Max Bemis of Say Anything
|Origin||Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
|Labels||Doghouse, J, RCA Records|
|Associated acts||Two Tongues, Hot Rod Circuit, XO|
Say Anything is an indie rock band with punk rock influences from Los Angeles, California, fronted by singer-songwriter Max Bemis. The band formed in 2000 with Bemis and four of his friends. Within two years, they self-released two EPs, Junior Varsity and In Your Dreams, and the full-length Baseball: An Album by Sayanything. The band does not consider these first few efforts as official.
In 2003, the band signed with their first label, Doghouse Records. A year later, they released ...Is a Real Boy. To support the album, they picked up new members and began touring; however, despite rapidly growing critical and fan acclaim, Bemis' health problems, including bipolar disorder and drug addictions, sidelined the band in 2005 as five band members left during the year.
Say Anything signed with J Records in 2005 and, following Bemis' successful rehabilitation, released ...Was a Real Boy on J Records. They went on co-headlining tours with Saves the Day in 2006 and Hellogoodbye in 2007. On October 23, 2007, the band released their third full-length album, In Defense of the Genre. In 2008, Say Anything went on a headlining tour across the US and UK and appeared on every date of Warped Tour. Their fourth album, entitled Say Anything, was released on November 3, 2009. 
Max Bemis attended Windward School along with Michael Levin and Evan Span. He also attended Camp Ramah in Ojai, California where he met drummer Coby Linder, who attended Shalhevet High School. Upset after a bad breakup, Bemis began writing songs; his first one was called "Sappy". In 2000, Bemis, Linder, Levin, Span, and Josh Eichenstein, a friend from Beverly Hills High School, formed a band under the name Sayanything, in reference to the movie Say Anything.... Bemis, Linder, and Span recorded the band's first EP Junior Varsity. Span then left the band, and the three remaining members recorded their debut full-length album Baseball: An Album By Sayanything in 2001. Both albums were self-released with only a few hundred copies distributed. According to Bemis, the last time he played the songs from Baseball was during his high school days, but he has said that he "will play them again at some point in some capacity." On Sunday the 5th of July 2009, Max announced through his twitter page that he "felt thankful" to his fans and decided to make a video of him playing an unspecified song from Baseball and that the video would be up sometime during the coming week. The video was of Bemis playing the song "Colorblind" on an acoustic guitar. Say Anything has said they will be performing this song on their upcoming tour.
In 2002, Levin left the band, leaving only Linder and Bemis. Bemis enrolled at Sarah Lawrence College, seemingly putting the band on hiatus. However, Bemis devoted much time at the school to recording songs by himself on a four-track recorder in his dorm room. At this point Bemis made a creative shift towards darker material influenced as much by classic rock and traditional indie-rock as the punk rock that had, at this point, constituted Say Anything's sound. These songs would later become known as the Dormroom Demos. Although never officially released, the songs are easily available due to file sharing and online fan message boards.
Sometime around 2002, Sayanything added a space to their name to become Say Anything. In late 2002, Bemis and Linder recorded the Menorah\Majora EP and released the album online. By this point, Say Anything's releases had generated "a major bidding war." Drive-Thru Records pursued the band and called Max Bemis "the next Bob Dylan." Brett Gurewitz of Epitaph Records recorded "A Boston Peace," one of the dorm-room demos, with the band. In early 2003, Say Anything signed with Doghouse Records stating sarcastically that that Doghouse "put out such obscure, borderline D.I.Y. records as The All-American Rejects."
After signing with the label, Bemis began writing songs for his band's Doghouse debut. With tremendous self-created pressure, he threw himself into pushing the sonic boundaries of the band and maturing their sound, incorporating elements of math-rock, indie-pop and theatrical pomp. He and Linder also started the search for a producer. The two met several producers but eventually decided on Tim O'Heir and Stephen Trask. Bemis struggled with different ideas for the record and decided the album should focus on "the artistic struggle, the fact that every creative person has this sick ambition to affect some sort of change in society with their art, to be more than just a guy in a band or a poet or a sculptor." Bemis originally intended the album to be a rock opera with a full script, narration, and a cast of characters. It was tentatively titled Zona! Zona! However, Bemis became overwhelmed by the entire process of writing and playing most of the instruments and had a breakdown.
"I literally lost my mind while we were recording," stated Bemis regarding the breakdown. The breakdown centered around a mockumentary discussed by Bemis and O'Heir. Bemis' condition led him to believe he was being secretly filmed for the mockumentary; the situation culminated in him walking the streets of Brooklyn thinking he was being filmed while encountering friends (who were actually strangers). After recovering, Bemis decided to focus solely on the music and dropped the idea of a script. Around July 2003, the band began recording ...Is a Real Boy, their first album with Doghouse Records. Bemis said the two people he wanted to "outdo with ...Is a Real Boy were Andy Warhol and Jesus." In addition to working with O'Heir and Trask, Say Anything worked with Forrest Kline (of power pop band Hellogoodbye) to record the For Sale... EP, released in 2004. The band also worked with ECA Records to record a promotional album that was never released.
