Line & Ink's Interview with Chris Conley
Interview with Chris Conley
A lot can happen in a short period of time. Just ask Bryan of Saves the Day. At age twenty-one he and his bandmates have already cut two successful albums, toured relentlessly across the U.S., and stolen their fair share of shows and hearts. They recently signed to Vagrant Records, and their much anticipated third album should come out this spring. Bryan took a break from the skins and spent a little time with us to give the low down on his band, his fans, and what to expect from STD in 2001.
Interview By Richard Bond.
WE HEARD YOU HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO SIGN TO A MAJOR LABEL, BUT YOU CHOSE TO SIGN WITH VAGRANT. IS THIS TRUE?
Yeah, we're on Vagrant now. We have two new songs on the new Vagrant comp, Another Year on the Streets, and there's new stuff on there from Face to Face, the Get Up Kids, Rocket From the Crypt, and a bunch of bands. So yeah, we're definitely on Vagrant. We're recording for them in December out in LA and that record should be out in May.
IS STEVE EVETTS (Producer of Through Being Cool) GOING TO PRODUCE IT?
Yeah, we're still working that out, though. It looks like he's definitely producing it, but we're looking for possibly someone else to mix it. We're not sure about everything yet, but the place we're recording it is this place called Sound City---'cause we finally got a bigger budget---and that's where Nirvana recorded Nevermind and Weezer is supposed to get out the day before we start. So it's totally awesome, I'm psyched. We're at least doing the drums there. (Laughs)
THAT SOUNDS GREAT. I WANNA KNOW A LITTLE ABOUT THE LABEL. VAGRANT SIGNED YOU GUYS, ALKALINE TRIO, AND ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT ALL ABOUT THE SAME TIME. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THESE BANDS AND HOW ARE YOU GUYS GETTING TREATED?
They're treating us amazing. We haven't really done much yet, but before this tour started Eben and I stayed out there with Kevin from Vagrant for about a month. They're all our friends, but they're also a really great label. That was part of why we decided to make that move. And we looked at who they were signing; like they signed us, Rocket, and Alkaline within a week, so we were just like, "Shit! We gotta get in on this!" And they already had the Get Up Kids, among other bands, and the Get Up Kids signed a bunch of bands, so Vagrant is a powerhouse now.
IT'S LIKE A MONOPOLY! (Chuckles)
There's like six or seven bands on there that I think are great, and it's an honor to be lumped in with them. So yeah, that was definitely part of our decision. We talked to a bunch of majors, and we're definitely not writing the major label thing off, it's just that for this next record we want to do something with a bigger independent, and Vagrant is pretty much as big as you can get. Ideally we'll be able to do everything that we wanna do and we'll never sign to a major. It's just a matter of what you want at a certain time.
AT LEAST YOU WON'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THE WHOLE "SELLING OUT" ISSUE.
Well, I never cared much about that anyway. Actually, we just did an interview with Punk Planet about the whole major label thing.
YEAH, I THINK IT'S A BIG JOKE, TOO. PEOPLE GET TOO UPTIGHT ABOUT IT.
Yeah. Music is music, which I'm learning more and more every day. You get caught up in all these things, but at the end of the day it's still just music.
YOU'RE STILL WORKING HARD EVERYDAY...
Yeah, definitely. It's just that now we're financially stable enough that we don't have to work.
THE NEWER ALBUM, THROUGH BEING COOL, SEEMS LESS AGGRESSIVE THAN CAN'T SLOW DOWN...
Wait 'til the next record. Chris and I are the only original members of the band, and we did that first record when we were still in high school. We were all really urgent and like, "GO, GO, GO" when we played a set. But as we've grown up we've wanted to develop more musically and try more things out. The new stuff we're doing is like the next level of progression from Through Being Cool where it's like a lot more mature, but it's still got the energy of the past records. It's definitely the next step, I guess. When I was in high school I was into Youth of Today and whatever, and while I'll respect that music, today we listen to like Pearl Jam and Simon and Garfunkle. We're just not feeling that urgent about stuff anymore, you know? And I don't wanna sound like a...Like Face to Face, they thrash through their set and they're way older than us, and I think they're great! It's just that for what we want to do it doesn't make sense.
YOU'VE TOURED ALL OVER THE COUNTRY NOW. ARE THERE ANY PARTS OF THE COUNTRY THAT YOU ENJOY PLAYING OR THAT YOU JUST ENJOY BEING IN?
I like California, but I don't know if I could live there. We spent a lot of time out there recently and I just got into the lifestyle; it was great. We love playing anywhere on the east coast, like we just played two shows on the east coast and they both sold out. Florida is really good for us. The mid-west is weird. I don't know how the show tonight is going to be, but hopefully it'll be good. I don't know, this whole area is kind of up and down for us.
HOW WAS KRAZY FEST FOR YOU THIS YEAR?
Oh, Krazy Fest was great. This year was so much better than last year. I didn't know what to expect, 'cause we got there like the morning of the day we were playing and we had all these t-shirts to sell, and by the end of the day like half the crowd was wearing one of our shirts. I was just like, "What's this going to be like?" (Laughs) 'Cause the first year it was like four or five people that knew who we were, but this year it was totally nuts. It was great.
