“20 Questions” with MAX BEMIS of Say Anything

February 8, 2013



[ photo by: Jered Scott]

2013 will be a year for great and inspiring new interviews. I am so happy to say that my first one of the year is the wonderful and talented Max Bemis of the band Say Anything! Max is by far my favorite interview to date. Don’t get me wrong, I have loved every single one of my interviews in their own way, but what I love about this interview is that I feel that me and Max think in a very similar way, which inspires me to be creative and gives me the desire to do something great. His band Say Anything is out of control amazing, and their live show is a must see! I am excited to see what the band does in the future! It will be E P I C. No doubt about it.

I hope that you enjoy reading this interview as much I enjoy sharing it with you!!!


CG:  When did you fall in love with music?

MAX: That’s a good question. When did I know I fell in love with music? I feel like there are a few points that could be the contenders for that answer, but I think music for a while kind of served the same role as it did for most people. It’s a thing that you can connect to, something you put on to feel better or when you feel sad. I think the first time I REALLY fell in love with music was when I first listened to the Saves The Day record ‘Through Being Cool.’ I was fifteen years old and I remember putting it on and in instilled this reaction in me. It was like half confusion and half obsession because I had never heard anything like it. I just remember how many times I listened to the record in a row starting with the first time I heard it, and it made me want to be in a band. It came to define my personality on many levels. I think that’s when I first really fell in love with music because I was always a huge music fan and I would obsessively listen to music but that is when it kind of took over my life more than just as a listener.


CG: Do you remember the very first album you ever purchased?

MAX: I think the first album I ever purchased was probably, well technically something like MC Hammer. I think more so my parents bought it for me so it wasn’t something I purchased. I remember purchasing Weezer’s ‘Blue Album” in a store and like  being thrilled! I also purchased Green Day’s ‘Dookie’  and Offspring’s ‘SMASH’ all around the same time. So it was one of those three records. And Oasis’ ‘What’s the Story Morning Glory.’ It would of been of those records.

CG: Definitely a 90’s kid for sure.

MAX: Yep!


CG: When it comes to making your own music, where to you draw inspiration from the most?

MAX: It’s basically a duality. It’s half my own inner struggle and the things that happened to me. More so the inner struggle than the events in my life. It’s my inner monologue. And half of it at this point is kind of like knowing who I am writing the song for and the audience who is going to listen to it. I kind of like to play with the notions of how it will affect someone who is hearing it. Like for instance, when I am writing the new Say Anything record I keep in mind that there are thousands of Say Anything fans that are connected to our old music, who are listening to this song and how is it going to effect and speak to them? So it’s kind of a mixture of a really personal act of creation and creating for the sake of the people who are going to be listening to it and how it’s going to make them feel.


CG: Who so far has been your favorite band to tour with?

MAX: Definitely Saves The Day. Just because they are my favorite band and it’s really rare when you meet someone you look up to so much and they like out do your expectations. Often you can kind of build up something in your head and then you meet someone and you are disappointed. But they’ve become possibly one of our best friends of the band, and they also happen to be the band that made me want to create music. So it would be them or Eisley because Eisley is our family. One of those two bands I would say.


CG: What song that you have written has the most meaning to you?

MAX: There is a song on our self-titled record called “Amen.”  It’s sort of the most spiritual song that I have ever written and I am a very spiritual person. I feel like I have written about myself or I’ve written about events that have happened in my life. But that song encapsulates my thoughts on the entire universe, which I rarely do, because it can be really pretentious so I think that song my technically have the most meaning because it encapsulates everything that I think about everything.

[photo by: Jered Scott]


CG: You may have already answered this next question, but what is your favorite album of all time?

MAX:Yeah, ‘Through Being Cool’ by Saves The Day. For fifteen years nothing has been able to top it.



CG: What has been your favorite city to play in?

MAX: That’s actually a really tough question.  It would probably be New York, New Jersey or Los Angeles. We are from L.A. so it’s our hometown crowd. I was born in New York, we started to do a lot of stuff in New York and it’s one of my favorite places in the world. So New York is always pretty monumental. And then New Jersey has really adopted us and brought us into their culture and it’s always a pretty insane show there, so I would say one of those three places. They are probably tied.


CG: I know you are a big fan of comic books. Have you ever based any songs off comic book reading? Has it ever sparked something in your brain?

MAX :The last two entire records that we have put out are based off this comic called “The Invisibles” by Grant Morrison. Because of that comic I kind of underwent this crazy spiritual/ pathological growth where I became a different person because of it. Definitely that.


