20 May 2010 - Story Of Luck In The Frame (South Wales Evening Post)
Unique works of art with a brushstroke of Welsh musical genius are to go on sale. Each of the nine pieces is an item of original artwork from the forthcoming final album of Swansea band The Storys.
All crafted by lead singer Steve Balsamo, a former Swansea Institute art student, the lino-cuts are inspired by the album's title, Luck.
Featured elements include a dice, a star, a black cat, an eight-ball and a pair of crossed fingers. The framed A3 one-offs will be exhibited from June 1 in the city's Grand Theatre until the Americana sextet's two farewell shows there on June 18 and 19.
Framing has just been completed at Swansea city centre bespoke picture framer Ocean Gallery.
Balsamo said: "The album's artwork was a real pleasure to do - the band wanted me to reflect that we'd had so much great luck in our time together. When a few fans saw it they suggested we allow them and others to have this little piece of this work to remember us by. I did the cuts when we were recording Luck in Llanelli and everyone was really pleased with the look. The texture and the browns, reds and golds give them a lovely vibe full of warmth and soul."
The lino-cuts, in their gold frames and signed by Balsamo, are to go on sale soon on the band's website.
May 2010 - Exclusive Interview (Gary Bolsom, Plugged-In Magazine)
8 Mar 2010 - New Album To End Final Chapter For The Storys (Robin Turner, Western Mail)
One of Wales' most admired rock bands will release a new album before they split up this summer, they revealed yesterday.
The Storys have toured with Sir Elton John and Celine Dion and supported the likes of Tom Jones, Van Morrison, Santana and Katie Melua.
Lead singer and former West End star Steve Balsamo said: "This album has come as a big surprise to us. We started work on it last summer then decided to split - so we never thought we'd finish it. However, we listened to the recordings again over the New Year, started trialling new tracks and some real magic started happening."
The working title of the Swansea sextet's third album is Luck. It will have between 10 and 12 new tracks and is being finalised this month at the Sonic-One studios in Llangennech, near Llanelli.
Balsamo added: "It might seem quirky to release an album before going our separate ways, but that's just like us. The new songs are good, they could only be tracks by The Storys and we fully expect them to take on a life of their own once the album's out."
The album will be released on the independent Angel Air label this summer, after previous albums The Storys and Town Beyond The Trees.
Formed in 2003, the Americana-influenced group has built up a large and devoted following around the world.
They found fame by being highly praised by veteran Radio 2 DJ Bob Harris, whose father hails from Pontardawe.
Then Sir Elton John heard the band's first album and signed them up for his British tour.
Luck will be the first Storys album to feature singer-songwriter guitarist Rosalie Deighton, who replaced original member Dai Smith in 2008.
The band's farewell concert will take place at Swansea's Grand Theatre on June 19.
Balsamo said: "We've had a great seven years together and have memories that will be with us for the rest of our lives. However, we all think the time's right to try something new. We all have our own projects to take forward and we're eager to support each other - there are a lot of exciting things in the pipeline. Our big hometown gig in the summer will be an end to The Storys at this stage but we'll leave the door open to possibly getting back together in future years," he added.
"We thank our fans from the bottom of our hearts for all their support; we look forward to giving them a fantastic final live show."
3 Mar 2010 - How Wales Helped The Beatles Make It Big (Nathan Bevan, Wales Online)
The Beatles' influence still proliferates through the Welsh music scene today, said The Storys' Steve Balsamo.
"We're all massive, massive fans and Andy our bass player has based his entire style on McCartney's - he's his hero," said the Swansea singer and one-time West End star.
"For me, Paul is one of the best pop singers who's ever lived, never mind his song-writing which, of course, is genius. He's often overlooked in the that field, but he's such a fearless performer and that type of person comes around very seldom. If I could attain just half of that quality in what I do I'd die happy."
Balsamo said echoes of Liverpool's finest can be heard in other homegrown artists' work.
"Without a doubt it's there in albums by bands like Super Furry Animals - their singer Gruff [Rhys] is clearly an absolute Beatles nut. You can smell it a mile off," he said. "And, as far as I'm concerned, modern music is all the better for that."
24 Jan 2010 - Storys Come To An End (Rachel Mainwaring, Wales on Sunday)
Sir Elton John's favourite Welsh band The Storys may be splitting up but they plan to go out with a bang in an emotional June 19 farewell gig.
Formed in 2003, they released two albums, played headline gigs and supported Van Morrison, Santana and Katie Melua. Lead singer and former West End star Steve Balsamo said the time had come to call it a day.
"We've had a great six years together and have memories that will be with us for the rest of our lives. However, we all think the time's right to try something new. We all have our own projects to take forward and we're eager to support each other. Our big hometown gig in the summer will be an end to The Storys at this stage but we'll leave the door open to possibly getting back together in future years. We thank our fans from the bottom of our hearts and look forward to a fantastic final live show."
The Storys at Swansea Grand, June 19. Tickets £17.50, on sale now, from 01792 475715.
23 Dec 2009 - Storys Over As Band Members Call It A Day (South Wales Evening Post)
Popular Swansea band The Storys have left fans shocked by announcing they are to split.
The city sextet, who have supported big names including Elton John, will bow out at an emotional farewell gig in the Grand Theatre next summer. But they have not ruled out a reunion further down the line.
Singer and guitarist Steve Balsamo said: "We've had a great six years together and have memories that will be with us for the rest of our lives. However, we all think the time's right to try something new. We all have our own projects to take forward and we're eager to support each other — there are a lot of exciting things in the pipeline. Our big hometown gig in the summer will be an end to The Storys at this stage but we'll leave the door open to possibly getting back together in future years."
The Storys were formed in 2003 by Balsamo, Andy Collins (vocals and bass), Dai Smith (vocals and guitar), Alan Thomas (keyboards, mandolin and banjo), Brian Thomas (drums and percussion) and Rob Thompson (vocals and guitar). Smith departed in summer 2008 and was replaced by Rosalie Deighton (vocals and guitar).
They recorded their first album, The Storys, in 2004 and played their first gig before more than 70,000 music fans at the Olympic Torch Concert outside Buckingham Palace. It was soon followed by a support slot with Tom Jones, a busy gigging schedule and singles releases. A second album, Town Beyond the Trees, was released in 2008.
The Storys have supported Elton John, Celine Dione, Van Morrison, Santana and Katie Melua, and appeared in the Jason Statham movie The Bank Job. They have a large and devoted following across Wales, the UK and as far afield as Holland and Germany. The Swansea- based outfit specialise in strong 1970s-style West Coast-influenced songs.
The Storys have been big supporters of worthy causes, including the rebuilding of Neath's fire-destroyed Gwyn Hall, the RNLI, Macmillan Nurses and the Teenage Cancer Trust. Side projects, which will continue, have seen Balsamo work with Deep Purple's Jon Lord and with Rob Thompson in new band Oystermouth, and Alan and Brian Thomas work together as duo Eaglesbush.
Collins, Deighton and Thompson all have solo recording projects on the go. Tickets are now on sale for the farewell concert in Swansea's Grand Theatre on June 19.
"We thank our fans from the bottom of our hearts for all their support," said Balsamo. "We look forward to giving them a fantastic final live show."
28 Feb 2009 - Music Venue The Point Announces Its Closure (Tim Lewis, South Wales Echo)
The Storys lead singer Steve Balsamo said he hoped a backer could be found to save The Point - which still retains many of its 109-year-old architectural features.
"I'm shocked and gutted by the news," said Balsamo, who was due to play a charity gig at the venue in April.
"The Point was the first place we played as a band when we released our debut album and it's one of our favourite venues not just in Wales but in the world. Why not see if we can get all the bands who have ever played there to do some sort of benefit gig and raise money to try to save it? Cardiff cannot afford to lose The Point because it's one of the places that helps to make it unique."
26 Feb 2009 - Harmony In The Ranks For Hometown Gig (Llanelli Star)
The Storys welcome another character to the fold, with folk singer Rosalie Deighton joining the line-up in time for their Brangwyn Hall gig tonight.
The Swansea band have added a touch of feminine charm to the line-up with 31-year-old Rosalie, a singer in the Kate Rusby mould who struck up a friendship with the lads after supporting them on some past gigs.
Frontman Steve Balsamo says she is an asset. "She really adds to our sound. She's a fantastic singer and a signed songwriter, and apart from the glamour, her voice brings great harmony."
A gig on home turf is always something to look forward to," he says. "Since the Liberty Stadium gig, we have been touring all over Ireland, Holland and Germany. We are very excited about doing the Brangwyn Hall gig. It's going to be a great night. We've played the Grand Theatre a couple of times, but the Brangwyn Hall is such a prestigious venue, and most of us are from in and around that area. I grew up around the corner, in King Edward Road. It's just one of those milestones."
The gig will also be a chance for fans to hear some new material. "We are in the studio as we speak and we will be showcasing it at the Brangwyn Hall gig. Whatever songs get the biggest clap on the night will be going on the next record."
20 Feb 2009 - From Fan To Storys Member (Lydia Whitfield, Western Mail)
It's been a great week for Welsh musicians with Duffy scooping three awards in the Brits. Swansea band The Storys are male, mostly bearded and Welsh but their newest member - and biggest fan - is anything but. Lydia Whitfield spoke to singer Rosalie Deighton.
"I won them over initially with my apple crumble," laughs singer-songwriter Rosalie Deighton who, as a long-time fan of Swansea band The Storys, recently bagged herself the spot as their new singer.
"When they were recording their second album at Peter Gabriel's studio with producer Jon Kelly, who is a really good friend of mine, I made an apple crumble and gave it to Jon to pass on. They loved it."
Today, rehearsing with three of the five men from the band - singer and guitarist Steve Balsamo, bass player and singer Andy Collins and singer and guitarist Rob Thompson - in Rob's front room because their planned rehearsal venue fell through at the last minute, Rosalie adds: "I don't bake so much now I'm with the band though!"
Born in Holland to an Indonesian mother and British father, Rosalie's family moved to Barnsley, Yorkshire, when she was just eight and though she's now based in West London, she stays here with Rob and his young family whenever she's in Swansea with the band, who formed in 2003.
"The thing is," she says, "I can't just go walking into someone else's kitchen and start baking, can I?"
"You can," Rob quips, before letting her know there's an apple tree in the garden she can help herself to.
With an infectious and ready laugh, 32-year-old Rosalie gives as good as she gets with the joking and banter and her singing and songwriting talents also match the men's. They wind her up about popping to the pub while she chats with me. Because, though she was never much of a drinker before, Rosalie has stepped up her game with the usual rock and roll drinking associated with being in a band. Though, disappointingly for her, she is currently on antibiotics for an infection she picked up during a recent minor operation, so couldn't partake even if she wasn't with me.
"I had a sip of a friend's alcopop at the weekend and it nearly had me on my knees," she giggles. "And I had been doing so well. I used to be able to only drink one glass of wine with dinner, but now, after three tins of Stella, I'm still standing. I'm having a great time."
"I've been such a big fan of The Storys. I first saw them at the 100 Club in London and had a smile from ear to ear the whole night just listening to them. I think it was their harmonies I loved. I grew up listening to music like Emmylou Harris and the Everly Brothers, so loved The Storys."
"Steve and I knew about each other through friends, so I called him and asked if I could come along to promote my new album and invited myself onto their tour. I grew up in a family band, but hadn't heard harmonies like that before. I went on tour with The Storys and they haven't been able to get rid of me since."
Though she mentions it almost as an aside, The Deighton family in fact toured the world playing folk festivals with their eclectic repertoire of bluegrass, country and folk. Rosalie's family - dad Dave, mum Josie, and siblings Maya, Arthur, Kathleen and Angelina - won awards from the American National Public radio station, including Record of the Year in 1988.
"I spent my summer and Easter holidays touring with the family," says Rosalie. "Though they're retired now, Dad makes guitars - he gives me a very good discount. The others have married and had kids and are still in music and my youngest sister is a paediatric nurse - the only one of us with a proper job!"
Rosalie was playing spoons by the time she was four and soon progressed to mandolin and fiddle, touring with the family until she was 19.
"We moved to Barnsley in the middle of the Miners' Strike and were one of very few non-mining families there. We would do little concerts for the families and Mum would cook up a feast for the whole street - they had never seen anything like it.
"I didn't really fit in at school and the careers people would ask what I was going to do. I would say, 'Don't be silly. I'm going to be a rock star!' I was kicked off my music GCSE because they didn't think I would be good enough. I got a record deal with EMI at 19, so that was two fingers up at my music teachers!"
After EMI, Rosalie was signed for four years to Independiente Records, who have represented artists like Travis and Paul Weller, and she was published by Chrysalis, who she is still with, while Echo Records is now her label.
"I'm having such a blast with the boys, though still do solo gigs," she says. "But since joining this band, I take the boys with me, as well as my own band. It gets the ladies in!"
"I toured with Travis and Roxy Music, so am used to being around blokes and get their jokes and their drinking. Without sounding schmalzy, these Storys guys are so nice. I know it's not very rock and roll! I shouldn't really say this, but with men, what you see is usually what you get. Whereas women are a bit more complicated. I feel sorry for men having to go out with us because women are so complex!"
This doesn't seem to be the case for Rosalie herself, whose boyfriend of six months, Greg Hill, works for Siyan, a company designing lighting and stage shows for bands like the Killers, Feeder and Elbow. They met in Germany, where he was designing for a band she was supporting.
"I've never been very girly or into fashion and wear whatever makes me look as slim as possible!" she says. "But when I was touring with The Storys, the two guys I live with called me to say we had to be out of the house by the end of the month, before I got back from touring. They had to move all my stuff into our new house for me and were saying, 'How many pairs of shoes have you got?' I thought I had about four pairs of trainers for my running and a few for wearing out."
"My housemates thought I was crazy with all the shoes I get given on photo shoots, which they had moved for me. I box them and put them away instead of wearing them. There is an Alexander McQueen pair I was given for shooting for my first album, but they're still in the box. I love handbags too and was given a beautiful woven Mulberry one, but it's a bit too nice."
"I'm not keen on shoots or having my photo taken. If I'm playing, it's fine, but otherwise I've always got my mouth open from laughing, because I laugh quite a lot!"
As such a happy, contented person, it's surprising that Rosalie describes her own lyrics as "melancholy and sad". And her source of inspiration is also unexpected.
"I go to Starbucks and listen in on other people's problems, or watch Jeremy Kyle," she says. "The problem is, I then worry during the day about the people on Jeremy Kyle. I worry if they're OK now and it upsets me! Because my lyrics are all about unrequited love and death, The Storys are trying to bring me out of the darkness a bit."
"There's a lot of hanging around on a tour bus or with supporting Van Morrison, for example. We had to be at the venue for 2pm, but weren't on stage until 7pm, so we write."
Rosalie performed her first official gig with The Storys at the Liberty Stadium at the end of June, when they were supporting Elton John. She says: "That was a weird one. The Storys' singer Dai Smith had to take a bit of time off and I stepped in. There were 26,000 in the audience, which was just surreal. So it only all started coming back to me in snippets afterwards."
While she enjoys being in Swansea songwriting with the boys, she initially had problems understanding the Swansea accent.
"Our tour manager Lawrence and Andy would be chatting and to begin with, I was trying to lip read but when I would go back to London I apparently had a slight Swansea twang.
"The new songs we've been working on are brilliant - the best thing ever, obviously! It's very Fleetwood Mac. Harmonies are definitely back. We were sat here yesterday singing harmonies, and I'm looking at the guys and they're looking here, thinking, 'This sounds great.' I'm still a fan at the end of the day, so am sat here saying, 'That was amazing.' I'm not very cool."
"Greg tells me I'm the uncoolest person in the world. Steve was doing this thing with Ginger Baker and asked if I wanted to go along. I thought it was a gig but got there and it was a nerd fest for drummers with half-hour solos. I was the only girl there and was bored out of my mind."
"I could hear this guy talking to Charlie Watts and recognised the voice, but couldn't think who it was. It was Simon King, one of the Hairy Bikers, and Steve told him I make a better apple crumble than he does. We're having a bit of an apple crumble face-off!"
"I would like to master how to make Battenberg cake. That's my favourite. I was in bed by 9.30pm last night watching a Woody Allen film then dreaming of Battenberg. Very rock and roll!"
Rosalie insists she has a very healthy appetite and her constant food references confirm this. "I'm a big eater so run six miles every day," she says. "I enjoy the running, because it's my chance to have 45 minutes on my own, figuring things out. I don't even run with music. When you're on a tour bus 24/7, though I'm lucky to have my own room with this band, it's a good time to have to myself. And the running is good so I can enjoy my food."
When on tour, Rosalie's rider has now switched from carrots, apples, ginger and a bit of meat to the boys' rider of wine and Stella.
"And," confides Rosalie, "I'm quite partial to a slice of pork pie! I love cooking lots of Indonesian food and Greg cooks lots of Thai food. He came round in the early days and cooked an amazing dish and couldn't believe how much I ate! He makes great cocktails too."
"I was supposed to go to the Folk Awards earlier this month, when we had snow in London. I couldn't get out of the drive at Greg's so we spent the day making snowmen and cocktails. Dad phoned later to ask how James Taylor had been. I couldn't believe it! I would have walked 20 miles in the snow if I had known he was going to be at the awards."
Asked how each member fits into her new band, Rosalie says: "Al is the biggest drinker in the band, definitely. He's some kind of God or Zen-like figure with beer. And Rob is very dark. He's a quiet thinker, or likes to think he is, at least!"
"Andy is just bonkers and Steve is eccentric in his own little way as well as being the woman magnet and heartthrob. Al and Brian keep themselves to themselves really. They're the wise owls."
"My housemate says to me, 'You are the luckiest, jammiest ****** ever. You've got two record deals and joined your favourite band ever.' I guess I am lucky."
31 Jan 2009 - West Is Best For Storys' Sound (Geraint Thomas, South Wales Evening Post)
Forget Abbey Road - Swansea band The Storys have chosen a little-known Llanelli studio to cut their new album.
The six-piece outfit have decamped to the Sonic One Studio in Llangennech for their first stab at laying down material for their third album.
The band was formed in 2003, with Steve Balsamo at the helm, playing a '70s West Coast-influenced country rock style.
They have quietly built up a large fan base, which includes some major stars with Elton John personally calling the band to say how much he loved their debut album. The move saw them support the rocket man at his Liberty Stadium gig last summer.
They have recently returned from touring Europe and headed straight into the studio owned by Tim Hamill, himself a musician of note as part of Mal Pope's band the Jacks.
Steve said: "I've known Tim for almost 20 years, he used to have a studio in Kidwelly, but opened this place in 2005. It's a superb set-up and Tim is a great engineer, producer and a great guitarist. It's very inspiring when you work with someone as fantastic as he is. The ideas just flow and he is so quick to put them down, it makes it an absolute joy - sometimes it can be like pulling teeth when you work with people who don't know what they are doing. I have been all around the world and Tim is as good as anyone I've seen. It's also nice to keep it local."
