Skratch's Interview with Chris Conley

Interview with Chris Conley

Oct 2004

It hasn't felt like a long time at all, but it really has been when you look back. Saves the Day have been putting out music for a long time since the mid '90s, to be exact. They already have recorded four full-length albums, and they have just released UPS & DOWNS: EARLY RECORDINGS AND B-SIDES, an album that takes you on a trip that chronicles everything from their early demo days to more recent songs that just never made the full-lengths.

The man who has been in the driver's seat through it all has been vocalist, guitarist Chris Conley. Chris was gracious enough to recently discuss a little bit of everything with me, including his thoughts on the new B-sides album, what exactly happened with IN REVERIE, their taste of the spotlight, and what to look forward to on their next full-length.

SKRATCH: How did the idea and concept come about to release UPS & DOWNS: EARLY RECORDINGS AND B-SIDES?

CHRIS: We've been talking about putting out a rarities CD for awhile, and now just seemed like the right time, because we were thinking about taking some time off the road and that it would be a good thing for our fans to have something to hold them over while we write new material.

SKRATCH: Did you ever think Saves the Day would get to a point where you would be releasing an album full of early recordings and B-sides?

CHRIS: It's kind of funny, because it doesn't feel like we've been around that long. Then I listen to some of these recordings like, the one Sefler song and I'm, like, 15 years old, and that's just kind of funny hearing where we were at and the kind of kids we were, having no clue about anything. We definitely never envisioned having fans and people coming to our shows and singing along. It's kind of been amazing, because we never expected any of that stuff to happen. It's definitely been a satisfying thing, so it's nice to be in a spot where we have a broad-enough fan base to be able to release a kind of retrospective album.

SKRATCH: So would you say this album is really for the fans, when it comes down to it?

CHRIS: Well, this is only for the fans. I almost wouldn't want any new person to come to our band and just hear this record. This is just for the people who know the music we've made over the years.

SKRATCH: Was putting together this album a nostalgic experience for you, considering you wrote the liner notes in the CD booklet about each song and were looking back on the history of the band?

CHRIS: Yeah, it was a lot of fun. There were some really great times along the way. It was a lot of fun remembering old times and things I hadn't remembered, which came back to me as I was writing things down, just thinking about the recording process for each song. It's nice to get to share those times with the fans.

SKRATCH: So what is the next full-length going to offer? I recently read on your Website that the fans can expect the rock to be delivered. Is this album going to see a little more of that CAN'T SLOW DOWN style of music come back and less of the mellow approach that was on IN REVERIE?

CHRIS: Well, it won't be as fast as CAN'T SLOW DOWN, because we don't have that in our blood anymore [...] It just doesn't feel as natural. I think the thing that made IN REVERIE seem less powerful was just the performance. We didn't deliver as a band. I don't think the songs alone would have made people think twice about the record if the delivery would have been there with a lot of power behind it [...] I think that's what's going to come back on the new record: a little bit more fire.

SKRATCH: Why was that fire lost, and why didn't you guys deliver when recording IN REVERIE?

CHRIS: It was a more methodical recording experience. We were just trying to get everything done. We would record this part, and then we would move on and record the next part, and so on. We weren't really focusing on putting everything we had into every little performance. But that's how you learn. You go into the studio and you try things one way, and the next time you realize that you have to do it a little differently.

SKRATCH: As you attempt to progress and evolve musically from one album to the next, does it become increasingly difficult to find ways to do that?

CHRIS: Well, you know what? I've never once deliberately tried to change the style of music. It all just happens as we evolve as people and as our musical tastes have evolved and as our musical abilities have evolved. It's all been a very natural, gradual process. It all really has just flowed in a natural evolution. [...] Because all of our albums are all so different, people say all the time, What the hell are they doing? But it's not intentional. The new songs are just so different already. It's not like I'm trying to make them different: they just come out different because I'm just at a different point in my life.

SKRATCH: The majority of your lyrics are (as you describe them in the liner notes of UPS & DOWNS: EARLY RECORDINGS AND B-SIDES) "poetic images inspired by emotions." As you grow as a person, do you find yourself writing more about real events in your life?

CHRIS: I write about real things in my life, but the stories in the song never happened. The story is always made up, but the emotion that creates the image [...] is something that is very real. Lyrically, I always try to evolve a little bit, because I hate doing the same thing old thing. I just have to think about different things, because I'm going through different things, things I've never felt before. Life keeps unfolding, so the songs are just evolving, in that sense. Lyrically, the style is just kind of evolving with me as a person. But sometimes I intentionally do have to try to find new ways of expressing myself, because certain things get old. But that's the fun of it.

SKRATCH: A few years ago, when STAY WHAT YOU ARE came out, you guys experienced a taste of the mainstream success by opening for Blink-182 and Green Day on the Pop Disaster Tour. What was it like playing in front of a different crowd? Was that really a drastic change for you?

CHRIS: That was far out. [We had been] playing music [...] to 20 people in a basement in New Jersey five or six years earlier, and now all of a sudden we are in front of 20,000 to 30,000 people a night. That was a drastic difference, in terms of the venues [...] but it was still just us playing. [It was] just a little more bizarre to be in front of that many people. It just gives you a different perspective on performance, because those big venues have a different atmosphere and a different kind of dynamic. You, in turn, have to perform differently, because people in the back can't feel that energy like you can in a small club, where everybody can feel the energy. So that was different. It was interesting to learn another side of performance.

SKRATCH: After all these years of being in Saves the Day, what is the one aspect you enjoy the most about being in the band?

CHRIS: The one thing that I love most is that I actually get to play music for my living. My lifestyle is living music, which [...] I am so fortunate and blessed to be able to enjoy. I don't have to work another job. I'm so blessed to play guitar as my job. That is just the most amazing thing to me. I don't think that many people get to do what they love. And I don't know how long this is going to last or how much longer I'll get to do this, but, for the time being, I just feel so fortunate and so lucky to be in this position.

Saves the Day is currently writing new material for their next full-length album, which they hope to release next summer. UPS & DOWNS: EARLY RECORDINGS AND B-SIDES is currently available through Vagrant Records.