Lovers Lane
In The Flesh

Say Anything interview

| September 30, 2009

Alive With The Glory Of Love


For awhile there, it seemed like Max Bemis might just end up as pop punk’s permanent and resident trainwreck. Diagnosed with bi-polar disorder following the release of his band Say Anything’s 2004 breakthrough release . . . Is A Real Boy (J), Bemis’ story became one of drugs and hospitals, paranoia and breakdowns, destructive relationships and self-loathing. It was a tale of tragic self-destruction that played out before his ever-expanding fanbase, and one well documented throughout Say Anything’s exhausting 2007 double album, In Defense Of The Genre. Of all the outcomes listeners expected of Bemis, a happy ending was not high on the list. That was before he fell in love.

Appearing: Friday, October 23rd at Vic Theatre in Chicago.

While the voice throughout the record may sound the same, the Bemis who penned Say Anything’s self-titled third album – first on RCA – is a drastically different man from the one his listeners have come to expect. Though self-improvement often comes with age, Bemis’ newfound perspective can be traced to the singer finding his soulmate. In April, Bemis married Eisley’s Sherri Dupree, an event which made a radical impact on not only the frontman’s life, but his band’s approach to songwriting.

“When you really care that much about someone else’s viewpoint, you start to think about things differently, because you’re not just in your own little prism. And it’s been amazing,” Bemis explains of his paradigm shift. “Without Sherri, I wouldn’t have been able to write the record because she helped me see things that have nothing to do even with our relationship. Things about the world and spirituality, that I already felt but was kind of afraid to accept.”

Indeed, Say Anything is infinitely broader in its scope than the band’s previous productions, which Bemis describes as marked by “You did this to me, You fucked me over” moments. Nowhere is this more apparent than during the album closing “Ahh . . . Men,” a philosophical selection that pulls back as wide as Bemis ever has that talks of “a crack in the edge of the end of the world/Where I will sit with my love in its fluorescent swirl” as the song builds before climactically demanding, “So can I lie in your grave?”

“It gets out of myself, and being proud of myself,” Bemis begins, speaking of the heady production, “into the world, God, the soul, and the spirit, and what the afterlife, the end of the world, and what comes after, and how that relates to me and Sherri, and how that relates to this whole journey of the soul that I’ve gone I’ve gone onto. What is it outside of me that I believe in, that’s gotten me through it. ‘Ahh . . . Men’ is my weird way of stating my core spiritual beliefs, and, me and myself are a big part of my spiritual beliefs, but I believe in something bigger than myself, I always have since I was younger. A sense of something bigger and positive uniting everything, and that song is my love song to that. And nothing is more important than that, in a way, because it explains everything to me. It explains every other record, every other song, it explains me and Sherri, the best way I could, and that was the purpose of that song.”

It’s a far cry from the more juvenile Say Anything of songs like “Every Man Has A Molly” and “Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too.” In fact, the album’s strongest moments are also its most mature, centering around the couple’s love, and the the impact it’s made on the singer’s life and peace of mind. Indeed, the power of the newfound union is felt throughout the record’s second half, kicked off by the album’s centerpiece, “Crush’d,” a song Bemis describes as “equal parts a song I wanted to write about an experience I was going through, and literally just wanting to praise Sherri.”

— Jaime de’Medici

For more on Bemis’ new outlook, grab the October edition of Illinois Entertainer, available free throughout Chicagoland.

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