...Is a Real Boy was released August 3, 2004. The album featured Linder on drums and Bemis on vocals, guitar, bass guitar, and keyboard. ...Is a Real Boy received positive reviews, including a 99% from AbsolutePunk.net and four and a half stars (out of five) from Allmusic. When the band began touring in support of ...Is a Real Boy, they picked up Dan DeLauro, Casper Adams, and Kevin Seaton.
Say Anything signed with J Records in 2005, owned by Sony BMG Music Entertainment, one of the "big four" record labels. When asked why he signed with a major label, Bemis stated, "We were looking to expand our fan base as well as have more money to tour comfortably. I also wanted enough money to work with an awesome producer for [In Defense of the Genre]." In June 2005, Say Anything was forced to cancel a six-week headlining tour with Circa Survive and Emanuel on the third day of the tour due to health problems with Bemis, including "full-on paranoid delusions" in Austin, Texas. At this point, Bemis' bipolar disorder and drug addictions were wreaking havoc on the band. Bassists DeLauro and Seaton had already parted ways with the band. Andy Jackson left in September after only a few months of touring with Say Anything. Adams, who was clashing personally with Bemis despite a close friendship, was fired after a show.
On October 3, 2005, Bemis had another breakdown; this time, it involved harassing children, spitting in food at an outdoor cafe, spending a "half-hour pouring a bowl of soup onto the floor, one spoonful at a time," engaging in a street fight and finally being admitted to a mental hospital by an off-duty policeman. This incident forced Say Anything to cancel another tour, this time with Bemis' personal idols Saves the Day, along with Senses Fail and The Early November. The band was replaced by Emanuel. After returning from his stay in the hospital, Bemis' mother and the remaining members of the band selected the Menninger clinic in Houston, Texas, to rehab Bemis. Eventually, Bemis approved of their decision, admitted himself to the Menninger clinic, and has reportedly not had a relapse since.
Under J Records, Say Anything re-released ...Is a Real Boy with a bonus CD entitled ...Was a Real Boy on February 28, 2006 (although the album was originally slated for release on October 18, 2005 and later January 17, 2006). However, copies were leaked before the release by Tower Records and His Master's Voice, with some copies selling on eBay at inflated prices. According the album's liner notes, ...Was a Real Boy was originally intended as a charity album, but the band dropped the project. This charity project was to be called Vs. AIDS and was recorded in Kevin Seaton's garage. Bemis said that "it was J Records' idea to reissue ...Is a Real Boy. They believe it has a mainstream appeal that wasn't really reached when Doghouse released the record." Around this time, the band also released "Alive with the Glory of Love" as a single.
Alex Kent joined the band to play bass guitar after the band met him while touring with Lance's Hero. Jake and Jeff Turner joined to play guitar and help with backup vocals after Adams and Jackson left. Parker Case completed the sextet when he joined to play guitar and keyboard after his previous band JamisonParker broke up. At the time, JamisonParker and Say Anything shared the same manager, Randy Nichols; the band met Case while at a train station on the way to Nichols' wedding. Since then, the band's lineup has not changed.
In summer 2006, Say Anything toured with Dashboard Confessional; Ben Lee was with the tour in the US, while John Ralston joined the tour in Canada. The band was asked to be a part of the Warped Tour 2006, but instead opted for the Dashboard tour. Bemis later made statements implying he did not feel he was emotionally ready for a Warped Tour.
Say Anything completed one of their first headlining tours in fall 2006, when they toured with Piebald and mewithoutYou. Days Away, Brazil and Forgive Durden opened for the band on select dates. In February 2007, Say Anything performed on Last Call with Carson Daly. The band also released their second single, "Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too," which was from the ...Was a Real Boy bonus disc. Also in that month, the band announced a co-headlining tour with Saves the Day and The Almost, John Ralston, The Dear Hunter, and Manchester Orchestra as openers on select dates. The band completed the tour successfully during April and May of that year. In August, Say Anything announced a co-headlining tour with Hellogoodbye sponsored by MySpace. The tour took place during fall of the same year with shows in the US and Europe.
In the weeks before the release of their third album, Say Anything released several songs from the album on MySpace. They also announced pre-ordered copies could be ordered with a signed CD booklet. The band released their first single from the new album, "Baby Girl, I'm a Blur", on October 2, 2007. In Defense of the Genre was released on October 23, 2007. It was released in a dual-disc format complete with 27 songs and contained many guest vocals. When asked about the name of the record, Bemis said, "Whatever 'genre' (or music) one loves needs a defense, because half the world is too ignorant to really understand something before they dismiss it." Before recording the record, Bemis stated, "I hope that [In Defense] will be more inspiring and uplifting. I want [the record] to be The Joshua Tree with balls on laughing gas."
