Unstable Decibels

Unstable Decibels: Say Anything

Say Anything frontman Max Bemis talks about his favorite current and classic comics, his reading habits, his music and more.



By Blake Garris

Say Anything has been tearing up the pop punk scene since forming in 2000. With three albums already under their belts and a growing legion of fans, Say Anything's self-titled album"—said to be their catchiest and most mature to date—arrives on November 3. 

Max Bemis of Say Anything, photo by Noah Kalina
And while frontman Max Bemis has been rocking out with Say Anything for nearly 10 years, he was born to perform. He was the baby featured on the cover and poster of the Coen Brothers' film "Raising Arizona" and has an uncredited role as an altar boy in John Woo's "Face/Off." Fortunately for music fans, movies fell to the wayside. And before, during and after his rise to superstardom, Bemis has been a tried and true Marvel Comics fan. We recently got the opportunity to talk with Max about Say Anything's upcoming record, omnibuses and good ol' Captain America.

Marvel.com: Okay to start, I read somewhere that you have so many comics that you have to store some of them in your manager's office. Explain that for me.

Max Bemis: Well, I grew up reading comics. But getting a trade or a graphic novel was always a big deal for me; I had to save my allowance up for like three weeks when I was 12. I read comics all through high school and got obsessed with music and sort of shifted focus. About four years ago I started having reoccurring dreams where I was in a huge comic store with access to any book I wanted. I literally couldn't stop dreaming about comics! Anyway, when I got a record deal I basically bought every graphic novel there is and have spent the last half-decade catching up with continuity (in order) and discovering all the gems that the industry produced recently and even when I was young. I have a huge library of graphic novels (no individual issues; sorry comic industry) and have pretty much everything (good) you could imagine. This has made me 100 percent more joyful in life and about 75 percent poorer.

I've also begun to write my own comics, but that probably won't get thrown into the public eye for a while because I'm a perfectionist.

Marvel.com: What made you get into comics?

Say Anything, photo by Noah Kalina
Max Bemis: I have a strong moral backbone but I'm a pretty screwed up guy. So like every reader, I can easily relate to the archetypal comic hero, or even villain once and a while. I'm also pretty existential of a thinker, so I love smart comics… I try to alternate between say, the Invisibles or Brian Wood's indie work, and something beefed up and fun ala Geoff Johns or SECRET INVASION. I love graphic novels even more than real books and truly believe the medium allows for a butt-load of artistic expression due to how it can play with certain imagery and symbolism to do something that is actually profound.

Marvel.com: What are some of the most prized possessions in your collection?

Max Bemis: I love restored hardcover editions of great books. I have basically every omnibus or Absolute you could imagine. The out of print NEW X-MEN omnibus or an old edition of From Hell may not be worth anywhere near that of an old individual issue, but I just love the feel of them. I keep everything in great condition but I'm more of an addictive reader than a collector. I treat them like my kids, either way.

Marvel.com: Are you reading any specific Marvel stories right now?

Max Bemis: Marvel is my home no matter how obsessed I am with other books and high fallutin' "indie" comics. I am obsessed with what Bendis, Brubaker and Fraction have brought to the Marvel Universe. It's amazing that the "new wave" of comics is generally about intellect and cathartic excitement and great ideas, instead of how bloody or how many pouches you can fit on a comic character's waist. I buy every Marvel trade that comes out every week. Out of the hundreds of titles I love and read, the last Marvel arc I really flipped out over was the first INVINCIBLE IRON MAN arc by Fraction. So fun and good.

Marvel.com: What are your all time favorite Marvel stories?

Say Anything, photo by Joel Faurote
Max Bemis:
Well I grew up reading all the old faithful Claremont and Miller X-MEN Comics, all the way up through the much maligned nineties. I loved everything I read back then. It may make me a less credible fanboy to not say Stan and Jack are the end all be all, but I have to say Brubaker's CAPTAIN AMERICA work is my favorite Marvel story. That and Bendis's DAREDEVIL run sucked me right back into super hero comics when I thought I'd be living off Vertigo for the rest of my life.

Marvel.com: While we're on the topic of artists and writers, do you have any other favorites?

Max Bemis: My current obsession is Grant Morrison. Brubaker, Brian Wood, Bendis, Alan Moore, Peter David, Joe Casey, Greg Rucka, Warren Ellis, Fraction and Neil Gaiman are all great. As for artists, Guy Davis, Michael Lark, Leinil Yu, Brian Bolland, Mike Allred are wonderful but the list could go on and on.

Marvel.com: What about favorite Marvel characters?

Max Bemis: New Cap for president! Ironically, I'm also a steadfast supporter of Tony Stark. I never even wanted him to get knocked off for his sins. Let the man get his sheet together! He's a winner.

Marvel.com: Besides Say Anything, your other band Two Tongues has another comic book fan in it (Chris Conley of Saves The Day). Do the two of you ever talk comics?

Max Bemis: We both got back into reading around the same time and he got me into newer DC universe stuff (Identity Crisis et al). Sorry guys, I also read DC, despite my natural bias. I think there's a lot of potential in that camp despite how people constantly complain about continuity etc. Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison have been doing some rad stuff there.

Say Anything, photo by Noah Kalina

Marvel.com: What's been going on with Two Tongues?

Max Bemis: We are going to tour at some point over the next year, I believe, and definitely make more records!

Marvel.com: Let's talk a little about Say Anything now. What does the rest of the band think about your comic addiction?

Max Bemis: Some understand it more than others but they all have to deal with me hauling around boxes and boxes of books on every tour. Certainly they can't ignore it!

Marvel.com: Do you think comics, music and lyrics have anything in common?

Max Bemis: Of course... They are normally associated with cheesy douchebaggery, but in reality they have the potential to change lives and be truly transcendent tools of changing the way people think through an accessible medium.

Marvel.com: Can you tell people any secrets about the new album?

Max Bemis: Well, funny you ask, because it's basically a comic book in audio form. It's about the transformation of a neurotic insecure guy into a grown man with both great power and great responsibility. Sort of an uplifting, fun thing with a lot of gravity to it.

Cover to Say Anything's self-titled album
It's our first record with a bigger producer and he's helped me distill what's great about Say Anything into one self-titled, huge-sounding rock record. I describe it as the Beatles meets Botch meets Woody Allen. I think our real fans will be pleased and those who haven't heard us will be introduced easily into what we are through what is our more mature work to date. Buy that sheet!

Oh and if you like comics but don't know who we are, Jeff Smith did all the art for our last record, so buy that too!

Marvel.com: Besides the new record, what's next for Max Bemis and Say Anything?

Max Bemis: Just got married, so being very happily into that… ummm... Beginning to focus more on writing comics and actually do something with what I've written during the course of this next album cycle. It will at least help that my last name looks and sounds a lot like Bendis. Maybe a few people well get confused and pick up my first indie book.

Marvel.com: Any famous last words?

Max Bemis: Thanks Marvel, you're my first love!

For more information on Say Anything, the self-titled album (on sale November 3) or when they might be coming to your area, visit www.sayanythingmusic.com. You can also follow Max Bemis and Say Anything on Twitter!


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I love Say Anything! Glad to know the singer likes comics, I'm definitely check out their new album and that comic book when Max get's that going.