By now, Saves the Day has been quite a revolving door. With bassist Manny Carrero and drummer Durijah Lang leaving the band to focus on Glassjaw full time, many are waiting for the final chapter of the trilogy that will close 2006's Sound the Alarm and 2007's Under the Boards. Any fan knows, with anticipation comes expectation of something different, as expressed throughout the band's catalog. With the parting of long-time guitarist David Soloway, guitarist Arun Bali took to the studio with Conely to track with Carrero and Lang before their initial departure, and after touring, bassist Rodrigo Palma and drummer Spencer Peterson are going to head back to the studio to lay down their touch. By the end of the year, the band has guaranteed us the much anticipated Daybreak. For the first time since touring, "phase two" of Saves the Day sat down to discuss what's next in this already spanning career.
Well, I guess the first question isÖhow is the new outfit?
ChrisConley: I like being in tighter pantsÖ ArunBali: Iíve had these jeans for awhile, but recently I unearthed them from the closet. Conley: You're referring to the new bandÖ
Conley: Itís like Spring after Winter. Seriously, it feels warm. I've never been happier playing music and touring. Itís a gift. Iím really thankful and appreciative. Bali: I feel very fortunate and Iím having a great time. Itís interesting that, you know, Iíve met Chris last year really, but we get along greatÖ Spencer Peterson: Iím pumped. Iím stoked. Jazzed if you wouldÖ
Jazz combo or just jazzed?
Peterson: Jazzed. Iíve been a Saves the Day fan for a long time. Just being on stage, playing with Chris, itís a total blessing for me. RodrigoPalma: When I joined, Chris and I hit it off the bat, just geeking out about the Beatles. It felt right. Where he wanted to head musically was right where I wanted to go. It was just easy. Itís like if you were playing in a band with people who are your friends, but musically itís just, you know, natural. Things are happening very organic. Itís a rare thing nowadays to hear a band thatÖa lot of music feels forced. For us, things are coming naturally. Bali: Being a new addition, itís kind of odd playing with Chris, because with the new songs on [Daybreak], in the direction that it is going, this is what Iíd be doing. This is what I want to do. If I had been in the band from the inception, I would feel like this is the right place for me at this time, playing these songs.
Not to sound clichť, but itís been 10 years since Through Being Cool, and with this new line-up, with Daybreak, does it feel like this is a new start for Saves the Day? A new chapter for the band?
Conley: Yeah. As soon as Arun joined the band, there was really a difference in the chemistry and how everything felt. Like these guys have been saying, itís really natural in a way. It was comfortable in a way it had never been before. Right away, I started talking about how this was ďphase two.Ē Everything leading up until now was a learning experience for me. I got to learn the whole time. It was quite a trip. Now it feels like starting for the first time, but in a way, for the twelve years before, it was sort of like just this lucky evolution. I was this little kid that liked writing songs a lot and geeked out over music. Then these people would come around and start wanting to play, and then sure enough, that first drummer wanted to play shows. If he had never been in the band, I would have never left the basement. I have no motivation at all to goÖIím so awkward and uncomfortable, that I donít really want to be in a spotlight or anything. I like to put the songs on display. Anyway, it sort of happened like that. One thing after another and another, and the band just sort of snowballed. All of a sudden, twelve years of this incredible journey happened. Looking back, Iím like, ďWow, that was so fortunate.Ē Now, I feel much more confident and passionate about being in the band. Before, it was just this incredible, surreal wonderland, like, ďOh my god! I canít believe Iím able to do this!Ē Now itís like, ďFuck yes. Here we go. Letís do it.Ē
Is that what we are going to see on Daybreak?
Conley: Yeah, itís going to take off to the next level of musical possibilities. Who knows what is going to happen to it, but shit is going to be off the hookÖ
But lyrically, Chris, you have been such an inspiration to so many, including myself, but moving into the next phase, do you feel even more comfortable?
Conley: Iím so excited about it. Yeah. Daybreak is the summation of everything that the band has been evolving towards. It was all this dark, brooding, introspective melodrama and that was my internal world. Over the past few years, Iíve gone through such an incredible metamorphosis or whatever you say, transformation? I feel so comfortable in my own skin. I love being alive. That is what Daybreak is all about. Itís about the muck and the hard stuff literally being the bedding for the growth of new flowers.
Listing the track listing for Daybreak, the first song is cut into parts. Any insight on that?
