Words: Miljan Milekić
For the past twenty years or so, emo and pop punk went from underground to the stellar heights and back a few times. Many new bands took their place in the scene, some of the old ones disappeared, but there were a few names that were a constant. One of those is Saves The Day. Since 1997, the Chris Conley-fronted band released nine albums, countless other releases and stayed one of the household names in the scene. With their latest effort, ‘9’ they once again showed what they are made from, and we teamed up with Chris to hear it firsthand. Check it out!
Hey guys! First of all, welcome back, it’s good to see you coming back with the new record. So, how does it feel to be back on track and firing on all cylinders again?
Chris: It feels amazing to be back on the road in support of our new album ‘9.’ The new songs are so fun to play live, and we are all excited to tour the world and sing along with our fans and play with amazing bands.
Five years is quite some time without a record, especially in this era when everything happens so fast in the music industry. What is the main reason for such a gap, and how was it to be back in the studio?
Chris: Time flies when you’re having fun! We have been touring a ton over the last few years playing colleges and festivals and concerts abroad, and we never had a chance to get back into the studio until last September. Oddly enough, it doesn’t feel like it’s been five years since we released our self-titled record, but we had a blast making the new album, and it was a thrill to bring all these songs to life together last Fall.
‘9’ is already looking big, with singles slowly, but surely catching steam. Are you happy with the reactions so far from your fans? Does it get you even more pumped up for the album release?
Chris: Yes, we are incredibly excited about how our fans are responding to the new music! We even mention a few of our fans by name in the second song ‘Suzuki,’ so it’s safe to say that we love our fans and we wouldn’t be anywhere without them. We played an in-store at Grimey’s in Nashville on release day, and it was a joy to sing the new songs and meet our fans and hear how much they’re loving the new album. We feel like the luckiest band in the world to get to keep making music after over twenty years, so it’s a dream beyond dreams, to be sure.
In your opinion, and comparing it to the previous work, where does ‘9’ stand in your career musically, lyrically, and creatively? From your own point of view, what’s the biggest difference between this record and the older ones?
Chris: This record is a combination of everything I’ve learned over the last 21 years in Saves The Day, along with all the training in creative writing that I received in prep school in Princeton and in college at NYU. It feels good to be able to craft smart and fun songs with interesting introspective lyrics, and it’s an absolute pleasure for me to write both the music and the words and to put it all together to make a great record for our fans to enjoy. I feel really good about the material on this album, and I think it’s the best work I’ve done so far. I can’t wait to see where the next twenty years take us and what kind of albums we’ll be making in the not-so-distant future.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is the first time after 2001 that you recorded two albums in a row with the same lineup. How much can the constancy help to build chemistry in the studio?
Chris: Yes, this is the longest by far that I’ve ever had a lineup together in Saves The Day, and it feels amazing. I love my bandmates Arun, Rodrigo, and Dennis. They are like brothers to me, and before them, I never felt entirely at home in the band. At times there were creative struggles when I would be growing as a musician at a rate that outpaced certain members of the band. With Arun, Rod, and Dennis it’s like a dream come true, making music with talented, sophisticated musicians who can anticipate my every move, and add a bit of musical magic into the mix on each song I bring to the band.
Arun has been in the band for ten years now, and Rod will have been in the band for ten years this coming January; plus Dennis will pass the five-year point next April. The longest I had a lineup together before this was only two and a half years, so we’ve more than doubled that length of time playing together and learning to grow as a unit. Our chemistry in the studio is palpable, and the joy and enthusiasm we have playing with one another comes across on the records and comes through the speakers every time I spin the albums we’ve made together. They are the best, and I wouldn’t want to do it without them.
You were always wearing your heart on a sleeve, and you kept doing it on the new record. However, got the impression that the new record is carrying a more positive and upbeat vibe comparing to earlier works. Was it intentional, or it’s a natural part of your growth as musicians and songwriters?
Chris: Thank God it’s a natural part of my personal evolution! What a world we live in, wouldn’t you say? Sometimes it’s really hard to keep your head above the water when the waves of life keep coming and coming and tossing you to and fro, but I’m a father, and a son, and a friend, so it’s important to me to be the best I can be so I can be a positive influence on the people around me. It just feels better being more balanced and prepared for the ups and downs that inevitably come from living in a world that’s still figuring itself out. We’re all in this together, and to be strong and healthy is the most important thing for us all to do so that we can make the most of our time together on this beautiful planet Earth.
Soon, hit the road with the US tour starting in a few days. What do you expect from the shows, and how is it to finally include new songs in your setlist?
Chris: The new songs are so fun to play live! They blend in really well with the old songs, and we’ve constructed a setlist that has music from every single album, so it’s amazing to feel how well they all hold together as Saves songs. It’s nice to be 21 years into being Saves The Day and for things to finally start to really come together in a cohesive and rewarding way. It’s a gift to get to play for our fans and to share the stage with such incredible musicians and incredible bands. I can’t believe it sometimes how unreal it all seems, and I feel like the luckiest guy in the entire world to be up on stage singing these songs every night. What a joy! Thank you so much for wanting to do the interview! We can’t wait to come overseas and rock some sweet sets at festivals and concert halls all across the globe!