RAGGED Exclusive: Say Anything: Against the Machine


October 26, 2011

Straight from the pages of the new issue of RAGGED, we’re thrilled to give you an exclusive excerpt from our featured story with Say Anything! Be sure to grab the full issue download (for free!) for the rest of the article and more photos with Max. (Full issue download here!)


Politics is a tough racket to get into. In the midst of the talking heads shouting at one another, how can you make it seem like you know what the hell you’re talking about and still somehow impress that cutie at the coffee shop who’s always reading Emma Goldman? What’s the best way to show off your intellectual curiosity without coming off like a biased blowhard? Quit your worrying, friends, because Say Anything’s Max Bemis has proposed a solution: anarchy.

Formed in Los Angeles in 2000, from the onset Say Anything has drawn from experience to write albums that explore a tumultuous existence plagued by crumbling relationships and false realities. But with the band’s sixth album, Anarchy, My Dear, Bemis turns his focus outwards and questions the government’s ability to reconcile the current issues with society. Throughout the album, Bemis reveals his disillusionment with politics as he urges people to be true to themselves and focus on “what’s right” rather than “who’s on the Right.”

RAGGED caught up with Bemis and talked to him about the new album and his upcoming set at Voodoo, and got stumped by his top-secret plans for the future.



Anarchy, My Dear comes across as more politically charged than your previous albums. Can you talk a little bit about that shift in tone?

Max Bemis: Over the course of the years preceding writing the record, I had gone through a big life change and sort of left behind a lot of the self-destructive tendencies that were serving as a narrative of my life for many years. What became important [for me]to write about shifted from what was wrong with me to what’s going on with the world. And I’m actually not a politically aware person at all. I have basic principles that I stand by and I would be properly or classically labeled as an “anarchist” because I just don’t care. I try to make things for myself in my own world and look out for other people that I care about in the world around me—-and that’s about it. That’s the perspective that I took writing a political record: how can someone that knows nothing about politics but feels passionate about the world write a record that’s about society?

And it seems noble not to buy into any ideology and instead just go forward with what you think is right.

Yeah, I hope so. At least it’s the right thing for me. I have a lot of respect for people on both ends of the spectrum. People who are in the Occupy movement or rallying for gay rights, I really respect people who immerse themselves in It. Or even people on the other side who fight for our country—-although I don’t believe in war or fighting—-I still respect the reasons why someone would become a soldier and defend the United States. But at the same time, I can’t live my life in either of those stratospheres. It just feels hypocritical because of how I feel about the world and it just seems too convenient for me to put myself in one of those boxes.

Well, now that you’re taking these songs to Voodoo, what would you tell someone who hasn’t seen you perform live before to expect?

I would just say that we’re probably going to appeal to a really visceral and cathartic experience. I find that even with a lot of my favorite bands, when I see them live it seems pretty calculated and I think there’s room for people who enjoy the punk spirit and energy mixed with a sense of irony and puke. There’s not much of that because you’re either one or the other. You’re either putting on a great show but you’re a douche or you’re just standing there staring at your shoes. So, we try to ride that line.

Is there anybody at Voodoo that you’re looking forward to seeing perform live?

Neil Young. That’s it for me. I actually don’t really know who’s playing besides Neil Young and I really, desperately want to see him.

(Continued in the new issue of RAGGED…)



posted by Staff