“With great power comes great responsibility.” Surely a meaningful quote, but who can take credit for it? Thomas Jefferson? Sigmund Freud? Socrates? Nope. Spider-Man. It goes to show how something sort of profound can spring from an unlikely source. Any reluctant underachiever can make a difference: nerdy dude who gets bit by a mutant spider or awkward bipolar kid in a vaguely “indie” punk-pop band. That is the premise behind the band and the new self titled record Say Anything – we are in danger and any one of us has the power to save us. It’s a fitting concept for a cult-favorite band who, on November 3rd, will release a definitive artistic statement aimed at the masses.
Like the origin of any unlikely hero, Say Anything was forged from conflict: a feisty young punk band from Hollywood formed during the birth of “hipster” elitism, always out of place. In that day any group of rich kids with a penchant for the Velvet Underground and enough five o’clock shadow could be paid millions of dollars to be walking billboards for “anti-culture” consumerism. Say Anything shunted pretension, choosing initially to play sincere and nervous rock music and opening locally for the touring bands they closely identified with (The Weakerthans, Rilo Kiley, The Promise Ring). A few years passed and songwriter Max Bemis continued to feel alienated from the collegiate “scene;” He witnessed young rebels devolve into the counter-culture clichés they sought to avoid in the first place, “reverse psychology” victims of homogenized humanity. By identifying this mass-marketed “hip” lie, Bemis found his “arch villain” and, imbued with purpose, Say Anything’s music became a new monster – as theatrically pop-based as it was angular and dark. Influenced by bands like Fugazi, The Who, Botch and Smashing Pumpkins, Say Anything dually expressed its irreverence through sing along punk and almost awkwardly confessional Woody Allen-esque lyrics.