If He Can Sing, He Can Talk

Say Anything’s last original member now has the freedom to speak his mind

Pop punk band Say Anything is known for lead singer (and sole original member) Max Bemis? disturbingly sexy vocals as well as Bemis? on-again-off-again mental illnesses. Now at 29, with half a dozen albums under his belt, he has an eye toward creative and personal balance. He and his wife, singer Sherri DuPree Bemis, had their first child, Lucy, in February. His debut comic book anthology, Polarity (Boom! Studios), about a bi-polar artist with superpowers, will be out in December. And he?s also working on side projects such as Max Bemis and the Painful Splits, and a collaboration with his wife, Perma. Bemis even has his own imprint on the Equal Vision record label. This tour supports their All My Enemies Are Friends: Early Rarities album, so fans can count on hearing earlier tunes that didn?t find prominence on radio.

You?re touring with bands from the Equal Vision record label, including Eisley, your wife?s band. What is it like to travel with your wife and daughter?

It?s been incredible actually. Lucy is a pretty low-maintenance baby. It?s been an amazing experience. It?s made touring more enjoyable, actually. Having this adorable baby floating around the bus makes everything better.

Say Anything has gone through major changes in the band lineup. Has that affected how you write, record or tour?

The biggest change recently was [founding member] Coby [Linder] leaving. We?ve had other lineup changes before. When Coby left, or when we parted ways, we had to redefine the band and what it means. Now I don?t have to worry about this other guy—as much as I love him and we were really good friends. You look at bands like Bright Eyes or Nine Inch Nails, they have a singer dude who calls a lot of the shots, and then with us there was Coby who had just as much of a stake as me but I was taking the reigns creatively. It was a weird dynamic. I can always go on making records now as Say Anything, because it?s me.

Your lyrics are usually raw and confrontational. Your newest release of unique material, Anarchy, My Dear, also has softer songs. What inspired those?

The biggest change to happen was around our self-titled album [in 2009]. I bettered myself and stopped living in an unhealthy way. I found a really healthy, amazing relationship, a spiritual path that spoke to me and stopped doing drugs. The angry stuff is less focused on whining and my own bullshit, and is more focused on what is actually wrong with the world.

?Admit It Again? is an updated version of 2004?s ?Admit It? from ?Is a Real Boy. What made you reprise it?

I wanted to be able to vent without having that define me. I didn?t want to be that guy who is constantly whining about society, but I still have my bone to pick. General gist of things is if it?s pretentious, putting down something else in order to be cool, that?s where I start to have a problem with it. That?s what inspired both versions of ?Admit It.?

How do you like playing Vegas?

We?ve played several shows in Vegas. They?ve always been amazing. My only fear is that it?s the only place that I sometimes let myself gamble. I?ll play blackjack, and it?s funny because I?m good at it, but at the same time it?s the type of game that skill can only get you so far.

Say Anything with Eisley, HRVRD and I The Mighty

House of Blues, 6:30 p.m. July 9, $18-$21, 632-7600, HouseOfBlues.com.

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