Although a completion date has yet to be set, the band are likely to try out some of their new material in a special concert in the Brangwyn Hall, Swansea on Feb 26.
"We will be showcasing it at the Brangwyn Hall gig - whatever songs get the biggest clap on the night will be going on the next record," the singer joked.
The Swansea gig will give the band's fan base a chance to meet the newest member, who, as Steve says, adds a touch of glamour to the line-up.
"Unfortunately Dai Smith left the band last year, but has been replaced by a fantastic singer songwriter called Rosalie Deighton who has toured as a support act with the band over the last couple of tours," he said. "She really adds to our sound, she's a fantastic singer and a signed songwriter. Apart from the glamour, her fantastic voice brings great harmony. She really enhances the Storys."
Dec 2008 - Maverick Magazine
7 Sep 2008 - Why Are British Bands Embracing Alt Country? (The Times)
Steve Balsamo, front man with the Storys - a Swansea band who have updated the harmonically layered California dreaminess of the Eagles - doesn't deny the influence, or the geographical incongruity. "We did take cues from the Eagles, Crosby, Stills & Nash and Fleetwood Mac," he says. "There's a romantic idea about America, always has been. It's so vast, any band wants to go there, get in a van and drive across it. If you talk about Oklahoma or Tulsa, it's going to be more romantic than Swansea or Cardiff, unfortunately."
The full article can be found online at: www.timesonline.co.uk
Sep 2008 - Swansea Life
Aug 2008 - Swansea Life
Summer 2008 - Classic Rock Magazine
8 Jul 2008 - Storys To Support Santana (South Wales Evening Post)
Rockers The Storys hope to win over more fans after getting another high-profile support slot with a top name artist.
The Swansea six-piece will be sharing the stage with rock legend Carlos Santana during the Mexican guitarist's tour of Switzerland later this month.
It marks a productive past few weeks for the band. Earlier this month they played to 25,000 music fans at Elton John's Liberty Stadium gig, and sales of their album in Holland went through the roof after supporting Celine Dion in Amsterdam.
Frontman Steve Balsamo said: "It's an exciting time for the band. The Carlos Santana support slot is going to be amazing - we're all big fans of his."
2 Jul 2008 - Storys Play For Church Repairs (South Wales Evening Post)
Church leaders have been singing the praises of Swansea band The Storys for helping them raise thousands of pounds.The group, who supported Elton John at his Liberty Stadium extravaganza, were among local stars who agreed to perform in aid of St Barnabas's Church in Waunarlwydd.
And it really was a case of love thy neighbour, as the charity concert was organised by St Peter's Church in nearby Cockett.
Earlier this year, St Barnabas's launched an appeal to raise more than GBP 75,000 to repair and restore the church and church hall. Members of St Peter's Church were aware of the appeal - and warden Norman Hathaway decided to play his part. Mr Hathaway enlisted the help of West End star and Storys lead singer Steve Balsamo, who in turn arranged for an array of his friends to perform for free of charge.
A capacity audience packed St Peter's for a concert featuring The Storys, Mal Pope, Lorraine King, Mark Rueberry, Scotty, Phil James, Karl Morgan and Petra Morgan, and Kevin Johns acting as compere. It resulted in More than GBP 3,000 being was raised for the cause. Rev Davies described it as an act of Christian kindness.
30 Jun 2008 - Rocket Man Elton John At Full Power For Swansea Date - (Emma Jones, South Wales Evening Post)
A Record crowd rocked the Liberty Stadium last night as Sir Elton John blasted out an explosive two-and-a-half hour repertoire of his greatest hits.
Around 25,000 fans packed the stadium to hear the Rocket Man and his band belt out countless classics from a catalogue spanning the past four decades.
Support acts Richard Fleeshman - of Coronation Street fame - and Swansea band The Storys warmed up the masses ahead of Sir Elton's spectacle of old and new favourites.
The Storys' lead singer Steve Balsamo told the audience: "It's an absolute dream come true to be performing at the Liberty Stadium alongside Elton John."
And then the pop world's most flamboyant star took to the stage in what was a breathtaking performance - his first in Swansea and his only Welsh tour date this year.
2 Jun 2008 - Storys' Titanic Gig Support (South Wales Evening Post)
Swansea rockers The Storys were today sharing a stage with singing superstar Celine Dion in Amsterdam.The Swansea-based six-piece will be playing to 40,000 fans of the world's best-selling female artist in one of Europe's top venues, the Amsterdam ArenA.
The hard-working band, will be making the dash north from Monte Carlo where they have been playing the last five nights. "This is a huge thrill for us," said lead singer Steve Balsamo. "Celine's one of the world's top stars, has an incredible global record, and we're all in awe of her astounding voice. The arena will be packed out and our set will give us a great chance to go direct to the Dutch who are really loving us at the moment. Monte Carlo's been fantastic. We got a brilliant reception in one of the most iconic locations. And the Amsterdam gig will be awesome."
The band's second album, Town Beyond The Trees, was released this year to critical acclaim. It has gained particular favour in Holland.
On June 29 they will be performing on home soil, supporting Elton John at Swansea's Liberty Stadium. On July 10 The Storys support Santana in Locarno, Switzerland, from July 15 to 19 they support Runrig in Germany and on August 3 they feature with Sinead O'Connor at Belgium's Lokerse Feesten.
Apr 2008 - The Storys (Motorbar.co.uk)
Following on from the successful release of their new album Town Beyond The Trees on their own label - Hall - The Storys take their classic style of West Coast rock around Europe starting, on 1 May, in Britain...
The Storys hit the road following stand-out live performances at legendary venues King Tuts, 100 Club and, not forgetting, an impromptu gig at the Glasgow Odeon screening of new British blockbuster The Bank Job, a film in which they feature.
The Swansea six-piece comprise of no less than four singer/song-writers, adding much versatility to their melodic brand of Americana and drawing comparisons to The Eagles, The Byrds and The Burrito Brothers.
"Balsamo has a truly spellbinding voice and The Storys' melodic mandolin-backed ballads and jaunty rockers should spark some serious interest" - The Times
"It's the attention to detail that marks The Storys out. Road tested and tight as a bear hug they are cresting a creative peak" - Rock'n'Reel
"The Storys proved to have terrific personalities and they shine at their live performances" - MotorBar
The Storys visit Monte Carlo, Munich, Hamburg and Dublin on their tour, during which time they take to the stage in their hometown Swansea to support Elton John, on 29th June. With this Euro jaunt, The Storys will surely continue to gain even more plaudits for their brilliant live act.
At The Storys' recent showcase to the Media at the BBC Club in London (March, 2008), MotorBar had the opportunity to listen to the band live - and it was an amazing experience...
Having already reviewed Town Beyond The Trees, an exceptional album with the title track of particular merit, we knew what to expect. They're great musicians and singers and sound fantastic on the album tracks. But live performances can be, if you'll forgive the pun, a different story.
A band performing live is opened up. They are exposed as individuals; not just performers. The Storys proved to have terrific personalities and they shine at their live performances. They interact visibly with each other and with their audience; they are professional, very natural and really do look as if they are enjoying themselves. They are as good to watch as they are to listen to and the rapport between the six musicians who make up The Storys is remarkable.
Lead vocalist Steve Balsamo, told MotorBar: "What you see is what you get. We go back a long way and we get on well. We couldn't work together as closely as we do - on stage and writing songs - if we didn't have that bond."
There is an element of the Seventies about The Storys so it wasn't surprising that when a band from that era was needed for the film The Bank Job - the current Number One box office smash starring Jason Statham - The Storys were invited to take part.
By sheer chance, while in Glasgow for a gig at the legendary King Tuts and staying at the Paisley Road Travel Lodge, The Storys' bassist Andy Collins slipped out for a drink and noticed that the Odeon on Springfield Quay was showing The Bank Job.
Steve explains: "Andy popped in and got chatting with the manager. The conversation turned to the film and the fact that the band were in it - and as a result we set up in the foyer between shows and played six or seven acoustic numbers, with just a vocal PA. We played to one audience coming out and another coming in, so we ended up with quite a crowd. They were lovely people and really enjoyed it. Some of them came to the gig the next day too."
The set included tracks from the film, including I Believe In Love as well as tracks from the band's new album Town Beyond The Trees, which is released on 31 March (2008).
Mixing the country rock harmonies of The Eagles and Crosby Stills Nash & Young with the acoustic side of Led Zeppelin and the West coast pop of The Byrds and The Burrito Brothers, The Storys have already won many fans - including Elton John, with whom they play at Swansea Liberty Stadium on 29 June (2008).
A big band with melodies and vocal harmonies to match, The Storys are: Steve Balsamo (vocals/guitar); Andy Collins (vocals/bass); Dai Smith (vocals/guitar); Rob Thompson (vocals/guitar); Brian Thomas (drums/percussion) and Alan Thomas (keys/mandolin/banjo). Great guys! Great songs!
4 Apr 2008 - Band Help Rock Coffers For Bay Lifeboat Crew (South Wales Evening Post)
Rising rockers The Storys kick-started the launch of their new album with a special acoustic gig - and helped a lifeboat service in the process.The Swansea six-piece showcased songs at an intimate concert in Mumbles, which was broadcast on BBC Radio Wales.
And rather than pocket the cash from the gig, singer Steve Balsamo said the GBP 1,395 would be handed to Mumbles RNLI.
"All six of us are rooted in Swansea Bay. We love the sea, but are also aware how dangerous it can be," he said.
The gig took place at the Ostreme Centre, Newton Road, on Monday. The Storys played stripped-down versions of songs from their latest album Town Beyond The Trees.
Lifeboat crew secretary Garry Tanner was in the crowd. He said: "It was great of the band to think of RNLI volunteers at Mumbles. This gig means a hell of a lot to us."
4 Apr 2008 - Life With The Storys (Steffan Rhys, Western Mail)
The profile of Welsh band The Storys went into orbit after they supported Sir Elton John on his world tour. As they release their second album, Steffan Rhys catches up with lead singer Steve Balsamo who insists their lifestyle is still far from rock 'n' roll.
If The Storys were to pick a soundtrack for the pace of their lives right now, it certainly wouldn't be the mellow 1970s West Coast Americana for which they are swiftly gaining recognition. The momentum of the Swansea sextet is snowballing, having released their second album to great acclaim this week and appearing at their hometown's Liberty Stadium in support of Elton John this summer.
"It is pretty hectic at the moment but it's great," says lead singer Steve Balsamo from a London airport en route to Greece for a one-off solo gig supporting his friend, the Greek tenor Mario Frangoulis. "We released the album this week and we've had some brilliant reviews so far - mostly four stars - including in Uncut, which is a big one. We had a great time making it, put a lot of effort in as you do and we're really excited about getting out there and playing it."
The band will be showcasing the album in Monte Carlo and Germany, among other destinations across Europe, and they released it via a live acoustic show on Alan Thompson's Evening Show on BBC Radio Wales on Monday.
They're also currently appearing in cinemas across the country in new heist film The Bank Job, starring Jason Statham, after director Roger Donaldson (Cocktail, Dante's Peak) invited them to make a cameo appearance following a chance meeting at London's Regal Rooms. They also perform three songs for the film's soundtrack.
And they've secured some pretty hefty backing in the shape of promoters Marshall Arts, who also look after Paul McCartney, Prince and Elton John and, coincidentally, started their business looking after another Swansea cult band, Man.
"They've been watching us for the last couple of years and want to showcase us in Europe and they've got some clout," says 36-year-old Balsamo. "But when they heard our accents they said 'Don't tell me they're Welsh - here we go again'."
Tales surrounding Man have them being arrested in Belgium and brawling with an Icelandic audience, among other things.
"The Man band were obviously bonkers, a psychedelic band," says Balsamo, who, despite himself and the whole band living in Swansea, Neath or Port Talbot, says they have eschewed the kind of raucous behaviour you might expect from rising Welsh rock stars. "We're as good as gold, we just want to get out and play, we don't want any nonsense," he says. "We live in Swansea, most of us, my brother was on Wind Street the other night and said it was manic. But we're just hard working. We have a party and a drink and a laugh but we're trying to get on and anyone who wants to get on needs to take things quite seriously. I can't trash my voice for one thing."
The Storys mix the country rock harmonies of The Eagles and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young with the acoustic side of Led Zeppelin and the West Coast pop of The Byrds and The Burrito Brothers, a soothing, long-haired Easy Rider vibe with a darker edge - a sound that has already won many fans.
Perhaps their growing popularity is no surprise with the current trend for the return of these musical heavyweights, with Neil Young touring the UK this summer and Zeppelin having created nothing short of hysteria for their reunion O2 Arena gig recently.
Town Beyond The Trees was issued on the band's own Hall label, named after the converted cinema where their self produced debut album was recorded. It was recorded at Peter Gabriel's Real World studio in 2007, with producer Jon Kelly, whose CV includes Kate Bush, The Beautiful South, Paul McCartney, Chris Rea and The Damned.
"I think we're reaching where want to reach. We've come incredibly far and getting the chance to record at Real World was a milestone - that's in the same bracket as Abbey Road," says Balsamo.
But though they have toured with Elton John and Joe Cocker, come of their next gigs also include St David's Church in Neath and the noted St Bonaventure's Club in Bristol.
"The irony is that if we were a covers band we'd probably make five times as much money covering Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young songs," says Balsamo. "The gigs with Elton and Joe Cocker have been great in raising our profile but along the way there are several tiers and we're still on our way up. You fill those venues then you can start moving on to the Academies. You've got to put those gigs in."
Profits from The Storys' Radio Wales gig at the Ostreme Centre in Mumbles on Monday went to the Mumbles RNLI lifeboat, with the band - Balsamo (vocals, guitar), Andy Collins (vocals, bass), Dai Smith (vocals, guitar), Rob Thompson (vocals, guitar), Brian Thomas (drums, percussion) and Alan Thomas (keys, mandolin, banjo) - saying they were rooted in the area and appreciated the RNLI's work.
So where's the connection between six boys from Swansea and West Coast America's 1970s guitar rock?
"There is a romance in it which we're really into but also an irony in the way that these kind of hippy bands became very wealthy very quickly," says Balsamo. "But look back at bands like Man and Badfinger [another Swansea band, from the 1960s] - they were harmony bands who weren't afraid of melody. Even bands like the Manics, Feeder and Gorky's are melodic so we have carte blanche to be melodic because of the history. Perhaps it's linked to being Welsh. Men singing together is always powerful. The South Wales music scene at the moment is absolutely incredible. There are a load of rock bands. We played South By Southwest [in Texas] last year and we went on after The Automatic, which was a mistake we won't make again. I don't get scared very often but I was shaking in my boots going on after them."
Balsamo was used to professionally belting out songs long before The Storys and made a name for himself as the lead in a West End production of Jesus Christ Superstar. But his first love is the band.
"There's more money in the theatre and I still get lucrative offers all the time," he says. "But nothing gets me going more than bands - going into a room with nothing, there's a bit of alchemy and then there's a song. If it's good it will fly and if not it will die. My heart is definitely in the band and songwriting but that's not to say I'll never go back."
The Storys play St David's Church, Neath on April 19 and support Elton John at the Liberty Stadium, Swansea on June 29. New album, Town Beyond The Trees, and new single, Long Hard Road, are out now.
2 Apr 2008 - South Wales Band The Storys Perform For RNLI (RNLI Website)
South Wales band The Storys launched their new album with a special acoustic concert broadcast to the whole of Wales on BBC radio. Profits from the performance - showcasing album Town Beyond The Trees - have gone to the Mumbles RNLI lifeboat. The money raised was GBP 1,395.
The gig took place at the Ostreme Centre in central Mumbles, on March 31. It raised the RNLI's profile as BBC Radio Wales broadcast the concert live on the Evening Show, presented by Alan Thompson.
The Storys lead singer Steve Balsamo said: "All six of us are rooted in the Swansea Bay area; we love the sea here but are also aware how dangerous it can be. We loved the gig in Mumbles and were delighted to help the RNLI."
Mumbles volunteer crew members Dai Thomas, Rob Jenkins, Chris Vaughan and Nigel Garner attended the concert and were delighted with the amount raised from the night. Lifeboat crew secretary Garry Tanner said: "It was great of the band to think of RNLI volunteers at Mumbles as the crew prepare for their busiest time - the summer season".
The concert venue holds only around 120 so tickets sold out quickly. Support acts were Haverfordwest-based acoustic trio The Crook Family and Mumbles-based singer-songwriter Mal Pope - the Evening Show's co-host.
The Storys are currently enjoying UK-wide exposure in new Jason Statham movie The Bank Job in which they star in a wedding scene. They played a live set for national audiences on BBC Radio Two and will support Sir Elton John at his concert this summer at Swansea's Liberty Stadium.
More gigs by The Storys are planned in the coming weeks. New album Town Beyond The Trees was released on CD on March 31 and can be downloaded from iTunes.
1 Apr 2008 - Album Launch Helps Lifeboat Crew (BBC Wales Website)
A band with more than a passing interest in the sea has launched their latest album with a special concert for the local lifeboat.
The Swansea-based Storys also performed a set from Town Beyond the Trees live on BBC Radio Wales.
Mumbles RNLI lifeboat said it was great of the band to think of them as they prepared for their busiest period.
The band's lead singer Steve Balsamo said all six members were "rooted" in the area and knew of the sea's dangers. Balsamo said: "We've grown up in the same coastal communities as the lifeboat crews so we have a broad understanding of how important they are. The sea is a brilliant playground to people of all ages who live in south Wales or visit the region, but it can also be dangerous. The simple fact is that the lifeboats are manned by volunteers who save lives; it's difficult to think of a more worthy calling in life."
Mumbles lifeboat crew secretary Gary Tanner said the concert came as the crew were preparing for their busiest time - the summer season. "Last year RNLI lifeboats rescued more than 8,000 people, an average of 22 a day. As a charity, the RNLI is reliant on voluntary contributions and legacies for income."
The gig at the Ostreme Centre, Mumbles, with tickets for only 120 was also broadcast live on Alan Thompson's the Evening Show on BBC Radio Wales between 1930 and 2130 BST on Monday.
The band said live music was integral to the show - in the 1980s the BBC Wales broadcaster was singer and songwriter in the indie guitar band Peppermint Parlour.
The concert also featured Mumbles based singer songwriter Mal Pope, who is co-host of the Evening Show.
The Storys are currently enjoying UK-wide exposure in the recently released Jason Statham film The Bank Job in which they star in a wedding scene.
They played a live set for national audiences on BBC Radio Two and will support Sir Elton John - who they have played supported on tour for the last two years - at his concert in June at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea.
Apr 2008 - Flipside Magazine
31 Mar 2008 - Fresh Chapter Opens For The Storys - (Karen Price, Western Mail)
One of Elton John's favourite bands - The Storys - will launch their new album with a fundraising acoustic concert tonight, which will be broadcast on BBC Radio Wales.
