If it seems like we haven't heard from Max Bemis in a while, it's because he's fairly busy. Not only does the first issue of his new comic book series, Polarity, hit stores today, he's also furiously working on various musical projects - including finishing the upcoming Perma record with his wife, Sherri DuPree-Bemis, and planning the next Say Anything record. Oh, and did we mention that he's a new father with the birth of his daughter, Lucy Jean? Yeah, he's definitely had his hands full over the past few months but he wouldn't have it any other way. So it only makes sense that, when he finally has a moment to catch his breath, he would talk to AbsolutePunk about his upcoming comic book series, the status of all his current projects (including Two Tongues), collaborating with his wife, and what it's like being a new dad.
First things first – how awesome is it being a new dad?
It’s really amazing. To me, obviously the main perk being around the baby and just simply – it sounds corny – but just looking into her eyes is literally the most experience I have ever had in my life. You realize it’s your kid and that’s how your relationship with her, and it already sort of manifested itself even when she’s so small, when your baby’s so small, but then it also, in a selfish way, puts everything even more into perspective in your life. I was kind of on that road anyway, like whittling away all the bullshit. When you look at a baby and realize it’s yours and realize your life is dedicated to making that kid’s life better, it puts things in perspective. And being in the music business - or any entertainment job - it’s very easy to become self-involved or worry what people think. You know, things that don’t matter and it sort of falls by the wayside a little bit more when you have a kid.
And with being a new dad, what are some things you thought would be harder with a kid that turned out to be a little easier than expected, and vice versa? Like some things that have turned out to be really fun and you love to do with Lucy?
Yeah, I thought the hardest thing would be just how time consuming it is and I’m the type of guy that kind of like – I don’t like to go out and party. I have basically no social life, but it’s really more about having the time alone to relax and read and stuff like that. And actually that was my slight worry that that would be done and gone. But, at this point at least, I still get to do those things, if not more, because we don’t really leave home that much and we just get to hang out with her. I’m very pleasantly surprised with how much time I get to myself to do music, my work, to do fun things around the house. It just sort of fits me and Sherri’s lifestyle.
And I guess the hardest thing I didn’t would be so hard is just actually watching Sherri have to do more at this point because she breast-feeding the kid. You know, I can’t do that, unfortunately. And so a lot of the times that’s really calms down Lucy and it’s almost like a disempowering thing. I’m just kind of the bozo who does the diapers and tries to cheer her up with stupid sounds. And it works, but at the same time the link between mom and the kid is so strong that I didn’t realize how hard it would be to hear her cry and realize I can’t really do anything at certain times to make her feel better. I actually wrote a song about that on our next record – hopefully it’ll make the record – but it’s just about that feeling of being a guy… it’s just one of those few times that your gender as a man disempowers you. You’re like, man, this is like one of the things where a woman is biologically made to do something that I’m incapable of. So that’s a hard thing I didn’t realize would be so hard.
Following up on what you said about writing a song about it – how much is Lucy influencing the creative process and what you’ve been putting out musically?
Well, I would say utterly. And I’ll explain how. Basically when we found out that we’re going to have a baby – we were trying to have one, it was very much on purpose – but when we found out it was definitely happening, immediately – and this is like the sick artist mentality that I have – I thought what does that mean for our next record? And I started to be more conscious of the feelings I was having before being a father and realizing that they would most certainly change when Lucy came into the world. So I came up with the idea of doing the record that…the majority of the record is pre-Lucy, or I’d say the first half. And the second half is when she’s in my life and there’s one song in the middle about her birth. So, the last few songs I have written have been center around Lucy and having her, but the whole first half of the record is definitely about…it has almost nothing to do with Lucy, in the sense that it’s about what it’s like to not have a kid. And most people don’t have kids, so I think it’s like…for people who are afraid (that) just because she was born that the creative decisions that went into it (are influenced by her), the majority of the record has nothing to do with having kids. But it does happen to sort of fit into the concept on the record about not having anything in your life and then having something like that and a big responsibility coming into your life.
If you don’t mind sharing, what was her day of birth like? What was that whole day like for you?
