Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
It takes a lot to get it right. And by it, we mean everything or we mean some things - just enough things to make it seem like everything. There are moments that you toast to and then there are those that were utter flops. You don't want to think about them ever again, you don't want to see them replayed back for you and you wish that you could just plain forget - one clean whitewashing right over them. The ones that we toast are those rare birds. We treat them with the utmost reverence, with big eyes and awe. They are the ones that calm our jitters and keep us from breaking out into hives at the thought of our age, our current loneliness and our emotional resume.
Chris Conley, the lead singer for the legendary New Jersey emo band Saves The Day, knows his way around the complexities of getting it right. He's had himself his fair share of freakouts, and then some. He's made a point of writing about these with candor and in such details that almost make the moments more vibrant and alive on paper than they might have been when they were being originally experienced. His songs are the wellsprings of emotions and thoughts that weren't quite formulated yet when he was in the heat of them. The buds for the prose were there, getting knocked against his walls, getting torn up, getting encouraged, getting discouraged and then suddenly finding themselves left out in an abandoned room, panting heavy breaths and wiping at that little sprig of dried blood at the corner of the mouth or at the base of an ear. They're left there wondering what in the hell just happened and why does whatever it is feel so hollow?
Conley writes from the perspective of someone who is helplessly human. Everyone should write from this place - if they were genuine - but not enough do. To be helplessly human is to admit to some form of defeat, knowing full well that, while capable of a lot, you're incapable of even more than you could ever imagine and you're just going to have to live with that. It's all easier said than done and that's where the real struggles come in. It's never easy to realize that most things are designed to be hard and you're just going to have to deal with them. It's not easy to realize that you're the way you are and most others aren't like you. You're not going to be compatible with most people and that can be fractious and ugly. Saves The Day has always trafficked in the very blood, guts and bones way that we are as people. We live, we bleed and cry and love and laugh a lot and then - at some point - we die. There are all kinds of variations, those wrinkles that make certain aspects of those things better or worse, but that's about all there is out there and we either adapt or cope. In one of his older songs - "Freakish," from 2001's "Stay What You Are" - Conley sings one of his most famous lines, "The only thing I know is awkward silence." It's a beautiful badge of insecurity and it's long been his coat of arms. The awkward silence will always be there in some form. It lives and it bleeds, right there alongside of us.