Saves The Day
Into It Over It, Hostage Calm
9081 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90069
Saves The Day
Life has its share of ups and downs and no one knows that better than Saves The Day frontman Chris Conley. For the past seventeen years Conley has been bearing his soul and reinventing his musical identity with each successive step, a process that is clearly culminating with Saves The Day's seventh full-length Daybreak. The third part of a trilogy that also includes 2006’s Sound The Alarm and 2007’s Under The Boards, the act’s latest disc sees Conley moving past the anger and frustration that has defined the band’s last two albums and rediscovering a sense of wonder with the world that he can’t wait to share with his listeners.
Daybreak is also the first Saves The Day album to feature guitarist Arun Bali, bassist Rodrigo Palma and drummer Spencer Peterson (the latter of whom was replaced by Claudio Rivera shortly after the album was completed) and Conley insists that his band’s participation and encouragement was integral to the final product. “This album wouldn’t have been as good as it is now if we had put it out two years ago and I think the reason for that is because there’s a renewed energy in the band with this new line-up,” Conley explains, adding that many of these songs were initially recorded in 2009 with the band’s previous line-up but never felt right to him. “I feel like I have a united group for the first time ever and that feels like a gift.”
That transformed spirit is evident in every note of Daybreak (which was co-produced by the band and longtime collaborator Marc Hudson) from the ten-minute long, five-movement self-titled opener to instantly infectious pop gems like “Let It Go” and “Living Without Love.” That said, Daybreak also sees the band stretching out musically on the middle-eastern-inflected “Chameleon” and incorporating full-fledged guitar solos on “Deranged & Desperate.” “This album is so much more musical [then the past two albums] because my heart was coming back to life while I was writing this and I was starting to be okay with myself,” Conley explains. “In a way I was in the same mindset that I was in when I wrote [2003’s major-label debut] In Reverie. I felt like I was on cloud nine.”
Conley’s positive outlook took a dejected turn shortly after In Reverie’s touring cycle ended, due to both external and internal pressures—and the making of this trilogy is as much an artistic statement as it is a chronicle of Conley’s own cathartic journey from the depths of his own insecurity into accepting himself and the world for what they are. “I was so angry when I wrote Sound The Alarm and then I was looking back on all these situations with Under The Boards,” Conley explains, adding that a major turning point in his outlook was catalyzed by the recent birth of his daughter. “I didn’t want her to face the world the way I faced the world which was fighting, kicking and screaming so I decided I was going to bring myself back to life with this album.”
This therapeutic journey is evident on every song on Daybreak, mostly literally on tracks like “1984,” which starts with the Under The Boards-esque statement “I’m dead inside and dying every day,” but quickly resolves into “I need your love/I’m trying to rise above/I need you to bring me back to life,” during the song’s chorus. “I recognize what happened to me and now that I lived through it I can look back on it which is why I think the music breathes more on this album,” he explains. “The songs feel more expansive because there wasn’t the anger or confusion that dominated the first two albums in the trilogy,” he continues. “Daybreak feels like a huge sigh of relief to me.”
Conley is also quick to point out that despite its serious subject matter and introspective nature, he actually had a good time making Daybreak. “Trying to tie all of those strange themes and currents and raw emotions from Sound The Alarm and Under The Boards was an absolute a blast,” he says. “I had a huge chart where I listed all of the lyrics I had compiled for this album as well as the past two and I was drawing lines from one song to another; writing Daybreak was like trying to finish a screen play because I had to take all of these themes that just flowed out of me and through organizing this thoughts I was also able to make sense of my life.”
The word Conley says most while describing Daybreak is “acceptance”—and whether you’ve followed his music since Saves The Day’s hardcore-inflected ‘90s output or are a recent convert to the band, you’ll still be able to enjoy the album as a singular statement on what it means to let go. “This feels like I’ve wrapped up a chapter in my life and now I’m faced with a new beginning,” Conley says. “I can honestly say that I couldn’t be more excited about the future of this band.”
Into It Over It
Evan Thomas Weiss is more than just a singer-songwriter; he’s a storyteller.
The 27-year-old driving force behind solo act Into It. Over It. has been penning his tales since 2007. With music that is wholly heartfelt and unabashedly unapologetic, Weiss has been making waves in both the indie and punk rock worlds since the release of his debut, “52 Weeks.”
