We're living in one of the most pretentious periods ever, to hear Max Bemis tell it.
The Say Anything frontman calls out scenesters and hipsters in "Admit It Again," a sequel to "Admit It!!!," a song that did the same almost a decade ago.
Bemis said he grew up pretty unpretentious, and added that it's weird to fear being criticized for watching a Matthew McConaughey romantic comedy with his wife if that's what he wants to do.
"Pretentiousness is a fad. There were times when it was the opposite — like in the '80s when cheesiness was totally cool — and that's just as much of a problem," he said on the phone from Silverlake, Calif. "Somewhere around the beginning of this century, it began to devolve into pretentiousness being cool."
In the song, he even calls out music website Pitchfork, which is notorious for its sometimes dismissive and overwrought reviews that many indie rock fans take to heart: "Fueled by a potent mixture of cocaine and latent insecurity/Defining your own self worth by the opinion of a stupid website with Satan as its figurehead."
When we asked if he thinks he's alienated some of his fans, Bemis thought about it for a second.
"That's a great call. I'm sure there's lots of people that don't like my music who found that to be really grating and annoying probably because they knew it was talking about them," he said.
Say Anything's new album, "Anarchy, My Dear" naturally deals a lot with anarchy. But in the view of Bemis, anarchy doesn't mean chaos. His idea of anarchy is breaking things down and starting over as a society.
Bemis said he reached these ideas after solving some of the "more existential quandaries" in his life. He's also settled down, avoids drugs and got married.
"The newer struggle I go through in life is looking around the world and realizing that we live in a flawed society. I didn't have time to concentrate on that when I had my own problems," he said. "A lot of that has to do with tearing down the boundaries that we have placed on ourselves and that the world has placed on us through society and governments. That's the main theme of the record — finding your own way through this."
For the album, Bemis didn't just want to have a bunch of bold ideas. He wanted it to imply a lot of energy.
It took a little bit of effort to get there, including doing many more live takes, especially with Bemis' vocals.
"I want the energy to be more genuine sonically, more behind-the-scenes. In the vocal tracks, I'm singing it from beginning to end as if I was doing it live," he said. "Basically we'd set up the mic and I'd get into a loose state of mind and then just jam it."
"Anarchy, My Dear" has a punk rock energy and freneticism, but it's not built much on power chords and the usual punk trappings. The band turned the punk idea on its head and went with clean but discordant tones. Bemis said doing it the opposite way "was almost easy."
Say Anything also continues with its tendency to wrap darker ideas in bright, fun, sing-along music, which has to do with Bemis' own musical taste.
"As much as I love mellow music or experimental music, stuff that will always mean the most to me has a certain breed of sing-along quality to it," he said. "That usually involves something bright and poppy to some degree, even if it's a dark thing. Lyrically, I don't get very entertained by straight-ahead love songs or songs about growing up."
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