It was insane and we were seeing some symptoms the day before she was born that might happen the next day and we were doing everything we could, like home remedies, to try to make it happen. We just wanted her and we were like five days past her due date. So there’s some signs of it and we went to sleep and my mother-in-law woke me up and was like “Sherri’s probably going into labor.” I’m like “Oh my god!” and got her out of bed. It was like the first thing that happened – it’s not like it happened at night and I woke up to it. So I just kind of got into a zone and we had the most amazing, sort of relatively easy birth ever, thankfully. It was very quick and wasn’t insanely painful even though it was. It was just like this obvious spiritual experience and because there were no complications – we did a home birth with midwives and it was all-natural. Not to say that there’s a right way to have a baby but in that sense we really got to experience the wonder of it.
Now that you have the responsibility of caring for a human life, how does that complicate planning for tours and going out on the road?
There have been good parts and bad parts to it. The bad thing is that there is no parent to stay at home and watch her cause we both tour and we both have multiple projects, including one project where we are both in it. Some might see that as a bad thing because technically we’re gonna have to bring her on tour. She’s kind of going to be like an army brat but with music. Music brat (laughs), and just be traveling the world all the time. We’re probably gonna have to home school her and all that stuff because there is literally no one to stay at home with her, unless we want to just leave her with someone which neither of us wants to do at all. So that means we kind of have to plan tours around each other’s schedule. And usually one of us will come on the bus and even if we’re not on tour, I come with and if Say Anything is on tour, she comes with and if we’re not touring, we’re together. So we do have to plan a good bit around it. But the good thing is because we’re both musicians, we both completely get how it goes so there’s no resentment either way.
And I’m like really excited about the idea of having a kid backstage. I know a lot of people didn’t have good experiences in school or high school or anything like that. In fact, I’d say the majority of people in the world, but I really didn’t. And there’s a part of me that was always like “oh my god what if I could exist outside of the idea. And you hear a lot in our early lyrics my disgust with educational system and the way teenagers work as a society. I think all teenagers understand how hard it is grow up in the school system. So I’m really excited about having a kid that’s gonna be operating outside of that. I think, as much as its gonna be like intense experience to always be together and everything, I personally really welcome it and kind of wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m excited she gets to be around me as much and around her mom.
It’ll definitely be a very unique way to grow up.
So let’s switch it over now to Polarity – your graphic novel that’s coming out soon. For people who may not be in the know, can you give us the basic idea about it and how it came about?
I am a die-hard, obsessive comic fan and have been since I was like really young. When I was growing up I read a lot of, like, more mature-oriented comics that a kid probably shouldn’t read but it resulted in me being pretty obsessed with the medium. And now in my house I have a library for graphic novels and it’s probably my greatest passion outside of music. I’d even say it equals my passion for music. So, being a writer and one who creates, you can’t help but have it occur to you, “oh, maybe I can write a comic.” So for years I kind of toyed with ideas and took a few meetings that were not great meetings – like I didn’t really connect to the people I was talking to about the idea of me doing a book.
Eventually I become friends with and had a meeting with this publisher called BOOM! Studios and we stayed in touch. Then like there was a period where I kind of had a fear of doing it because it’s so close to my heart that I really wanted to make sure I could write it and I was feeling up to it. And finally it got to a point where I was like, “you know, man, let’s do this.” And I came up with a few pitches, so to speak, and sent them over to BOOM! and they loved all of them. They like Polarity the most, which is cool. And then from there the process was really quick. I worked in tandem with BOOM! to start developing the plot and when I was ready, I started scripting it, which was sort of easy because I’m so familiar with the medium because I read comic books all day. And that’s kind of how it got started.
Yeah, and it seems like the theme or idea about the novel’s main character is somewhat loosely based on you and your life?
Oh yeah. I want it to be loosely but it’s probably almost about me.
So when you approached writing the novel, how was it different or similar to how you approach writing a song or record?
It is similar is certain respects, in like getting into a mental zone of creativity. I have a very manic personality as most people know, and I just kind of bust into it, like I’ll just go in and write it from beginning to end like I do when I’m working on a song. But it’s a little different because when you’re recording or writing a song or if you’re performing music, you kind of have to be in it 100% at all times. Whereas, you get on stage and there’s no like “ahh I need five minutes” to go, like, take a pee or whatever, have a coffee. And when you’re recording, you’re also pretty locked into being there and tracking. But in this case, I felt able to; you know, get up and walk around or have a movie on in the background when it was raining and I was kinda writing next to my wife. It’s a little more mellow. But I’m still obsessed and involved during the process of writing and I’m just like adore writing comics. So I just enveloped completely and I just wrote the script for the first issue in the night. That’s pretty much my…there’s all kind of editing and revision –usually I’ll get like the whole draft done in a night or whatever since I’m so obsessed with it and having fun with it.
