocals, acoustic guitar, and strings,[2] and having a pop punk ballad influence.[16]

Release and promotionEdit

A number of songs were released to promote the album's release. The song's first single, "Go to War", was released on June 23, 2017.[18] The song performed well, topping the Billboard US Mainstream Rock Songs chart.[19] Four other song's in total were released ahead of the album's release as well, including "Don't Stop",[18] "Let Em Burn",[20] "Just Say When",[21] and "Who We Are".[21] In the album's release month, the band also released an alternate version of the song "Don't Stop" featuring a new guest vocal performance by Papa Roach frontman Jacoby Shaddix in the song's bridge.[22][23]

The album was released on September 15, 2017.[24] The album debuted at number 15 on the Billboard 200 all-format album chart, selling approximately 20,000 copies in its first week.[25][26] In November 2017, the album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Album, while "Go to War" received two Grammy Award nominations for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance.[27] The 3 cumulative Grammy Nominations from the album made the band the most nominated rock band for the 60th Annual Grammy Awards.[13]

The band released a music video for their second single, "Do You Really Want It?" on December 19, 2017,[13] which had peaked at number 25 on the Mainstream Rock Songs chart as of January 2018.[28] At the end of 2017, the CEO of the band's record label mentioned future plans of releasing "Just Say When" as a single as well.[29] which was later done in April 2018.[30] A fourth single, “Let Em Burn”, was released in December 2018.[31]

ReceptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic(Positive)[1]
Alternative Press     [32]
Metal Hammer/Team Rock     [16]
AXS     [15]
HM Magazine     [33]
LoudwirePositive[34]
The Music (AU)     [35]

The album was generally well received by critics. Loudwire described it as one of their best reviewed albums of 2017, stating "The Stories We Tell Ourselves isn't so much a gigantic leap forward for the San Antonio, Texas based alternative act as it as a showcase in maturity in both musicianship and in singer Jonny Hawkins ripping it out over the grinding grooves, much of them courtesy of guitarist Mark Vollelunga...To say that Nothing More has cranked it up a few notches since their major label debut four years ago would be a disservice to just how much they've shifted things into the stratosphere."[34] The later ranked it as the second best hard rock album of 2017 in the end of year retrospective as well.[4] Alternative Press praised the album for having "more hooks, more layers, more feeling—more everything" and concluded that "While the divisive nü-metal influences remain, the diversity of mood, tone and instrumentation makes for a deeper, more fluid and more engaging collection."[32] Similarly, AllMusic praised the album for "showcas[ing] more of the San Antonio-based band's deeply emotive, metal-tinged rock...the album finds them digging even deeper into a set of songs rife with anthemic choruses and visceral grooves".[1] Metal Hammer/Team Rock praised the album for covering so many different styles of rock music across such a long album (18 songs), concluding that "Eighteen tracks is a long time to stay interesting, but Nothing More nail it...The Stories We Tell Ourselves can only be described as an expertly executed musical buffet."[16] HM Magazine praised the band's ability to be socially aware while avoiding rock music stereotypes and tropes with the album, concluding that "Nothing More has created something important with Stories. With its universally-relatable material, it avoids the archaic trap of drugs, sex, and rock and roll. Like many socially-aware punk, metal or rock acts that have come before them, Nothing More reinforces the need to touch on social constructs, relationships, and the complexity of carrying on a family bloodline. With these Stories, the world is gifted something amazing."[33]

Australian magazine The Music praised the album for "tread[ing] that fine line between writing ultra-catchy, anthemic, adrenaline-pumping rock music, and taking their music in innovative directions while remaining interesting at all times", concluding that it was one of the best rock albums of 2017.[35]

Album awardsEdit

Year Ceremony Award Result
2017 60th Grammy Awards Best Rock Album Nominated[27]
Best Rock Performance ("Go to War") Nominated[27]
Best Rock Song ("Go to War") Nominated[27]

Track listingEdit

No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."(Ambition; Destruction)"Nothing More, Will Hoffman0:18
2."Do You Really Want It?"Nothing More, Hoffman, Scott Stevens3:53
3."(Convict; Divide)"Nothing More, Hoffman0:41
4."Let 'em Burn"Nothing More, Hoffman, Paco Estrada3:56
5."Ripping Me Apart"Nothing More, Hoffman, Estrada4:04
6."Don't Stop"Nothing More, Hoffman, Drake McCrary, Paul O'Brien4:15
7."Funny Little Creatures"Nothing More, Clint Lowery3:28
8."(React; Respond)"Nothing More, Hoffman2:29
9."The Great Divorce"Nothing More, Hoffman, McCrary, O'Brien4:39
10."Still in Love"Nothing More, Hoffman4:36
11."(Alone; Together)"Nothing More, Hoffman1:31
12."Go to War"Nothing More, Hoffman, David Pramik4:05
13."Just Say When"Nothing More, Hoffman, Estrada3:42
14."(Accept; Disconnect)"Nothing More, Hoffman1:54
15."Who We Are"Nothing More, Hoffman, Stevens3:26
16."Tunnels"Nothing More, Lowery4:11
17."(End; Begin)"Nothing More, Hoffman, Stevens1:40
18."Fadein/Fadeout"Nothing More, Hoffman6:05
Total length:58:53

PersonnelEdit

  • Credits from album inlay booklet.[12]

Band

  • Jonny Hawkins – lead vocals
  • Mark Vollelunga – guitar, backing vocals
  • Daniel Oliver – bass, keyboards, backing vocals
  • Ben Anderson – drums