LAST YEAR WAS THE FIRST TIME I HAD SEEN YOU ALL, AND THEN I SAW YOU IN NASHVILLE WITH KIND OF LIKE SPITTING, AND THERE WERE LIKE TEN PEOPLE AT THE SHOW.
Oh God, that show...(Laughs) Dude, that was so uncomfortable. We had booked this ten day tour like a week before, and we ended up playing like three shows in Tennessee and it was just so wack.
YOU GUYS ARE FANS OF KIND OF LIKE SPITTING, RIGHT? AREN'T YOU SUPPOSED TO BE DOING A SPLIT?
Yeah. We're trying hard to get that together but stuff keeps on coming up. Like we're supposed to record it but then it gets pushed back. We're supposed to record a bunch of extra songs when we do this next record and hopefully we'll be able to do that. I love Ben (singer of Kind of Like Spitting), and he has different people in the band every time. We're definitely big fans of them. They're fucking awesome and they're super low key right now. I hope they get more opportunities. The main thing about that band---well, the main thing about our band---is we get lumped in with a lot of bands whose music we don't necessarily enjoy, but people perceive that we do. Like there's a handful of pop punk bands that I actually enjoy and a handful of emo bands. And good music is good music no matter what. Like I see kids with Strung Out shirts buying our stuff, and I've never heard these guys in my life and I'm like, "What the Hell is this?" (Laughs) And I definitely don't discriminate or any of that weird elitist indie rock crap, but it's weird.
I THINK IT'S JUST THAT THERE'S A LITTLE MORE DIVERSITY IN THE SCENE.
Yeah, totally. I mean, the quote "scene" is a weird thing. When I first came to underground music it was a different thing, like there WAS a scene. But now it seems more like just a lot of kids going to shows; there's not like a community, which is good and bad.
ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT THE NEW JERSEY DEVILS WINNING THE STANLEY CUP?
Well...I'm partial to the Rangers. I played hockey all the way up and through high school, but then I decided that I wanted to do a band instead. I actually went to Sweden and Finland to play hockey when I was younger. But actually, I'm not a big fan of the Devils. The sad thing is there is no central area of town, so they had to have the [Stanley Cup celebration] parade in a parking lot. (Laughs)
YOU SEEM TO CATCH A LOT OF SLACK FOR BEING A "CUTE" BAND. DO YOU CARE ABOUT THIS AT ALL?
There's two ways to look at it. One is fuck it; it doesn't matter at all what someone that doesn't like us thinks because no matter what you do they won't like you. And a lot of times that's a sign that there are more people that do like you. When we first started out we would always check all the message boards, and when we found someone talking shit we'd be like, "Yeah! There's someone that cares!" (Laughs) But at the same time I don't feel comfortable with it at all. It was never an intentional thing, but I can definitely see how choices we've made in the past have given us that kind of label. Like, I don't want that to be how people remember us. At the time when were dividing that more, it was kind of a reaction. Like we couldn't fit into the hardcore scene so we decided to just say, "Fuck it" and go against everything that it stands for, or all the negative aspects, anyway. You take the good with the bad, and it's best not to go through life with regrets, but I think as we've progressed it's almost become a conscious effort to disassociate ourselves with that. It's total fuckin' bullshit that none of us care about, and it's kind of upsetting but not really. I try not to think about it.
THERE'S A BUNCH OF RUMORS THAT YOU GUYS ARE "RICH BOY ASSHOLES," BUT WHENEVER I TALK TO YOU GUYS AFTER SHOWS YOU CAN TELL IT'S JUST JEALOUSY OR TYPICAL TRASH TALKING.
There's no answer to that. Like I don't think I'm an asshole (laughs), but obviously some people do. It's hard 'cause if you're in a band that's at whatever level we're at, whether we're big or not, I don't know, people have all these assumptions about you before they meet you, but you're still just a person just like them. And that's the thing, like kids will ask me for my autograph, and it's like, "Why would you ever want my autograph?" But still, I'm not going to be an asshole and be like, "I'm not going to give you my autograph," but I'm just a normal person! (Laughs) We're trying out best just to get through life and I think that's one of the unfortunate things that's come up in the last fifteen or so years, the idea of it being us versus you, and it's not. There's all these arbitrary barriers of communication that have developed. Like just 'cause we grew up and went to private school or that we're young...But a lot of that is jealousy, but I don't know why anyone would need to be jealous in the first place.
SPEAKING OF THE AGE THING, IS IT TIRING HAVING PEOPLE CALLING YOU A "YOUNG BAND?"
No. I just turned 21, but when we first started out we were 17, and we were really pushing that whole, "Fuck you, we don't need older people in the band," or whatever. But now we've kind of grown out of that, too. I like being young and with my friends, you know? And that's all it's about; it's nothing more. There's no real reason we're doing this other than we like it and like being with each other 'cause we're all friends. And it's great that we're able to make money off it, but it ends tomorrow we've enjoyed what we've done for now.
