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Jeff Turner (left) and Max Bemis of Say Anything perform at the House Of Blues Chicago on April 4, 2012.
Say Anything has been a staple in my musical diet for years -- there’s something about Max Bemis’s gritty vocals and angsty lyrics that never gets old.
Hailing from Los Angeles, the alt-rock outfit has released six albums, producing a brand of unconventional, sardonic, pop punk since 2000. Ever the cynics, Say Anything have crafted witty, literary lyrics that have kept their punch through the years. Guided by Bemis’s ever trusty power vocals, Say Anything keep punching with gutsy cultural criticisms and self-introspections on such aptly titled tracks as “Hate Everyone” “Young, Dumb and Stung,” “Admit It” and “I Used to Have a Heart.”
Bemis is no stranger to struggle, but after dealing with bipolar disorder and other complications, he's emerged more dedicated than ever, retaining his passion for his craft.
“I see it as a lengthy spiritual journey I’ve been on ever since I started writing music,” Bemis said. “If anything, I think what distinguishes my songwriting is that I use that journey and express it through music.”
In 2009, Bemis married Sherri DuPree of the band Eisley; the couple had a baby earlier this year. Bemis acknowleged that his relationship with DuPree has affected his songwriting.
“Starting with that change in my life, I basically went from being like everyone else who’s searching to find that person to being someone who had found that person,” Bemis said. “A lot of Say Anything’s music has centered around that loneliness -- that void of not having someone like that in your life. Ever since Sheri’s been in my life, the music has shifted to be about [someone] who has someone in [their] life but still struggles.”
Say Anything live deliver consistently high-energy performances. Bemis referred to himself as socially anxious and shy, but his performances are for him to shed those inhibitions. He credits the intensity during shows to the power and authenticity of the tracks
“The songs themselves tend to be pretty cathartic and full of emotion, whether that be anger or love or pain,” Bemis said. “Maybe it’s simplistic but we’re usually channeling such blatant emotions that it’s easy to get worked up.”
Say Anything recently shifted to Equal Vision Records, a change that Bemis said would improve the longevity of the band. According to Bemis, the band hopes to have album out next summer.
“We want to be a band that sticks around,” Bemis said. “We thought of other punk bands like Bad Religion or NOFX, and we thought of bands like Aerosmith -- bands that have just kept doing it despite whatever came their way -- and we decided we wanted to be one of those bands.”
Say Anything are at the House of Blues Thursday. With Eisley, H RV RD and I the Mighty. Doors are at 6:30. Tickets are available here.