"We all happened to go to school together, so we just sort of put this together," says guitarist Aaron Ogle, recalling his group's typically inauspicious beginnings. "It was originally me and some other guys, but along the way we chiseled away some members and added some new ones. When we acquired Jeff (Wood, vocals), that's when it really started. Before that, it was just sort of guys playing at each other."
Now The Sound and the Fury has evolved from members playing at one another to musicians playing with one another, and very well at that. Like the Faulkner novel after which it was named, this Grain Valley-bred group is as emotional and intense as it is dense, which Ogle says is another product of growing up together as a band. "Through time and growing up, the lyrics become more intelligent and less preschool," he says. "Instead of singing about high school stuff, you actually start to have a life."
A constant part of The Sound and the Fury's current life is comparisons to Tool, which Ogle finds flattering, although he hopes that listeners find similarities beyond Wood's vocal resemblance to Maynard James Keenan. "So many people degrade these boy bands and girl bands, but Tool is the exact opposite of that. They turn down more money to stick to their guns and they still get radio play. They've evolved, too, so that they still keep expressing themselves and keep moving toward something. That's also what I hope is intended by those comparisons."
It might well be. "Daddy's Dreaming," an emotional plea for help from a son for his Vietnam-vet dad -- and one of the most disquieting songs on the group's two-year-old debut CD, Alter Ego -- was written by Wood way back in 1994. Even the adolescent lyrical adventures (I don't know but I been told/what they did to you was really low) can be forgiven, given that this is a teenager writing a plaintive message on behalf of his aching father when most teens are penning songs about, as Ogle would say "high school shit."
"Jeff has a lot of inner-struggle themes going on in his songs," says Ogle with respect, "people battling depression and stuff like that, a lot of things that people tend to relate to." Having made countless sacrifices to keep the group together, Wood's bandmates should have no trouble empathizing with such subjects. Ogle says such struggles gave The Sound and the Fury its, well, sound and fury.
"When you're 18, it's easy to say, 'Yeah, we're going to conquer the world,' but then a couple of you get married or get divorced or whatever and you grow up. Now all of a sudden, you become bound by society to perform the 9-to-5 thing," continues Ogle, currently employed at Chapman Recording Studios -- and neglecting his work to do this interview. "And all that sucks, so we've all had to find a common ground there because we all wanted to keep this thing together."
Not that keeping The Sound and the Fury together has been easy, especially given the scheduling conflicts that must be juggled to enable its steady touring of area college towns. This strategy has paid off ("We go to some of these other places, like Pittsburg (Kansas), and people treat us like royalty, and then we come home and no one knows us," says Ogle), but packing into a van can result in tension, even with a group that's moved from high school to college together like the cast of Saved by the Bell.
"It's almost like being married to four guys, but there's no sex, so that makes it worse," says Ogle. "But the music is the payoff. We fight and argue and then get up on stage and play and have no idea what we were fighting about when it's all over. I mean, it's fun, and I can't think of anything I'd rather do for the rest of my life."