What can you tell me about who illustrated the novel?
Sure, his name is Jorge Coelho and he’s amazing. He was on our short list of people we wanted. It’s crazy – he sends me his lush layouts and stencils and they’re always like…I’ve maybe had to make like two comments the entire time that were totally subtle about…you know. He’s just very into it – everyone in fact, including the editorial team and people who’ve been doing the covers just seem to get the idea really quickly and get really passionate about it, which makes you feel great.
Yeah, I’ve seen some of the screen shots of the art that has been posted and I think it looks great.
I would imagine that this novel will be purchased by a lot of people who are that deep into the genre as some are. What kind of graphic novels or series would you recommend to those who are just getting into it?
Oh, I think maybe the top few would be like Creature, The Walking Dead, even though it’s a TV show that most people have seen, the actual comic or source material is a great first comic for people to read, there’s a series called Powers that’s really great, that I think is a really great first comic to read, and there’s a comic called Criminal that I think is also really wonderful. I mean, I read so many that I could go on forever but those are good places to start.
And what kind of graphic novels influenced you?
Well, all those definitely did. But I mean, it’s hard to say what influenced me because I read so frickin’ many that I can’t emphasize… anyone who’s been on our tour bus, like, is pretty blown away that in the back I just have these boxes and boxes full of comics that I bring on every tour. So, I mean everything has influenced that I have ever read. But in terms of like my main influences…there are my favorite writers like Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, and many others. But then it is the type of thing where you’re a musician and you really keep an open ear to stuff that isn’t maybe the first thing you’d listen to, I think it makes your music better. It’s that type of a situation with me. And the influences on Polarity specifically are, you know, I wanted to make a comic that people who it is their first comic could pick up and immediately relate to. It’s not very steeped in like you have to be a comic reader to understand it. In fact, it shares a lot in common with movies and stuff like that. It could have easily been a screenplay or movie instead of a comic. But I think it works best in that medium as of now.
So as the release comes near are you feeling nervous, excited? Is it similar to how you feel when you’re about to put out a new record?
You know what, it’s a little different in certain ways. With Say Anything, when I put out a new record there’s so many…first of all, it’s such a long process to record a record, it doesn’t even come out for six months and there’s so much time to be neurotic about it. And also there’s so much history…I’ve been in this band since I was 14 or 15 so we’re going on like 15 years of the band existing. There’s so much history. I remember how I felt when we finished our first record, or first EP, and we were like bringing it to kids at our school and I was nervous then about “oh what are they gonna think? Are they gonna think it’s good or cool?” I was like ahhhh. But then 15 years later there’s so much associated with putting out a new record.
It’s like this sort of psychological conditioning where, yeah, you get super nervous and wonder what people think. And now being in the position of using a completely new medium to delve into…like I kind of have really different feelings about it. I don’t feel as nervous, I just feel really proud that it’s happening at all. It’s kind of like if you were a new band and you got an opening slot on your favorite band’s tour, you’d be nervous but you’d mostly just be stoked that you got the opportunity, so that’s kind of how I feel. In the end, there’s less of “what did the people used to think?” There’s less history. Like when I put out a Say Anything record, of course there’s a part of me that says, “I want people who love Say Anything to love this record.” But there’s no other comic, you know? As much as I want to make a great impression I don’t have to worry about, you know, people who’ve been following comics for 15 years and sort of have pre-set wants and needs for it. Which I love in music, but it’s very different to not have that.
That’s so true. Now, let’s talk about all your upcoming music projects – Say Anything, Perma, etc.
Totally, anything you want. I got a lot of free time (laughs).
So it’s been three months since you made the announcement of Coby Linder leaving as the drummer of the band. How has that been over the last three months? How has not having him around affected the process?
