The band is ready to go back into the spotlight, more meta and rejuvenated than ever
If you were a rock fan in the early aughts, you have heard Say Anything’s— Max Bemis (Vocals), Coby Lindy (Drums), Alex Kent (Bass), Brian Warren (Guitar), Parker Case (Keyboards, Guitar), and Fred Mascherino (Guitar)— addictive brand of stream-of-consciousness, emo rock blasting through the radio waves. The combination of humor, uplifting anthemic lyrics, and riveting instrumentals made the band a mainstay on the scene for years. In the past few months, beloved rock band Say Anything reunited, returned to the stage, and released their first batch of new songs together as a band since 2019’s would-be swansong, Oliver Appropriate. Now, the beloved group is back with “Psyche”, their first single in four years along with a new single “Carrie & Lowell & Cody (Pendent)”, inspired by frontman Max Bemis’ “affinity for Sufjan Steven’s titular album about HIS Mommy issues” and the singer’s relationship with his mother, both tracks off of their upcoming album … Is Committed being released next year. Eager to chat about their new ventures, the group’s architect Max Bemis is reinvigorated, making music with a new sense of purpose.
Formed in 2000 by Bemis and his friends, the band released two EPs and signed to its first label, Doghouse Records in 2003. In 2005, the band signed with J Records and released … Is A Real Boy following Bemis’ successful recovery and rehabilitation. After disbanding in 2018, months before the release of their eighth album, Oliver Appropriate, the band reunited in 2022.
The band sits down with Substream at the When We Were Young Festival to chat about the “meta” nature of their upcoming record, their new single “Psyche!”, and writing emo songs.
Psyche is a riveting emo anthem that marks your first new single in four years. What inspired the track?
“I had a genuine need to write the kind of music that we are pigeonholed as. It has been a long time. Even when the band was together in the first place, I felt an ownership over the genre. I never felt embarrassed about being in an emo band or having emo fans. I never wanted to be Naturally, if you’re in any band for 20 years— we started the band when I was 15 up to mid-30s doing the same thing— over and over and over again, you naturally want to do something experimental. Then, having taken a break, I always knew I was going to get back to it at some point.
Things were going on in my life that pulled me towards writing music that sounds like my influences, which are Green Day, Green Day, and Green Day, and the other albums by Green Day. (laughs) I sent it to Coby, our drummer, who hadn’t played in the band in a while, and it was tailored to him. We all have the same influences and we’re all similar ages. So it came from a very genuine place instead of ‘let’s do this for money, let’s get the band back together.’ That’s always wonderful. But it was for a pure need to write the music and share that with the other guys.“
Alex: “ I think [with] Psyche! specifically, as someone who’s in the band and writes bass for it but also Max writes the songs, he does all the heavy lifting. Looking at it from a specific lens, there’s this duality of childlike innocence— I can imagine when we were 18 years old we’d write this song and be like ‘fuck yeah, this fuckin’ song pumps me up’ and I feel that— but then lyrically it transcends that where it’s like ‘I know what I’m doing. I’ve done it before and I’m going to strip myself naked while I’m innocently doing this and being more vulnerable.”
Max: “It was written in that mindset where I was exhausted and excited and that’s really where I’m at. There’s so much dehumanizing shit going on in the world and you have to laugh at it. You have to have that energy and you have to try otherwise the world will turn into dystopia. That duality has always defined the band but now in my own life, it’s the most present where I’m barreling forward because I believe in something but I’m also scared and tired. ”
You’ve said that your new album is meta and acts as a “satire of everything our band was.” What made you want to go in that direction?
“ I think what I’ve noticed is that it always was meta, but it was purposely meta to the point where the last album was an actual concept record about a closeted gay serial killer, which is slightly removed from me. There’s murder and things like that. And my life as a dad is so crazy and everyone’s life is so crazy in the era of Trump and COVID and mental health being in such a weird place that the meta is less meta, it just is. If I just say a fact, it comes across the same way as it would the way it used to when I would deliver it over the most clever way to say something. Now it just is kind of funny because it’s true. Now I think it’s both more meta and the least meta.”
Carrie & Lowell & Cody (Pendent) is a single that tackles a different subject than your previous single— family relationships and mother-son bonds. What sparked the idea for the song?
“That track was directly written because all I was doing was sitting in bed crying listening to Sufjan Steven’s for a month and I was obsessed with his album Carrie and Lowell. My mom and I had a rift for the first time in my entire life and I had also been exploring this notion of codependency myself. It was kind of inherited from both of my parents. For a couple of reasons, I wanted it to be humanizing, kind of like the Sufjan album. He’s not demonizing his mom, it’s recognizing her humanity. For me, it’s a lot more cheeky when I do that. Also, my mom is going to hear it. I don’t want to do it when I’m in my most ‘ fuck you, mom! You hate me, I hate you now.’ I wanted it to keep the flame alive in terms of how much I love and respect my mom. It came out very emo for that reason. A lot of good emo songs are a mixture of anger respect and self-loathing.”