A Dream Work

Interview with Chris Conley

A Dream Work by Daniel Taylor 2003 Synthesis.net

According to Saves the Day frontman, songwriter and now guitarist Chris Conley, the band's jump from ?şber-indie record label Vagrant to the massive multi-faceted entertainment behemoth DreamWorks for their recently released fourth album, In Reverie, was as much of a surprise to him as it was to the band's fans. We made this album for Vagrant. They paid for the studio and put us up in an apartment, and this album was supposed to come out on Vagrant, explains Conley. But what happened was, after we finished recording the album, we knew it was our last album for Vagrant, so we brought in other labels to hear what we'd done, to see if they wanted to work with us. And all the labels liked it so much, they wanted to put out this album; they wanted to buy it from Vagrant. And out of those suitors, DreamWorks made the offer the band couldn't refuse. DreamWorks heard it and they just wanted to work with us as soon as possible. Translation: they were willing to do whatever was necessary to put the DreamWorks stamp on In Reverie.

One listen to In Reverie and the foaming label interest becomes understandable. Building on the strangely subdued punk-meets-emo-meets-alternative feel of their previous releases, Stay What You Are and Through Being Cool, In Reverie shows what very well may be the future face of rock. Conley's songwriting, always the band's strongpoint, reaches new heights on the album, and the band as a whole has made a decided leap forward, musically speaking. Conley says any changes you hear are simply the result of taking the time to follow the muse. We never deliberately made any changes; the music started to change by itself and we just kind of followed it where it was leading us. I think one of the reasons that this album is more textured sonically, is that we had more time. We had two months to record this album. The last album we did in a month, and Through Being Cool we did in 11 days.

However, there is another reason for the band's slight change in sound. After going through more than a few lineup changes over the years, Conley decided to take matters into his own hands and became singer/guitarist, a title he couldn't be happier about.

It's actually much more comfortable for me; it feels much more natural, says Conley about his newly guitar-addled state. I've always played guitar. When I wasn't playing on stage, I was always playing on the bus or in the hotel room. So it's comforting for me to have a guitar. Especially onstage, I feel so much more relaxed. The six-string was not the only instrument Conley found in the making of In Reverie. The most striking aspect of the album upon first listen is Conley's voice, which has become as unique as the band's sound. The frontman himself seems rather proud of his newfound vocal prowess. I think it was because we've toured so much, I've been forced to figure out how to use my voice better, says Conley. This is just the first album where I've really settled into my vocal delivery; found my instrument so to speak.

With sales of In Reverie set to eclipse those of previous Saves the Day albums, one might think the band may be concerned with the perception of the dreaded sell-out label. Not the case, however. Conley warmly welcomes any and all exposure the band gets, so long as it's on their terms.

I'd like to get the music out there to as many people as possible, proclaims Conley. I'm not against selling a million records. It's not for the money, it's not for the fame. We spent a long time building up a fan base and we just want to continue to build it. We're not going to try to write songs to get on MTV, but if it happens by itself, I'll welcome it. The band better start practicing their hellos.