Life-savers from one of Wales' voluntary rescue services are to benefit from the Swansea six-piece's intimate gig.
Profits from the performance - showcasing tracks from album Town Beyond The Trees - will go to the Mumbles RNLI lifeboat.
The gig takes place at the Ostreme Centre in Mumbles and it is due to be broadcast live on BBC Radio Wales' Alan Thompson show.
Lead singer Steve Balsamo said, "All six of us are rooted in the Swansea Bay area - we love the sea here but are also aware how dangerous it can be. We're happy to help the RNLI."
The Storys won national exposure after they were chosen by Sir Elton John to join him on a major tour. They will be supporting him again when he plays the Liberty Stadium in Swansea this summer.
The band are currently enjoying UK-wide exposure in the new Jason Statham movie The Bank Job in which they star in a wedding scene.
More gigs by The Storys are planned in the coming weeks in support of Town Beyond The Trees, which is released today.
26 Mar 2008 - Storys Gig To Help Fund Lifeboat Work (South Wales Evening Post)
Rockers The Storys will use the launch of their second album to help keep a life-saving service afloat.The Swansea six piece will be previewing material from their new album with a special acoustic gig. Profits from the performance will go to Mumbles RNLI lifeboat fund.
Lead singer Steve Balsamo said: "All six of us are rooted in the Swansea Bay area. We love the sea here, but are also aware how dangerous it can be. So, we're happy to help the RNLI."
The gig takes place at the Ostreme Centre, Mumbles, on Monday, where The Storys will be airing songs from new album Town Of Trees for the first time. It will be broadcast on BBC Radio Wales's Evening Show and profits from the GBP 10 entry fee will go towards the Mumbles Lifeboat Fund. Support acts are acoustic trio The Crook Family and singer-songwriter Mal Pope.
Lifeboat crew secretary Garry Tanner said he was taken aback by the offer from the band. "It's great of The Storys to think of RNLI volunteers at Mumbles as the crew prepare for their busiest time - the summer season," he added. "Last year RNLI lifeboats rescued more than 8,000 people, an average of 22 a day. As a charity, the RNLI is reliant on voluntary contributions and legacies for income."
Meanwhile, it's been something of a busy period for The Storys. As well as appearing in the new Jason Statham movie, The Bank Job, they are gearing up to support Sir Elton John at his Liberty Stadium gig in June. "Things are really taking off at the moment," said The Storys vocalist Steve Balsamo.
22 Mar 2008 - Band Set To Play Intimate Radio Gig (South Wales Evening Post)
Swansea band The Storys are set to create an intimate atmosphere when they play their next live gig in front of just 120 people. But fans will have the chance to catch the gig on BBC Radio Wales on the Evening Show on Monday, March 31, at 7pm.
Presenter Alan Thompson and co-host Mal Pope will be teaming-up to showcase the gig live from the Ostreme Centre in Mumbles, the same day the band's new album, Town Beyond The Trees, is released.
Mal will also be playing, as will Haverfordwest-based acoustic trio the Crook Family.
The Storys, fronted by Swansea's Steve Balsamo, are currently enjoying UK-wide exposure in new Jason Statham movie The Bank Job, in which they star in a wedding scene.
They will also be supporting Elton John when he appears at Swansea's Liberty Stadium in the summer.
18 Mar 2008 - Impromptu Gig From Film's Musical Stars (Andy Johnston, icWales.co.uk)
It's not often that stars of a film entertain the cinema audience between screenings, but that is exactly what happened when South Wales band The Storys delighted Glasgow cinema-goers with an acoustic performance in the foyer between shows of The Bank Job.
The film, which stars Jason Statham, sees the band making a cameo performance as themselves playing two songs on stage and features a version of Money (That's What I Want) playing over the closing credits.
The Storys were in Glasgow for a gig at the legendary King Tuts, and staying in a local hotel, when bassist Andy Collins went out for a drink and noticed that the local cinema was showing the film.
According to lead singer Steve Balsamo, "Andy popped in and got chatting with the manager. The conversation turned to the film and the fact that the band were in it and as a result we set up in the foyer between shows and played six or seven acoustic numbers. We played to one audience coming out and another coming in, so we ended up with quite a crowd. They were lovely people, really enjoyed it, some of them came to the gig the next day too".
The set featured songs from the film, including I Believe In Love, as well as tracks from the band's new album Town Beyond The Trees.
14 Mar 2008 - Birmingham Independent
13 Mar 2008 - Never Too Late For Success (Lawrence John, Northampton Herald & Post)
There is an orange glow in the musical sky and it is coming from The Storys. The sunshine is being produced by the band's second album called Town Beyond The Trees which is released on Monday, March 31.
The group which come from Swansea are Steve Balsamo (vocals/guitar), Andy Collins (vocals/bass), Dai Smith (vocals/guitar), Rob Thompson (vocals/guitar), Brian Thomas (drums/percussion) and Alan Thomas (keys/mandolin/banjo).
They have become a firm favourite of Elton John. So keen on the band is Sir Elton that they are about to do what Steve calls 'the homecoming of homecomings'. This will be when they support Elton at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea in June.
To find out what makes The Storys the group of the moment music reporter Lawrence John spoke with Steve.
The Storys come from a musical tradition linked to Crowded House, Bruce Springsteen, The Eagles, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. The songs on this album are about as personal as any singers can get as they open themselves up allowing you to see and feel their pain. This dedication to their musical craft demands the listener listens to the album and not to use it as background music.
Of the title track Town Beyond The Trees, Steve said: "It is based on a picture of a man on death row and he is writing a letter to his son. It is saying he will see him somewhere else like heaven. Without any conscious effort it is saying there is a place if you want there to be. It could be a special place some where beyond the trees."
The group's second album is one which Steve pin-pointed as being an album for grown-ups. The songs cover love, loss, death but in a way which is poignant, soul searching and inspirational. That inspiration is alluded to in the way Steve described the album as being orange in colour. The album has warmth and while there may be sad songs there is a definite feeling of optimism and a bright future ahead. He agreed it would equate well to compare it with Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With The Wind when she says 'tomorrow is another day'.
Steve said: "We're in our 30s and 40s and can't write like the Arctic Monkeys, God love 'em I do. The songs are a personal experience and if you read between the lines they are quite personal. There is a lot of pain in the band and we found this a very cathartic experience."
The group has not found out why Elton is a big fan of the group but he rang Steve up at his home in Swansea to ask them to tour the UK with him. Steve said: "He called me at home and even started singing down the phone. It was all I could to do not to say something stupid. We have toured with him and he is a lovely gentle music lover."
12 Mar 2008 - Band Heads for Iconic London Club (South Wales Evening Post)
Swansea band The Storys will play one of the world's most iconic rock hotspots next week.The six-piece headlines central London's 100 Club on Tuesday. The venue has hosted such global names as, the Rolling Stones, the Sex Pistols and Oasis in the past.
Lead singer Steve Balsamo said: "It's brilliant to play places with a great rock tradition - and the 100 Club's musical heritage is awesome."
10 Mar 2008 - London Careers
6 Mar 2008 - New CD Gives The Full Story (South Wales Evening Post)
Musician Dai Smith, from Burry Port, is looking forward to his best year yet. His Swansea-based band The Storys release their eagerly anticipated second album, Town Beyond the Trees, this month. This follows the acclaimed 2006 eponymous debut and some high-profile live performances, including support slots with Sir Elton John and Katie Melua.
Band member Dai Smith, of Seaview Terrace, said the album reflected the development of the band. "The first album we did we recorded ourselves. This one was recorded for us in a posh studio in Bath - it was an amazing experience," he said. "We were able to let go of the reins a bit and we really enjoyed making it."
The album features a mix of country rock harmonies and acoustic melodies - a sound that has already won many fans.
The Storys are Steve Balsamo on vocals and guitar, Andy Collins on vocals and bass, Dai Smith and on vocals and guitar, Rob Thompson on vocals and guitar, Brian Thomas on drums and Alan Thomas on keyboard and banjo. Described as a big band with melodies and vocal harmonies to match, the band said having four singers and songwriters gives them versatility.
Dai said the group had had a rollercoaster ride over the past five years. "It's been absolutely amazing. Since we got together we have played all over the world and performed with people like Elton John," he said. "We have worked with producers who have made records with Paul McCartney. We've even stared in a film called The Bank Job, where we play a 70s wedding band. It's brilliant and we are really enjoying - we just hope this year will somehow top it all."
5 Mar 2008 - Storys Headline At Soho Hotspot (South Wales Evening Post)
Swansea band The Storys play one of the world's most iconic nightlife hotspots tomorrow - just days after the death of its most famous owner. The six-piece headline the London venue most famously known as the Raymond Revuebar, the self-styled "world centre of erotic entertainment".
It was once run by multi- millionaire Paul Raymond who died on Sunday aged 82. Now renamed Soho Revue Bar, the club continues to be the epitome of West End glamour, with deep red leather seats, huge chandeliers and dim lighting. It hosted one of London's most celebrated social events of recent years, the pre-wedding party of Sir Elton John and David Furnish.
Lead singer Steve Balsamo said: "There's an incredibly eager and colourful Soho party crowd and we plan to make a real impression."
18 Feb 2008 - The Storys To Entertain Pop Royalty (South Wales Evening Post)
Swansea band The Storys are getting ready for what could be a tricky gig tonight.The group have been hired to play at the post-premier party for the heist movie The Bank Job, starring Jason Statham. And with Guy Ritchie and Madonna expected to turn up, the Storys have planned a special treat for the queen of pop.
Band lead singer Steve Balsamo said: "We've run through Like a Virgin a few times and will give it our own little guitar-based spin. It should be a hoot - I hope Madge likes it."
And, as well as playing at the post-premiere party, the band can be seen in the film. Released at the end of the month, the Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais-penned flick tells the story of a notorious London bank robbery in 1971.
Balsamo said: "We had a great time doing our bits for the film; now we can't wait to see who's at the party. I'm told Jason's film buddies like Vinnie Jones, Keeley Hawes, Ian McShane and David Suchet will be there."
17 Feb 2008 - Welsh Band Perform For Madonna (Nick Rippington, Wales on Sunday)
Welsh band The Storys will tomorrow perform a live version of Like a Virgin - especially for Madonna. The Swansea-based six-piece play a post-premiere party for movie The Bank Job starring Jason Statham, a big pal of the pop queen's husband Guy Ritchie. Madonna is expected to be there. Lead singer Steve Balsamo said: "We've run through Like a Virgin a few times and will give it our own little guitar-based spin. It should be a hoot - I hope Madge likes it, along with our own material."
The Storys play the party - in London's exclusive Paper club - because they appear in the film and supply some tracks. Around 500 guests will attend, enabling the band to showcase their second album Town Beyond the Trees, which comes out next month.
Legendary scriptwriters Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais have penned the Brit-flick in which Statham stars alongside Saffron Burrows. It goes on general release at the end of this month. The movie tells the tale of a notorious 1971 London bank robbery. The Storys were called into the film because director Roger Donaldson felt their music fitted the mood he wanted to create for a nightclub scene.
Balsamo said: "We had a great time doing our bits for the film; now we can't wait to see who's at the party. I'm told Jason's film buddies like Vinnie Jones, Keeley Hawes, Ian McShane and David Suchet will be there."
Statham appeared in the Ritchie-directed 1998 Brit hit Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
11 Feb 2008 - Radio Will Be Full Of Storys (South Wales Evening Post)
A Swansea band is set to record a session for legendary broadcaster Bob Harris. The Storys will take their six-piece act to the BBC London studios to perform live tracks from their forthcoming album. Harris will feature the tracks in his Radio Two Saturday night show on February 23. Storys lead singer Steve Balsamo said: "We're chuffed to be lined up - his show has great listenership on traditional radio and around the world on the web". The band's new album, Town Beyond The Trees, is due for release on March 31. The Storys are due to play the Liberty Stadium in the summer, supporting Elton John.
Feb 2008 - Big Issue Cymru
2 Nov 2007 - Elton John's Summer Swansea Date (BBC.co.uk)
Sir Elton John is to play Swansea's Liberty Stadium next summer. The pianist-singer, who has sold over 250m records around the world in a career spanning four decades, will perform in the city for the first time. Promoters say the open-air concert on 29 Jun is expected to be a sell-out, with tickets going on sale on Monday. The line-up will also include Swansea-based band The Storys, who have supported Sir Elton on tour for the last two years. It is the second major concert to be held at the stadium since it opened in 2005, following on from The Who earlier this year.
John Hague, acting chairman of the stadium's management company, said they were delighted to have secured "such an iconic and much-loved performer. This is a major coup for us and I'm sure that his many fans in south Wales, young and old, will be excited at the opportunity to watch Elton at such a fantastic venue."
Steve Balsamo, lead singer with The Storys, said: "It's going to be brilliant. We've had the amazing good fortune of supporting him a few times before and to be in our home town is what we've been hoping for. He is just the absolute consummate professional and has been incredibly helpful and full of advice. Playing our home town in that stadium has got to be the highlight of recording as The Storys so far."
2 Nov 2007 - Another Chapter For The Storys (Karen Price, Western Mail)
They've shared the same bill as Paul Weller and next year they will support Sir Elton John for the third time. But, for now, The Storys are focusing on their imminent gig at a small Valleys venue. The Storys are not afraid to take on board advice from some of the biggest names in the music business. After all, the Swansea band have supported superstar Sir Elton John on tour - twice. And today it's revealed that they will join him once again next year - for a concert at the Liberty Stadium in their home city. But they are currently preparing to play a much more intimate gig in the South Wales Valleys next week - and they are pondering words of wisdom from another famous rocker. Manic Street Preachers frontman James Dean Bradfield is urging The Storys to "bring the house down" when they appear in Blackwood - his home town - on Thursday. Bradfield was on the same bill as the Swansea six-piece when they played the city's National Waterfront Museum recently.
"He just told us to go for it at Blackwood and that the crowd would be great - we can't wait," says The Storys lead singer Steve Balsamo. "Our drummer, Brian, might even wear eye make-up as a salute to the Manics."
The two bands share a passion for melodic songwriting. Bradfield's talent was honed in Blackwood, where he formed the Manics along with childhood friends Richey Edwards, Sean Moore and Nicky Wire. Balsamo says, "The Manics' songs are very musical, full of great melodies - we thrive on melodies too. Perhaps it's being Welsh, with our choral heritage, that allows us to be musical and melodic. We should all be proud of our heritage and the quality musicians and songwriters we have down here."
The Storys enjoyed their gig in Swansea with Bradfield. "He wanted to know what we were up to and was very encouraging about us making our way in music," says Balsamo. "One lesson we took away was to keep writing good songs - even though he was playing rock numbers by the Manics on just an acoustic guitar they still sounded incredible. Another lesson was to be fair and decent with everybody you meet. It was good to see that somebody like James who's sold so many records and who's so big was so approachable and chatty. Music's not just about playing gigs, it's about the whole package - meeting people and being good with everyone." The Blackwood gig will be the last chance for music fans in Wales to catch The Storys live this year. And they will be previewing tracks from their new album, which is due to be released in Feb.
"It will be a great place to road test some of that stuff. I'm sure the audience will let us know exactly what they think."
The Storys were formed almost five years ago and the line-up also includes Andy Collins, Dai Smith, Rob Thompson, Brian Thomas and Alan Thomas. The men range in age from their 30s to their 50s. The Storys began recording their debut album in Thompson's kitchen with Smith producing, before the band relocated to a converted cinema, The Hall, in Glyncorrwg in the Welsh valleys. They ended up recording more than 30 songs and 11 were selected for the self-titled album, which was critically acclaimed.
In fact, the album fell into the lap of Sir Elton and he was so impressed with what he heard that he invited the band to support him on his UK stadium and arena tour in 2006. The Rocket Man himself called up Balsamo to offer the Welsh boys the important gig. Suddenly the band - who had previously supported the legendary Tom Jones during his 65th birthday homecoming gig at Ynysangharad Park, Pontypridd in May 2005 - were propelled into the limelight. Balsamo - who once played the leading role in the West End production of Jesus Christ Superstar - admits that arriving at the Manchester MEN Arena for the first night of Sir Elton's tour was a daunting experience for the nervous support act. Just after the tour ended he admitted, "The first night was amazing. Lawrence Davies, who is kind of our tour manager, is a big lump of a man but to see him crying when he was watching us, I thought we are doing something right. That was one of our highlights - to make a grown man cry."
The Storys also ended 2006 on a high when they played European stadium gigs in support of Katie Melua. This year has been just as successful and they found themselves touring with Sir Elton for a second time. Today it's revealed that they will join him next year at the Liberty Stadium. But while the band may now have a national reputation, they continue to enjoy gigging on a local level - even managing to perform at Swansea Museum.
"It was for the Teenage Cancer Trust and coincided with a brilliant exhibition at the museum about the history of Swansea rock," says Balsamo. "It might have seemed an unlikely venue for the two gigs we did in one day but it was great."
The Storys were also delighted this year to appear on a new CD alongside rock giants such as Paul Weller, Steve Winwood and Pete Townsend. A live version of a track by The Storys sits with work by other big names ranging from blues hero Gary Moore to songsmith Yusuf Islam (aka Cat Stevens). Balsamo says, "To be on the same CD as these people is awesome - and it was even more incredible to meet them when the live recording was made. Working with some of the world's top musical talent will, hopefully, have rubbed off on our own new album that's due out in Feb."
The live CD was recorded in Jan as a stellar line-up gathered for charity at London venue The Roundhouse. It salutes the late Jim Capaldi, of British prog-rockers Traffic, who released hit albums such as Mr Fantasy. Capaldi died of stomach cancer in 2005. The performers included Joe Walsh of The Eagles, Jon Lord of Deep Purple and Dennis Locorriere of Dr Hook. The event was hosted by broadcasting legend Whispering Bob Harris. Balsamo says, "Capaldi created some top class music - he was a superb drummer and an articulate lyricist. We were over the moon to be invited to perform at the tribute event. We were bowled over to be rubbing shoulders with heroes like Weller, Winwood and Walsh."
Now they look forward to rubbing shoulders with music fans in Blackwood - and taking Bradfield's advice.
26 Oct 2007 - Telling Storys (South Wales Argus)
This year has been an exciting one for The Storys with a date at Glastonbury and now one at Blackwood to end 2007 in some style! Led by Steve Balsamo, the band can turn from tender country-tinged ballad one minute to an as-wide-as-the-ocean stomp the next - in the same category as classic harmony vocal bands such as Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles, Crosby Still, Nash and Young and The Beatles. As well as their own UK headline tours last year and a critically acclaimed album, The Storys played as special guests on Elton John's UK summer stadium dates and played four arena dates in Dec 06 supporting Katie Melua.