Guest musicians

  • Clint Lowery - guitar on "Funny Little Creatures" and "Tunnels"
  • Ryan Delahoussaye - strings on "Just Say When" and "Fade In/Fade Out"
  • Tony Rodgers - cello on "Just Say When" and "Fade In/Fade Out"
  • Mikey Sanchez - backing vocals on "Fade In/Fade Out"
  • Alexia Rodriguez - additional vocals on "The Great Divorce"
  • Alan Watts - spoken word samples on "(Convict; Divide)", "(React; Respond)", "(Accept; Disconnect)" and "(End; Begin)"

Production

ChartsEdit

Chart (2017) Peak
position
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[36] 67
US Billboard 200[37] 15
US Independent Albums (Billboard)[38] 2
US Top Hard Rock Albums (Billboard)[39] 2

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c "The Stories We Tell Ourselves - Nothing More - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "Nothing More Release Heartfelt New Song 'Just Say When'". Loudwire. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  3. ^ "Nothing More Drop Energetic 'Don't Stop' Video Featuring Jacoby Shaddix". Loudwire. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  4. ^ a b "25 Best Hard Rock Albums of 2017". Loudwire. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  5. ^ "10 minutes with Jonny Hawkins of Nothing More". Axs.com. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  6. ^ a b "Video Premiere: NOTHING MORE's 'Don't Stop' Feat. PAPA ROACH's JACOBY SHADDIX". Blabbermouth.net. September 29, 2017. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  7. ^ "Thinking Out Loud: Nothing More's Jonny Hawkins". Teamrock.com. January 5, 2016. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Nothing More - HM Magazine". Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  9. ^ a b "Nothing More have 17 new songs written". Teamrock.com. September 23, 2016. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  10. ^ "DISTURBED Drummer: Hard Rock And Heavy Metal Scene Is 'Thriving Right Now'". Blabbermouth.net. November 4, 2016. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  11. ^ "The 10 albums that changed my life, by Nothing More's Jonny Hawkins". Teamrock.com. September 21, 2016. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  12. ^ a b The Stories We Tell Ourselves (inlay cover). Nothing More. Eleven Seven Music. 2017.CS1 maint: others (link)
  13. ^ a b c d e f "Nothing More's Jonny Hawkins on Grammy Nods: 'We're Standing on the Shoulders of Giants'". Billboard.com. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  14. ^ a b c "Nothing More Shares 'Let 'Em Burn' Lyric Video: Exclusive". Billboard.com. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  15. ^ a b c "Album review: 'The Stories We Tell Ourselves' by Nothing More". Axs.com. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  16. ^ a b c d e "Nothing More - The Stories We Tell Ourselves album review". Teamrock.com. October 9, 2017. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  17. ^ a b "Nothing More Launch Pre-Order for 'The Stories We Tell Ourselves' Album". Loudwire. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  18. ^ a b Chad Childers (June 23, 2017). "Nothing More Reveal New Album Details + 'Go to War' Video". Loudwire.com. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  19. ^ "Nothing More Scores First Billboard Chart-Topper With 'Go to War'". Billboard.com. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  20. ^ "NOTHING MORE: Lyric Video For New Song 'Let 'Em Burn'". Blabbermouth.net. August 1, 2017. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  21. ^ a b "Nothing More drop lyric video for new song 'Who We Are' from upcoming album". Axs.com. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  22. ^ "Nothing More share Don't Stop video featuring Jacoby Shaddix". Teamrock.com. November 28, 2017. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  23. ^ "Nothing More rocks with Papa Roach's Jacoby Shaddix in "Don't Stop" video - Music News - ABC News Radio". ABC News Radio.
  24. ^ "Nothing More Reveal New Album Details + 'Go to War' Video". Loudwire. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  25. ^ "Foo Fighters' "Concrete And Gold" Wins US Album Sales Race, Takes #1 On Billboard 200 (Updated)". Headlineplanet.com. September 22, 2017. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  26. ^ "Foo Fighters Heading for No. 1 on Billboard 200 Albums Chart With 'Concrete and Gold'". Billboard.com. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  27. ^ a b c d Staff, Variety (November 28, 2017). "Grammy Nominations 2018: Complete List". Variety.com. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  28. ^ "Nothing More Chart History". Billboard.com. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
  29. ^ ""Their work ethic will make them one of the biggest bands in the world": How Nothing More scooped three Grammy nominations". Musicweek.com. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  30. ^ "Nothing More Unveil New Video, Just Say When — Kerrang!". Kerrang!.
  31. ^ https://www.loudersound.com/news/nothing-more-tackle-the-horror-of-mass-shootings-in-let-em-burn-video
  32. ^ a b "Nothing More's 'The Stories We Tell Ourselves' has more hooks, more layers, more feeling - Reviews - Alternative Press". Alternative Press. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  33. ^ a b "Nothing More - The Stories We Tell Ourselves - HM Magazine". Hmmagazine.com. September 11, 2017. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  34. ^ a b "Nothing More, 'The Stories We Tell Ourselves' - Album Review". Loudwire. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  35. ^ a b "Nothing More - The Stories We Tell Ourselves". Themusic.com.au. Retrieved December 16, 2017.
  36. ^ "Nothing More Chart History (Canadian Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  37. ^ "Nothing More Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  38. ^ "Nothing More Chart History (Independent Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  39. ^ "Nothing More Chart History (Top Hard Rock Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved September 26, 2017.