CG: What is next for Say Anything?

MAX: I am already writing our next record and we’ve got some really cool stuff in the works. We just put out this rarities record that has three discs in it. It scans the early years of the band, and so we are doing stuff in accordance to that. I can’t really talk too much about what we have going on except that I am definitely writing the next record and will start recording later this year.


CG: What advice would you have to anyone to is looking to pursue a career in music?

MAX: I would say make your expectations realistic but still be able to dream. It’s a precarious balance between not losing perspective of what can actually happen and making it happen in a really pragmatic way. A lot of people romanticize a career path of, you know,artists who kind of come out of nowhere and then blow up and have this easy ride. But I would say if you plan on having a really tough ride, battling it out and working your ass off for it, you’re probably more likely to have the lucky stuff to happen. But even if it doesn’t happen then at least you’re doing your best and you might just get somewhere based off working your ass off rather than luck.


CG: Ok, so now begins the random questions! If you could have a song that is the soundtrack to your life right now, today, at this moment in time, which song would you choose?

MAX: Wow, that’s a good question. There is a song called “Fire’s Highway” by this band Japandroids. And it is actually written about a free wheeling kind of character who has no home, doesn’t have true love or a baby on the way or anything. It’s also written about this really pure youthful emotion. I feel like I have been connecting to my youthful exuberance a bit more at this point in my life. So even though the technical narrative of the song doesn’t relate to what I am going through right now, I felt myself connected to it because I have a lot of youthful energy right now for some reason. Maybe it’s just the stage I am going through, but I relate to it more than any other song right now.


CG: If you were the headline of a tabloid magazine what would you like it to say about you?

MAX: Neurotic Jew finds unlikely success.


CG: If you could be in any band, past or present, other than your own who would you choose and why?

MAX: My immediate reaction is to say The Beatles. First of all on a musical level, to be able to play with those musicians and to write such amazing songs and to experiment in the way they did. They had the most success ever of a rock band at the time and that gave them the tools to be able to experiment in these amazing ways and create such varied and interesting music. Not to mention that they had this crazy experience of becoming the zeitgeist and it was such drama. But to be honest I don’t think I could really handle it. It’s not the type of life I would really want for myself. I mean look at John Lennon. The poor guy got assassinated because he was “too important” and I would rather be in a band like, I don’t know, even Saves The Day just because those dudes are basically normal guys who created amazing music and they got to experience monumental success at one point. Now they still have success and dedicated followers. To be honest that is a lot like our band. I am happy with being in Say Anything. There would have to be a band similar to Say Anything that I would want to be in because I don’t want to give away what we have.


CG: If you could have any superpower, what would you choose and why?

MAX: Ummmm….wow, that’s a really good question. I guess it would probably be some kind of really generic strength or flying. Because when I think of anything deeper, like being telepathic or something, there are too many negatives that come with that. Even if it were voluntary telepathy you would still have the ability to read peoples thoughts and I have no desire to know what people are thinking. Even though in some situations it would be great, like knowing what football game to bet $50,000 on, but at the same time I don’t think I would want the responsibility of anything relatively powerful, so just being able to fly and maybe being able to actually help people fight crime and do right in the world without having too much going on in my own head or having too much responsibility.


CG: You and I are kind of opposite in a way, where I grew up in Texas and now live in L.A. and you are NOW in Texas. What would you say the biggest difference between L.A. and where you are now is?

MAX: Oh my God, it couldn’t be more different. Actually, there are the stark glaring differences and there are a lot of things that actually are similar. I lived in New York for a long time. The three places I have spent the most time in my life are New York, L.A. and now Texas. In L.A. everything is very mellow. And people are at least superficially nice most of the time to you and pleasant. For as in New York everyone is a hard ass. In Texas people are also very pleasant so I like that, but the difference is that in L.A. there is a lot of superficiality, and you can get through it and find your own niche. A lot of my best friends still live in L.A. and my parents live there and I love being there. But in Texas, well there is just as much bull shit in Texas but the values are more so being “disconnected”  from culture. That is what is championed here. The more of the hillbilly in the way you are, even if you are a city dwelling person, the cooler  you are in Texas. Almost disconnected from life. Where as in L.A. the more plugged in you are, the cooler you are. And I have never been either of those types of “cool”, so I happen to fit in a little bit more with the people who don’t want to be connected to culture, because culture always really bothers me and I get butt hurt by it. So I fit in better here technically. But there are some commonalities and people are mellow, people are kind. It’s kind of a slow moving place. Even though L.A. is a metropolis its still kind of slow moving, as in everyone is mellow and cool too, in the same way Texans are. New York is just completely different from any of that. Very fast paced and overwhelming, which I love too, but again I fit in somewhere in the middle.


