Say Anything's Max Bemis has started on "dark, funny" music without drummer Coby Linder
The pause to ruminate on Say Anything's past, courtesy of the band's new three-disc release "All My Friends Are Enemies: Early Rarities," out now on Equal Vision Records, is impeccably timed. While each acerbic album has seemed a deliberate expansion of both the band's legacy and range, the next effort will mark a milestone regardless of sound, as Bemis joins the pantheon of single musicians masquerading as bands. (Think Iron & Wine, Eels, Cat Power, Bon Iver.)
In December, Bemis lost his band's drummer and only consistent songwriting partner, Coby Linder, who co-founded Say Anything in 2000. Bemis says "there was no ill-will" engendered by the split. He mulled finding a replacement only momentarily: Although Bemis classifies his touring musicians as an honest extension of Say Anything, he understands many fans consider the band synonymous solely with Max Bemis. He's now "down to just indulge that."
The forthcoming Say Anything LP will, accordingly, be a radical evolution.
"It's happened on every record for me, wanting to do something very different," says the new frontman-as-solo-act. "But at the same time I love embracing what the band is about." Much of the album has been written; the first half is "extremely dark, lyrically, but also very funny." Bemis says he was heavily influenced by comedian Louis C.K.'s bleak, illuminating FX comedy "Louie." And musically, "It's going to go someplace pretty weird, but cool; not off-putting or trying too hard to be experimental, just... different."
Bemis has a clearer-than-ever mission statement, as well: "Just being true to myself and to the people who really appreciate Say Anything."
But before any new Say Anything material appears, Bemis and his wife, Sherri DuPree-Bemis, vocalist and guitarist of the rock band Eisley, will release their debut as a duo called Perma. The album, aimed for a fall release on Equal Vision, is packed exclusively with sincere love duets between a husband and wife who have already displayed their adoration openly on tour .
"It's definitely a feel-good record, it's definitely about true love," Bemis says. "We are not holding back when it comes to being borderline corny about each other, but there's still that same sense of dark irony or whimsy that Eisley has and that Say Anything has. We don't feel like we've dumbed down anything, that's the important part."
Bemis appreciates sentimentality and sap as much as anyone -- as long as it's intelligent and well-written. He hails U2's "With or Without You" as a shining example.
"One of the corniest songs ever, but also one of the best songs of all time," he says. He hopes Perma can achieve that high-minded, musically focused approach, but still "be very sweet and just focused on me and Sherri's love."
Whatever the final product, Perma's got a built-in fanbase already -- the duo will welcome their first baby, Lucy, in early February.
"Want Lucy to appear now," he tweeted in anticipation on Wednesday.