With their highly anticipated 10th Anniversary Tour fast approaching, Max Bemis of California’s Say Anything took some time out to give us a little insight on the band’s past, their future, Kanye West and their upcoming shows in Australia.

You haven’t toured Australia since 2014. Are you and the band looking forward to coming back?

Yes. Very much so, I love Australia!

You’ve been touring for the 10th anniversary of In Defense Of The Genre and playing exclusively from your older albums. Does it feel strange playing songs from the older albums, especially considering you only put out an album 18 months ago?

No, because if this was a normal tour we would be playing half of these songs anyway, probably not playing a handful of the new songs because that’s just how it works. So no, it’s not weird in relation to having just put out an album and I think in this day and age with touring there’s so much saturation in the touring market. It isn’t like the old days were you would just do like ten tours of each album, playing the same songs over and over again, I think you have to do something special with each tour. Y’know I think we have to go back and forth and tours that centre behind an actual concept or an album or a feel for the show.

“There’s nothing but the passion and the want to create more. It’s my job, it’s one of the few things I’m good at and I love that connection with the audience”

How has the reception been to the older music?

Great! This is the stuff I don’t really have to worry about the reception to, versus like “Oh God we’re playing the new song will they even like it?”

Other than playing your older material, is there anything special you’ve got planned for the upcoming tour?

No, I think there’s the fact that I’m me at this age factors in, I do think I’m better at what I do now than I was then and I have more life experience. So if you’re tuned into the lyrics and if you’re tuned into what’s going on in the performance then you may have felt something coming from me that you might not have felt at that time when I played it.

Are there any Australian bands you like and hope will join you on the upcoming tour?

There are Australian bands I like. Right now I listen to so much random new music, I’m like one of those people who disappears into Spotify. So I can’t think of any bands that are where they’re from. Like I’m having a blank on any bands that are actually Australian but certainly, I’m sure that at least 10 of the last 100 albums I’ve discovered are Australian because there’s so much good music coming from Australia.

Photo: Bobby Anderson

You’ve said on Twitter that you could have stopped Say Anything in 2004 and still achieved all your goals. What keeps you going after 17 years of activity?

Well, what keeps me going is that there is no goal. There’s nothing but the passion and the want to create more. It’s my job, it’s one of the few things I’m good at and I love that connection with the audience and I always wanna be there for them as some kind of rock if I am that. I just love making records and I love making music and there’s no particular goal in mind other than to keep doing that for as long as I possibly can, take breaks when I need to and get back into it.

Say Anything has probably seen the most successful period of pop-punk’s music history. How do you see the future of pop-punk?

I think things are cyclical so you never really know if it was the most successful period of pop-punk music. One would think that dance music would’ve died out you know around the time of Nirvana and grunge happening. But now dance and electronic music is the biggest thing in the world. So I’m sure that there’ll be a wave of pop-punk that’s different that’s maybe just as successful as it was with Green Day and Blink-182. I mean, I know there’s still so much good ‘pop-punk’ by new bands that are so much more original and awesome than my band. So I can only imagine that they’ll start becoming as appreciated as the bands we grew up with.

You’ve said that your latest record, I Don’t Think It Is, is your hip-hop record. Can you explain how you came to that belief?

I came to that belief because the record is directly influenced by Kanye West. I was basically trying to copy his mode of production. I worked with a really insane drummer who takes most of his influence from hip-hop, R&B and soul music. And I’m talking and rhyming more than I’m singing so that’s why I equate it to hip-hop (and there’s also a lot more beats and samples).

It was reported that I Don’t Think It Is was Kanye-approved. Can you describe what the meeting with Kanye was like? There’s many stories of his outlandish meetings with other artists, was there any of those notably peculiar moments?

Kanye was nothing but respectful and overly nice to me. And in fact I was sorta, like, flattered by his attention and blown away that he liked our music and me as much as he did because I was frankly a bit intimidated to meet him. He was just nice the entire time, I think the only outlandish part was that we became good friends for like, a week. We didn’t know each other whatsoever and we just spent several days just hanging out and [then we] both got really busy and [I] haven’t talked to him since. So there’s just this random week in my life where I was just kinda like flying around the country hanging out with him and I think [it’s] the coolest thing that happened and [that he] asked for my recommendations for comic books – that was pretty weird and listening to Say Anything in his car was pretty weird as well.

I Don’t Think It Is was surprise released and you’ve previously said that you rather the ‘no bullshit’ approach to putting out records. Is that how you’ll release records from now on?

I don’t know if we’ll be just dropping records anymore. I can say fully that we’re not gonna do that for our next record. But I know that I’m definitely weary of anything that feels contrived to me. So whether it’s how we do a video or interviews, publicity, biographies, like if something feels annoying to me it’s just not gonna happen anymore. Thankfully, we’ve gotten to the point in our careers where I call the shots to a degree and the labels that we work with have all been really attuned to that and nice and let me do that.

You can catch pop-punkers Say Anything on their ‘In Defence’ Anniversary Tour at any of the dates below!

Sunday, 25th February
Max Watt’s, Melbourne
(Performing Is A Real Boy + In Defense Disc 1) 18+

Monday, 26th February
Max Watt’s, Melbourne
(Performing Self Titled + In Defense Disc 2) 18+

Wednesday, 28th February
Factory Theatre, Sydney
(Performing Is A Real Boy + In Defense Disc 1) 18+

Thursday, 1st March
Factory Theatre, Sydney
(Performing Self Titled Album + In Defense Disc 2) 18+

Friday, 2nd March
The Triffid, Brisbane
(Performing Is A Real Boy + In Defense Disc 1) 18+

Sunday, 4th March
The Zoo, Brisbane
(Performing Self Titled + In Defense Disc 2) 18+

Interviewed by: Tennyson Tinning