Yeah, and this is no slight to Coby because I’m sure he’d feel the same, but certain break-ups, whether it’s a relationship or a working relationship or someone in a band, it ends and you’re both like hurt and sad and confused because you don’t know what’s gonna happen next. And you’re thinking about the past and you drink and then you cry (laughs). But that was not how it felt this time. I think me and Coby both felt that it needed to happen. As soon as it did happen, it just kind of felt, and again no slight to Coby because he’s an amazing person and an amazing drummer but since I kind of knew that this was how it was gonna have to be, it wasn’t out of the blue. Like it was a slow build-up that got to a point where it needed to change. I could just take a breath and finally able to breathe easy. I know Coby has a lot going on and that he’s gonna be happy and we got so much planned that will perfectly with this new system of me being the only guy on record. And so I just kind of felt relieved and excitement about the future for both me and Coby and it meant a lot that our fans were so supportive and that the community was so supportive of it.
And the fact that people always recognize my role in Say Anything and how much I do for the band so it isn’t like – excuse the example – but it isn’t like someone like Travis Barker leaving blink when to me, - and I think Coby can compete, this a grand statement but I think Coby can compete as a drummer, but in terms of his role in the band. Coby did have a lot to do with…he always put his stamp on things and he always influenced me as being a part of this. But in the end it would always end up being me in the studio for months at time by myself completing the track. So I think everyone, including me and Coby, knew that him leaving wasn’t going to be the end of Say Anything. Or it wasn’t going to be some radical shift in how things sound or work. It’s just kind of sad and he such amazing contributions, but I don’t think anyone, you know, felt, “oh wow, this is so crazy” or the end of Say Anything. Just because everyone knows how the band works. So yeah, those are just my feelings, I have nothing but plans for the future and being so secure in management and the label around us, the way they have it set up. I feel like I can take anything that comes at me at this point. So there was never anger or bitterness or nostalgia. It’s like, “whoa that was neat, that was a big deal!” but now we’re moving on.
You also mentioned you were going to do like a Nine Inch Nails kind of thing when you perform live, do you have a short list of drummers for live shows?
In terms of performing like that, I think our goal right now is to have people that we are personally comfortable with who are also amazing musicians. So I would probably expect once we announce the new live lineup for the next record, it would be someone who’s associated with our group of bands we tour with or friends of ours. In fact, we already do have a drummer for this next tour we’re gonna do, which I can’t really talk about that upcoming tour yet cause we’re announcing it soon. But I can say that we already have someone lined up for our next tour.
Earlier we talked about how the first half of the record is before Lucy entering your life and the second half’s about having her in your life, are there any more details you can give us about the next Say Anything record?
Yeah! In fact, I think it’s cool that I’m doing this with you guys because I think the community will really – who have been such amazing supporters of Say Anything – and like the cool thing about AP.net is the community there is…everyone is really loyal in at least checking out music by bands that kind of helped set the foundation of the quote unquote scene. So it’s like whether particular members of the community likes or dislikes any record or song, there’s this level of respect for…at least I can speak for my band in that I’ve always felt like whatever I put out the people are, most of the people in your guys’ community will listen to it and give it a fair shot. Some people will adore it and some are gonna hate it. Some are gonna like it and some are gonna think it’s our best record and others will think it’s not as good as …Is A Real Boy. I just like that people care enough to even talk about us. I’m honored that there’s somewhere were we’re seen as one of the pinnacle bands. It’s funny, like I sort of was thinking a lot about AP.net when I was thinking of the direction of the new material because I’m the type of writer – there are many song writers I know, friend of mine who’ve…the people who’s listening to the music don’t factor into the song writing but I’m the type of person who’s always kind of been about being in a band in a way. So I like to play with the notions of who’s listening to this, who wants to hear it, what do you they want to hear – will I give them this or will I give them that?