CG: If you stumbled upon a time machine in your backyard one day, where would be the one period of time you would want to travel to?

MAX: That is a good question, man, probably just biblical times just to see what actually happened and what was embellished. So I can just finally know. The time of Jesus’ existence. I have some faith in that area, but I am also aware that a lot of it, and a lot of our records, especially the biblical/religious ones are so inflated and mythical. I would love to know what it was like to be around then.


CG: Do you have any guilty pleasures?

MAX: Guilty pleasures….yeah! So many! I’m defined by them! I like shopping on Amazon. I have the Amazon app on my phone and I have ‘Amazon Prime’ which means I can get cheaper stuff delivered to me very quickly. So I am kind of like a little bad about it, where I just like to buy lots of books and things. And it’s not the healthiest behavior. So I would say shopping on Amazon for books is one. And also I definitely romanticize with music I grew up listening to. Some of it is too much for me, too guilty. I’ll never get over a lot of the punk bands and the pop punk bands that I grew up listening to when I was 11 or 12 years old. I still enjoy those bands a lot. I also enjoy some of the very cheesy alternative music from the 90’s that I grew up listening to and bad hip hop from that era as well.


CG: What is one thing you want to do before you grow old and die?

MAX: You know, I‘ve already done everything. I am about to have a kid in about 7 days and I think that is the final one. But then again there are a lot of things I would like to happen. I am starting to write comics and I want to expand upon that and become a more serious comic writer. My first book is coming out in April but that is just the beginning. I have plenty of stuff I want to do before I die but I think the “bucket list” in a way I have sort of done everything besides have a kid and that is about to happen. So thankfully, if I get hit by a car, I will die happy.


CG: I know that you are excited about your daughter being born.  What is the one major piece of advice that you would want to give her, growing up, to be happy?

MAX: Wow. Ya know, I think that it would be finding a balance. I’ve gone through a lot of dark struggling in my life because of giving into my neuroses and my inner thoughts. So the thing I want to impart to her is to be smart and analytical, to think about things, but not to be too self critical and make decisions that are self destructive because of it. Given that there is a chronicle of all the music I’ve made that was autobiographical at the time when I was more self destructive, I think there will be part of her that thinks, “oh, my dad went through this so it’s ok.” Whether it was drugs or having bad relationships, ya know? I want to impart to her that you don’t have to necessarily do those things to grow up. And there are plenty of people who have the self-knowledge, the awareness and the experience of life without having to be self destructive and without having your inner demons sort of lead your actions. Society and the media kind of tell you that growing up is hard, that you’ve gotta give up yourself to find yourself again. I am sorry, but I don’t necessarily believe that is a path that you need to take. I think I’d like Lucy to be able to stay true to herself. I know she will go through a lot of pain and disappointments in her life. To go the full self-destructive route is something I would like to keep her from having to experience.


CG: What makes you come alive?

MAX: Truth, love. Love and truth. I don’t know, true love. The fundamental basics. Whether that is true friendship, my relationship with my wife or feeling at home.  My band and certain other things in my life have given me glimpses of what it’s like to be really successful in certain areas or gain attention in certain areas.  They were gratifying in a way that was so impermanent. I really learned that it’s the basic things in life, like your best friends and your loved ones and spending time with your family. And even listening to some great band, something like that. It’s really cheesy, but I find that peaceful. Those simple things in life. That doesn’t mean you have to work at some shitty job and not try to do anything with your life that’s exciting. But at the same time all the non-genuine parts of it that are focused on money or power or attention, they will never gratify you in the same way that having a real fundamental truth or love being the basis of your decisions of your life will.

[photo by: Jered Scott]

I want to thank Max for taking the time from his busy schedule to do this amazing interview with me! Keep up the amazing work my friend.

ATTN: If you enjoyed this interview you may also like my interviews with:

Sherri Dupree Bemis ( Max’s misses )

Jeffery Turner ( Say Anything & XO )


Jered Scott ( the man behind all these amazing photos of Max)

Stay posted for other great upcoming interviews!

XOXO, Christie Gee