Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
It's either fiery or it's nothing. It burns to a million degrees or it's an ice-cold lake. It's hang-wringing and brow-beating or it's not worth the effort. It's a wild and out-of-control wildfire or it's a yawn.
For Max Bemis and Say Anything, there's no other way to see things but to see them at their most flammable. They are supposed to be trying and emotional. They are supposed to melt the paint right off of the walls, back down to the drywall. It's supposed to melt glass and metal. It's supposed to make the roads buckle and the asphalt cook the oil right on out of it, leaving it to crumble under wheels. It's supposed to feel as if the sky could crash down at any moment, the weight of these problems just too much to hold any longer. The clouds have been seeded and they're about to give birth to one of the most vicious whirlwinds, one of the most tempestuous of storms that Bemis claims he'd hug like the tenderest of trees, that he'd hold like a newborn baby.
Bemis sings about burning the miracles, about burning the dream and, when he does so, it doesn't sound destructive, but oddly romantic, as if he were just suggesting to cut out all the bullshit from your life and just get down to the nitty gritty of it. He wants people to feel things meaningfully. He wants people to care a good goddamn about things, mostly about the people that they believe they are in love with, the people they believe they care about, or at the minimum, the people that they tell other people that they are in love with or care about. Sometimes there is a great difference between the distinctions, when there doesn't need to be, or shouldn't be.
Say Anything's music has been a lightning rod for those feelers out there, who can't make sense of why the good love that they feel can get so rotten, or why there's such a violent emotion to the reaction of. It's not violent as in violence, but violent as intense, as in "this is too much, this is too fucking much for me to deal with right now!" Bemis is wholly in-tune with this feeling, with this way of being. He sings, "I'd walk through hell for you/But it'd burn right through my shoes/These soles are useless without you/My soul is useless without you." It can be applied to everything - these fires and these clanging and hollowed out souls. Everything burns for a reason.