So that being said – this is funny actually but I told him this – but Joe or anamericangod, the guy who’s one of our biggest supporters on AP.net, I follow him on twitter and I just think he’s kind of a hilarious individual. So I was thinking about him and just like people his age that are fans that go on AP.net and was thinking, like, man, there’s people going through a lot that need someone to try to speak for what they’re going through. I think that the stuff before Lucy basically like seemed to line up with that kind of period in people’s lives that I was noticing in a lot of people in that community that they’re going through. I’d say our past two records weren’t as…even though there’s a lot of love for them in the community and you know, some of them are people’s favorite records, I wasn’t writing directly towards people who are already hardcore fans or were fans of …Is A Real Boy when it first came out and they’ve grown. The self-titled record was us making the most accessible version of our music, for better or worse, and I loved doing that and the next record was me trying to explain my views regardless of what people think. My views on society and stuff like that. And for this record when I started writing it and started having feelings about what I’m going through in life, I came to realize that this sort of, from what I understand, they echo a little more with what people are actually feeling and thinking, which is kind of how …Is A Real Boy was, rather than writing from the perspective of someone who’s kind of removed from society. So a lot of the record is…it’s very self-effacing and dark but it’s actually really funny too. It’s sort of a dark comedy. And I didn’t feel comfortable discussing…I decided I been so comfortable because I’ve never had a fear of disclosing things but it’s more like I felt it wasn’t the right time to write a record like that. But again, these thoughts I’ve had about having a baby, how I was feeling about myself before I had the baby, started to remind me of…like I could be any kid on your site right now. And I feel like a lot of kids who, beyond our hardcore fan base and beyond the mainstream people who may pick up on what we do, I think this record is gonna resonate the most for people who were or are big fans of the band but are sort of growing up and finding their place. It’s sort of re-visiting, for me, that first record, but from a 28-year-old guy versus an 18-year-old. It’s like where are we, the people who grew up listening to blink-182 (laughs). Where are we now sort of a deal. Like, it’s pretty dark because I feel like there was a lot going on – my demons were pretty present even though I have a pretty level-headed thing going on, they were really present before Lucy came into my life. So I felt the need to re-visit that thematically on the record.
I think that’s gonna excite a lot of people on the site when they read that.
It’s really true, like I mean if anything, a lot of musicians today really don’t care who likes or doesn’t like a record. And I predict that this record will resonate with you guys, like someone like you, literally or hopefully, or at least I hope it will and that’s kind of my goal. I also feel like there’s a really strong...like that it means something and a lot of people will pick up on it and it will be able to resonate with the people who are like dedicated to your band but definitely have picky tastes. That’s kind of what I’m aiming for…that’s my target for this record.
Is Sherri going to play a role on this vocally?
She’s going to, she’s probably will on every single record we make. But I’m also lining up one or two really awesome guests spots. And I’m also lining up musicians like drummers and stuff who are gonna play on it, and like I can’t talk about it yet, but it’s some really exciting stuff. And also, just sonically, and I know I’m being a tease, but there’s definitely going to be…when people hear the way we’re going to be making the record – I can definitely say that I’m producing it myself which is a first – but there’s certain ways sonically that we are basically changing the sound of the instruments, not necessarily my singing or songwriting, but I think that it’ll be exciting to people and it’s gonna be kind of a 180 in that respect. They are definitely the most, like, Say Anything-y type songs that I’ve written in a while – they’re very Say Anything. But the arrangements are gonna be pretty creepy.
And is this something your hoping to release in 2013 or will it be another year?
Actually, it’s not gonna be till 2014 because I have our first Perma record coming out in the fall. And we plan to do a little touring around that. It’s been a while since the last record came out, but not that long ago. So I’d rather take the time to make this a cool and special record instead of rushing it out because there’s enough of me to go around – Perma, song shop, and I think people looking for my creative output will find it. I’m doing a new Painful Splits record that’s gonna come out this summer and so there’s definitely gonna be a lot of stuff in between there. Me and Chris currently have been talking about doing the second Two Tongues record, which will probably be next year as well. But we’ve wanting to do a second record from the beginning – when we were recording the first we were like, “we gotta make like a million records,” but we’re both so busy. But we’re definitely starting to get the gears going on that.
I’m glad you brought up Perma because I was gonna ask about that. You know I’m a huge fan of your band an I love Eisley and Sherri’s voice in particular, so I’m really excited for this project. What’s the plan for Perma in 2013?