Oct 2007 - Sir Elton John's Favourite Storys Tour Soundcraft Vi6 (ETNow)
A south Wales band who only recently released their first album on their own label have completed a second successful UK tour supporting Sir Elton John. Playing prominent arenas and sports grounds in the UK, and in Europe, to crowds of up to 30,000, The Storys and their sound engineer Dale Hanson have been travelling with their own front-of-house desk, a Soundcraft Vi6 digital live mixing console. According to Dale Hanson, The Storys' FOH engineer, "the first time I got my hands on a Vi6 was at the O2 Arena's club - Indigo2. That immediately made my mind up - we had to use one on tour!"
The Storys were opening the show, having been invited personally by Sir Elton to return to some of the country's biggest outdoor stages on another UK tour, following success in 2006. "The band went down so well over the course of the shows last summer, I wanted more people to hear about them and so I asked them to play a few more dates with me," said the Rocketman. On the road for six weeks, the highly acclaimed six-piece band played ten venues.
"And the Vi6 has performed perfectly throughout. No matter what conditions we performed in, including the Sor Arena in Norway where all the crews experienced problems with the continuous rain, the Vi6 never hesitated and gave us a perfect show every time," says Dale Hanson. "As the support band, we often have to wait our place in the queue for sound checks, and that can mean limited time to get it all done. The Vi6's simple, fast-to-operate, and easy-to-learn surface was perfectly suited - in fact I only had a short training session at the Soundcraft factory just before we left on tour and never once did I have to look at the manual, everything is laid out logically. meaning minimal searching for functions."
"I particularly like the mic pre-amps, which meant I spent less time EQ'ing - I mainly used Hi- and Lo-pass filters. The auto-gain on the compressors particularly helped me as The Storys are a real vocal harmony band and the desk kept the vocals clear at a controllable level. And the Vistonics control of the Lexicon Fx was perfect, laid out like an analogue unit, great sound and very easy to use, no complicated pages to flick through and I really loved the tap delay."
Since Dale and the Storys toured with the Soundcraft Vi6, Version 2.0 software has been released (for the Vi6 and Vi4) and previewed at the AES in NewYork, 5th Oct - the new functionality includes comprehensive Copy/Paste, Libraries and Master Linking.
9 Oct 2007 - The Storys Support Elton With Soundcraft (Jim Evans, LSI Online)
UK - Swansea rock band The Storys recently completed their support role on Elton John's tour of the UK and Europe with a Soundcraft Vi6 digital live mixing console.
The tour played notable arenas and sports grounds up and down the UK and out as far as Malmo in Sweden to crowds of up to 30,000. "The Vi6 performed perfectly," said Dale Hanson, The Storys' FOH engineer. "No matter what conditions we performed in, including at the Sor Arena in Norway where all the crews were experiencing problems with the continuous rain, the Vi6 never hesitated and gave us a perfect show every time. The first time I got my hands on a Vi6 was at the O2 Arena's club - Indigo2, that immediately made my mind up - we had to use one on tour."
On the road for six weeks, the band played 10 venues. Hanson adds: "Being the support band, we often have to wait our place in the queue for sound checks and that can mean limited time to get it all done. The Vi6's simple, fast-to-operate, and easy-to-learn surface was perfectly suited - in fact I only had a short training session at the Soundcraft factory just before we left on tour and never once did I have to look at the manual, everything is laid out logically meaning minimal searching for functions."
He continues, "I particularly like the mic pre-amps, which meant I spent less time EQ'ing - I mainly used Hi- and Lo-pass filters. The auto-gain on the compressors particularly helped me as The Storys are a real vocal harmony band and the desk kept the vocals clear at a controllable level. And the Vistonics control of the Lexicon Fx was perfect, laid out like an analogue unit, great sound and very easy to use, no complicated pages to flick through and I really loved the tap delay."
Since the Story's toured with the Soundcraft Vi6, Version 2.0 software has been released (for the Vi6 and Vi4) and previewed at the AES in NewYork. The new functionality includes comprehensive Copy/Paste, Libraries and Master Linking.
23 Sep 2007 - The Storys Have A New Celebrity Fan (Andrew Dagnell, Wales On Sunday)
Swansea indie band The Storys have found a new fan - ex-supermodel Jerry Hall. The six-piece band were performing at a gig at London's The Roundhouse alongside rockers Paul Weller, Cat Stevens and Steve Winwood. But lead singer Steve Balsamo said that it was Mick Jagger's ex who particularly liked them. "She looked all glam and beautiful... she took a bit of a shine to one of our lads but I wouldn't like to say who - we'd never hear the end of it." He added: "When we came off stage we saw a line of legends like Pete Townshend, Gary Moore and Joe Walsh. They all said they'd loved what we'd done, with Walsh just saying in his American drawl 'Nice one guys'."
Sep 2007 - NPT Community Spirity
10 Aug 2007 - Local Heroes All Set To Rock At City's Museum (South Wales Evening Post)
Swansea band The Storys will be the next rockers to perform at the city's museum. Steve Balsamo and his band will be joined on the Aug 24 bill by Swansea singer-songwriter Karl Morgan and Tony Moore, keyboard player with Cutting Crew for the 1986 worldwide smash (I Just) Died in Your Arms.
Their acoustic sets will go on from 8.30pm, with all ticket money and donations going to the Teenage Cancer Trust, the charity benefiting from Tony Moore's Acoustic Airwaves tour. The artists will precede their museum appearance with an early evening free performance at Swansea Airport. Last month home town star Spencer Davis played the museum.
2 Aug 2007 - Charity Jet Set Stops By (South Wales Evening Post)
Swansea's high-flying pop performers The Storys will team up with the Cutting Crew's Tony Moore for a quirky, free gig on Friday, Aug 24. Fairwood Common Airfield in Gower, will welcome Tony Moore and The Storys who will plug in to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust. This unusual tour will see Tony, a keen pilot, making a pit-stop tour of small airfields in Britain, in his Cessna, playing hangars, airport lounges and cafes. Tony said he can't wait for take-off.
"I've just got my pilot's licence and I want to celebrate by doing something good for my favourite charity, the Teenage Cancer Trust (TCT). Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson - now an airline captain himself - is one of those who encouraged me to try flying in the first place."
The former Iron Maiden member says the tour gives him the chance to play with friends.
"I love The Storys and they're one of the main reasons I'm coming to Swansea. The other reason is that the TCT are building their first Welsh unit at the University Hospital of Wales Cardiff."
The Storys are gearing up for their own headline tour in the autumn and they have just come off the road from their latest jaunt with Elton John. Frontman Steve Balsamo said the group is happy to come down to earth to help raise money for youngsters who are coping with cancer.
"It's going to be such a one-off that we can't wait to play it. It'll be great to have an event like this in Swansea Airport, on Fairwood Common."
Aug 2007 - Swansea Life
14 Jul 2007 - Museum Tribute To Welsh Rock Scene (Robin Turner, Western Mail)
Who played guitar on Rick Wakeman's second solo album, Journey To The Centre Of The Earth? The answer to this, and a myriad other questions of interest to music anoraks, can be found at a new exhibition focusing on the history of the Welsh rock scene.
Memorabilia from the careers of household names, like Bonnie Tyler and Dire Straits, to lesser well-known ones, like The Storys, Badfinger and Man, will be on display in Swansea Museum until Oct. Organisers hope the material included in the Rock to Rhapsody exhibition will shed light on the musical pedigree of a city they describe as one of the most "eventful" in rock history. It will be opened on Monday by former Dire Straits drummer Terry Williams, who runs a blues bar in the city, and 1960s star Spencer Davis, who had major hits in the 1960s with singles such as Keep on Runnin' and Gimme Some Lovin'.
Exhibits include a platinum disc representing a million sales presented to Bonnie Tyler by her record company for her fifth and most successful album Faster Than the Speed of Night, featuring her most famous single, Total Eclipse of the Heart. Also on show is a silver disc for the album Lost in France, while Tyler has also donated a Variety Club "Best Female Artist" award that she won in 1983, at the height of her popularity.
Ex-Dire Straits drummer Williams has donated two MTV awards the band picked up for the video accompanying the 1985 single Money for Nothing from the Brothers in Arms album, which became the first video to be aired on MTV Europe when the network started on Aug 1, 1987.
Visitors can also see the gold disc presented to guitarist Gary Pickford-Hopkins for playing on Rick Wakeman's second solo album, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, from 1974, and also a guitar used by Ray "Taff" Williams who performed with Black Sabbath, Frank Zappa and Bonnie Tyler among others.
Memorabilia from the short career of up-and-coming Swansea Bay band The Storys - who have already completed a world tour supporting Elton John - is also on display in the museum, more commonly known for its Egyptian artefacts, Dylan Thomas displays, and the more geological type of rock.
A large section of the exhibition, which runs until Oct, is devoted to the tragic story of Swansea rock band Badfinger, including photos and album sleeves from the band's career. The band achieved critical acclaim in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but eventually collapsed amid contractual wrangles. In the face of mounting legal problems, the band's founder Pete Ham killed himself in 1975, while guitarist Tom Evans also committed suicide in 1983. Both men hanged themselves.
The section of the museum now dedicated to rock music will also stage live performances from bands including The Storys and the Promise Theory Band.
Mr Gale added, "I've had great help from the Swansea music world in organising this exhibition. Spencer Davis has been particularly helpful. He has great affection for the attraction and will be flying in from California especially for the opening night to mark the start of the exhibition. Musician Gary Pickford-Hopkins is also a friend of mine since our schooldays and he's been instrumental in putting together the mouth-watering line-up for Jul 23. The presence of legendary drummer Terry Williams will make it an occasion to behold and the exhibition will be filled with interesting stories and features from the development of music in Swansea."
14 Jul 2007 - Elton Is Storys' Happier Ending! (Margaret Chrystall, Highland News)
When Steve Balsamo of The Storys heard Sir Elton John's voice on the phone, full of compliments for the band's music, it was a turning point for the band. The Storys from Wales - who will support Elton at his Inverness Caledonian Thistle Stadium gig on Sunday - had gone through the mill to hang on to their belief in music and the music industry. Not only did Elton ring Steve personally to tell him how much he had enjoyed listening to The Storys' self-titled debut album. He also invited the six-piece to join him on tour last year as his support band.
Steve said: "Our manager had got a copy of the album to him. But then he rang me at home and said 'Elton loves the album and he will give you a call himself in 10 minutes'. I put the phone down and had a nervous breakdown for the next 10 minutes! But he did ring and spoke to me because he said he wanted to tell me himself how much he had enjoyed the album. And that call made all the hard work, graft and grief we had had make sense. He even started singing one of the songs!"
Steve revealed that he and fellow band member, Dai Smith had had their fingers burned badly in a previous line-up which hadn't worked out. "I had had a major deal before and so had Dai and we had got very disappointed with the industry, and the way it can chew you up and spit you out."
But, disillusioned, they had still picked themselves up. And just over three years ago, Steve and Dai got together with fellow band member Rob Thompson to do some writing. "We spent three weeks in Rob's kitchen and came up with about 30 songs," Steve revealed.
They then headed to a converted old cinema to record the album, revelling in the freedom to do it how THEY wanted, without interference from anyone. From the 30 songs, they selected 11 to go on the debut album they first released on their own label, Hall Recordings. Record label Warners picked it up, and the summery West Coast American sound proved an instant hit with first single I Believe In Love becoming a radio favourite.
So what was it Elton said he liked so much about The Storys' sound? Steve said: "He loved the music and the harmony-laden stuff we do, but he also said he liked the fact that we had a total disregard for what is going on that is 'cool' or 'fashionable'!"
The Storys have been getting about a bit so far this year, as they are just back from doing a photo shoot against the romantic and dramatic backdrop of Venice. But Steve is looking forward to the Inverness gig and as it is the last night of the tour, perhaps a dram or two after the show is over. He said: "We are always treated so well on tour with Elton. And I'm hoping to get the chance to enjoy a single malt or two!"
Jul 2007 - Llanelli Life
Apr 2007 - The Storys - Cinnamon (Lefsetz.com Newsletter)
We didn't buy Sweetheart Of The Radio. By that time, the Byrds were done. Our first exposure to country rock was Crosby, Stills & Nash. Not that we knew that's what they called it. We just knew Suite: Judy Blue Eyes sounded so GOOD!
I remember being at my buddy Marc Goloff's house when he dropped the needle on Gimmie Shelter. Back when music was precious, when you couldn't possess all you wanted, and you discovered new music at your friends' houses. Maybe after school, on a weekend, you'd go into a classmate's bedroom and they'd spin a record that you'd often heard of, but couldn't afford. Sometimes it was Johnny Winter, something interesting, but an album you had no need to own yourself. Other times what came out of the speakers was so infectious that you would have forked over all the money in your wallet to own it IMMEDIATELY!
Marc didn't turn out the lamps for effect. There was ambient light from the front porch emerging through the windows of his room. And when I heard that eerie intro to the Stones opus I was shocked, how did they come up with something this ethereal, this GOOD!
Although he turned me on to Rock and Roll Woman from the Buffalo Springfield's Retrospective, Marc didn't introduce me to Suite: Judy Blue Eyes. I can't remember who did that. Seemed that every party you went to that fall you heard the song. Eventually, I bought the album and fell in love with Long Time Gone, which had some of the same feel as Gimmie Shelter. And I had to buy Deja Vu the day it came out. I played Carry On every morning for a month.
Suddenly, country rock was everywhere. The Dead released Workingman's Dead with Uncle John's Band. Reviewers considered Poco's debut a masterpiece. This homey, often acoustic music was the new soundtrack. With the Beatles gone, kids switched from playing the Merseybeat at parties to the California sound.
And then came Take It Easy. The reason Take It Easy sticks is that second verse...
"Well I'm standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona
Such a fine sight to see
It's a girl my lord in a flatbed Ford
Slowin' down to take a look at me"
Sure, the guitar sound of the intro enraptured the listener just like Gimmie Shelter, but what makes Take It Easy so memorable is the personalization. Within this one verse is a whole movie. And hope. No matter how depressed, how lonely you were, you could listen to Take It Easy and believe you were just one chance encounter from having your life work.
Maybe the Eagles were too good. Their voices were too mellifluous. Don Henley's lyrics too poignant. But the band's success gave country rock a bad name. Suddenly, soft, acoustic music was for wimps. The focus shifted from the west coast back to the east. Suddenly, it was all about punk.
Of course, disco had its place too. But after that died, we had MTV, dominated initially by the English acts, and then the video extravaganzas of Michael Jackson and his disciples. Country rock is seen as a relic akin to hair band music. And boy band music. An historical curio.
But if this is so, why does it sound so damn good? Why do the Eagles outgross not only the punks, but ANYBODY who came thereafter? Why do they own the best selling album of all time?
Maybe there's a little bit of magic in that country rock music they're playing. Not that anybody will acknowledge this in the States.
Funny thing about the U.K. They always seem to be picking up on overlooked U.S. sounds, and capitalizing on them. Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page... they were huge fans of delta blues, which had little mainstream traction in the U.S. And now we've got an English band trying to recapture this California sound.
I can't ignore e-mail from J.B. Brenner. He sent me a copy of Willis Alan Ramsey's album. Do you know Satin Sheets? Never a hit, but a classic to those who've heard it, whether it be the original take, or remakes by the likes of Waylon Jennings and Shawn Colvin. It fell through my cracks, but J.B. was a huge fan, back when there could be pockets of fans, when something could truly be a regional underground hit.
So, when J.B. sent me a track today, I listened.
Now if I lived in England, and was in the music business, maybe I'd know The Storys story, and might hate them on principle. Based on their backstory, how they were signed, how they were marketed, how they were hyped. But I do my best to ignore the hype today. It barely reaches me. If it's so loud that I am aware of it, I'm predisposed to dislike the act involved. I'm waiting to discover music from alternative sources, from friends I trust, like J.B.
At first I wasn't impressed. The Storys' Cinnamon sounded a bit too generic. But then there was an ENTHUSIASM in the chorus, and the song broke down and came back deep in. And suddenly I was hooked.
I've given up on hipness. It gets you nowhere. There's a circle jerk of music business insiders and hard core music fans who are so deep into it that they're not interested in what's ear-pleasing, what sounds good. And The Storys' Cinnamon sounds good! It's about singing and playing. The members of the act listened to the California sound of yore. And they might not have taken it one step beyond, but they managed to capture the essence.
Tell me it's second-rate like America. Tell me the rest of the songs don't sound as good. All I can ask is WHAT POSSESSED THESE PEOPLE TO MAKE THIS MUSIC? What possessed The Feeling to record Sewn? Didn't they get the message this music isn't hip? That it's all about beats?
As the U.S. business dies, there's a vibrancy in the U.K. Because people are more open, they're less catholic in their tastes, the first criterion is that something be good.
Then again, The Storys don't own the chart in the U.K. either.
Our values are all fucked up. We're so busy moving forward that we've left the essence behind. The fundamentals always play. Good vocals and good changes are the building blocks of success. They're not the ONLY way to success, but why are they denigrated to such a degree today?
The take of Cinnamon on MySpace is not the same one I've got, it's missing a middle section, which contains a bit of the track's magic. And don't even bother to listen if you're a hip-hopper or metalhead, this music isn't for you. But if you remember sitting in your dorm back in the seventies, breaking the shrinkwrap on earthy records, this is going to resonate with you. This will remind you when sweet didn't mean shit. When if you could raise your head in the air and sing along it was seen as a GOOD THING!
Now that the mainstream has collapsed, there's an opportunity for all the music lambasted by those in control of the media to come back. Musicians can go straight to the public, which is the new gatekeeper.
Cinnamon doesn't have the lyrics of Take It Easy. It verges on forgettable. But it gives me hope. That someone out there still CARES about this music, this sound!
30 Mar 2007 - Swansea Band Go On Tour Across Europe With Elton John (Claire Hill, Western Mail)
Welsh band The Storys have been asked to go on tour with singing legend Elton John for a second time. The award-winning singer was so impressed with the Swansea band after they joined him on last year's arena tour.
Lead singer Steve Balsamo said the band were excited to be heading out with Elton again, this time across Europe. He said, "We will be playing all over the UK and will be heading to places like Venice as part of the European tour."
As part of the famous singer's Red Piano tour the band will also be playing the Versailles Gardens, Paris, the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, and in Moscow.
The Storys, who self-produced their debut album before being signed by Warners, are set to go into the studio to record their second album.
Balsamo said they were feeling upbeat about it and looking forward to recording new tunes. He said, "We are ready to make the new record and we will hopefully be able to release a single by the time we go on tour."
The band will soon decamp to Peter Gabriel's Real World studio for a month to record the new work.
