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Max Bemis Addresses Say Anything's Future

Max Bemis has posted a lengthy Twitter message regarding the future of Say Anything.

Bemis' statement can be viewed by clicking read more.


Okay. So.....

Guess I’ll just go for it. This is going so be a sort of mega-update, because I know things have been a bit quiet on the Say Anything front lately. I have wanted to share what I have been going through for the past few months but we felt it was best to wait till the appropriate time so we can disclose everything that we really feel like saying. A lot of this is going to be said from MY perspective, because I think all of you guys reading out there will value it most from that angle (self indulgent much? yup. I sing in a band. sue me.)

To start, it’s worth it to mention that I've had a really intense ten years (wah, but...really I have.) There's no chip on my shoulder about it....sort.....of...... but basically since I was fifteen and we started this band, I’ve gone through a bunch of tumultuous stuff including the weird life that comes from being involved in music from such a young age, drug problems, mental health issues, abusive relationships, and pretty much not giving myself a break ever.

I managed to fall in love and get married and clean up my act, which has been my life's greatest blessing, but even that in and of itself has been a been a huge happening and full of excitement. Nothing has really settled per se and I've had very little real time off without anything crazy going on to distract me. I know being in a band is a truly lucky job to have, but it's also incredibly stressful if you take it as seriously as I do.

This has led me, starting around our touring cycle for In Defense of the Genre, to start questioning whether I can stay in a band and keep doing this. Am I better suited to be a therapist or work in advertising? Despite the overwhelming devotion I feel towards our fans and my love for my band-mates, there have been more times then I'd like to say in the recent past in which I felt like packing it in and doing something else. Every show I play, I get swept back up in the pure energy of catharsis, but sometimes, alone in the back of the bus, when it all gets quiet again, that feeling ebbs and I’m left missing my wife, feeling emotionally battered, and needing a way out (starting to sound like a vh1 behind the music, but trust me the clichés are all true). As the songwriter, singer and leader of SA I put so much of myself into this band for so long that I have started to feel like I could cry at any second when I think of the strenuousness of it all.

By the time this new record came around, tons of expectations were being placed on SA, mostly of our own doing, and partially by our label; they had after all, supported our band through five or six years and three successful but not ridiculously humongous records, and wanted our band to sell millions of records. We may be a big band to a lot of you guys, and to ourselves (trust me we've exceeded every dream we ever had for this), but unfortunately we've just never gone platinum or sold out Madison square garden. Despite constantly growing, we've never gotten quite as big as your blink 182s or weezers or especially the keshas and biebers of the world. Our new record continued on this path, growing our fan base by another large fraction but not becoming some kind of crossover success story. Meanwhile, the rigors of touring and the fact that I have yet to have had a real break from the tour/record/tour cycle began to pile up and I almost lost it several times. Many of you know that, with my bipolar disorder, losing it for me can end up with me in the mental hospital or worse. I made a decision a few months ago to put Say Anything on a very very long hiatus, and pursue a solo career or start a new band.

I spent months planning on this idea. After all, taking a break from SA would mean a clean slate; I could play different sounding music if I felt like it, I could subvert expectations and perhaps even reach people that SA has yet to reach. I would most likely play all the instruments in this new project (including programming or playing percussion and playing the bass.) It's not like our fans wouldn't check out what I’m going to do next, so they'd still be there for me in theory. It is hard carrying the weight of 10 years of dense musical history; people expect certain things of you (as they should if they've taken the time to let your band into their hearts)...Plus it's weird life being in any public spotlight where your personal life and other things that shouldn't be criticized become an open playing ground for internet trolls; at least with something new I could have some ammo to fight back at these vicious little bastards with.

For a sensitive guy like me being crapped on is a hard thing to deal with, especially given the 10 years of non-stop craziness that I mentioned before and how much I care about music listeners, not even just our fans. I know you're supposed to not care but it started to feel like getting kicked in the nads by one of your good friends every time somebody said something mean. After reading the 500th plea for me to go back to doing drugs and make is a real boy again (these people don't realize that on drugs I’ll probably end up naked on their doorstep), I even considered stopping to play music all-together and going back to writing stories and screenwriting. That would show 'em right? That would shut em up!

