Before their sold out show with The Front Bottoms and Brand New in Leeds, we have the chance to catch up with pop-punk pioneers, Saves the Day. Fresh from the release of their latest self-titled album, which came out in the UK on April 14, we chat with Chris, Rodrigo, Arun and Dennis about staying grounded, bridging the gap between fans and artists and the influences behind their latest album.
“This is what we love, this is who we are”
S] How’s your UK tour been going so far?
C] “It’s been so much fun. We’re excited to be with Brand New, they’re a killer live band and we’ve been excited to get a chance to tour with them for quite a while so it’s a bit of a dream come true.”
S] What are some of your favourite places to play in the UK?
C] “London is amazing.”
R] “London is always fantastic, everyone there just always looses their minds. We played Bath the last time we were here and that was just beautiful. It was probably in a room about the size of this room, it was tiny. But it didn’t really matter, everyone just went totally ape and it’s a beautiful city.”
A] “The UK in general is a lot of fun for us. All the drives are nice and short and I think fans are super excited. It’s a treat. We were here three times in a year and a half span and it’s been about two years since the last time we were here so we were itching to get back.”
C] “We have so much fun over here. We have a tradition of playing these aftershows in London too. We’ll play a later set in the evening. The other night after the Brand New gig at the Troxy we went to this place called Duke’s and played for two hours and took all requests. We didn’t stop until three in the morning and it was just madness.”
S] You’ve played everything from huge venues to small bars. What are the biggest differences for you guys and which do you prefer?
C] “I like them both. I’d say it’s more fun to play the smaller shows because you can just feel the energy of the crowd and it’s more intimate. It’s sort of a shared experience, you’re all in the exact same space. Whereas on a big stage the crowd is way out in front of you, twenty yards away and you’re way up on this high stage. In the smaller venues it’s just one dance and we’re all doing it together. But I like them both, it’s a great opportunity.”
A] “I think we’re lucky, we get to do both. Like Chris was saying, in London we played at the Troxy which was about 2,000 and then we played the small places with just a couple hundred. There is something fun about the enormity of a big place, but we get to do both so it’s amazing.”
R] “They’re different children. I like small venues because when it’s packed in there everyone’s just sweating and that’s just kind of insane and it’s a cool environment to be in.”
S] You guys went with Pledge Music to release your latest self-titled album and reached 218% of your goal. How was that experience for you as a band?
C] “It went really well, we were so thankful to have our fans. They’re so loyal and wonderful. And it wound up being exciting for us once we started fulfilling the pledges because we got to go to people’s houses and play in their backyards or basements. It was sort of like full circle from where I’m sure we all started, playing in friends back yards and basement shows. These extended friends that we know through playing rock music, they get to help us make a record and we get to help them have a really great, unforgettable night. That’s the kind of night I won’t ever forget and we’ve got to do more of that.”
A] “We didn’t know what to expect because it’s a completely new way of doing things and I think we were all a little nervous at first, but we couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. The interaction with the fans that we were able to have was incredible.”
C] “And forever, we’ll always have that connection. Those people that we met through pledge, they’re like extended family. When we see them in cities where we’re on tour, it’s so nice to see them. We had this wonderful night together so it was a great experience.”
R] “If anything, the pledge also became about broadening the family. We try to stay grounded, and hopefully we are, but we all came from punk and hardcore and indie backgrounds so we don’t have delusions of grandeur in what we do. The pledge thing was kind of just a way to connect to people and extend the family.”
S] So do you still stay in touch with the fans you met through Pledge?
C] “Absolutely! Twitter and e-mails.”
S] Saves the Day has been a band for nearly fifteen years and websites like Pledge, Kickstarter, and Twitter are all relatively new. What are your opinions on technology in the music industry being used to bridge the gap between fans and artists?
C] “I think it’s pretty awesome. When I was a kid I would go to shows and I would stay after until all the people left and the band members were packing up their gear because I wanted to tell the band how awesome they were, so it was about getting facetime. And I imagine if there were Twitter, I could have done that while sitting in my school, waiting for class to start. Tweet @SuunyDayRealEstate, ‘I love you Jeremy!’. And it would have made my world if he tweeted back. I think it’s really sweet, I personally enjoy connecting with fans through Twitter, it’s the only one I use. I don’t really understand the other stuff. This one’s in tiny little bite-sized bits.”
R] “It’s a lot of fun, I don’t think we view it as a chore. I think there definitely are some bands and companies that have to be on Twitter just to push their brand, but we just like talking to people. This is just like everyone having your number and everyone can text you and you can text them something funny back. It’s fun.”
S] You’re self-titled album has a more positive feel from your other albums, especially the trilogy that came before (Sound The Alarm, Under The Boards, Daybreak). What contributed to the change in attitude?
C] “I went through a personal evolution over the course of the trilogy and I was trying to understand the root of the psychology problems that you run into being a human being. So I just dove into the depths of what was going on in my mind and just reported back with what I heard and it was at first, strange, and then this wonderful thing happened where I became peaceful, to surrender to the truths of my mind instead of making myself fit into the pegs that society wants me to fit into. So, to put a long story short, I just feel more comfortable and I’m way more at peace. I’m not struggling and the music is always just a reflection of my heart, just coming right out of here (points to chest). Because I feel good the music feels really happy. I was amazed as I started to write because I hadn’t written songs like that in, I don’t know how long. I’m always using the guitar and whatever melodies to get out this feeling that’s inside, so whatever would come out was a reflection. It took me by surprise, in a nice way, but then I started to realise this was going to be a really fun record. Then lyrically there was no negativity to sift through, so I got to be more observational about the world and looking at things from a more comfortable place came out more effortlessly. It sounds happier lyrically as well, which I think is nice for our fans because I’ve been wrestling with trying to grow up and get with the program.”