The collection of songs – which, as the name suggests, was written over the course of a year – began as a project without grand intentions. But as he discovered that people genuinely liked his music, he continued writing. His debut was followed up by a series of splits, featuring songs about towns, which would later be compiled onto “Twelve Towns,” an album that came out earlier this year. There was also the split with Koji, featuring five songs about neighborhoods in Chicago, which is where Weiss is located. And finally, in September of this year, Weiss came out with “Proper,” a 12-song release which, in some sense, he feels is his first proper album.
“I am so proud of that record, and with the amount of time we had to make it, which wasn’t very much, I’m really pleased with how it came out,” Weiss said. “And I think people are generally really stoked on it.”
Disregarding his track record of writing songs that are thematically related, Weiss’ approach this time around was to pay attention to how the songs fit together and fed into one another.
“We made a point to make a cohesive album, which we’d never done before when we were writing songs,” Weiss said of the collaboration between himself and drummer Nick Wakim.
With the exception of Wakin’s role, the rest of the album is entirely written and performed by Weiss. This, admittedly, can create some confusion on the road for fans who have only heard the recordings and assumed that Into It. Over It. was a full band.
While there is always the possibility of touring with a full backing band, the slight disparity between the recorded and the live versions is something that Weiss treasures when performing in front of crowds.
“I think it adds a different vibe to the songs and it allows them to become more personal for people,” he said. “The songs are so personal that it’s like I want to share that intimacy with people that would come see the show.”
Earlier this month, Weiss played Berlin on his first European tour in two years, opening for The Swellers and Broadway Calls
“It’s been nice to get my feet wet again, playing shows here…cause it’s a completely different feel,” he said of the experience. “[And] it’s been rad playing for crowds that aren’t necessarily mine…and being able to win a bunch of people over.”
Although he has been friends with members of the bands for a long time, Weiss acknowledged that his music doesn’t necessarily “fit” with that of theirs. Because of this, audience members who aren’t there to see him specifically are often skeptical of him at first. The good thing though, is that he said he acquires new fans that way.
“To see someone get on stage with just an acoustic guitar…you get written off pretty quickly,” he said of the experience. “It’s definitely been a lot of me, like, having to like, show my worth.”
Although Weiss might come across as a songwriting powerhouse, he shared that he isn’t always initially confident about his songs, explaining that they don’t tend to see the light of day until after they’re already recorded and it’s too late to take them back.
“I do run into periods of self-doubt,” he said of the songwriting. “But really that struggle is just an internal struggle.”
When it comes down to it, he said he is proud of each and every one of the songs he has come up with.
“I mean, there’s 95 songs [and] I love them all, like, I really like every single song,” he said. “You know, maybe there’s things about them that I would have changed, had I recorded them again, but, like, as far as the music goes, or the message, or what I was talking about, they’re all really important to me.”
Looking back on the past four years, Weiss said his attitude toward his songs hasn’t changed; the old ones are just as meaningful to him as the new ones. But he did admit that he himself has changed, both as a musician and a human being.
“I’m a little more focused and I’m more responsible and I think I’m just overall a better person than I was when I started, but I think that also just comes with age,” he said with a laugh. “I would just say I’m more of a grown-up, like, in a good way, you know. Not in a boring way.”
Please Remain Calm is the punk album of the Great Recession. The Connecticut five-piece has crafted an album that captures the defeat, the heartache--what it feels like to be young in the American Decline. Following up 2010's critically acclaimed self-titled LP, Please Remain Calm combines elements of Springsteen-esque heartland rock with the band's signature blend of 60s pop melody, 70s punk energy and 80s new wave panache.
Hostage Calm begin Please Remain Calm with weaving counter-melodic guitars and bass, stitched together with anthemic choruses. Openers ‘On Both Eyes’, ‘Don’t Die On Me Now’ and ‘Brokenheartland’ take the listener through all of the band's signature stylings, setting the mood as the album reveals greater depth and dynamism. A slower, more intimate version of the band's classic ‘The “M” Word‘ features an orchestral arrangement, complete with strings, brass, keys and concert percussion. Immediately following this, the band delivers perhaps its most avant-guarde arrangement, ‘Patriot'; a full a capella ode to a lost love affair with America. What opens as a very electrifying, hit-driven album fully descends into some of the band's most intricate and moving work to date.
But Please Remain Calm is more than Hostage Calm's opus: it's their manifesto. Like how London Calling captured the gray and grinding Britain of 1979, this album calls to mind the hopeless college student moving back in with her parents, the bank boarding up the house next door, and the impossibility of love in a time where nothing moves forward. Pushing musical boundaries at every turn, Please Remain Calm never loses its feeling of timelessness.