So with that, I'll go back to the record label stuff for a second. Since the people who signed us had left our label, and our record had sold amazingly for an indie record these days but not a ton by major label standards, and with the industry itself pretty much crumbling, we started to realize there was a chance we weren't going to stay with our label, and that it wasn't the place for us. This remained so for many months and we waited it out, being prepared for either option (in theory, of course.) Mostly, we kind of wanted to get out of our contract and start anew, especially because I was planning on starting my new non-SA project, which would be great for a new label.

A couple of weeks ago my manager Jordan called me up and let me know we were finally out of our contract with RCA, a partnership that's lasted about half a decade. The first thing I felt was elation; now I could be a free agent and really get my solo project going and leave the past behind. It was time for new beginnings! However, as the hours passed by a solemn undercurrent of feeling trapped swept through my body. For some reason, the new direction I was going in began to feel like something I should be doing logically, but the sweet joy of escape gave way to a weird feeling of soulless obligation. Why was I doing this? Why did I feel compelled to basically leave Say Anything? It was something I should be doing financially and perhaps because I’m getting a bit older and now is a good time to strike while the iron is hot, but the idea of the solo project felt, at this point, like more of a way to pay bills rather than a passion. I came to see my motivation to make this choice came from all my pent up rage, exhaustion and emotional discharge from being in a successful band for so long. It was my way to "cheat" the responsibility of what I’d built rather than continue to grow with it. That isn’t to say doing a solo project at some point would be wrong. It’s just clearly this time it was for the wrong reasons. Once I had that realization there was no way I was going to do it as the next record I was choosing to write or put out, if I was going to even put out another record at all under any moniker, ever.

But if it wasn't the solo project (for now at least), what would I do? Quit music? I sat there and thought about things for a bit and came to realize that on a very visceral, simple level, only ONE thing brought me any excitement and joy. It was a fleeting, direct thought that involved a lot of heartfelt, boyish glee. That thought was remaining, steadfastly, with Say Anything. The only truly FUN and INSPIRING motivation I felt was to make different kind of Say Anything record, but a SA record nonetheless, and to build on what we have rather than tear it all down to start again. There would be no hiatus. There would be no fizzle or fade out for Say Anything. We would simply have to kick the crap out of anything we’d ever done and top it all, and make the record we've always WANTED to make but weren't truly allowed to.

I write this to tell you guys that were it not for you all, this choice would not be made. Whether you're a fan of all our records, the first one, the first two, all three or whatever, we've been BLESSED with the PERFECT fan base, as well as the respect of our community. Those who listen to us challenge us, are honest with us, believe in us and most importantly RELATE to us. How could I give up the connection I have with you guys? Giving up what Say Anything means to both us and you guys would be like giving up on some kind of a marriage just because things were getting a bit rough. We owe you guys and ourselves to outdo what we've done so far. I truly feel like that if, at this point, our band can't do it, I shouldn't be doing it at all. It was this faith that re-awakened me and filled with me with a great idea for a record and direction for the band. It’s also our intention to not take any short or longer break from SA until we feel we’ve solidified out place in your hearts and let you know we’re a permanent fixture..

Before I could over-think it and get scared, I called up Coby and Alex immediately to let them know I wouldn't be taking the hiatus. We were all so, so super excited about staying together, but made sure that we wouldn't do it unless it was under certain set in stone principles:

As of now, we have just begun writing a new Say Anything record, which will be released on a new label, most likely next year. However, we plan on approaching making this record in a way that I think will really excite you guys. Basically, as a band that grew up in Los Angeles, we were keyed into commerciality and "marketability" from an obscenely young age. Before we even recorded our first demo I was playing acoustic showcases for major labels.... we were sort of forced into looking at music from a commercial angle without even knowing it. That isn't to say everything we've created since then has been bull. In fact, since we're not mindless, soulless pieces of crap, that aspect of our formation sort of just grew into a keen sense of pop production and the will to have open ended music we could share with a lot of people.