S] What has the fan reception been like?
C] “I think it’s been awesome. I think people are so relieved to here this happy sounding Saves the Day record. I’ve been honest about my personal journey the whole time; it’s emo music, we put it all out there. Folks know that I’ve gone through the ups and downs as any rational human being would, unless you’re a robot. So it’s nice to be reporting back from the other side and say, ‘hey it’s cool, we can high-five, it’s going to be okay’.”
A] “It’s exciting to have fans come up to you and request songs, more often than not, off the new record. And we’re excited to play it.”
S] Staying with the new album, ‘Xenophobic Blind Left Hook’ is really different lyrically and stands out. Can you talk us through the story behind that track?
C] “Surprisingly, that’s the one we get asked to play the most.”
R] “That one’s a lot of fun to play.”
C] “Lyrically, we had this crazy night when we were on tour with the get up kids and Rodrigo went to save a fan of ours that was getting harassed by these skinhead bikers outside the venue and he got pulled into this brawl. He came back inside and was raining blood from his face, we were all in shock. And then we spend the night in the ER and his nose was broken, we just got back on tour. But the night stood out in my mind as this most incredible night of picturesque moments. So before that song had lyrics, the words that came to me as I was composing the music were ‘we were there, they were there, they were drunk’, it just came out. And I was like, ‘that’s a really weird thing to just pop out of my head’. Then it, on its own, let me know that it was going to be about this scene from this night. A lot of times it surprises you, the pen will move on its own, it’s neat. Or just a phrase will be turning over kind of with the melody and before you know it, you have this initial idea. Then I just dove into the images from that night and remembered everything and tried to put it down as best as I could remember. And then I had the idea of writing about intolerance because it’s a real problem. I thought it would be fun to make the song not too heavy to deal with people’s prejudice in a sort of tongue-in-cheek fashion. So the ‘Xenophobic Blind Left Hook’ line is just a way of playfully introducing the idea of ‘hey, maybe we should all get along’ and it turned into a really fun song. It was a lot slower before and when we started jamming these guys had a lot of idea to funk it up and it turned into this bouncy, poppy weird song.”
S] Last week you released your video for ‘In the In Between’ off of your latest album which depicts a really raw, fun pop-punk show. How was the experience filming that video?
C] “It was a lot of fun. We just had all these fans come out spur of the moment and we played a whole show, we did all requests and then every other song we did a take of ‘In the In Between’ so we would have enough footage to sync up later. It was just a fun night for us and a fun night for our fans, a lot like a Pledge show, one of the house shows. We were all just hanging out in a tiny space and everyone’s just piled on top of each other.”
A] “That was sort of the spirit behind the concept. It was the end of our headline tour in the fall so we spent a couple extra day in L.A. and we just did it. It was a super fun night.”
R] “I think it captures the moment of, not only from the end of the tour where we have a very special comradery between ourselves and the crew, but even all the shows leading up to that. This band, right now, we’re playing basements and it’s a fun thing to do, so we actually through a tiny party. The fact that we’re all like ‘yeah, let’s do this’, and not really have this pretence of, ‘oh it’s got to be done a certain way’ or with a hi-def video or that we had to rent some legit club with sound. I think we borrowed a PA from a friend for that show.”
C] “Yeah, no makeup artists, just pure sweat. No hairstylists, no fashion advisors.”
A] “It was just an empty cement room, I don’t even know what they do there.”
S] That’s really interesting because you’re such a big name. It’s really cool to see you guys go back and play smaller shows and basement shows even with all of your success.
C] “I’m glad you get it. We feel the same way, this is what we love, this is who we are. We think, ‘let’s come to your house and just play a show’.”
S] Is there anything outside of music that influence you such as people or places?
C] “I’m constantly thinking about spirituality and philosophy 99.9% of the time. Just thinking, ‘What is this all about? what the heck is going on? sweet’. In particular as an influence I like the author Joseph Campbell and there are lots of lectures on iTunes and I listen to that every night, I really love him.”
A] “I moved to Nashville from Detroit about a year ago and being in a city like that, I feel constantly inspired because there are so many great creative people there and just wonderful people. I think just my life there in general continues to push me, I feel constantly motivated, life in general really.”
D] “Anything throughout my whole day can influence my live playing for sure. Before I go on stage something crazy could happen to me and I’ll think about it the first couple of songs, whether it be good or bad.”
R] “I guess outside of music I like books. The ones that you hold in your hand and are heavy to carry and take up way too much space in your bag.”
S] Are there any artists or bands that you think we should check out?
C] “We heard a Supergrass song last night in the van that blew my mind. What else? David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Queens of the Stone Age.”
A] “I probably listen to the same record by Queens of the Stone Age about once a week.”
C] “Rod likes to play Jorge Ben, Arun will put on Jimmy Hendrix. We’ve got all the bases covered except for like EDM.”