I'VE GATHERED FROM WHAT I'VE READ THAT YOU'RE ALL PRETTY MUCH HAPPY IN WHERE YOU ARE, BUT DOES ANYONE HAVE ANY PLANS OF GOING BACK TO SCHOOL OR ANYTHING?
At least twice a week someone will be like, "I just wanna be in school," and someone else'll be like, "You do?!" But to that they're usually like, "Well, I guess not." (Laughs) I went to art school for a year and it was cool but I didn't really figure out myself, and that sounds so new age (laughs). We're learning a lot just doing this, but at some point we could go back to school. It's just going really well now, but anyone's free to leave at any time.
HOW WAS THE WARPED TOUR?
It was cool. We only did a week, but we got a real feel of what it must be like to be on the whole thing. But it was cool 'cause some bands we're friends with like Snapcase and Hot Water Music were there, so it was just a lot of hanging out. It went really well; Texas is doing really well for us now, so that was cool. All the shows were in Tennessee and Texas. It was fun; like all these bands that you grow up listening to, even if you don't necessarily listen to them anymore, they're eating dinner next to you. It's like, "Oh, there's Fat Mike of NOFX, and there's the Green Day guy." (Laughs)
HOW'S THIS TOUR (FACE TO FACE/ALKALINE TRIO/SAVES THE DAY) GOING SO FAR?
It's going really well. We did that H20 tour, but this is like a much better planned version of that tour. (Laughs) Like pretty much every show has been sold out. Sometimes we tour with bands that I don't necessarily think we fit into real well with, but we're good friends with and respect each other. It's really cool that Face to Face took us out; it's a great opportunity. This level of shows is so huge, like they have this bus, and we play ridiculously huge places. And everything is taken care of for you, all we have to do is go out an play. Then we'll go out on our own we'll have to call the day before and be like, "Is the show still on?" (Laughs)
HOW WAS THE TOUR WITH H20?
It was cool. H20 is much more into hanging out than Face to Face are. Face to Face are really nice, but the H20 tour was more of a throw down thing. And we come from such different worlds than H20 that it was really cool to make that connection.
HAVE YOU HUNG OUT MUCH WITH THE ALKALINE TRIO ON THIS TOUR? I HEAR THEY'RE BIG BOWLING FANS...
Yeah. (Laughs) Actually, we pretty much stay in the same hotel with them each night, we go out with them every night, and on long drives we'll drive with them, like some of our guys will go in their van. We became really quick friends with them, which is awesome. Some nights Matt comes out and helps us sing parts of songs. But they are big bowling fans! Like we were at some show, and it was really weird because bowling came on the TV and all of them just sat there, really attentively watching it. (Laughs) And I was like, "This is weird," 'cause New Jersey bowling is like nothing. It was kind of like this weird stereotype of Chicago. It was funny.
ARE YOU GOING TO MAKE ANY MORE VIDEOS?
We're just so pissed off at how the last one came out, 'cause it was just another nail in the coffin of that perception of us, so we were like, "Fuck this." The next video will be for out next record, and our friend Mike, who has this really great design sense and he's done commercials for MTV and stuff, is going to do it. But maybe we won?īt do another one, I don't know. If we do it'll be for the right reasons, but I hate talking about videos. (Laughs) It was weird, but our label was pushing to do it. We couldn't figure out why we were doing it, and it cost us a lot of money, too. (Laughs) And that's just money, but it's still silly.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT NAPSTER?
I don't know. Face to Face apparently likes it 'cause Napster's sponsoring the tour, but we're getting nothing out of it. But actually I think it's naive to assume that it's completely fine, but on the other hand I don't give a fuck. I've never used it, but it's a cool way for people to get hard to get stuff. I have no ill will towards Napster. People are kind of looking for controversy in the world, and it's just another outlet. It doesn't really matter; that's my opinion.
(Some really annoying girls come up asking for autographs)
Some really annoying girl: Hi! Can I have your autograph?
Uh, no comment, but yeah you can! (Laughs)
Annoying girl: Where's Chris at?
I don't know.
Annoying girl: Can I get your picture?
I'm actually kind of busy. I'm doing an interview.
Annoying girl: Ah, come on!
(They take the picture and leave)
DO YOU GET THAT A LOT?
Yeah, the other day I almost had a nervous break down in Massachusetts. Like there were four thousand people, and I was already so stressed and I was like, "I can't hang with this." It's just too much in one day. I was trying to talk to my friend that I hadn't seen in like six months and there were all these kids and it was too much. I had this really weird panic attack, but I don't care. It kind of bothers me if I'm obviously busy with something, but I'm not going to make anyone look like an idiot or make me look like an asshole. It's funny, though. (Laughs) There's you something to write about!
HOW DO YOU ENTERTAIN YOURSELVES WHILE ON TOUR?
That sounds so like, porno style. (Laughs) We drink a lot and hang out with other bands. Like in the van everybody sleeps all day while one person drives. I basically read a ridiculous amount of books. It's funny 'cause there's like different clubs in the band. Like the arts and entertainment club; they'll go to the van and listen to five Beatles records in a row really high. It's really fucking annoying to see, but they'll do that. (Laughs) Everyone has their own niche, basically. It can be boring and really exciting at the same time. I never would have thought that I'd be doing this.