Conley: I think we would call it a song suite in technical jargon. Itís like five different pop songs that happen one after another with the transitions bleeding into each other. Then certain themes come back at the end. Itís sort of like a psychedelic sweep out of the darkness of the first two records of the trilogy, into reality. Itís trippy. Itís pop music. Itís sort of like a play. Itís more theatrical. Itís not going to sound like Broadway, but it has a point. Iím excited about it. Itís weird as shit. Iíve been working on that song for years and years. There have been other people in the band who couldnít quite see the vision. I was like, ďTrust me. Shit is cool.Ē Now itís going to become reality.
[To rest of band] With you guys coming in, it being the third in the trilogy, and you say things feel natural [pause] thereís noÖyou guys donít feel out of place whatsoever? You feel now a part of the ending to this?
Palma: Definitely. I think out of the two, for me, Under the Boards has bigger hooks. Sound the Alarm, it was more of an angry time. I can relate to that, because I come from a similar background, a fan of Lifetime and other similar bands. In terms of the record that I feel I could help, or I could contribute to now, it would be more along the lines of Under the Boards. I think Daybreak has some of that. The hooks are bigÖI think we all have ideas on making it fuzzy and strange. Bali: When I joined, I always really liked In Reverie, so a lot of these songs are looking back to that for me, but a lot of these songs are darker and groovier. Chris and I spent a lot of time this summer on pre-production. It felt really cool. We added these really cool pop structures to these songs. Conley : It definitely makes sense to have these guys right now. Itís odd. I think about it. Itís too surreal. Itís too much for a coincidence, that it canít be a coincidence. These guys will help make Daybreak what it is supposed to be Ė just the musicians that they are. The funny thing about the trilogy, Sound the Alarm was Pete [Parada] and David [Soloway] and Manny [Carrero] and me, and Under the Boards was Durijah [Lang] and David [Soloway] and Manny [Carerro] and me. Then this one is me and my fellowÖ
Do you look back on those records, like actors in a play?
Conley: Yeah. It really is. I think of the entire evolution of Saves the Day. From day one, demos were four guys. I was playing guitar and singing. Then for [Canít Slow Down] I put the guitar down, and we had another new guitar player and a different bass player. So we had two new guys, right of the bat, from one release to the next. Then from the next release to the next, we got three new guys and then for there on out, after Stay What You Are Ė Through Being Cool and Stay What You Are were the only two records that we made with a consistent line-up. Then after that, one after the other, each record has a different line-up. Iíve only realized that in hindsight, because I never pay attention as I go. The band [was] changing but I [was] just in it. Now I look back in hindsight, ďOh yeah, itís always been just me writing these tunes, and Iím such a lucky person that I get one great musician after another.Ē I feel really blessed right now. I feel very comfortable with these guys just as a person. Musically I look up to them, so itís awesome. Bali: I got asked that question a lot when I joined. Obviously replacing David, because he was an important part of the history of the band. For me, it was more about [how] it could have been some random band, but being that it was me and Chris, that chemistry alone was a really special thing. The fact that it was Saves the Day was a really special thing, knowing what the band means to so many people. Getting to tip your hat to that history and that legacy, but being excited about being in the present, the future especially. Having Spencer and Rod on board nowÖRod and I have been playing in bands since we were fifteenÖ Palma: They wanted a bass player, and they picked me from the mango tree I was living in. [Laughs] I think with the timing, and the sort of magical thing Ė I told Arun this Ė that I love listening to Sound the Alarm, and I love playing those songs, but if [Chris] were at the stage now where [he was] going to make Sound the Alarm, I donít know if I would have been the right contributorÖ Conley: Yeah, you told me that. Palma: Whatís crazy, is that now [Chris is] making Daybreak. Listening to the demos, now Iím like, ďYeah, thatís what this is about.Ē I think thatís whatís kind of funny to me. Conley: Strange timing. Peterson: To add to what Arun was saying about tipping your hat to the legacy of Saves the Day and then to tie that into your original question about us being a part of the final chapter of this trilogy, Rodrigo and I are getting used to the Daybreak songs. [Chris and Arun] have been playing these songs for a while. From a musical standpoint, being a long time Saves the Day fan, I want to fill out the sequences from Canít Slow Down through Under the Boards Ė at least for me. Conley: I think thatís awesome dude. Iím stoked. Peterson: Itís not so much changing the songs, because the songs are written. I guess itís more about starting to write drum and bass parts.
That would bring me to my final question. Iím interested to see your take from inside the band Chris, and your take as a long time fan Spencer. Today I was recently speaking with an artist about progression and still maintaining a fan base and having respect amongst that fan base. Saves the Day has been quite through the loop with their discography. Coming into this new decade, where is that idea of punk rock anymore in an age where everything needs viral promotion and flow, living in this age, is it a martyrdom to progress, while trying to have a very strong fan base?