Andy Jackson, a former member of the band and close friend of Bemis, was responsible for recording many of the cameo appearances. He recorded some cameos while at the Warped Tour 2007 with Hot Rod Circuit and others in his home studio. Jackson recorded vocals from several musicians, such as Gerard Way, Adam Lazzara, Anthony Raneri, Anthony Green, Hayley Williams, Aaron Gillespie, Jordan Pundik, and Chad Gilbert. Chris Conley and several others also provided guest vocals. Alternative Press called the record "a truly magnificent sophomore effort" and gave it a 4.5/5, while Spin gave the album four stars and Corey Schmidt of PastePunk said, "There are a few really great songs here."
In January 2008, Say Anything announced a US headlining tour with Manchester Orchestra, Biffy Clyro and Weatherbox. The tour took place in March and April of that year. After finishing this tour, Say Anything announced a headlining tour in the UK that took place in June. The tour was in support of In Defense of the Genre, which was released in the UK on June 23, 2008.
Say Anything released the video for "Shiksa (Girlfriend)" on April 9, 2008. On April 25, Say Anything performed on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. During summer 2008, Say Anything joined the Warped Tour for the first time, appearing on all dates. On August 1, 2008, Say Anything announced the Max Bemis Song Shop, through which users could pay $150 for Max Bemis to write a song based on a short writing by the customer. However, by the end of the night, the item was no longer available with the following text displayed on the item listing: "We're sorry but Max can't write songs as fast as you are requesting them. As soon as he catches up we will start again. Thank you so much for believing in our crazy idea." The Song Shop has reopened a few times since its initial launch, and taken down after about a week each time. This aforementioned message has been displayed each time the Song Shop was discontinued.
In an online chat with fans on March 14, 2008, Max Bemis stated that the band has plans to record a new record called This Is Forever. He said it will be "about God and how we relate to Him." AbsolutePunk.net reported on August 1, 2008, that J Records "picked up the option for Say Anything's next release." On November 10, Bemis announced that the focus of the fourth album changed and the new record will be self-titled. He noted that the album, which will be released in 2009, will ask "what the point of all of it was."
Though Max has explained that he was very proud of In Defense of the Genre, he described it as being more of an "homage to sort of a lot of the bands that we liked and, like, a style that we respected." He then explained that the new album would be "more concise and would be a bit more original, I want to say, and sort of pop out like Is a Real Boy did." He also explained that this CD has both the catchiest and most mature songs they've ever recorded and called it a "step forward." 
During a concert at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York on April 25, 2009, Max Bemis proclaimed to the crowd that the newest album titled "Say Anything" is complete, and will be released "early summer," after stating that he was married three weeks prior to the event on April 4, 2009.
According to Say Anything's In Studio website, on May 21, 2009, Max posted a blog stating "I just wanted to let you guys know we’re done recording our new record, entitled "Say Anything", and we’re moving into the mixing phase. It should be out this fall. This record is kind of a new start, or at least a new phase in the Say Anything story."
Max posted a blog on Myspace.com saying that the new album will be released October 13, 2009, and will be titled Say Anything. The self-titled album will be released by RCA Records and will have 13 tracks, including "Hate Everyone" , the album's first single. "Hate Everyone" was officially released on August 25, 2009, after WBRU FM in Providence, RI became the first radio station to debut the single on the 17th. Lead singer Max Bemis also premiered the song "Crush'd," performing the song acoustic in WBRU's studio. The corresponding video for Hate Everyone was released on MySpace Music on September 1, 2009. The new album's release date had been delayed by three weeks and was officially released on November 3, 2009, after being posted to the band's myspace page on October 28th.
Max also posted on twitter on 2/14/10 that the band plans to release "Do Better" as the next single off of the album. 
After recording In Defense of the Genre, Say Anything band members Max Bemis and Coby Linder worked with Saves the Day's Chris Conley and David Soloway on a side project named Two Tongues. The group features Bemis and Conley sharing lead vocals and guitar duties with Soloway on bass guitar and Linder on drums. Thirteen songs were recorded in Electric Ladybug Studio, Conley's home studio in Chico, California. Bemis, Conley, and Linder previously collaborated on a cover song of Bob Dylan's "The Man In Me" for the compilation album Paupers, Peasants, Princes & Kings: The Songs of Bob Dylan released by Doghouse Records in 2006. The group's self-titled debut was released on February 3, 2009.
