Saves the Day has been on the road in support of their eighth album, a self-titled effort that recalls all the sugary hooks and honest lyrics that their fans have loved for so many years. During their travels, the quartet – frontman Chris Conley, guitarist Arun Bali, bassist Rodrigo Palma and drummed David Wilson – stopped by the Fender Artist Showroom in Los Angeles, where they caught up with Fender.com to talk about their latest album. Saves the Day also chatted about life on tour – with the occasional detour to get to the bottom of their love of musicals.
Fender.com: How did you come to work with Max Bemis?
Conley: I met Max in 2004 because he was a huge fan, and he reached out to us somehow through various channels of communication. I think it’s probably because we have the same booking agent. I found out he was a big fan of the band before I even met him, and then when we finally did meet, it was the CMJ showcase in October of that year. We spent all night hanging out and talking about music and became instant friends. I really loved his music. I was going through a time where I was kind of uninspired by a lot of stuff, and they put out a record that really hit me. So, there was a mutual admiration there. When we made this new album, fortunately Max had been working with Equal Vision for a few years on his own. He mentioned that we should just go back to EVR. It was the label we started our career on in the ‘90s, so it felt like coming home.
Bali: It was the most passionate anyone was about wanting to work with us. It came from a very genuine place, so that was a good feeling.
Conley: Max is a phenomenal talent, as well, so he’s always coming up with exciting things – whether it’s a comic book or some other amazing concept.
Fender.com: Why is this one the only self-titled album you’ve done?
Conley: This is the eighth album, and it never crossed my mind to do a self-titled record in the past, for some reason. It just popped into my head to do it with this album. I think part of that is because the band has been progressing and evolving for so long. Each record has its own sound, but I think on this album, a lot of those styles came together in the right way. It feels like a classic Saves the Day record to me – all of the styles at once. The biggest thing, to me, is that in Arun and Rodrigo, I feel like I’ve found the bandmates that I was looking for my entire career. I was sort of longing for that bond and never had it. I always enjoyed myself, but I didn’t know what it was like to really feel like I was in a band where everybody loved doing it the same amount. It was kind of a statement that this is Saves the Day.
Fender.com: So, is that an orange or a grapefruit on the album cover? I read that fans are calling it The Orange Album.
Conley: It’s a grapefruit, but that’s cool too. We’ll take it.
Palma: Hey, language evolves. They’re related, aren’t they [laughs]? Actually, the designer was a fan. The whole way we did the record through crowd-funding, there were so many fans reaching out. This one guy, Jan Michael, sent us some samples with some really great stuff. Chris and I had brainstormed some crazy ideas that we sent out to him, and he came back to us with some of his ideas. We were thinking of a sort of vibe between the Flaming Lips and the Velvet Underground, and this guy Jan is just as crazy as we are, so he was active sending us stuff that we liked. And seriously, I do think it was an all-night shoot with the grapefruit.
Bali: We’ve been lucky that way. With Daybreak, we had a random fan email us some samples when we hadn’t even discussed what we wanted to do for the artwork, other than internally. This guy’s sample was pretty close to what we had in mind, so we were hoping that this record would reveal itself in the same way.
Palma: Artwork is almost one of those things that you kind of leave off until the last minute, even if it is important.
Conley: The music sounded like a big, juicy grapefruit, so it works [laughs].
Fender.com: Who controls the radio on the bus when you’re on the road?
Conley: We all take turns. We make playlists – we’re pretty nerdy like that. It might be reggae one night, Van Halen the next night. We keep it interesting, and have a rotation.
Fender.com: Are there any guilty pleasures that make it to the lists?
Palma: I will defend some Britney Spears singles. I will get academic and defend a song like “Toxic.” The production is amazing.
Conley: I took my daughter to see Smurfs 2, and that Britney song at the end is awesome. It’s actually really good.
Fender.com: Can you name one or two restaurants that you have to pull over to eat at when you are traveling?
Bali: One of the most fun things about being on tour is that you know you’re going to get to eat at some of your favorite places. In Salt Lake, there’s one called Red Iguana. In L.A., there are almost too many to count. I’ll say Real Food Daily is a highlight.
Conley: We all used to stop at Toi, that Thai place on Sunset by Guitar Center. It’s like rock and roll Thai. When we’re in Chicago, we typically try to hit the Chicago Diner. It’s an amazing vegetarian diner that we like.
Palma: When I started touring, falafel was the cheap thing to eat. Now, I’m starting to see falafel chain restaurants pop up. I think Chicago and New York have some. But the best falafel nationwide – from my experience– is at Pita Inn in Skokie, just north of Chicago. If there was a route that went near Chicago, you’d have to stop in Skokie, just to hit Pita Inn.
Fender.com: What was your first concert?
Bali: It wasn’t my first concert, but when I saw Metallica and Guns ‘n Roses in ’92, that was the first time I ever saw a naked woman. It was in the seventh grade in the Pontiac Silverdome.
Conley: My first concert was Aerosmith at the Spectrum in Philly. I was a massive fan, so I remember feeling totally captivated. They were amazing. Steven Tyler ran around like a maniac, and I had a blast. They played all the good songs.
Palma: I don’t know if this counts as a concert, but my parents would take me to musicals like Fiddler on the Roof [laughs].
Bali: You can’t stage dive at Les Miserable.
Palma: Sure you can. Speaking of things I will defend, I will defend Jesus Christ Superstar.
Conley: Yeah man! It’s so good. I love musicals. I just want that on the record.
Palma: The playing on that is funky as hell. The band is so good, and the writing is tight.
Wilson: I always think about West Side Story, or even Little Shop of Horrors.
Bali: I’m with Rod on Jesus Christ Superstar, by the way.
Palma: I guess the first memory of a show was in the fifth or sixth grade, when I went to see Pantera. It was the Vulgar Display of Power album, and Buzzoven opened for them. They ripped. I nearly died, and I loved it.
Wilson: Mine was a festival in the fifth grade. It was Pearl Jam and the Barenaked Ladies. I remember that the Barenaked Ladies played after Pearl Jam, so I was like, “Sweet, I can leave.”
For more information and to pick up a copy of their album, visit Saves the Day’s official website.