19 Mar 2007 - Yes, You Can Find Country At South By South West (Craig Shelburne, Country Music Television)
Austin, Texas - Without fail, every year at the South by Southwest (SXSW) music conference, somebody inevitably asks, "You're here for CMT? Are there country artists here?" True, few mainstream country artists come to Austin for the famously overwhelming conference, although it really isn't hard to find music here with its roots in country. With the proper advance planning (listening to unfamiliar bands online before you go, scribbling a schedule of where you need to be at the top of every hour), you can then answer the second-most popular inquiry: "What good stuff have you seen so far?"
Eager to discover new music, Thursday night began with the Storys, who hail from South Wales, yet their lush harmonies and arrangements recall the California singer-songwriter vibe from the 1970s. In other words, songs like I Believe in Love are not that far from contemporary country. When they get back to Europe, they're opening a tour for Elton John.
16 Mar 2007 - The Playlist With Huw Stephens (South Wales Evening Post)
Once again this year I'm lucky enough to be spending a week in the heart of Austin, Texas. The South by South West music industry festival continues to be the largest and widely regarded as the best event of its kind in the world. As well as being a meeting point for people from different areas of the music industry, it's where every band who aims to make it big wants to play - from every country on the planet. And that's a lot of bands.
With such an international line-up of mostly new and soon-to-be-discovered names, it's good news that Wales has, for the first time this year, its own showcase. This means that this afternoon four bands from Wales will play on the bustling, chaotic Sixth Street, a street about the same size as St Mary Street in Cardiff, but with every building pretty much a bar or club that puts on live music. Literally thousands of bands, singers, songwriters, rappers and electronic players will be playing, and at times it can be too much to take in.
The Storys, Steve Balsamo's band, bring an FM-sheen to proceedings with a more adult sound which Elton John has admired in the past.
14 Mar 2007 - Welsh Bands Head For Texas (Claire Hill, South Wales Evening Post)
Welsh bands begin an onslaught on the American music scene today at one of the world's biggest festivals. For the first time a dedicated Welsh stage will be set up to promote talent from home at the influential South By South West festival in Texas.
Chart-toppers The Automatic, Gruff Rhys and The Storys will play alongside newer bands hoping to catch the eye of record labels and the worldwide media.
Twenty years ago the event in Austin, Texas, showcased a handful of bands to industry insiders. But after breaking White Stripes, The Strokes and Norah Jones, it has become the most important date in the music industry calendar. The festival, known as SXSW, has the potential to open doors for bands, with lucrative record deals, country-wide tours, radio and press attention on offer. It could enable them to crack the ultimate market, in terms of profile and money - America.
Officially eight Welsh bands will be playing at a special event during the festival, while a number of other bands, promoters, record labels and managers will be hitting the town of Austin to make contacts and broker music deals. For four days each bar and street of the town will be filled with music, as official gigs and impromptu singing sessions attempt to grab people's attention.
The Storys: When Swansea singer Steve Balsamo and friends started up their band they had to put up most of the capital themselves. However, after being adopted by Elton John as a support act, they plan to fit right into the US music scene with their Americana-style.
9 Feb 2007 - On The Road Again (South Wales Evening Post)
The Storys have revealed exclusively to the Post that they are set to hit the road again with Sir Elton John in the summer. The Swansea six-piece with the pristine power-harmonies made such an impact on Sir Elton that he invited them back to share his stage, for some of the biggest audiences in the UK.
He says he's pleased to have them back on board: "The band went down so well over the course of the shows last summer, I wanted more people to hear about them, and so I asked them to play a few more dates with me this summer."
This year is set to be a scorcher for the band, with a trip to Austin, Texas to play the SXSW music festival, on the cards. The Stooges and Emmylou Harris are also set to plug in at the mega music bash.
Local fans though have the chance to catch the lads on their doorstep in the Grand Theatre on Thursday, Mar 1.
Frontman Steve Balsamo says: "The Grand Theatre is our first show this year, so Swansea will be the first to hear the new songs, before we fly to Texas for the SXSW music festival on the very day Rykodisc release our album Stateside. It's all very exciting, and for Sir Elton to invite us out again for some more big UK shows is just fantastic."
Support at the Grand will come from Karl Morgan.
7 Dec 2006 - Support For Katie (South Wales Evening Post)
Swansea band The Storys are supporting Katie Melua on part of her British and European tour. The band, led by former West End singer Steve Balsamo, play Paris tonight and Friday and Germany on Monday after their first supporting appearance with Katie Melua at Wembley Arena last Sunday.
The band, who also supported Elton John on his tour last summer, are currently working on their second album, which is due for release next spring. It will coincide with a gig at Swansea's Grand Theatre on Mar 1.
Sep 2006 - Interview - Americana UK (Morag Haberdashery, Americana-uk.com)
The Storys are a 6 piece 70s West Coast influenced band from South Wales. They've just started their first headline tour having previously played stadiums supporting Elton John. Steve Balsamo (vocals/guitar) talked to us about aubergines and their pet ghost Carter...
How would you describe the sound of the band?
We've got all kinds of influences, I guess there's a lot of Americana in there, some favourites would be The Eagles, Crosby Stills and Nash, I'm a big Wilco fan, not sure everyone would agree but really we love all kinds of music. On the bus we've been listening to Brian Houston who is fantastic, he's supporting us and he's great. Prince always goes down well, and The Who. We love Springsteen of course! And I really like this ambient record John Hopkins has made. The sound of the band as a whole comes very naturally, our philosophy as a band has always been to leave the ego at the door and make the song the king, There's not been any trouble between us - when we're rich and famous there's bound to be an acrimonious split, but for now...
Is there a big Welsh/ Americana retro scene going on?
There's definitely a scene in Wales, we harmonise together all the time and it does come naturally. If someone brings an idea to the table everyone joins in. I think its down to the male choral tradition here, its part of our heritage. Various members of the band have known each other for a long time, for example Dave and I both had deals with Sony, a couple of the others had been trying to get some songs together. The scene in South Wales is quite incestuous, bands are supportive of each other and all play with each other but the media is not so supportive. Its hard to get on local TV if you don't speak Welsh. There's a movement going on, with real songs coming back and there's a very healthy scene now, lots of new bands. I think it's a reaction to pop idol and things like that, it's the nature of pop to react against what's going on outside I think.
The record is unashamedly retro sounding, how did you manage that?
Recording it was very romantic, in an old converted cinema, now it's a miners welfare club. We wanted a sound like an old dusty record. We recorded it in big rooms with lots of reverb. Dai collects old gear so we used old compressors and the type of equipment they used back in the 70s, we're very proud that the record sounds so old and creaky! We want to do everything ourselves, we wrote and recorded and produced the record ourselves. Its been a natural process for us. We borrowed money off a local gangster to set up the label, because we needed to set something up and didn't want to lose control. Luckily, we got some good reviews and Warners came on board. We wanted to get on with the music so we took the plunge and they facilitate a lot but Nick Stewart signed us to Korova and he has given us a lot of autonomy, we're still in control. We've been very, very lucky with the deal.
How's the tour going?
The tour has been lovely so far, we've just played Penzance. We've never been so far west before! We're at our best live, all we want to do is write good songs and play to as many people as possible, we just want to get out there and show our chops and its very different from the record, and its great to be out on our own. Its very different to the shows with Elton. We've been knuckling down on the tour and writing new songs, we use the time as constructively as possible. We've got a stockpile of new songs.
How did those shows come about?
Elton John was doing his residency in Las Vegas and somebody passed him a copy of our record, He has a voracious appetite for new music, its not hype, he really does. He called me at home, to be honest it was a real shock, when I realised it wasn't a joke I nearly had a nervous breakdown. He said he thought the production on the record was lovely and he asked what the next single was going to be. I told him it was I Believe in Love and he started singing it to me! He's really very charming. I knew he'd been a patron to Ryan Adams, who I'm a big fan of, and well, we're very very privileged to be able to work with him. It was a real thrill.
Who's Carter the Ghost?
We knew there were lots of stories about The Hall being haunted, these tales were coming from hard fellas who don't mess around, but they were freaked out. There were lots of creepy goings on. Every morning we'd find faders moved, switches clicked, this was in an area that was cordoned off so no one could have done it. We had an eight piece string section in one day, and one of them kept complaining that she was very, very cold and there was something breathing on her neck. We took a photo of everyone and when it was developed there was a ghost standing behind her! It was very, very strange, but his work on the faders was all good. He's our lucky mascot now, we gave him a credit on the album but I think in future he may want a production credit.
Anything else we should know?
Most of us are veggies and we're all really into cooking, we can get very competitive about it. We've been talking about a Storys' cookery book - its probably the opposite of rock n roll but we love it. My favourite recipe would be... mmmm... probably something Moroccan and spicy, probably an aubergine tangine with savoury rice and couscous. The trick is to put salt on the aubergines first and then compress them to get all the bitterness out.
1 Sep 2006 - Quite A Story For This Welsh Quartet (Worcester News)
What a difference a year makes - certainly so for a band who, in 12 months, have gone from being on the bill at a concert outside Buckingham Palace to being snapped up by a major record label and supporting Elton John.
The Storys, whose sound is led by four singer-songwriters, formed in 2003 and, last summer, played in front of 90,000 people outside Buckingham Palace alongside Rod Stewart and James Brown. The event was last year's Olympic Torch extravaganza to celebrate London getting the 2012 Olympics and since then the group has not looked back, having been signed to Warner last Christmas, which released their debut album earlier this year, winning over many fans. One such fan was musical legend Elton John who approached the country-tinged classic rock group to ask them to join him on a major tour of the country's cricket grounds. It was only a couple of months ago when that dream came true for the band as they took off on the tour - which included a massive sell-out gig at Worcestershire County Cricket Club in Worcester's New Road.
Storys' guitarist and vocalist Steve Balsamo said: "He was just such a lovely guy and so down-to-earth, very funny and wonderful. We had a fantastic experience and it was thoroughly enjoyable - although it was quite scary because we knew we had to come up with the goods. However, we really loved it."
Now the six-piece West Coast influenced Welsh group - who released their latest single I Believe In Love at the end of last month - are set to return to Worcester on Monday night as part of a 26-date tour. They will be playing the city's Marr's Bar in Pierpoint Street. Steve said: "Worcester is a gorgeous city and we had a lovely time there."
30 Aug 2006 - Five Questions For Steve Balsamo (John Stevens, Metro)
A sextet from the valleys, The Storys have just toured the UK with Elton John after he announced himself as a fan of the classic, harmony-laden song writing style. Now it's back to the real world with a 22-date jaunt for leader singer Steve Balsamo and his band.
How was touring with Sir Elton?
The highlight was when he called us initially and said he loved the record. But being invited on the tour was amazing; he was delightful, and we had the best possible experience we could have had.
He had a hand in selecting your most recent single. Is he something of mentor?
Elton loved that song, and told us it would make a great single, He's been a patron for acts like Scissor Sisters and Ryan Adams, too: he just has a huge passion for music, and has gone above and beyond with the help he has given us.
Now you're touring small venues. Is it down to Earth with a bump? Or are you relishing a deferent challenge?
A bit of both really but, ultimately, we'll play in front of 25,000 people or 25. As soon as the Elton tour finished we played a hometown gig in an 80-capacity venue, which was lovely. We prefer to do it the old-fashioned way: good songs and hard graft.
Is you multi-harmony vocal style, following example of The Eagles and Crosby, Stills & Nash enjoying a renaissance?
There's a huge history of multiple singer bands - The Beatles did it, too, of course. It's great the cycle seems to be coming around with bands like The Feeling and The Magic Numbers doing similar things vocally. We love all that stuff.
What about the ghost that was spotted in the social club where you were recording?
We got a female string octet in to record some parts, and one of them complained of feeling uncomfortable. We took pictures of the session for posterity and in one of the photos there's this aft wisp-shaped like a person behind her. It's all a bit weird.
25 Aug 2006 - Daily Mirror
24 Aug 2006 - Bristol Evening Post
18 Aug 2006 - South Wales Argus
18 Aug 2006 - Box Office (Karen Price, Western Mail)
We've all heard the unflattering stories about Sir Elton John. If you believe them, then the flamboyant music legend regularly throws hissy fits if his dressing rooms aren't painted in the correct shade of white, berates most other pop stars who dare cross his path, and isn't happy unless he has blown six-figure sums on extravagant bouquets of orchids or lilies. But while we all have our own pre-conceived ideas about what the fabulously-rich Rocket Man is really like as a person, one Welsh band have managed to find out for themselves. Sir Elton chose relatively unknown Swansea group The Storys to accompany him on his UK tour this summer. The band experienced what life is really like living 24/7 with the megastar. So, is he spoilt, bossy and demanding or is he down-to-earth and supportive? Steve Balsamo, lead singer of The Storys, reveals all about life on the road with Sir Elton in this week's Box Office. And he has also opened up his tour photo album especially for you to enjoy.
17 Aug 2006 - Tune In For Fun At The Festival (Nine Williams, South Wales Evening Post)
The airwaves over Swansea Valley are ready to spark into life with the launch of Pontardawe Festival's very own radio station. Community radio station Afan FM, which is due to launch fully later this year, will deliver the festival's first exclusive broadcasts live from the festival site throughout the weekend. It will provide listeners with broadcasts of performances, interviews and insights into the festival, which is now in its 28th year. Station manager Craig Williams said: "This is the first time that the festival has had its very own dedicated station. Together with Afan FM, it is part of a long-term experiment aimed at establishing a permanent licence for the station to broadcast over the area. It won't be a continual broadcast of performances as we want people to come on down here and join in. But we will give listeners a general flavour of the event."
Festival organisers say they are expecting a busy year, despite some concerns earlier that the festival might not go ahead. This year's Swansea Valley Agricultural Show, which is staged on the same Parc Ynysderw site, was cancelled because of nearby work on the 75-mile gas pipeline between Milford Haven and Neath. But organisers of the Pontardawe Festival were granted a licence last month and say the work will have only a marginal effect on the event, mainly on the number of camping places available.
Festival chairman David Hammond-Williams said: "Preparations are going very well. It may not be the biggest of recent years, but we are certainly aiming to make it the best. We've got more than 130 acts, as well as a youth tent, building on its success last year. It should be a successful weekend."
This year the festival is featuring a number of curtain-raiser events. Fresh from their tour supporting Elton John, The Storys stage an evening gig on the concert field tonight. And the group, which features former West End musical star Steve Balsamo, will also be one of Pontardawe Festival FM's first guests, with an exclusive interview earlier in the day.
13 Aug 2006 - The Storys (Rachel Mainwaring, Wales On Sunday)
Welsh band The Storys, who went down a storm as special guests on the recent Elton John summer stadium shows, have announced their biggest headline tour to date. Steve Balsamo and co will tour round Britain this Sep, with gigs in Cardiff, Manchester and London. Sir Elton himself is a huge fan of the band and has called their debut album and live performances "fantastic".
29 Jul 2006 - The Storys Scale Castle Festival (Claire Hill, Western Mail)
Elton John's favourite band of the moment The Storys will be returning home to Wales to play a new one-day festival. The band, lead by singer Steve Balsamo, will join Mike Peters from The Alarm, Mal Pope and the Jacks, The Poppies and others for the Mumbles music festival. Set in the grounds of Oystermouth Castle, The White Lady Festival is set to be the largest festival ever staged in the castle grounds.
24 Jul 2006 - Thousands Pack Out The Big Buzz (South Wales Evening Post)
There was a whole lot of shakin' going on in Swansea yesterday, when a host of famous names took to the stage to wow a crowd of thousands. Radio Wales's Big Buzz concert came to the city for the third time, boasting artists including Dave Edmunds and Rockpile, Swansea band The Storys, and Welsh legend Shakin' Stevens.
Thousands turned out for the open-air gig, some in deckchairs or on picnic blankets, others sprawled out on the grass in front of the stage outside the National Waterfront Museum on Oystermouth Road. And the weather was on their side, staying bright and hot throughout.
"It is fantastic to come back to Wales," said Storys frontman Steve Balsamo. "It is always exciting to play back home."
21 Jul 2006 - Ghost Writers (Michael Took, Red Handed)
Guilty pleasures. We all have them, especially when it comes to music. Record collections can be precious commodities where any sight of easy rock or ballad-driven pop is camouflaged with embarrassment. Luckily, music moves in waves and the current crop of groups making no-nonsense saccharine pop are hurtling back towards the mainstream with credibility.
The Storys, a sextet of hairy yet friendly musicians from Swansea, are part of this second-wind of (un)cool music. Although the band boast four accomplished singer-songwriters, the excitable Steve Balsamo is perceived as its official mouthpiece. Balsamo is no stranger to the limelight, his erstwhile solo career was dogged with musical politics and his acting turn in the West End production Jesus Christ Superstar was merely a vehicle to where he feels most comfortable.
Although Balsamo still looks like he's still groomed for the role of Jesus with unkempt shaggy hair and stubble, there's no denying his pretty-boy status. On meeting the band in Neath, Balsamo is getting all the looks from female admirers but all he's concerned about is raising the promotional flagpole for his band.
"We wrote about thirty songs in a month and started recording in [guitarist] Rob's kitchen," Balsamo begins with obvious pride. With a mix of industry disdain and neat harmonies, The Storys took their rough demos up to a converted cinema, The Hall, in Glyncorrwg in the Welsh valleys. "We went to rehearse up there for two weeks but ended up recording the whole album between 6-12 months, the experience was amazing," Dai Smith adds with demure enthusiasm. Smith learnt his trade by writing and producing songs for several short-term bands including Toploader but his mixing skills were put to the test by a ghost called Carter.
Balsamo went on to explain the supernatural recording experience, "When we were on the mixing desk the ghost was turning the knobs. Lawrence [the producer] would be recording on the computer and we'd tell him to stop but it stopped automatically." Balsamo adds, "Then we had eight beautiful ladies come along to do string arrangements. One of the girls was complaining about being cold and having an ill-feeling. We had photographs taken of the day and there's definitely a ghost behind them. So the locals called the ghost Carter - so it was only right he got accreditation on the album sleeve."
As soon as the debut album was complete, it was attracting more than just ghoulish attention. At this point Balsamo is wide-eyed with glee, ready to relay the bands biggest coup to date. In a what was deemed a stealth operation, a friend of the band managed to slip a copy of the eponymous debut album into Elton John's bag. Soon after, Balsamo received a call from the band's manager at his home in Swansea to say Elton John would be calling to say "hi". Balsamo recalls the conversation almost word-for-word, "It was just bonkers and so surreal. He [Elton] said his favourite song was I Believe In Love and he started singing it down the phone. To have Elton John validate the songs, well that's it. We want to sell a million records but in my book that's success as well."
The rubber-stamped approval from the elder-statesman of pop earned the band a support slot on Johns sell-out European tour. When quizzed on the dates, fellow band-member Rob Thompson manages to get a word in before the fervent Balsamo, "There we were onstage, shaking like a town-built Council House, but we've been lucky to not just be perceived as the classic support band, the time where everyone gets their drinks in at the bar and are not paying attention."