Say Anything band members Jake and Jeff Turner self-released their six-track EP Some Day in May 2008 under the name XO. They recorded it with Matt Malpass in Atlanta in January 2008 at Monsters and Marigolds Studio. The album features both brothers on vocals, guitar, bass, and keyboard, with Jeff also playing drums. Around the same time, Parker Case embarked on a solo project named I and the Universe, while Alex Kent started a record label, Gnome Records and began work on his own solo effort under the name Alexander T. Kent. Alex also has a side project with members of Japandi and Witt called Qwermicide.
Say Anything's music falls in the punk pop, indie rock, and punk revival genres. They can most easily be identified by their sardonic, literary sense of humor balanced out with a sense of intense catharsis. The band, as well as certain artists within the post-punk/ indie scene such as Cursive, Mewithoutyou, Brand New, Bright Eyes and Manchester Orchestra, tend to straddle the line between older, wizened fans and a youth oriented audience. Their style incorporates pieces of hardcore, bombastic arena rock and post-punk. Bemis, the primary songwriter of Say Anything, stated, "I believe that an artist should let his art be appreciated by anyone who's interested and not 'play favourites.'" He also said that lyrics are "based on experience." However, due to Bemis' bipolar disorder and strange, dark mentality, the themes of the songs are often bleak, irreverent, hyper-personal and awkwardly autobiographical. Other themes include distaste with snobbery and hypocrisy. Drugs and mankind's relationship with drugs are also a popular subject in Say Anything's songs, especially on In Defense of the Genre, which was written and recorded after Bemis' several drug-fueled breakdowns. Specifically, "Admit It!!!" and "Sorry, Dudes, My Bad" include references to Bemis' drug usage. In general, Say Anything tends to draw inspiration from alienation from a flawed society but infers a sense of hope.
Max Bemis was raised "in a strong Jewish environment." Many of Bemis' lyrics borrow from his Jewish roots. While most of band's earlier songs are free of any such inspiration, the songs of ...Is a Real Boy and In Defense of the Genre include references to Jewish heritage. "Alive with the Glory of Love," Say Anything's first single, has a main subject of a relationship affected by World War II and the Holocaust, based on Bemis's grandparents, while "Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too" includes mentions of "the old shul" and a rabbi's teachings. A strong example from In Defense comes from the lyrics of "Died a Jew". The song includes several references to the Jewish race and its history along with mentions of "the murder of God" and Bemis' departures from kosher.. References to religion come again in "Fed to Death" on Say Anything, referring to a 'man from Nazareth' who would one day 'spring to life to smile and clear your name' but until then 'nail yourself upon the cross and hang your head in shame.'
In regards to writing songs for ...Is a Real Boy, Bemis stated, "The songs were jam packed with fairly blatant nods to bands I dig (Queen, Saves the Day, Pavement, Faith No More, Fugazi, etc)." These can be considered some of Say Anything's influences. Other influences at some point cited by the band include Botch, Weezer, The Stooges, Neutral Milk Hotel, Sunny Day Real Estate, Wilco and the Foo Fighters. Max also said in an interview "Saves The Day, Coheed and Cambria and Jimmy Eat World are my favorite bands" Also of note, the band has covered songs by Ol' Dirty Bastard ("Got Your Money"), Notorious B.I.G. ("No Soul" contains the same hook as the sample in "Juicy"), The Four Tops ("Sure, Baby...Hold Back" features a chorus lifted from "Sugar Pie Honey Bunch"), , Safety in Numbers ("Dealer"), Saves the Day ("Jessie and My Whetstone"), and Bob Dylan ("The Man in Me").
Say Anything is known for a frenetic, varied live show with an old-school art- arena-rock twist equal parts At The Drive-In and Queen. In Defense of the Genre is notable for having many guest vocal spots. Because of this, all members of the band sing backup vocals during live shows. Bemis sings the parts he wrote for himself but were sung by guests on the records. Linder is essentially a second singer in the band, providing counter melodies and call and response with Bemis, as well as a few distinct melodies of his own. Jeff Turner sings the higher parts, Jake Turner sings mostly harmonies, and Case sings the remaining parts. The band is known to play cover songs — one such song was "Stand Inside Your Love" by The Smashing Pumpkins.
|Baseball: An Album By Sayanything||...Is a Real Boy||In Defense of the Genre||Say Anything|
|Max Bemis||Lead Vocals/Guitar|
|Evan Span||Rhythm Guitar|
|Michael Levin||Bass Guitar|
|Dan DeLauro||Bass Guitar|
|Casper Adams||Rhythm Guitar|
|Alex Kent||Bass Guitar|
|Jake Turner||Backing Vocals/Guitar (Live)|
|Jeff Turner||Backing Vocals/Guitar (Live)|
|Parker Case||Backing Vocals/Keys/Guitar (Live)|
|Maxwell Stewart||Lights and Fog|