In late spring of 2016, we had a chance to catch up with Max Bemis of Say Anything during his co-headlining tour with mewithoutYou. Shortly before our interview at the Palladium in Worcester, Massachusetts, Max pulled a Beyonce and released I Don’t Think It Is, the band’s seventh studio album to date without any warning or marketing — a bold move that had longtime SA fans with twelve new tracks at their disposal.
The new album, much like Say Anything’s previous work, finds Max taking the kinds of creative liberties that have always put the band in a lane of its own. Since Say Anything first formed in Los Angeles in the year 2000, Max’s self-reflection, artistry, and unique form of song-speak have made Say Anything a cult favorite.
During our interview we talked about the album’s first single “Give a Damn”, Max’s love of Saves The Day’s Through Being Cool, and the changing role Judaism has played in Max’s life and songs.
Hey! This is Lia from LIKEYOUSAID – just for our readers at home, could you state your name and what you do in the band?
Max: My name is Max and I play and sing in the band Say Anything.
Congrats on the release of I Don’t Think It Is, we’re all digging it! As a friend of mine put it, it was kind of a Beyonce move to release it unexpectedly. Was that always the plan?
Max: It kind of became the plan pretty early on as we were recording it and kind of got a feel of what it was turning into… It was partially inspired by the music itself and partially inspired by… We kind of started to make the record with no planning and a lot of things that happened during recording were really weird and random, so we were kind of like, let’s go with that, unplanned, sort of unstrategized approach, how we present it to the world. No overthinking.
You recently released a new video for the first single and I read this quote on Alternative Press where you said something about “Give A Damn” exploring the nature of growing to dislike one of your favorite bands from way back. Were you referencing a certain band with that?
Max: Yeah, yeah…Us! The song itself isn’t really about that at all but the video is. I guess that’s happened for me with certain bands but I can’t think of any, because I tend to be really forgiving and I don’t grow to dislike bands, but a lot of people do. And I’ve seen it happen with our band quite a bit even though we’ve held our own. I think it’s kind of natural for any band that sort has a lot to say or evolves a lot in their sound or gets older, or has different things to write about. It’s normal that you start alienating people unless you’re just feeding into the same thing over and over again and those bands are kind of just boring… People like them but aren’t really enthusiastic. I find that we’re the type of band that makes people really excited or we just alienate them as we continue on our trajectory.
Right. Do you have a favorite Say Anything album?
Max: Me, I like the new one [I Don’t Think It Is], just ‘cause I think it’s the best so far. I like In Defense In A Genre because I can go back to it and listen to it and I think it’s really well produced. There are a lot of songs I’m not sick of, there are a lot of songs I haven’t played live from that album. Like, …Is A Real Boy I’ve played live so many times.
We all love it though, it never gets old. And then you’ve worked with Saves The Day a lot on Two Tongues. Do you have a favorite record of theirs?
Max: Through Being Cool.
Through Being Cool. Solid.
Max: That was the record that changed my life. That’s been my favorite record since I was 14.
Here’s a serious question, Max Bemis. Boxers or briefs?