For a band quintessential to the pop punk burst of the early 2000s, Say Anything has been vigilant in its capacity for recreation – for holding true to a fundamental attitude, which could be described as sentimental amity behind an impish smirk, without epitomizing the sound that once made them the generators of angsty anthems like those from the 2004 album …Is a Real Boy.
There is something to be appreciated in the once progenitors of a genre no longer trying to “make the scene,” but mature into something more explorative, to take creative risks. It’s worth the legions of out-of-touch campaigners for a return to “the old sound” permeating throughout Facebook comment threads.
Max Bemis, the artist behind Say Anything, has taken experimental liberties in the band’s most recent albums.
“I think after we made Anarchy, My Dear I felt like I got a certain type of thing out of my system,” said Bemis regarding the band’s 2012 release. “We could have been the kind of band that just plays different variations of punk rock music. A lot of bands have done that and that’s great, but I felt like there were more things I wanted to try and I wanted to get my lyrics across in interesting ways that kept people listening.”
The follow-up to Anarchy, My Dear was the 2014 album Hebrews, Say Anything’s first album self-produced by Bemis. The album featured a variety of artists such as Keith Buckley (Every Time I Die), Andy Hull (Manchester Orchestra), Aaron Weiss (mewithoutYou), and Tom DeLonge (Blink-182) to name a few. Hebrew’s greatest eccentricity, however, came from the absence of any guitars, instead being composed of orchestral and synth arrangements.
Say Anything’s most recent release, 2016’s I Don’t Think It Is was a return to Say Anything’s roots in it’s punk drive and more bare production. However, it was not without its peculiar arrangements, pulling much influence from hip-hop, or as Bemis put it in an interview with Noisey, “when you put on this record, it’s obvious I’m a 30-year white Jewish guy who listens to Kanye.”
“I’ve used Say Anything to explore music I want to hear or I would find interesting,” said Bemis. “Because it’s easy to just dismiss a band that’s been at it for fifteen years or more and I think we’ve stayed a little more relevant because of that. Not to say that everyone loves everything we do, but I think there’s at least discussion over what we do and I think that’s indication that we’re not doing something completely obvious.”
Bemis said that Say Anything already has the next album written. Tentatively to be release in 2018, the album will be a a concept record arranged differently from the band’s previous recordings.
“It’s gonna be taking stuff in a new direction,” said Bemis. “But it’s gonna be also the closest thing in certain ways to …Is A Real Boy that I’ve done in a while.”
Though the music has found new territory, Say Anything certainly has no problem embracing the hits. Bemis’ honest lyrics and personality in his music has always had a certain charm.
Naturally, another generation has found value in the adolescent deliberations of …Is a Real Boy. For Bemis, this is one of the most gratifying aspects of performing.
“There are teenagers there, there are people in their twenties and thirties and everyone seems to be enjoying it at the same level for different reasons,” said Bemis. “I think that it’s a really cool environment.”
On Friday, May 19, Say Anything will co-headline The National alongside Bayside with support from Hot Rod Circuit. Doors at 6:30pm, tickets are $19.99 in advance and $23.00 day of show. Details here.