Having Elton John champion The Storys' music has brought a new audience to their sound which wavers from inventive country to stomping rock, but it hasn't always been easy to get the recognition they so desperately desired. Balsamo went on to explain, "We knew we had something quite special with the vocal harmonies, but a few years ago I suppose our kind of music wasn't in vogue. Britain is a strange place, there's a guilty pleasures kind of vibe if you own a 10cc or Chicago record. But we love those bands for writing great songs and we don't give a shit if it appeals to the NME or Kate Moss. We're so un-cool we're cool again."
The musical axis has definitely shifted back to The Storys with tunes that are slicker than a Vaseline spillage. Recent single Cinnamon brims with laid-back Americana and hooks so infectious you think they've been lifted from another bunch of care-free hippies. The rest of the album follows the same nostalgic yet buoyant template with lush vocal arrangements that aren't a million miles away from The Eagles or Crosby, Stills and Nash. The aforementioned artists are name-checked in almost every live review The Storys have had printed, but the comparison doesn't bother the group in the slightest.
Smith mused the musical connection with a wry smile, "Its a mould we really aspire to and are comfortable in. There's not a lot of bands with four singer-songwriters so I guess its an easy yet privileged way to be pigeon-holed."
Before the gargantuan Elton John shows, The Storys went one better playing their first ever show in front of 70,000 people at the Olympic Torch Concert outside Buckingham Palace in 2004. The bands debut live bow proved to be a star-studded occasion, one which left Balsamo bamboozled, "We'd finished our set and before you knew it we were in the hospitality set with Ozzy Osbourne and Rod Stewart. Sharon Osbourne is a lot better looking than you think in real life and Penny Lancaster was quite gorgeous as well."
After the Elton John dates, the band are set to play a smattering of festivals over the summer months and then follow up the Autumn with a headline tour that concludes at The Coal Exchange in Cardiff. The group ideology is quite clear, have a laugh but aim to shift millions of records in the process. Balsamo already has structured plans for the future, "We've already got 40 songs for the next album and I can't see the process slowing down until at least the difficult tenth record. By then Rob will be in Barbados, I'll be in Nashville and [turning to Dai Smith] Where will you be?" The shy guitarist replies deadpan, "Probably in Glyncorrwg with Carter."
15 Jul 2006 - Elton's Generosity On Tour (Darren Devine, Western Mail)
Elton John's generosity was revealed to Welsh band The Storys when he invited them on tour as a support act.
Fronted by singer Steve Balsamo, the band were given advice, praise and looked after like royalty for the 13 dates with the legendary singer. Balsamo said, "On the first day of the tour he came in and said hello to us. He said to enjoy it and if there was anything we needed to just ask."
Elton, a big fan of the Swansea band, even let them use his dressers. Balsamo said, "They were doing all of our ironing, it was great."
11 Jul 2006 - Big Name Bands For White Lady Festival (South Wales Evening Post)
Music fans will be heading to Mumbles to take part in the largest festival ever staged in the grounds of Oystermouth Castle. Up to 3,500 tickets are being made available for the White Lady Festival next month. The festival features bands from all over Wales who will perform in a 10-hour music marathon. The event is headlined by The Storys, featuring former West End musical star Steve Balsamo, fresh from their tour with superstar Sir Elton John.
27 Jun 2006 - The Independent
26 Jun 2006 - Well Done Local Bands (South Wales Evening Post)
I Left Swansea in 1974 and moved to Kent with my parents, but keep coming back with my wife Kellie and son Matthew each year for holidays. We went to see Elton John at Canterbury Cricket Ground and found that The Storys, who were supporting that evening were not only from my home town, but are a very accomplished band and in my opinion the best thing to come out of Swansea since Badfinger, formerly The Iveys, in the late 60s. More should be done to recognise the talents of the late Pete Ham et all. No Matter What also features on the forthcoming Def Leppard album. The Storys had great tunes and vocal harmonies, not only from Steve Balsamo who has a great voice, but that evening also displayed the rest of the band's talents. We've bought the CD and have played the track Cinnamon round the clock - it deserves to be a huge summer hit. It would be great to see you in concert again - come and play in Deal at The Astor Theatre - which is not unlike the Brangwyn Hall Swansea - where we get to see a variety of bands from the late 60s/70s. (Steve Grimshaw, Deal, Kent)
18 Jun 2006 - Rocketman FairyTale For Storys (ITV.com)
Just one year after winning a talent competition The Storys are to join Elton John on tour. The band which won the 'Unsigned' contest, run by ITV London, last year are billed as "special guests" at 11 stadium and arena dates this summer. The six-piece band will follow in the footsteps of James Blunt, Anastacia and the Scissor Sisters as recent support for one of the biggest names in music. Sir Elton telephoned The Storys' front man Steve Balsamo from Las Vegas to break the news after hearing their album, recorded at Glyncorrwg in Port Talbot's Afan Valley. Balsamo said it could not have been better timed for them as the band had just been signed by Warner Bros.
He said, "Someone had given him a copy of our album while he was in Vegas and he was so positive about it. He just said he wanted us to come on tour in the summer."
Balsamo, who made a name for himself in the West End as the lead in Jesus Christ Superstar, formed The Storys with Andy Collins, Dai Smith, Rob Thompson, Brian Thomas and Alan Thomas.
8 Jun 2006 - Welsh Band On Tour With Sir Elton (Robin Turner, Western Mail)
A South Wales band which recently released their first album have started a tour with rock superstar Sir Elton John. The Storys are "special guests" at 11 stadium and arena dates this summer including one at the Borussia Monchengladbach Stadium in Germany earlier this week. The six-piece band will follow in the footsteps of James Blunt, Anastacia and the Scissor Sisters as recent support for one of the biggest names in music. Sir Elton telephoned The Storys' front man Steve Balsamo from Las Vegas to break the news after hearing their album, recorded at Glyncorrwg in Port Talbot' s Afan Valley. Balsamo said it could not have been better timed for them as the band had just been signed by Warner Bros.
He said, "Someone had given him a copy of our album while he was in Vegas and he was so positive about it. He just said he wanted us to come on tour in the summer."
Balsamo, who made a name for himself in the West End as the lead in Jesus Christ Superstar, formed The Storys with Andy Collins, Dai Smith, Rob Thompson, Brian Thomas and Alan Thomas. All are well respected musicians and writers from Port Talbot, Neath and Swansea and have known each other through the South Wales music scene for more than 15 years. They started writing songs and playing together three years ago.
Jun 2006 - Classic Rock
26 May 2006 - Interview (Shock Radio, University of Salford)
The Storys are slightly excited. The epic six-piece band from Swansea, South Wales have just recently found out that they are to support Elton John on his forthcoming tour. Steve Balsamo tells of his near pant-wetting moment when Elton John himself rang and said he had heard the album, loved it and wanted The Storys to support his tour. Along with all this excitement they are a regular feature on the BBC Radio 2 and BBC 6 Music Playlists, and were interviewed by Janice Long a few days before.
Steve and Rob join Shock Radio for an interview in a lovely Italian restaurant just off Deansgate, where they are determined to pay for the meal, chat for as long as a piece of string and invite us to their gig. All in a days work...
Shock Radio welcomes The Storys, hello there!! Please introduce yourselves.
Steve: I'm Steve, I sing and play guitar.
Rob: I'm Rob, I also sing and play guitar.
Lovely to meet you. How does it feel being interviewed on Student Radio after being on the likes of Radio 2 and 6 Music?
S: It's brilliant, you know. Just talking about our music is what it's all about. Students hopefully will buy our records so we only see it as a good thing.
R: It's just about getting our music out to as many people as possible.
That's what we like to hear. It's very unusual having a six-piece band like yourselves, was that your intention initially? Normally that shouldn't really work but it does.
R: Originally we had seven!!
S: Yeah we had two drummers in the band!! It was like a seven-piece super-group!! Because the music is quite intricate, or the playing of the music is quite intricate, we need several guitarists and a keyboard player. Our keyboard player can play every instrument under the sun; drums and stuff. It's all about getting the music we do on the record sound good when we play live.
There are four of you who sing, and it could be seen as quite confusing with each song having a different voice!!
S: Well, we are all singer/songwriters in our own right and the four of us initially just got together to write songs; there was never an intention to get a band together. Very quickly we realised that the songs were pretty good and it would be good to make a band to fit around them.
R: It's only unusual for these days. If you head back to the old bands like The Beatles and The Eagles they all have lots of lead singers but even then you still know what band you are listening to.
You are from Swansea, in South West Wales. There have been quite a few successful chart bands that have emerged from Wales, especially in the past decade. Is there a reason for this or is it just random luck?
S: I don't think it's random. I think for years record companies only went as far as Bristol and never crossed the Severn Bridge. When the Bristol scene had been drained of bands such as Massive Attack and Portishead, the record companies thought "Hang on, lets go over the Bridge" and bands like Catatonia and Stereophonics came after that. It was inevitable that they would exploit South Wales in the end!!
Ti'n Siarad Cymraeg?? [Do you speak Welsh??]
S: Oh, Dipyn bach [Very little]. Not if I can help it!!
R: Don't go there!
Do you understand it?
S: Yeah. I love Welsh and all that it stands for, but if you want to make it, you've gotta sing in English.
Do you think your Welsh roots bring something to your music style?
S: For definite. Welsh bands, even The Manics and Stereophonics who are rock bands, are very melodious; being Welsh seems to allow you to be melodic. I think it comes from our history of Male Voice Choirs, the Church, and the Chapel and so on. Although people say we sound very like West Coast America - which we do - we are also very Welsh.
Ah, yes comparisons. People love to do that. Are there any bands that you would NOT like to be compared with?
R: As long as people like it, it doesn't matter.
Do you get frustrated with comparisons to The Beatles, The Eagles, etc?
S: No, not at all. Because that means they are talking about the band and that's the main thing. Also, we love The Eagles, Crosby Stills and Nash, Fleetwood Mac; Both Peter Green and Stevie Nicks. And we love listening to them.
Does anyone ever compare you to Kelly Jones for Stereophonics?
S: Err, no. Voice-wise, no.
S: Are you calling me short??!!
Nothing wrong with him, he is a handsome bloke. So where does this name The Storys come from. Is it because each song is a mini-story of your life?
S: It really is as boring as that answer, yes!
R: Most of the songs are written around a story. We sit down; we decide what the story is for the song; then we write lyrics based around that story.
Steve, you and Dai were signed separately under another label a few years back weren't you? Do you prefer the Band thing to being Solo?
S: Definitely. This is camaraderie; we all get to make the decisions and it doesn't solely rest on you. Serious decisions have to be made nearly every day now. We have a little democratic debate, but before, I was on my own and if I made the wrong decisions - which I did make a few - you have to live with it.
Is it true that you have released this album on your own label?
S: It is, yes.
That could have been risky...
S: Yeah but these days, because of the Internet and so on there are other ways to get your music out there, which is very exciting. MySpace is there and you can do it; people like Damien Rice who has sold 2 million records...
The Arctic Monkeys??
R: Yes, well that's slightly exaggerated that story. What actually happened there was they had a team of lawyers and publicists working with them as well.
S: So it's kind of true. It's just turned into a bit of a myth now.
What is, or are your websites? I have befriended you on MySpace already.
S: Aw, thanks that's great, thank you!! We have www.thestorys.co.uk and www.myspace.com/thestorys.
R: Maybe that's where I recognise you from...
R: Maybe because your picture comes up?
Possibly! You have had lots of press attention and interviews since the amazing news that you will be supporting Elton John. How did that all come about?
S: Elton John called me up at home, from Vegas, and told me that someone had given him the record, and he loved it. He then decided to call me up and invite us on tour; as simple as that. It was amazing, an amazing phone call.
Was that just on the strength of your first single Be By Your Side?
R: No the album.
S: He loved that song though; he sang it down the phone to me!!
It has got a great melody that just hooks you in. I couldn't get it out of my head when I first heard it. Will the next single follow suit?
S: Cinnamon is the next single, released as an up-tempo song for the summer.
Your album hasn't been out for long and it has had great reactions. Is this due to your mature sound? It seems to have a quality that allows it to work across the board.
S: That's what we are hoping. A lot of what we are doing now happened in the 70's; bands like Talking Heads and Television. Bands like the Kaiser Chiefs have gone for a retro sound and we have just gone a decade before.
Do you think other people will follow you?
S: Oh yes definitely. There are a lot of bands breaking through who now have this sound.
From all that has happened, how do you keep yourself grounded, or are you cautious anyway because of your past experiences?
S: No, we just enjoy it. This is our first ever tour and it's very exciting just to get out there. All we want to do is play our songs to as many people as we can.
Do you prefer the intimate gigs as opposed to big gigs, or have you not played to massive crowds yet?
S: Well we have done a couple of big gigs. We played to 80,000 people at Buckingham Palace.
What about festivals? Glastonbury is next year and I think you could fit quite nicely in there.
S: Yeah, that has a great 70's vibe about it.
R: We are paying at Guilfest this year and a couple of other lovely things coming up.
That should definitely be a good gig. Is it true that you played where Oasis were signed?
S: Last night, yeah. King Tuts Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow. The crowd were so lovely there, and the people who ran it were the nicest people ever.
Do the crowds in different locations, such as Glasgow, Manchester and Wales, receive you differently?
S: Yes, Glasgow, or Scottish listeners love our music and are very attentive.
R: The gig at The Point, in Cardiff Bay was incredible. It was packed. The word is spreading now and all the audience were singing the songs back at us. It's not so much about 'spreading the word' now - they already know the tunes.
Do you feel as though in the past few months it has just exploded?
S: It's getting there slowly!! We have known each other for years, but we have only been together as a band a few years.
What are your plans for this time next year?
R: Retire?? [Laughter]
S: Split up?? [Yet more laughter] Nah, make another record as soon as possible, and just carry on doing what we do, playing bigger places.
Do you have an ideal venue?
S: Ooh I don't know - Madison Square Gardens.
R: Anywhere really, we will play anywhere, we love it.
Do you like the idea of playing outdoor venues then?
S: Well we are doing it now so we've got to!!
R: As well as the arenas, we are doing a lot of football grounds and cricket grounds.
Aren't you amazed that this time last year not many people had heard of you and now you are poised to tour with Elton John?
R: Yeah, it's like we have been given a chance and now we are ready to do it.
S: We have all paid our dues; you know, played and played for a long time, so we are ready. It's our time.
Well guys, after the incredible performance you played for us afterwards, you deserve all the luck and success in the world.
14 May 2006 - Fairytale For Storys (Rachel Mainwaring, Wales on Sunday)
Welsh singer Steve Balsamo's bid for solo success was wrecked by Will Young and Gareth Gates - but he's hoping to get a second shot at stardom thanks to pop legend Elton John. Swansea-born Steve and his band The Storys are preparing for the big time when they take to the stage with the Rocket Man at the end of the month. The 34-year-old reckons he was in the wrong place at the wrong time when he launched his solo career first time round. At the peak of Pop Idol-mania, Will and Gareth were storming ahead in the charts so Steve's single Sugar For My Soul didn't do as well as he hoped.
He said: "It was such a shame because the album took a long time to plan and the record company had invested a lot of money in it."
Following the disappointment of the album's failure, Steve - who's also appeared in the West End in Jesus Christ Superstar - took some time out.
"It was very difficult but eventually I got together with a couple of friends and we began writing songs. It felt good, there was obviously something going on. The way we harmonised gave a West Coast sound."
The result was the formation of The Storys, a fantastic debut album and a new fan.
"I had a phone call from Elton who said he loved our songs and invited us to support him on his UK tour," Steve said.
The six-piece band will follow in the footsteps of James Blunt, Anastacia and the Scissor Sisters as recent support for one of the biggest names in music. Steve, who says Elton is a personal hero, said it could not have been better timed for them as they had just been signed by Warner Bros.
"I got a call from our manager and he just said, 'Elton John is going to call you in your house'. Ten minutes later, the telephone goes and Sir Elton is giving it, 'How's it going Steve?' on the other end of the phone. More and more surreal! Having Elton John validate the songwriting was too much for my small brain to cope with. I couldn't believe what just happened. But if nothing happens from here on in, Elton John has called and said he thinks our songs are great."
May 2006 - Q Sheet
25 Apr 2006 - The Storys At The Glee Club (Birmingham101.com)
Having apparently abandoned solo career ambitions after his first album stiffed, Welsh pop songster and former Jesus Christ Superstar star Steve Balsamo is now one quarter of the vocal and songwriting power behind this South Wales sextet whose eponymous debut album (Korova) leans heavily towards the rootsy pop flavours of Southern California and such influences as The Eagles, CS&N, the Byrds and Fleetwood Mac.
Originally released last year and now revived for its new major label home, it's lush, sunny soaring pop rich in rippling melodies and radio friendly choruses with songs like the scarf-waving I Believe In Love, country stroller Be By Your Side, power ballad Journey's End and Westlife wannabe Is It True What They Say About Us destined to be saturating Radio 2's airwaves for the foreseeable future.
The show's opened by Barnsley reared Rosalie Deighton, erstwhile member of the Indonesian/YorkShire string band Deighton Family. It's been a while since the release of her impressive rootsy pop solo debut, Truth Drug, so she'll be reaquainting you with such songs as Crazy World Tomorrow and Ideal Me as well, one would hope, as previewing new material from its long awaited follow-up.
21 Apr 2006 - Happy Ending For The Storys (Birmingham Mail)
Welsh singer Steve Balsamo's bid for solo success was wrecked by Will Young and Gareth Gates - but he's getting a second shot at the big time with his new band The Storys thanks to Sir Elton John. The 34-year-old from Swansea says he was in the wrong place at the wrong time when he launched his solo career.
"Timing plays an important part in the record industry and my album came out at the beginning of the Pop Idol phenomenon which just engulfed everything. It was such a shame because the album took a long time to plan and the record company had invested a lot of money in it."
Following the disappointment of the album's failure Steve, who has also appeared in the West End in Jesus Christ Superstar, took some time out.
"It was a very difficult time but eventually I got together with a couple of friends and we began writing songs. It felt good, there was obviously something going on. The way we harmonised gave a West Coast sound."
The result was the formation of The Storys and the recording of a debut album that was heard by Sir Elton John. "I had a phone call from Elton who said he loved our songs and invited us to support him on his UK tour," recalls Steve.
21 Apr 2006 - The Storys At The Maze, Nottingham (Nottingham Evening Post)
Swansea phenomena The Storys appear at The Maze shortly before they hit the road opening for none other than Elton John. Elton rang them up in person, said he loved their record and asked if they'd go on tour with him. At first, they thought it was a wind-up, but no, it really was the Man.
They're a classy, alt. country/rock-flavoured six-piece featuring mandolin, acoustic guitars, bass, drums and keyboards. They're influenced by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Fleetwood Mac, and The Eagles, but the similarities apparent in their vocal blend came naturally, and they've enough originality not to appear derivative. They don't do covers, so don't expect a tribute band, it's all original stuff from the four songwriters in the mix, which also features four lead vocalists.
