Starting as Sayanything in '01, Max Bemis (vocals) and Coby Linder (drums) formed the nucleus of the group's original line-up that consisted of L.A. high school friends. Members came and went before Jake Turner (guitar), Jeff Turner (guitar) and Alex Kent (bass/guitar) arrived.
Say Anything's recording career began with a couple self-released EPs ("Junior Varsity" and "Baseball"). Their full-length debut, "... Is A Real Boy," a stab at Rock opera, with a storyline and assorted characters, was produced by Tim O'Heir (whose credits included All American Rejects, Dinosaur Jr., Hot Rod Circuit and The Starting Line).
Say Anything and O'Heir's paths had crossed and continued to do so. Bemis sang on The Starting Line's "Ready" (from "Based On A True Story") and Hot Rod Circuit's "Inhabit" (on "Reality's Coming Through"). He also did a vocal turn on New Found Glory's "Crazy For You" (yep, the Madonna cover on "From The Screen To Your Stereo Pt.II") and was an extra in the film Face/Off. Meanwhile, the Turner's were part of Safety In Numbers, a side project of Hot Rod Circuit's Andy Jackson. Keeping busy, Case was a member of the duo Jamison Parker, with Jamison Covington.
"... Is A Real Boy" was originally released on the Doghouse imprint (O'Heir also had connections with the label) in '04. Say Anything's next project was another EP, "Vs AIDS Demos." The EP consisted of songs allegedly recorded for an abandoned AIDS benefit.
Picked up by BMG's J Records "... Is A Real Boy" was scheduled for re-release in late October, '05, as Say Anything was about to launch a supporting tour. But Bemis suffered a nervous breakdown - his second. That forced the cancellation of the tour and delayed the album's re-issue for a few months. Bemis was diagnosed bi-polar.
When the album did land it featured a bonus disc "Was A Real Boy" that was seven of the eight "Vs AIDS Demos" tracks. The TV show Scrubs used "Alive With The Glory Of Love." The show seemed to have a knack for finding 'just under the radar' tracks. So that was probably some sort of validation.
'07's "In Defense Of The Genre," produced by Brad Wood (Smashing Pumpkins, Foo Fighters), featured the single, "Baby Girl, I'm A Blur."
While working on the "In Defense Of The Genre" Bemis said, "I want [the record] to be "The Joshua Tree" (U2) with balls on laughing gas." Alternative Press claimed the album was "a truly magnificent sophomore effort."
So what's with the title? "Whatever 'genre' (or music) one loves needs a defense, because half the world is too ignorant to really understand something before they dismiss it," said Bemis.
Bemis said "In Defense Of The Genre" was a "homage to sort of a lot of the bands that we liked and respected" and that their next effort would be "more concise and would be a bit more original." After kicking around possible titles for the group's third album the decision was made to call it "Say Anything."
But the self-referential title didn't seem to have any immediate impact on the group's fortunes. The following year it was announced that Say Anything and their label RCA/J Records had parted company.
Band members engaged in various side projects - notably Bemis and Linder's participation in Two Tongues - before Say Anything reconvened in '11 with O'Heir back as their producer. "Anarchy, My Dear," the group's first release for Equal Vision Records, made its '12 debut at #22 on the Billboard 200.
2001 Baseball: An Album by Sayanything
2002 Menorah/Majora EP
2004 ...Is A Real Boy
2007 In Defense Of The Genre
2009 Say Anything
2012 Anarchy, My Dear
Say Anything's "... Is A Real Boy" is a sprawling epic loaded with good songs and a few great ones. The standard Emo issue 'heart-on-the-sleeve' is cut with some quirks and humor. "Belt," a vigorous track dealing with family history, opens the set. "Woe," which despite the title is a loping, friendly track while "Alive With The Glory Of Love" gets things back on an energetic plane.
"Spidersong," "Admit It," with the 'whoa' backing vocals, and "I Will Never Write An Obligatory Song About Being On The Road And Missing Someone" are melodic blasts where the emotions don't get in the way. The occasional acoustic songs vary. "I Want To Know Your Plans," a song about empty dreams and false hopes, drags, while "Total Revenge" is captivating.
"In Defense Of The Genre" is more of the same and then some. Lead single "Baby Girl, "I'm A Blur," throws a catchy dance rhythm under the vocals and guitars. "This Is F***ing Ecstasy," "People Like You Are The Reason People Like Me Exist" and "Shiksa (Girlfriend)" (Bemis is Jewish) have a real kick. Less tuneful but more insistent are the angry title track and "Sorry, Dudes. My Bad." They sound dangerously close to coming unhinged but that's the appeal. The campy "That Is Why," the dreamy, almost psychedelic, "Retarded In Love" and the accordion laced "Hangover Song" extend the group's reach.
Say Anything's self-titled album, with its self-referential lyrics, would like to be Weezer. Warding off "snide remarks" ("Less Cute") or refusing to be defined "through irony" ("Mara And Me"), Say Anything have an off-the-cuff charm though they lack Rivers Cuomo's scathing wit. Still, their take on Alt. Rock ("Fed To Death"), dance-Rock ("Do Better") and torch songs ("Eloise" and "Property") show they have the chops to back the punchlines.
"Anarchy, My Dear" amps up the sneer and rant. "Burn A Miracle" may miss the mark but "Admit It Again" and "Sheep" are scathing indictments. But like the 'latest Rihanna single' the album is not a post-modern masterpiece (listen to "Admit It Again" and you'll get the joke).
"Say Anything" revolved around a Weezer/Offspring axes with U2 and Green Day at the edges. "Anarchy, My Dear" dispenses with that relying on post-Punk power pop. The title track, "So Good," "Overbiter" and "Of Steel" prove the point.