We’ve already recorded 9 out of the 12 songs and we produced it. It’s very stripped down but it’s not boring at all. All the songs are very poppy and…they’re not Shine songs, let’s just put it that way. But people shouldn’t expect any big sort of depressing-ness. Our goal is to make a record of love songs but have it still be interesting and fun and have it echo both of our musical styles. So I think anyone who’s a fan of how I write songs or a fan of how Sherri sings and writes song will love it – well, unless you’re the type of person who’s sickened by love or sickened by sort-of sappy songs. But what I’ve learned is like, even in the community of people who support Say Anything, as much as people who are like “I hate everyone!,” there are still just as many people who are like “I Want To Know Your Plans” or “Walk Through Hell” or “Cemetery” or “Crush’d” – they are just as popular songs. So that’s just really zeroing in on that aspect of my songwriting. And then for Sheri, like it’s also a little poppier and more old–timey than most Eisley stuff, and I know you’re a big Eisley fan, so you’re probably heard some of the songs where Sherri gets into some of that classic pop stuff. Eisley has this sort of spooky, ethereal, kind of Sunny Day Real Estate thing going on a lot of the time. So this is more up the alley of Sherri getting to do pop – Beatles-esque or old-timey pop. She loves that stuff. So it’s kind of a combination of all those things and the instrumentation is really stripped down. Our goal was to be able to play shows with just the two of us and with maybe one more person and have it be really intimate and special. And we’re definitely planning on touring around the release which is I think it’ll release this fall on Rory, my imprint that’s on Equal Vision.
As far as visually for the album, is Sherri planning on doing any of the artwork?
I would say it’s very likely. We talked a little bit about how having the art be photographic, but I think she would still contribute to it, that she’ll be contributing to all the art and inserts for Perma, so people who are fans of her art will getting that.
We have Sherri’s art and your comic books – have you two ever had the discussion about collaborating and doing a comic book together?
Yeah, I think we definitely 100% will at some point or a book, like a children’s book or something like that. Sherri actually did a tour exclusive cover for Polarity #1 which we will be selling on our next tour and it looks amazing. Anything we get to collaborate, we kind of jump at the chance.
So I guess my last questions ties into your music as well as Lucy. Obviously, your first couple records are very dark and angry and very personal. When Lucy hears those records eventually, when she’s old enough to comprehend this, what’s that conversation going to be like with her, like what are you going to tell her about what her dad was like and going through during that period?
I would say that the thing I want to impart onto her that there are these…like without her having to be scared of life… is that yeah I’ve had some pretty scary crap happen to me in my life and some really dark times just personally and with my illness and drugs and whatnot. But, you know, it never got that bad, like Thank God I really pulled myself or Sherri pulled me out of it – we pulled me out together before it could get really bad. And I had already been on the path of self-bettering myself. And I guess what I want to impart on her is like, yeah there’s bad stuff out there but you can get through it. And I think that’s the message of all of our music, even the really dark stuff. And it can always be like, yeah, your dad went through some really hard stuff in his life that you could probably avoid if you stay away from X, Y, and Z. But you know even if you do make a mistake or do end up in a situation that really hurts you, you can get through it. And that’s sort of what happened to your dad. Cause she’ll know me as I am, and I’ve been healthy for many years now and I kind of think, and maybe it’s sick of me, but I think it’s cool – like, yeah your dad was kind of a nut (laughs). But he really pulled himself together and I want her to, she’ll be growing up basically in small town Texas and tour, so I want her to know that there’s a lot out there – good and bad. That she should reach out and try to understand different people’s perspectives. Again, I think I would be more ashamed if I was like A) if I was immoral cause there was always like a morality in place, you know, even the first few records were in search of something better morally. And B) if I wasn’t in such a good place now when I had her, I think I would be a lot more worried for her to hear this stuff. I’m not gonna be ashamed when she’s old enough to admit the kind of stuff I’ve been. But at the same time, the cool thing is a lot of those songs show the consequences. It’s like you’re alone, you smoke weed – yay it’s weed I’m happy but you’re like alone, depressed, alienated, you know, at least that’s how it was for me with my parents. They both went through a lot and I came out the better end of it.
Yeah, and I think, at least any time I listen to it, that despite the darkness and angriness and the sorrow, there’s always a message or a song about hope that you’re gonna get better, like on In Defense of the Genre – it’s a very up and down record but you have that last song, “Plea,” which has a very hopeful vibe to it and I think that’s gonna be a very important thing for her to hear that her dad did that and got through it.
Yeah, totally, thank you! That’s definitely how I always look at things and I agree.