Steve, Rod, Dai, Andy, Brian and Alan got together about three years ago after playing around the South Wales musical community for some 15 years. The songs had been tested in Swansea locals, and their taste is obviously pretty good as the album, which was self-produced, was rapidly taken up by Warners.
Catch 'em before Elton whisks them away to stardom.
6 Apr 2006 - Venue Magazine
30 Mar 2006 - South Wales Evening Post
23 Mar 2006 - Music Is Talking About My Generation (Neil McCormick, The Telegraph)
Age has been one of the perennial battlegrounds of pop culture. And I use the phrase "pop culture" advisedly. There was a time when it was widely referred to as "youth culture", but when all three top 10 new entries in last week's albums chart belonged to people nearing retirement age, the question is surely not whether age matters any more but whether, finally, the oldies have seen off the youngsters.
Sixty-year-old David Gilmour went straight in at number one. The other new entries came from Andrea Bocelli (47) and Van Morrison (60), with a top 20 showing for a greatest hits set from David Essex (58).
Two weeks before, the highest new entries were from Neil Diamond (65), Dolly Parton (60) and Ray Davies (61). And if you are still not convinced, last week's top 20 music DVDs consisted almost entirely of the deceased (Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Barry White, Roy Orbison), the middle-aged (Motley Crue, Whitesnake, the Eagles, Paul Weller, Iron Maiden, Metallica), the positively ancient (Johnny Mathis, Rod Stewart) and the retired (ELO, Abba).
The only two who could assert any claim to represent the youth of today are James Blunt (all of 29 and a huge favourite with older listeners) and Westlife (aged between 25 and 28, which surely makes any attempt to describe them as a boy band liable for prosecution by trading standards officers).
In contrast to the triumphs of the sexagenarians, a host of young singers and groups much trumpeted by the music press failed even to make the top 20, including new albums from Shakira, Delays, Morning Runner, Mogwai, and the Mystery Jets. The last are an interesting case, including in their line-up 55-year-old guitarist and lyricist Henry Harrison, father of 20-year-old singer Blaine. They are a rare example in rock (though not in country or folk) of a family band, and they reflect an often unspoken reality of how music is actually consumed. It is not divided by age, it is divided by taste.
The Arctic Monkeys (all under 21) may be the pop phenomenon of the year, but they are not a generation-dividing band. You don't have to be young to appreciate the appeal of a sound whose lineage is strongly connected to the past. Indeed, the new-wave genre inspiring a resurgence of British rock is hugely attractive to music fans of a certain age because its roots lie so unashamedly in the old wave of their youth.
When I was an 18-year-old punk, I never imagined I would be a middle-aged rock critic, but it turns out that it is my contemporaries who are keeping the charts alive. More than half of all CDs are bought by people over 30, less than a fifth by people under 20.
Yet there remains an inbuilt prejudice to age within pop culture. When major labels put out genre records (particularly country, jazz or swing) that might appeal to older listeners, they prefer to find young talent to do it, thus ensuring the widest possible demographic appeal, as we have seen in the careers of Jamie Cullum, Norah Jones and Katie Melua.
The story of Welsh country-rock outfit the Storys is a salutary one. Their demos were shopped around to much excitement - with one big caveat. "Please tell me they are young," was the legendary remark of one label boss. The Storys are aged between 31 and 50. Unable to get a deal, they released their album themselves last Oct.
Elton John (58) heard it and offered to take them on his summer stadium tour of Britain. The music industry took notice, and this year the Storys signed with Warners. The odd thing is, they are not getting any younger. But then none of us are.
BB King embarks on a tour of the UK later this month at the age of 80. We constantly hear about the problems of our ageing society, but surely we shouldn't be worrying about who is going to be paying our pensions, but what we are going to do during our lengthy retirements. Frankly, forming a rock band seems a good option to me.
23 Mar 2006 - Elton's Success Storys (Claire Rees, Celtic Newspapers)
It'S not every day a band gets a phone call from Elton John telling them he loves their CD and he wants them on his tour. While it may seem like an overnight break for the six-piece from Swansea and Port Talbot, it's been a long time coming. Claire Rees caught up with Steve and Rob of The Storys backstage at a packed warm-up gig of their own.
"Someone called me Steve Balsamo from The Storys the other day. That was pretty amazing."
The vocalist and musician was more used to being known as Jesus Christ Superstar after he found fame quickly in the West End role.
"I do think I've shifted the tag now," he said as the band, who have now been together three years, write their set list on a paper napkin in the bar of Cardiff's Hard Rock Cafe.
It's a world apart from what the summer will have in store for them as they support the epitome of glamorous excess, Elton John. The Rocket Man himself telephoned Steve at home after hearing their CD in Las Vegas just after they signed to record label Warners. They'd written the tracks in guitars and vocalist Rob Thomas's Swansea kitchen.
"My manager called me 10 minutes before to warn me," said Steve. "So it was 10 minutes to have a nervous breakdown."
All six (Swansea-born, less for Port Talbot's Brian Thomas on drums and percussion) were not only fans of his music but equally aware an endorsement by Elton has previously meant the Midas touch for an act - just ask James Blunt or Scissor Sisters. The veteran artist famously bestows extravagant gifts on his proteges - Blue got inscribed pendants.
"I don't know about that," said Steve. "But asking us to tour with him is a pretty special gift."
For the busy band, the schedule, kicking off in May with stops including Manchester's MEN Arena, will mean yet another hectic few months on top of their own tour which plays Cardiff Bay's The Point next month. Steve and Rob have just become fathers for the first time and say the experience feels even more intense as a result.
"It's weird because you've got this perfect, beautiful thing in your hands at home," said Steve. "And then you're like, oh bye, and you're off again touring."
The self-titled album, funded with the help of small business in their hometown, is a collection of Americana-influenced songs that sound like they should be in a '70s road movie trailing a bunch of hippies in the Nevada Desert. Every one hints at each of their influences - Steve by Crosby, Stills and Nash and The Finn Brothers, Andy's Beatles penchant and Rob's obsession with Wilco. They recorded the album in an old converted cinema in Glyncorrwg through analogue equipment, using acoustic guitars, 'real' pianos and drums. The end result, after a year of work is, according to Steve "baggy and dusty". Both aged 34 - past it in an industry that traditionally plucks acts from the nursery, Steve and Rob reckon The Storys have had to encounter their fair share of ageism.
"People said you'll never get signed at 34," said Steve. "But there's been a huge tidal turn. The age range at our gigs is huge. Record companies are catering for the older demographic now."
For now, they're throwing themselves into a tour that is so jam-packed they don't even need to rehearse.
"We don't want to be presumptuous about the [Elton] tour. We know nothing's guaranteed. It's touring with Elton John. That's enough. We're so used to writing for other people so at the moment it just feels amazing to be doing our own stuff."
23 Mar 2006 - Boyz Magazine
10 Mar 2006 - What's The Storys? (Gavin Allen, South Wales Echo)
His huge shadow hung over the conversation from the second it started. Plain fact: Welsh band The Storys have been handed the coveted support slot on Elton John's UK tour.
"Totally surreal," said singer/guitarist Steve Balsamo. "Our manager called and said, Brace yourself. Elton John is going to call you in 10 minutes. So I spent 10 minutes dancing around the room and then he called, 'Hi Steve, it's Elton'. I have met a lot of famous people but I've never been so tripped out as I was speaking to him."
Elton's backing clearly pays off - just ask James Blunt, Anastacia, Ryan Adams or the Scissors Sisters.
"There's no guarantee it will happen for us, but if nothing else happens with this album, having Elton John validate the songs like that is worthwhile."
Validation is a big but accurate word and there's no hiding the fact that Balsamo is unashamedly parading that validation (who wouldn't?) hoping his career of aborted launches is finally paying off.
"I've been close a few times, yeah. I think we have a lot of respect from artists we have worked with, but we do want commercial success. In medicine, if you put in 12 years work you will be a consultant and we've put in our 12 years, we want our consultancy."
The six-strong Swansea outfit are in the middle of promotional work for the release of their self-titled debut album on Mar 27, the first of a five-album deal with label giant Warners. Their unusual set-up of four singers - Balsamo plus Andy Collins (bass), Dai Smith (guitar) and Rob Thompson (guitar) with Brian Thomas (drums) and Alan Thomas (keyboards) - is bleached with experience and Radio 2 loves their 1970s West Coast influence.
"We were in a pub called the Red Lion in Barnes, London, after recording some Radio 2 sessions to have a celebratory drink and across the room the Gallagher brothers were drinking with Kasabian! It's moving so fast for us at the moment that it's important to sit down after every little achievement and celebrate it because you never know what's going to happen next."
Those words show Balsamo has trodden this road before and knows promises often lead nowhere.
"When I had a deal with Sony it was very much a case of 'Let's throw some money at it all and see what sticks'. But it feels very different this time. I hope it is."
7 Mar 2006 - Sir Elton Sings Band's Praises Before Taking Them On Tour (South Wales Evening Post)
A Swansea band who only recently released their first album on their own label have been picked by Sir Elton John as the support act on his upcoming tour.
The Storys will be "special guests" at 11 stadium and arena dates this year. The six-piece band will follow in the footsteps of James Blunt, Anastacia and the Scissor Sisters as recent support for one of the biggest names in music. Sir Elton telephoned The Storys' front man Steve Balsamo to break the news after hearing their album in Las Vegas. Balsamo, who said Elton John was a personal hero, said it could not have been better timed for them as they had just been signed by Warner Bros.
"I got a call from our manager and he just said, 'Elton John is going to call you in your house in 10 minutes'. Ten minutes later the telephone goes and Sir Elton is giving it 'how's it going Steve?' on the other end of the phone. Someone had given him a copy of the album while he was in Vegas and he was so positive about it."
4 Mar 2006 - Local Band To Back Elton (South Wales Evening Post)
A Swansea-based band are set for the big time after being picked as a support act for Sir Elton John. The Storys have only recently been signed to a major record label, after releasing their debut album themselves.
However, camp rocker Sir Elton was so impressed by what he heard that he phoned frontman Steve Balsamo to sign them up for his latest UK tour. The Storys will join Sir Elton on an 11-leg stadium and arena tour, kicking off in front of thousands of fans at the MEN Arena in Manchester.
Lead singer Balsamo said Elton John was a personal hero and he was delighted by his interest. He said: "I got a call from our manager and he just said that Elton John was going to call my house in 10 minutes. Ten minutes later the telephone goes and Sir Elton is giving it: 'how's it going Steve?' on the other end of the phone."
The band have been writing and playing together for three years.
4 Mar 2006 - Welsh Band Get Elton's Helping Hand (Karen Price, Western Mail)
A Welsh band chosen by Elton John to support him on his forthcoming UK stadium and arena tour are hoping his 'midas touch' will bring them major stardom. Relatively unknown, The Storys - featuring former West End star Steve Balsamo and five of his friends - set up their own label to release their debut album. But now the Swansea band, formed almost three years ago, is hoping for similar success to New York sensations Scissor Sisters and chart-topper James Blunt, who have both achieved phenomenal success after receiving support from Sir Elton. The superstar has been full of praise for The Storys after hearing a copy of their self-titled debut album.
'They have made a fantastic debut album, and I am really excited that they will be playing with me on tour,' said Sir Elton. About three weeks ago, Balsamo received a call from his manager John Waller telling him to expect a call from The Piano Man himself. "I said, 'Is this a joke?' And then Elton called up," said Balsamo, who shot to fame in the West End playing Jesus Christ Superstar. "He told me he had been given a copy of our album and couldn't stop playing it. He said he absolutely loved it and spent the next 10 minutes telling me how great he thought it was. He then asked if we would like to support him on tour. It's very hard to put into words how I felt. Someone I respect as an amazing artist and songwriter rates what we are doing. Afterwards I thought, 'Did he really call?'"
The Storys also features Andy Collins, Dai Smith, Rob Thompson, Brian Thomas and Alan Thomas and they range in age from thirties to fifties. They recently signed a four-album deal with Warners and they describe their music as '70s West Coast-influenced. They are now preparing to perform to hundreds of thousands of music fans as part of Sir Elton's 11-date tour, which opens at MEN Arena, Manchester, on May 29. There will be no performances in Wales.
The Storys initially thought they would only be playing the stadiums. "Elton called me back a week later and asked if we wanted to do the indoor arenas too."
The band now hopes that some of Sir Elton's magic will help them on the road to major stardom. His ability to spot great new musical talent is legendary. He brought Anastacia, Scissor Sisters and James Blunt to the attention of the public over the past few years. The first time he saw the Scissor Sisters perform live he proceeded to purchase a glut of their self-titled debut CDs and share them with all of his friends. Since first gaining Sir Elton's support, they have headlined major festivals, such as the V Festival, played to millions with a storming set at Live 8, and won a clutch of industry awards, including three major prizes at last year's Brit Awards. Sir Elton is now collaborating with them on their new album. He was also an early supporter of James Blunt. He dubbed You're Beautiful a fresh descendant of his 1970 breakthrough, Your Song. Blunt has now topped both the singles and album charts and last month he won two major Brit accolades, including Best British Male, and this week he topped the Billboard chart in America with You're Beautiful.
But Balsamo is not looking too far ahead. "I would not like to be presumptuous at all really," he said. "It's just a great honour to play to a lot of people, which is exactly what we want to do. We are a live band but, of course, the idea of raising our profile and selling lots of records is attractive."
3 Mar 2006 - Elton's Big Break For Support Act (BBC Wales Website)
A South Wales band who only recently released their first album on their own label have been picked by Elton John as the support act on his upcoming tour. The Storys will be "special guests" at 11 stadium and arena dates this year. The six-piece band will follow in the footsteps of James Blunt, Anastacia and the Scissor Sisters as recent support for one of the biggest names in music. He telephoned The Storys' front man Steve Balsamo to break the news after hearing their album in Las Vegas. It will see the band perform in front of crowds up to 30,000, starting at the MEN Arena in Manchester in May.
Balsamo, who said Elton John was a personal hero, said it could not have been better timed for them as they had just been signed by Warner Bros.
"I got a call from our manager and he just said, 'Elton John is going to call you in your house in 10 minutes'. Ten minutes later the telephone goes and Sir Elton is giving it 'how's it going Steve?' on the other end of the phone. Someone had given him a copy of the album while he was in Vegas and he was so positive about it. It was becoming more and more surreal and then he just said he wanted us to come on tour in the summer."
Balsamo, who made a name for himself on the West End as the lead in Jesus Christ Superstar, added: "I've met a lot of famous people. But having Elton John validate the songwriting was too much for my small brain to cope with. I couldn't believe what just happened. When I telephoned the boys I had to start with, 'This is not a wind-up'."
The Swansea-based band - whose other members are Andy Collins, Dai Smith, Rob Thompson, Brian Thomas and Alan Thomas - have known each other through the south Wales music scene for about 15 years. They started writing songs and playing together about three years ago. Last year they persuaded some investors in Swansea to part with enough money to allow them to record and release their debut album on their own label.
"It could not be going any better" added Balsamo. "But if nothing happens from here on in, Elton John has called and said he thinks our songs are great."
Mar 2006 - Uncut Playlist CD (Uncut Magazine)
Hailing from South Wales, The Storys have been around a bit: all six members are in their 30s/40s, and mainman Steve Balsamo once played the lead in a West End production of Jesus Christ Superstar. But don't let that put you off, as The Storys' debut album is full of wonderful songs, great playing, big choruses and sweet, sweet harmonies that recall the '70s West Coast heyday of the likes of The Eagles and CSN. Cinnamon is typical of the band's jaunty, jangling sunshine sound, and was released as their first single late last year.
Mar 2006 - Quench Interview (Kerry-Lynne Doyle, Cardiff University Magazine)
Steve Balsamo is no stranger to the music industry. After receiving his first taste of fame starring in Jesus Christ Superstar at the West End, Steve stepped away from musicals and signed a record deal in order to make it with his own music.
Enjoying success with the single Sugar for the Soul in 2002, he soon fell foul to the demands of his record company - an event which he is keen to avoid with his latest venture, The Storys. A six-piece band of Swansea musicians, The Storys put Steve's experiences to good use, by deciding to release their album independently earlier this year.
"It's almost a cliche these days that record companies sign you and you get dropped but I'm not bitter about it at all," says Steve. "I survived unscathed but when we were approached by a few record companies, we wanted to put the record out ourselves. There's a lot more kudos if you do it that way."
Formed in 2003, The Storys developed their west coast sound from their mutual love of country rock. Taking the lead from their heroes Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles, they share the main vocals between them. Wanting to sound "retro without being ironic", the band recorded their album in The Hall, a renovated cinema in Glyncorrwg, to create the perfect old school record.
"By putting the album out ourselves we could make sure that it sounded the way that we wanted it to," says Rob Thompson, one of the band's vocalists and guitarists. "It does sound old-fashioned and anyone signing this album would want to take that away from it. But that's what its charm is."
Recording in The Hall also brought something quite unexpected to the album - a ghost.
"We brought in eight string players to play on the album and one of them was complaining of being cold all afternoon," explains Steve. "When we had photographs of the session developed there was this eight-foot grey man standing behind her. The faders kept being changed too so it really was bonkers."
Ghostly apparitions aside, The Storys are staying true to their Welsh roots. After supporting Tom Jones at his Pontypridd Park gig this summer, The Storys remain grateful for their homeland's influence on their music.
"I think being Welsh we're allowed to be musical," Steve asserts, "as it is part of our heritage. Music runs through Wales. If you look back to the Manics, the Stereophonics and forward to band such as The Automatic, you can see that their music is very melodic. I think Wales produces melodic music even more so than any other country in the UK because of our musical heritage."
And with a new single and a tour in the pipeline for early 2006, it seems that Wales' influence can only mean yet more great things for The Storys.
Steve reflects: "We feel very lucky and very blessed that we can actually make music as we know how competitive it is. We love it and we're just so bloody lucky to be able to make music and get it out there."
Mar 2006 - Live UK
19 Feb 2006 - My Story Has A Sting In It's Tail (Nathan Bevan, Wales On Sunday)
He's not the Messiah. In fact, he's not even a very naughty boy. Actually, it's hard to imagine former Jesus Christ Superstar, er, superstar Steve Balsamo doing anything as stereotypically rock and roll as trashing a hotel room or sending a TV set sailing into the night from a top floor window. Indeed, I get the impression that if he so much as spilled his camomile tea on the bed-sheets he'd be straight on the phone to reception to ask for a cloth to clean up with.
"It's true, we are the politest men in rock," said the 34-year-old one-time West End board-treader, referring to the equally genial bandmates who make up hotly-tipped West Coast-style rockers The Storys. "You've got to be nice to people all the time," he added, "because it's like Ozzy Osbourne said, the people you meet on your way up are the same ones you'll see on your way back down again."
