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Interview with Say Anything's Max Bemis 
by Steve Henderson on 2006-05-04

Say Anything Questions

In terms of …Is a Real Boy as a concept album, how close do you feel you got to fleshing out your original idea?
The original idea for the record was pretty over the top. It was supposed to have a bunch of dialogue and music in between the actual songs, so I’d say the finished product is pretty far from how I originally imagined it. The themes remain pretty much the same though.

Is there any tension within the band due to the tendency of media to refer to you all as “Max Bemis and his band”? How permanent is the current band lineup?
Coby helped write the songs so he gets a little bit more recognition then the rest of the band, who, at this point, are just playing what we recorded. Alex is going to write the bass lines for the next record and help write songs too. As for tension within the band, most to all of the time people just accept that this is how it is when there is a “singer/songwriter” in the band, and this is how it’s always been. It doesn’t mean the other people in the band aren’t talented or awesome performers. Once and a while it can get weird but it’s pretty rare.

How autobiographical is your writing? Do you feel more defined by your music, or vice versa?
I have a strong personal life and have a lot of hobbies outside of playing music and my personal relationships and personality define me. Music is my passion and an expression of myself not the other way around.

Whose idea was the album reissue? How do you feel about it all?
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. I believe that an artist should let his art be appreciated by anyone who’s interested and not “play favourites”.

Do you feel that WARB completes IARB, or does it feel like a stitched on appendage to you?
…Was a Real Boy is kind of an epilogue for the record and a prologue for what’s to come.

New album plans? How are these influenced by the new label?
We have a lot more money to spend on our next album so options for the amount of time or the producer(s) for the next record have increased. We have always written edgy pop songs and that’s not going to change.

How often do you look out into the crowd and see the exact people you sing about in “Admit It”?
You can’t judge from how someone looks whether they are pretentious or not, which is a lot of what the song is about. I’d rather be a “trendy scene kid” then someone who’s so consumed with shame and worried what people think about them that they don’t give new music or music they haven’t heard a chance and judge kids for what they wear or how they choose to present themselves.

Are you surprised by how readily fans have embraced Say Anything?
It’s a dream come true.

Do you think that you are ready for mainstream success?
Yes. I’ve always wanted our music to reach as many people as possible. However, as it actually happens, it’s always surprising because I don’t assume that I’ll always get what I want.

How has your illness affected your music? Have you gone in different directions than you otherwise might have?
I’ve always had my illness, and since I started medicating it, it’s harder to get manic bursts of inspiration, it comes more slowly and subtly but it doesn’t hinder my creativity.

Do you view yourself as a tortured artist? Do you feel as though anyone really understands you?
I am not tortured. I have ups and downs to my life and I have gone through a lot of shit but I am lucky to be where I am and I have a great time doing what I do.

Would you rather someone told you that you suck or that you are the next Dylan?
I mean, the next Dylan. Nobody likes to hear that they suck unless they have something to prove to the world.

I thought your bio's response to people that might call you a sell out was excellent and ultimately unassailable...can you expand on that a bit?
Not having my bio on hand, I can say that I have never cared about people that would claim I’m a sell out. I love being able to support myself but I’ve never written music or made decisions in my career to make more money. I ultimately care about self respect and I’ve always enjoyed performing for people, being able to relate to them instead of shutting them out. I write music that I would like to hear and that I enjoy playing and it just so happens to be “catchy”. It’s impossible for me to write a song with no feeling in it as poppy or accessible as it seems.


© 2006 Mammoth Press Online. Some Rights Reserved.        ISSN: 1556-1208, 1556-1216, 1556-1224
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