Well, I want to thank you for spending some time out of your busy day to chat wit us. Is there anything else you want to add?
I really appreciate – this sounds corny – but really, for anything who’ a supporter of the band and you respect…I love to communicate with fans on Twitter, so feel free to follow me. I have a great time interacting and talking to people. It’s kind of like, I want to communicate to everyone on AP.net specifically. Like I used to be a little better at being able to read reviews and going on message boards for fun and see what people think. But at this age, I’m a lot more disconnected from it because, honestly at this age, it’s really hard for me to see some of the meaner stuff that ends up in there. I mean, there are always one or two stinkers (laughs). So a lot of the times I miss out on the people who are positively reinforcing the band just on the message board and not on Twitter. So if anyone…I’m not going to encourage people who don’t like what I write to tell me they hate it but people have constructive criticism or positive things to say, like I love to discuss that kind of stuff on Twitter and see what people think.
And that doesn’t mean like I ever disvalued what people say or think on AP.net or similar websites - I love it. I love that there’s discussion going – whether you love it or hate, just keep the conversation going. And if you want to try to specifically reach me and it’s not some kind of mean jab, I would say Twitter is a little bit better. Because if you scroll through an entire thing of messages, I’m sure you can imagine that it’s a really emotional experience, like when you work on a record and you’re like, “oh my god I put so much work into and what are people going to think,” and it’s a whole range of “Oh I love it but not as much as this” or “I hate it” or “I adore it,” it’s really a crazy experience for a creative individual to get such intense feedback. But again, anyone who can keep it under control somewhat (laughs) or just have something nice to say can just tell me cause I love it – I freaking love it. It really keeps me going – whenever the people who support the band communicate their support is like the best feeling in the world and I still…I just think we’re so blessed to have the fans and supporters and even the people who just like our first record like… I love that. We are so lucky to get the type of fans we did and I wouldn’t trade it for any level of great, huge overwhelming success. I think it’s perfect so I just want everyone to know that they are super valued by me.
Once again, many thanks to Max for taking the time out of his very busy schedule to talk with us. Remember, Polarity is in stores today and you can subscribe to the four-part series here. Also make sure to follow him on Twitter.
I don't understand why Sherri has to sing on his Say Anything records. They have Perma. And he doesn't sing on Eisley's records. I'm just not a big fan of her voice. But I am excited for the comic and the new album next year.
I wasn't a big fan of Anarchy, My Dear but I loved everything else he did before that, and he said it right there in his interview: there's 15 years of history with the band. There's no way I'd write them off after one record. I can't wait for the new albums and the comic book!
Right around when Anarchy was released, I wrote basically a term paper of a review here giving the record a little below a 5/10 and backing up the score by mapping out why I love Say Anything and what parts of the record lacked those qualities. The point of me mentioning it is that I worked on that analysis harder than I've worked on any analysis I've written in my college career. Yes, I still probably fall under Max's "stinker" category for writing it, but I spent so much time editing it and making it read as constructive criticism because I can only count on one hand the number of bands that have influenced my view of music and writing it in the way Say Anything has.
I spent summers driving my friends around listening to Say Anything records front to back. I asked out a girl in high school via text (my confidence wasn't the best back then) and put on a playlist of all the sappy, acoustic Say Anything songs to calm my nerves. Without bludgeoning the point to death, this band has had a massive stake on my teenage years and continue to bring me back because of just how Max reads in this interview: open, honest, accepting, and loving to anyone who gives Say Anything a chance. Really loved this interview, definitely solidifies that I'd follow this band anywhere/through anything.
Going beyond the fact that Say Anything is an exceptional band, and that Max is an fabulous writer, it is seeing interviews like this that allow me to really open to different styles of music; to open up to change. Music is meant to be an art, and if you asked any band (at least most), they would tell they play because they want to create art. But then when it comes to interviews, some groups are handed these questions and they give as short of answers as possible.
I'm not trying to say that this means that aren't creating art, or don't care about the listeners, because some people just honestly aren't as good as expressing themselves in interview settings, but some do have a stick up their ass. Then you get someone like Max, and he is excited to have a conversation. And then I'm excited about everything he is doing, and then when I get that new music (or think back on past cds) and I don't dig it at first, I listen through again, and again, and before I know it, I love it. It really just makes a world of difference for me.