On their second major-label album, In Defense of the Genre, Max Bemis and his band Say Anything are breaking out the Mellon Collie as well as The Infinite Sadness. The group’s double-disc concept album chronicles the last three years of Bemis’ life, from his surprise diagnosis and struggle with bipolar disorder to falling in and out of love to searching for a happy religious medium. It’s expansive and grandiose, theatrical and personal, and its definitely a risk most bands (and their record labels) aren’t willing to take.
“The idea [of releasing a double album] was scaring a lot of people because we’re a really young band … but once [J Records] heard the entirety of the album in order, everyone became a lot more comfortable with it because of how it all fits together,” Bemis tells Rock Daily. A roster of famous friends probably helped their cause: My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way adds vocals to the title song, Pete Yorn stops by early to help with opener “Skinny, Mean Man,” and members of New Found Glory, Paramore, Taking Back Sunday and many more pitch in, as well.
As opposed to the quirkier … Is A Real Boy, Bemis says this album is more of a “classic pop, big rock album.” He adds that his influences are on display\nmore, as well: “Queen, At the Drive-In, … And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead influenced the guitar sound on the record.” The Queen lean is especially apparent, as Bemis successfully softens Freddie Mercury’s flair for the eccentric while retaining that band’s grandiose charm. The songs on In Defense are more like mini-suites; they morph and shape-shift mid-chorus, and no tracks end as they began. So what genre is Say Anything defending? “It’s more of a fight between people who are open-minded and people who are closed-minded and stick by old principles,” Bemis says.