Conley: Thatís really tough. We used to have a lot of people leave the band because of that. They wanted it to stay commercially viable for whatever was out. I can only write what comes naturally. I cannot be forced. I feel awkward and sticky when people get like that, and we cannot work together anymore. It has to be pure. It drives people nuts, because they want to make a living. They are sitting there wanting me to write songs that people want to hear, and Iím like, ďThis is how Iím feeling right now. It might just sound like frustration. Itís going to be weird. This is what weíre going to do. Check it. Hereís this eleven minute song. What do you think of that?Ē [Their response,] ďWeíre not going to get a deal with this.Ē [My response,] ďWell, I want to play it. I guess itís time to part ways.Ē The cool thing about Saves the Day is that I think that is punk rock Ė doing whatever the fuck you want, no matter what. Bali: When I got into punk rock, it was never about a style of music, it was about an ideal. When I was in high school, I didnít want anything to do with jock mentality. For me and my friends, it was a progressive way of thinking Ė these really strong ideals and morals. Thatís what it always has been to me. Itís commercialized to an extent, and you slap a label on it and market it now. There are still people that, like Chris says, do whatever the fuck they want to do. The funny thing about it is that, yeah, itís an eleven minute song, but put it on an albumÖIíve always been a pop guy, and in every band Iíve ever been in, arranging these songs, I always arrange songs in a pop sort of way. I also grew up on progressive rock, so when I grew up listening to Yes and King Crimson, that shit is seven to fifteen minute songs. I grew up on stuff like that. Conley: These guys have the vision. They can hear a cool song, see where it might go, rather than hearing it as a selling point, or a productÖ Palma: Well, to some degree I think thatís also disrespectful to fans Ė to panderÖ Conley: It feels awkward too Ė for us. Palma: ...I think thatís the wrong way to approach it. I think that what attracts fans to any band is honesty, a connection. To try to achieve in that in saying, ďWell, what do I think that they want to hear?Ē I think thatís almost disrespectful to a fan of any band. I think the most respectful thing to do is be honest with what you want to do. Hopefully, someone who is attractive to the band, will find those same quantities, or the style of writingÖ Bali: Music is a different game now too, with the Internet. Radio doesnít mean what it used to for a whole lot of bands. Itís a whole new ballgame. Whatís to say what that standard should be anymore. Peterson: I think the one thing that has stayed consistent with Saves the Day is Chris' honesty. At least I can pick that out from record to record. I think thatís something that fans can see. If someone was a fan since Canít Slow Down, and they went through the whole cycle, still, by the end of Under the Boards, itís a Saves the Day record. Itís Chris Conley, and itís what he wants to write. Iím sure it has to be difficult over the years developing this fan base, ďI want to hear Through Being Cool-style. I want to hear Stay What You Are-style.Ē The only way I can relate that is, coming into the band at this point, okay, we have a new record, am I going to play what I want to play or compromise what I feel Saves the Day is, or am I going to play whatís right for the band, what feels natural for the band? When [Chris] started the band, [he was] however old and now [he is] however old, you grow and you progress. Itís only natural that your songwriting and your pieces are going to grow. Even has a fan, you want to hold on to Through Being Cool through five or six records. Conley: I think I recognized that really quickly. From Canít Slow Down to Through Being Cool, people were like, ďWhy didnít you play a fast beat?Ē Now people are like, ďThrough Being Cool!Ē When we did Stay What You Are, itís like, ďBut your voice is so different, why donít you play all punky anymore? You guys are slowing down even more now?Ē In Reverie, it was like, ďOh JesusÖĒ Now I realized, not with getting hung up on it, but I did realize that you canít please people entirely. Thatís this dance. Iím just going to do the freak flag like this, and itís just going to require tremendous faith. You donít just see birds flying through the air, ďThe trees arenít going to provide berries and the worms wonít be in the Earth.Ē I know itís going to be there. I have a tremendous amount of faith. I also donít rely on the band for value in my life. I have a tremendous relationship with the world, and Iím thankful to be here. If anything, this is just like a gift. Whatever happens with it, is what happens with it. I think thatís what was hard with members in the band in the past. I would be like, ďI donít care. I just want to play this. I donít care. You say my voice sounds different? I donít want to sing it any other way than it is naturally coming out.Ē Itís been a real struggle. I think itís all just faith. I canít be dishonest with myself. I feel weird trying to write songs that are popular. I just hang tight. Iím thankful I keep getting musicians that are fucking good. These guys want to be here. I think [Spencer], you get it too, to maintain a plot line of Saves the Day, not just go out on left field and do whatever we want. There were times when over the summer we realized, ďHey, that might not be on a Saves the Day record.Ē Thereís an understanding, definitely. We respect Saves the Day. Itís not really about the success, itís just great to do this. I love it.