Relaxing in a plush red leather booth of a swanky Swansea eatery and looking thoroughly rakish and dapper with his shoulder-length hair and black linen suit, the Swansea-born singer certainly knows all about the ups and downs of show business. From his earliest memories of his Italian dad, a chef from Venice, belting out Mario Lanza standards, to the country songs his Welsh mum would sing him to sleep with, music has been in Steve's blood. Aged 17 and prompted by jealousy over his then-girlfriend's teenage crush on Jon Bon Jovi, he would trawl the decidedly unglamorous pub and club circuit of South Wales in various bands, belting out classic rock covers to regulars who'd take umbrage with the fact their bingo night was being disrupted.
"I remember one place in Bridgend years ago someone tried to strangle me as I was singing, which, as criticism goes, seemed a bit harsh," laughed Steve. "The bouncer - this big, hard, black guy with white tattoos - stepped in and really saved my bacon."
At 21 he swapped the spit and sawdust of workingmen's locals for the smell of the greasepaint and the roar of the crowd, his impressive three-and-a-half octave vocal range having landed him a role in a touring production of Les Miserables - or The Glums as it's known in Swansea. "That came as a hell of a culture shock," said the self-confessed pints-not-tights man. "I was surrounded by people who'd been to theatre school and all I could do was watch them and pick things up quickly. Luckily, I'm a fast learner."
Steve shot to fame, and saw his face plastered across bus shelters nation-wide, when he landed the lead in Andrew Lloyd-Webber's musical Jesus Christ Superstar. With just one televised performance, it's said Steve caused ticket sales for the show to go stratospheric, selling more than GBP 160,000 worth in 30 minutes.
But the desire to be a pop star was still as strong as ever. "To be honest, I could have stuck with it and earned myself a flaming fortune, but I only went into Superstar to get a recording contract out of it, and five months into the run that's exactly what happened," he said.
So, in 1997, he left behind a lucrative career as Lord Lloyd-Webber's cash cow to go his own way - but his solo career stalled when he was dropped by his record label five years later. "They ploughed a lot of money into making my record but there was all sorts of restructuring going on and people started losing their jobs," said Steve. "I'd waited for years to be signed and put something out there with my name on it, and just as I was on the brink..." he said, his voice trailing off as he drops his head into his hands in mock exasperation. "Ah well, let's just call it a bad case of musicus interruptus!"
But he remains philosophical about the whole episode. "Look, I had a big record deal, met a lot of great people and travelled the world - to me that's success. And if things hadn't happened how they did I would never have met the guys."
Along with 'the guys' - five other like-minded souls with a love for bands like The Eagles, Led Zeppelin and Fleetwood Mac - he decamped to an old cinema-turned-social club in Glyncorrwg, near Neath, called The Hall. "We went for a few weeks to rehearse and ended up staying a year," laughed Steve. "Everyone was really nice to us, we'd try the songs out on them, then they'd buy us pints if they liked them."
They also got an inkling they were doing something right when they did a session for seminal Radio Two DJ Whisperin' Bob Harris. "We told him how we wrote most of the material sitting around in our guitarist Rob's kitchen in Sandfields and he said that Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young had done exactly the same in Joni Mitchell's kitchen in Topanga Canyon in California when they were starting out. We just thought, 'Perfect!'"
Although their self-titled debut album isn't even out until next month, they've already been rubbing shoulders with royalty, both of the rock variety and otherwise. "Our first proper gig was in front of about 70,000 people at the Olympic Torch event in the mall outside Buckingham Palace," said a disbelieving Steve. "We were on with the likes of Rod Stewart and James Brown - not bad company, eh?! Mind you, the organisers did make us clear up afterwards," he laughed.
And, with The Storys snapped up by Warners Records before Christmas, Steve - who recently returned to his West Wales hometown with his long-term partner Tracy after 10 years in London - knows he's a lucky man. "We begged, borrowed and stole to make this record and put our own label together, so even if there's no major label involved, it won't matter. We made it ourselves, it's exactly what we wanted and we're so proud of it. It's real music and people seem to want to have real music again."
Calling up a picture on his mobile phone of his six-month-old baby daughter Isabella, a mop of cute brown curls and bows sitting at his piano, Steve looks up and beams. "Not many get a chance like this for a second shot, and we're gonna go for it."
13 Jan 2006 - First Chapter Of A New Story (Claire Hill, Western Mail)
When singer Steve Balsamo and the rest of his band The Storys sat down to write the sleeve notes for their debut album, they knew it had to be packed with thank yous. From the people who gave them money, lent them equipment and provided their recording venue, the Swansea band called in a lot of favours. But setting up their own label, Hall Recordings, and making the record their way has really paid off - they've now been signed to music giants Warners for four albums.
"We all worked incredibly hard but there are millions of people to thank," said Balsamo. "Without the help of dozens and dozens of people who went above and beyond what we could even dream of, the album wouldn't have been made. It's quite a hippy 60s thing but a lot of love was put into this record and people are responding to it."
The band is the new incarnation of the former West End star's career. After famously making Andrew Lloyd Webber weep during a performance of his headline-grabbing time in Jesus Christ Superstar, Balsamo signed to Sony to make his solo record, All I Am. But that's all in the past now as the Swansea singer is putting all his passion into the six-piece 70s West Coast-influenced band, The Storys. Joined by Rob Thompson, Dai Smith, Andy Collins, Brian Thomas and Alan Thomas, each one of the members has had a great deal of solo success pre-The Storys.
"We were working it out the other day and we've got... well I won't tell you how many years' experience we all have together!" said the singer. Suffice to say, the experience made the creation of the band extremely easy. Bit by bit, they all came together, knowing of each other through the "incestuous South Wales music scene", to start writing music that has been compared to Crosby, Stills and Nash and The Eagles.
With four main singer/songwriters you could be forgiven for expecting the group to be full of warring egos determined for their views, and voices, to be heard. But that's far from the truth.
"The writing process and working out who sings is a very natural thing," explained Balsamo. "We know when it feels right. There's a song that Andy does live which is just him and the guitar and it brings the house down. His voice is so beauteous and fragile."
Last year was taken up with recording the debut album, simply called The Storys, which relied heavily on the kindness of friends and strangers. The band used, heavily, the hospitality of friend and honorary band member Lawrence Davies, who has a studio at his converted cinema, The Hall in Glyncorrwg. And it's fair to say that the arrival of a six-piece band complete with equipment and vintage instruments caused a stir in the ex-mining community as the 'simple songs' were slowly recorded.
"There were all these tough guys there who've seen a lot of life who just did not get what was going on," said Balsamo. "But by the end they were sitting in with us and singing along with the songs. That's really engrained in the record and it's so magical."
The confidence they had in themselves was given its final boost when Warners signed them up for a four-album deal.
"I think the days of big money deals are gone," said Balsamo. "The industry, for the better or worse - and I think it's for the better - has changed. Money is being used much more wisely than when I signed to Sony or when Dai was signed. You don't need to have spent GBP 100,000 on a video."
Citing the current success of KT Tunstall, Arctic Monkeys and Nizlopi as acts who broke through in alternative ways, the former West End star believes the music industry is going through a very good time.
"Take Coldplay, Nizlopi, Crazy Frog or Kubb - none of these were within in the confines of what was the music industry. It's a brilliant time to be making music."
As the established record companies set up their older labels, like Sony Adult and EMI Angel, Balsamo isn't phased that all of his band are aged over 30, and some have pushed the 50 barrier.
"We were standing at the bar after we got signed and Alan, who is 50, said, 'I've been gigging for 30 years, I'm 50 and I've just got a recording deal'. It's brilliant. The record companies know that people aren't being catered for as a market and when something comes up that they love they buy it."
But with age comes the added juggling act of balancing relationships and children with recording and touring. Balsamo is experiencing this more than most after he and partner Tracey Jones welcomed their first child Isabella in September. But it's not going to stop him touring the album.
"We can't wait. A couple of us have just had babies which is very exciting but we don't want to be a flash in the pan, so we'll have to tour. Though being a new dad, there is a bit of me being torn with not wanting to go away. And it's made sure that all the songs I'm writing at the moment are about getting some sleep."
With those prolific songwriting skills of Balsamo added to those of the three other main songwriters in the band, it's not a surprise that the compliments are flooding in. Critics so far have been very favourable - BBC Radio 2 loves them and they have become firm favourites of DJ Bob Harris. A point which makes Balsamo very proud.
"We have a session with him soon, and I think we might cry when we meet him. He loves what we do and that to me is success."
But that's not going to stop the band and the plans to fulfil the Warners deal. Ideas for the next record - a "pacier affair, where the song is still king" - are already in place, but the band is keen not to get ahead of itself. For now the members want to focus on the debut album The Storys, a big gig at the Swansea Grand and the step-by-step plans for this year. It's early days but Balsamo is confident about the content and the quality of the songs - and the future of the band. "But it's also about timing and you've got to have luck. So we'll be praying for good luck because with a good wind I think this record will go far."
4 Jan 2006 - Storys Time (South Wales Evening Post)
The highly acclaimed south Wales band The Storys will appear in Tregaron next week.
With four singer- songwriters, all taking lead vocals on different songs, the sound of this new six-man band is both fragile and intense. Inspired by acts like The Eagles, Crosby Stills and Nash and Fleetwood Mac, they have just released their debut album to enormous acclaim. They perform multiple harmonies underpinned by acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, and a killer rhythm section.
Frontman Steve Balsamo has had one of his songs covered by Meatloaf and their first-ever gig, before a crowd of over 70,000, was at the Olympic Torch Concert outside Buckingham Palace. It immediately attracted the attention of the critics.
30 Dec 2005 - Storys Toast Five-Album Deal Success (South Wales Evening Post)
The Storys received a bumper Christmas gift this year, signing a five-album deal with the Warner Group record label. The lads headed to London on Wednesday to sign on the dotted line, celebrating with a no-holds-barred gig. The major deal means their recent release, The Storys, will be put out worldwide on Warner's Korova label. Frontman Steve Balsamo says: "We are delighted. Wednesday, Dec 21, was an auspicious day to sign the deal. It was the winter solstice and it was also Dai's birthday. We did a bit of celebrating and played a great gig that night at the Ginglik Club in London."
The Storys are the first band to be signed to the relaunched Korova label. Steve says its rejuvenation is a sign of a positive move in the music industry to recognise diverse and mature tastes that are looking for something more substantial than pre-teen pop. "I think since the success of acts like KT Tunstall and James Blunt, there is a move to meet more adult tastes."
On the back of the deal the band will head off to one of the most important music events in the international calendar, South By South West, out in Austin, Texas, in Mar. Grandaddy of Grunge Neil Young will be there and other acts making the trip include KT Tunstall, Beth Orton, Tom Verlaine, Ramblin' Jack Elliott and Death in Vegas. The Storys will head off for mega music-networking shindig Midem, in Cannes in Jan too.
Steve says his previous rocky deal with Sony gave him some invaluable experience. "We are completely positive about this. They are taking the whole album, lock, stock and barrel, so we feel we are steering this one from the beginning. We have all been working so hard at this for so long. And we have put the record out on our own, so we know we can do it ourselves."The next Storys single, Be By Your Side is set for release on Feb 13 and fans can still get to see the homegrown band locally, with their next date in Swansea going ahead at the Grand Theatre on Friday, Jan 27.
28 Nov 2005 - GBP 1,700 Raised For Ben Fund (South Wales Evening Post)
A concert held for Swansea schoolboy Ben Bellamy's memorial fund raised more than GBP 1,700, it was announced today. The event held this week was attended by more than 220 people at the Sketty Park Sports and Social Club and sold out within 36 hours. Seventeen-year-old Ben was found dead on a city beach two months ago, following a night out in Mumbles. A fund has been set up to build a lasting memorial to him.
Swansea band The Storys led by Steve Balsamo made a surprise appearance on stage turning up unannounced on the night. Five other bands, including Gary and Taff's Steel Water Band, The Jinx and The VIPs entertained the crowd.
Organiser Gareth "Nags" Watkins said: "It was a great night, but also very touching. Thank you to all the people involved and everyone who turned up."
17 Nov 2005 - Christmas Lights Switch-On Ceremony (South Wales Evening Post)
Snow machines, spectacular fireworks and Hollywood legend Bing Crosby singing White Christmas on a giant screen have been lined up to entertain the crowds at Swansea's big Christmas Lights switch-on ceremony.
Swansea's own six-piece country rock outfit, The Storys, who have supported Tom Jones and played at Jools Holland's wedding, will perform at the event which kicks off at 4.30pm on Sunday. They are fronted by West End star Steve Balsamo, famous for his appearance as Jesus Christ Superstar.
Celebrities from the Grand Theatre pantomime Snow White and the Seven Dwarves will be joining the line-up, along with The Crazy Frog, who will perform his new Christmas single Jingle Bells, live on stage.
11 Nov 2005 - Storys Hit TV Screen (South Wales Evening Post)
Swansea singer Steve Balsamo will be doing his bit for Children in Need later this month. The former star of Jesus Christ Superstar in London's West End will be performing with new band, The Storys, during the television fundraiser. The former Neath College student formed his new band after his solo career with record company Sony failed to take off. The band launched their eponymous debut album in Mumbles last month. The band, which is made up of four singers, has been booked for Children In Need on Friday when they will perform live from Wrexham. They can be heard throughout Wales on BBC TV and radio. The band brings Steve together with Andy Collins, Dai Smith, Rob Thompson and Brian and Alan Thomas.
6 Nov 2005 - Charlotte And Gav Are Story-Eyed! (Rachel Mainwaring, Wales On Sunday)
Stylish Charlotte Church and rugger boyf Gavin Henson joined the very gorgeous Steve Balsamo at the launch of his band's album. Steve, singer with The Storys, launched the band's self-titled album with a one-off gig at The Pier in the Mumbles. And Charlotte, dressed in a green vest which seductively showed off her red satin bra, looked every inch the funky pop star with heavy eye make up and sleek glossy hair. And Gav and new dad Steve didn't look too bad either!
21 Oct 2005 - See Storys Start (South Wales Evening Post)
The word is out about Swansea band The Storys with their single, Cinnamon, sweetening the airwaves. Catch the boys tonight at The Pier, Mumbles, for the official launch of their strapping new album, The Storys. Expect a night of melodious country rock, with four captivating voices - including Steve Balsamo - creating a grand canyon-sized sound in the vein of Crosby, Stills & Nash and the Eagles.
14 Oct 2005 - The Storys' Opening Chapter Starts Here (South Wales Evening Post)
Swansea's Steve Balsamo started another chapter in a career that has had more twists and turns than an Elmore Leonard novel, when he joined country rock outfit, The Storys. The band's debut album The Storys is out now and is being plugged by radio stations all over the UK. And the boys will celebrate the release on Steve's home turf when they play The Pier, Mumbles, next Friday (Oct 21).
Cinnamon, the melodious single, has been floating across the airwaves, with Johnny Walker and Bob Harris being partial to its rich harmonies and big choruses, backlit by country-rock banjo, mandolin and lap steel. Their sound is heavily influenced by The Eagles, Crosby, Stills and Nash and Fleetwood Mac, with four strong voices creating a grand canyon-sized sound, that was recorded in a converted cinema in Glyncorrwg for the album.
The band brings Steve together with Andy Collins, Dai Smith, Rob Thompson, Brian and Alan Thomas. The line-up is already proving to be a best seller, with their first gig going ahead in front of a 70,000 crowd at the Olympic Torch concert. They have also supported Tom Jones and played at Jools Holland's wedding.
2 Oct 2005 - Come To The Bal (Leah Otway, Wales On Sunday)
Welsh singing star Steve Balsamo's hot new band The Storys will launch their debut album with a gig in their home town, Swansea. The sextet are performing their 70s west-coast influenced songs at a one-off gig in The Pier, in Mumbles, Swansea, on Friday, Oct 21. A host of celebrities are expected to attend to see the former Jesus Christ Superstar singer and his bandmates, who release their debut single Cinnamon tomorrow, along with their self-titled album.
9 Sep 2005 - Steve's New Story (South Wales Evening Post)
Backing Joe Walsh on his cautionary tale of excess and isolation Life in the Fast Lane must be a sweet moment for a fledgling country rocker in vintage denims. Swansea's Steve Balsamo has enjoyed a number of peaks in his career and he has stood at the precarious edge of commercial success a few times. He joined the former Eagle at the Strat Pack 50th anniversary celebration of the iconic guitar - a show featuring Dave Gilmour and Gary Moore. He and his cohorts in the Storys enjoyed a debut gig at the Olympic Torch Concert in front of 70,000. Steve has found time to co-write songs for movie soundtracks and as a 21-year-old newcomer, won the lead role in Andrew Lloyd Webber's all-singing-all-dancing reworking of the greatest story ever told, Jesus Christ Superstar. (A casting that prompted the triumphant headline The Son of God is From Wales).
The singer has also hit a few troughs along the way, with a well-hyped two year contract with Sony coming to an abrupt end after his debut release bombed. But a grounding on the musical stage has taught him the importance of 'going on with the show'.
The Storys brings together Steve on vocals/guitar, Andy Collins, Dai Smith, Rob Thompson, Brian Thomas and Alan Thomas. Their debut single Cinnamon has been floating across the airwaves, with Johnny Walker and Bob Harris being partial to its rich harmonies and big choruses, backlit by country-rock banjo, mandolin and lap steel.
Steve says: "We are getting great support from the radio. I think we have an appealing sound, with four strong singers so we can all lead or harmonise. Some of the biggest bands in music history had multiple singers - like the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac - and it's a sound we love."
The band cut the album in a converted cinema in Glyncorrwg using old valve amps for that authentic sound.
Because of past career hitches, and perhaps because his mind is on the rather bigger issue of adjusting to life with a new baby, Steve is philosophical about commercial success: "The album is my other new baby and it's getting a lot of support so we're excited. But the album and the deal with Sony has made me look at things differently. There was a massive promotions campaign for that record with posters everywhere but it did nothing. At that time Pop Idol was at its peak and the timing was wrong for the material. But as a piece of work I'm proud of it."
This low-key attitude seems to stem from the fact that he is serious about making the kind of durable music that he admires rather than being driven by the sole desire to see his face on the telly. He talks about songwriting heavyweights like Joni Mitchell, Gram Parsons and the Beatles as well as vocal big-hitters like Paul Rogers. And of early memories of his mother singing him to sleep with gentle Jim Reeves numbers: "The emphasis of The Storys is on great songs with strong lyrics and hooks and I have been lucky enough to learn from some amazing writers," he said.
Whether he is single-minded about commercial success or not, the band has got off to an auspicious start, with a support slot with Tom Jones and a run of acclaimed gigs. And Steve does allow himself a little optimism: "If you look at the success of bands like Franz Ferdinand I think it shows people are listening to songs again."