The negative of that aspect, however, has caused us to have to worry about things that affect the artistic process and stifle creativity. For every percentage of amazing purely creative things that go into making a record, there is always a LARGE percent of it that involves bending over backwards to please the label, trying to be a huge band, and focusing too much on accessibility rather than what makes the band special. Some of you may have even sensed that and felt an aversion to what it's compelled in our music. Either way we aren't letting that demon into the recording process for our next record. It's one thing to listen to input and want success; it's another to build a record around what other people think. We in Say Anything have decided the only damn way we're even going to make another record is if we expel the devil out of making music. That doesn't mean we won't have catchy songs or want our band to reach tons of people. It just means we're going to make a record that embraces and FOCUSES on the quirks of Say Anything, and the things that you guys have led us to feel are the more important touchstones of the band: something that's as punk as it is post-punk, strong, original/ unusual songwriting, black humor, tons of creativity and honesty as well as a lot of good old fashioned piss and vinegar, plus whatever it is indefinably that makes our best songs our best songs.

We want to dive headfirst into what is TRUE about our band while simultaneously kicking our songwriting and musicianship ten years into the future, We have thought a lot about how Wilco turned their career upside down with Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by taking the best parts of their band and amplifying the most odd and endearing aspects of it while maturing light years ahead. It may not have been what their label wanted at first, but it was what WE, their fans all wanted, and most importantly, the BAND itself wanted. Thus they redefined the band and ignited their career in a whole new, much more substantial direction. We aren't going to make a "back to basics" clone of our old material but we plan on the music being able to compete in its rawest sense with our old stuff. If Is a real boy is a factor, it's that we have a milestone in that record that we want to finally outdo. Screw not caring; we want to win over all of you who think that that record is the end-all-be-all of SA, so expect that if that's your favorite record by us, you're going to love this new one.

So for those of you who have been begging for this direction from the band; something edgier, something crazier, something more progressive and wackier, something more SAY ANYTHING and not so everybody-else, we invite you to join us in this new chapter and stay tuned for what we hope is what you've been waiting for this whole time. We in no way want to undermine how very proud we are of the last three records we've made, and they did come straight from our hearts and will always be a proud as them as we are of anything we create. It's just that we think it's an appropriate time to draw a line in the sand and say time to take this all a bit more seriously and make an ARTISTIC statement rather than whatever is going to make us popular amongst fans of, well, to be frank..... Crappy music.

If it weren't for this resolution, we may not still be in this band. However, we have all agreed to keep doing this based on these conclusions:

1) Say Anything has made the unanimous decision to NOT break up, or go on “indefinite” hiatus, or whatever they are calling it, EVER. We understand why so many of our peers have needed this and don’t fault them AT ALL but since we're a sort of a different kind of band, whose structure itself lends itself to a lot of freedom, we're going to attack things in a different way. If we ever take time off to do stuff, we'll do it. I may end up making that solo record one day and maybe it’ll be sometime sooner than later. However I promise you guys I’ll only do this when it's done in a righteous and from-the-heart manner and when I feel like I can take a short break knowing that you guys ( and we) feel confident that SA is here to stay. We will only ever take time off with the objective of coming back to one day tour more and make more records together ONE HUNDRED PERCENT. You can depend on us in this sense; we're not going anywhere. We won't present you with a fake "we're done" because it's not going to happen.

2) The first thing all of us are going to do is go on tour with two of our favorite bands, Motion City Soundtrack and Saves the Day, and then we're going to delve into writing a record that truly defines the next phase of our career. We will do everything in our power to make sure this music is life changing and as creative as it can be, and we will refuse to be bogged down by industry b.s while making it or let some false, outdated sense of commerciality do anything to interfere with CREATIVITY and what we really think the record should sound like, and it will sound both original and more purely encapsulate what you guys love about the band.

3) Say Anything will be releasing our next record on a brand new label. Whether it will be an indie or major label will depend on who is most in line with our vision of the kind of band we are and want to become. We certainly are in no mood to let ourselves get kicked around by people who don't get us, especially given that the industry is collapsing because so many record-people don't even know what they're doing or talking about, especially with a band that has REAL fans like you guys.

I want to again apologize for ever doubting that this was the right thing to do, and I ask for your forgiveness and hope you can see, through my music, how hard this road has been for me as a person and that I am glad it brought me here to a place where I feel triumphant and rejuvenated and free. It would be easy to not share the struggle I have gone through with you guys but I know in my heart it's something you deserve to know about. I can only hope you feel this way too based on what I’ve written.

And I want to thank you for saving me so many times and for being a strange semi-faceless crowd of some of my very best friends.

I truly love you.


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