In the midst of Say Anything’s North American tour supporting their third album, In Defense of the Genre, I had the chance to sit down with the guitarist Alex Kent and the keyboardist/vocalist Parker Case of Los Angeles’ unique and genuine emo band.
How’s it going guys?
Alex Kent: Cold! We are freezing; it’s so cold here! This is the coldest I have ever been in my whole life!
Parker Case: Alex bought $10 socks.
Alex: And $12 long johns. I’m not wearing them right now though.
Well, at least you’ve got the right gear. So, most people in the media would say that you guys have a really distinct sound. That you’re of the bands that actually stand out amongst all the cookie-cutter bands out there. What does it feel like being part of a band like that?
Alex: I feel proud. Sometimes you realize it, sometimes you don’t, because there are a lot of sh—- bands. And I’m not trying to sound like I am sitting on a high horse or anything, but there are a lot of sh—- bands, not to name any. I love the music we play, I love everything about it. But, you know, there are lots of insecurities, so something you think is, “wait, are we being grouped with this type of music or this type of music?” When really, we sometimes kind of know that we are good; we listen to a song that another band will play, it doesn’t have the intensity, the raw food, and that’s kind of what makes a band a good band. Integrity, athletics, all that.
The new album is called In Defense of the Genre. Is it more of a standout title because of rebellion or are you guys actually fighting for something?
Alex: It’s in defense of the genre, the genre of being emo. I mean, we are an emo band, we do it well, and we are defending it! A lot of us grew up listening to whatever was playing whenever emo became a genre. I mean sh–, Coby’s rocking to all the latest New Found Glory. And, we’re defending it because we know that people just give it a hard time. Whether it’s the high school junior with the varsity letterman jacket dressing up as an emo kid for Halloween or people wearing T-shirts that say, “I’m emo, I’m going to kill myself.” It goes from music to culture, in my opinion at least. We’re defending it.
Parker: Like flannel in the ’90s.
Parker: But then it became cliche. And now no one does it anymore.
You don’t think Emo is going to go that way? Become cliche and then, just end?
Parker: Well all those bands that were then, and did the flannel thing were bands that are still good bands. I think this genre will be looked at the same way. I think it takes time to see that, you know.
Alex: There will be certain bands.
Parker: Nirvana is greater than Candlebox.
(Coby (drummer) in the background: “I don’t know about that man! (Laughs)”)
(Laughs) Since I have both of you here, do you guys feel that your lead singer Max gets more attention than you guys because he’s the vocalist and usually has a lot of stuff going on?
Parker, Alex: Of course!
Parker: But he can also answer most of these questions way more in depth. Like: “Why is the album called In Defense of the Genre?”
Alex: Max named it, so . . .
Parker: We understand it.
You don’t feel left out?
Parker: Well, we’re a part of it.
Alex: It is the singer/songwriter parts of the singer/songwriter curves. But then again, it’s a band. I can’t think of an example of a singer/songwriter and then the name of the band is his name. And then it’s just like you know . . .
Parker: Backup band.
Alex: We definitely have a band format. We are formatted as young, talented, good-looking musicians.
As a band, you’ve been through a lot in the past three years, (what with Max and his being diagnosed with bi-polar affective disorder) what has been a good motivator for you personally, through all of that?
Parker: I think we are pretty good friends. That makes it easier.
Alex: I guess when you are seeing the reactions of fans, and knowing that you are influencing people, hopefully inspiring them. Like when I used to go see Less than Jake in concert, I would go home and think about it for months on end. I’m hoping, I mean, I’m not sure, but hoping that I am doing the same for these kids.
Parker: It’s weird too because, I listened to this band before I was ever in it. If you had asked me when I first heard Is a Real Boy, if I would ever think I would be in that band, of course I would say no.
From an outside perspective, it’s easier for me to look at the music and look at the whole thing, and be like “it’s good.” Knowing the band’s music before you join, it’s different, you know. I know it’s good, I’ve heard it from an outside perspective. I’ve heard it up against a lot of other things equally, without giving it special attention.
Alex: Like, we met at a subway station. Seriously.
So it worked out well that you came into the band after it was already formed. Alex, you especially have that example because of your previous band.
Alex: I went on tour with my other band with Say Anything. It was the same because I became friends with Max and Coby and would hang out with them off of tour. So it was like I was hanging out with my friends, but it was also different because I was a huge . . . Is a Real Boy fan. I got the record when I was on tour with them and then we played at their CD release party. So, it was a culmination of a lot of different things, especially music that really inspired and influenced me. And that’s another reason I can sit here and you ask me what makes Say Anything different from a cookie-cutter band, well I know that we’re good because I was a huge fan before I ever joined.
It sounds so cocky but at the same time, as Parker said, we listened to it before we joined it, we were fans of it ourselves. You know?
What’s next? Do you feel like it’s dwindling or that you’ve really just scratched the surface?
Alex: Not even close. Not even close to dwindling!
Parker: If anyone ever felt it was dwindling, for any reason, they would do something about it. I’m not scared about that. You know? Like if you felt something, you would say something?
Alex: There are so many songs on the album. Twenty-seven songs, we’ve only played like five or six. Hopefully by the end of the year, we’ll be playing them all. I think that’s what’s next for us, to really dive into this album, but at the same time, we’re not going to let as much time pass by like we did with Is a Real Boy and In Defense of the Genre because that was over three years between release dates. We’re definitely not going to let that much time pass by. I think we accomplished what we wanted to accomplish and we’ll keep on going from there.