Whatís the measure of success?
Conley: Getting to do it. Now. If I couldnít do it, then itís over. Peterson: I measure it in drugs, alcohol and women.
[Laughs] Palma: Kilos! We measure it in kilos! Conley: We measure it in horsepower. Peterson: I measure success in happiness. If you couldnít do what you wantÖI mean, all your bills are paid, youíre not starving, what do you have to worry about? I get to play drums? Are you fucking kidding me? Iím stoked. Jazzed. Palma: We just happen to be at the right moment, and weíre just happy to be part of the next story. I think whatís, you know, I think if it was another band that called, another singer Ė another writer. I donít know. I donít know if I would have taken the gig. Iím excited to be part the story, and I feel Iím coming in at the right chapter. Conley: Phase two. Palma: Phase two. The year we make contact.
[Laughs] Balmi: Itís a good point though Ė keeping things Saves the Day. Weíll maintain, but weíll figure out ways to evolve. My favorite bands are those that donít write the same albums over and over again. I always reference Radiohead. I donít think Iíd ever want them to play OK Computer againÖ Palma: I doÖ Bali: ...I donít know if it would ever have the same effect, the first time hearing that record. Like Spencer was saying, Through Being Cool, that was ten years ago. Weíre older... Peterson: You want to hang onto it, but you canít force it. If the listener wants to hang onto that, then the record is always thereÖ Conley: Yeah, isnít that great? Itís always thereÖ Peterson: Chris has grown up. Everyone in the band has grown up. You have to respect the artist and let them grow.
Really good interview. Glad everyone is on the same page in terms of playing what they want and everything coming out naturally. Interested to hear what Chris and Arun come up with and what Spencer and Rodrigo add. JAZZED about this record.
They should make a sweet preorder package for this. I own every saves the day cd physically and this one will be no different. I hated a couple songs of Under the Boards, but with his I hope/bet Saves The Day delivers.
i love this band. it's crazy to me how much chris conley has accomplished -- he's only 29! (well, till the end of the month)
As long as chris conley makes music, life is good. This interview made me extremely optimistic about the future of saves the day. I don't know anything abuot the new bass player but i loved manny's funk he added, it's definitely evident on under the boards. "get fucked up" has one of the catchiest basslines i've ever heard. so stoked on daybreak, especially since they keep saying how poppy it will be.
great, great interview. this highlights why Saves the Day has remained one of my favorite bands for years. their honesty is so evident through their music, and that's something that is missing from the majority of new bands these days.
such a legit, honest band. after reading the interview, it's clear why the lineup has changed so much over the years. chris is always evolving the band along with the sound and no one else in the band can handle it. makes sense.
i'm REALLY stoked for daybreak. i think its going to be worth the wait. i love the "in reverie" sound along with the beatles-esque pop songs. their last two albums are great but just to depressing/ugly most of the time. i hope ths one is more optimistic and more sunshin-y like conley says. . . . .
i'm so pumped. i see SOMEONE likes in reverie. that is exactly what this record needs. in reverie was the best, especially from a musical standpoint (yeah yeah yeah, grow up you through being cool whiners. i loved that album in high school, too). it sounded like chris was on a big beatles kick when they wrote that record, and since this other dude nerded out about the beatles, too, some of that will shine through.
probably the best and REAL interviews ive ever read from saves the day. its the first time ive ever heard chris actually talk about record to record and how people responded to each one, and how he felt about that. i used to be that guy that was like "why does his voice sound different? i want the record to sound like THROUGH BEING COOL". i remember when SWYA came out and i was like EHH, not really into it. just becasue i was so hung up on the previous records and wanted it to sound like those. but i kept listening and it ended up being one of my favorite records. Every Saves the Day record sounds different, and im glad they do. its a progression. With Saves the Day records, you cant look at them for what you want it to sound like. you have to look at it for what it is. music is music and if its great then its great. it doesnt matter how the band SOUNDED before. if you look at all the beatles records they were all different. and thats why they were so good and it kept people interested. im not trying to compare saves the day to them but it is important for a band to grow and evolve. i need to stop rambling haha. thats just my two cents