Jake Turner enters the back room of Cowboy’s Ranch in London. It’s close to 5 pm. He’s just gotten up and looks a little groggy. He’s telling me about not being able to sleep after some gigs, and how last night he stayed up with Jacob and Max listening to tunes all night. Jake (and Say Anything will play a short but sweet set of music in a few hours to an almost full venue supporting Thrice.
Mike: Is it a challenge for you to get to sleep on tour?
Jake: Not usually. The other night I got so drunk that I was almost lucent, I spent the next day in a bit of a fugue. I was starving and not real talkative.
Typically when do you guys crash?
Some of us will crash pretty early. But if you don’t have bus-call until 3 o’clock we usually try and get to sleep by about 2 pm. I find it’s easier to fall asleep when the bus isn’t moving rather than when it’s driving around. It depends on who you’re driving around with too. Sometimes we crash early.
I just dosed up on antihistamines Jake. I’m not at my best today, sorry.
Dude, I think we’re all fighting something right now. Something gnarley’s going around that’s for sure. Our bass player Alex is so sick right now we had to cut a song from our set last night because he couldn’t stand on stage anymore. Max lost his voice at the beginning of the tour, and Coby’s been really sick too. One of our guitar techs is really ill right now also.
Do you find you guys just throw it around from body to body when you tour?
Yeah, I guess. It’s the nature of the beast. We’re all traveling around in close proximity to each other. The germs tend to fly around. I find if I even feel like I’m going down that path, I’ll start taking medicine right away just to try and stop it quickly. When you’re on the road, you really have to take care of yourself.
How does Say Anything break down as a band Jake? When I look at the back of the disc, three members (yourself included) are credited as live members. Is the group a three-piece or a six-piece? Do you all record together?
Yeah, I was there for all the guitar parts for sure. I’d put in some ideas and play out a few things here and there. I sing a little bit on the record as well. Overall, It’s like, what do you call a band? Anyone that records on an album, well then, it’s their record, you know? Usually, if it’s a band, like we are, then we’ll come together and play together as a band. That’s what a group is. We didn’t contribute as much stuff on the disc, but it’s still our record and our band, you know?
I’m into a lot of studio bands. You know, the one guy who does it all, and then fleshes it all out with session musicians and then takes the show on the road with those musicians. From what you’re saying, it sounds like Say Anything isn’t like that?
Exactly. Myself, Max, Coby, my brother; none of us want to play with anyone else. Say Anything is our band. Say Anything is like our baby.
At what point during the making of this record did you guys realize it was going to be a double-disc?
Pretty much from the beginning. It was like we had about eleven songs. And they were good. And then Max had this crazy burst of writing – and he got together all of these other songs. It was kind of crazy. He took a lot of parts of other things he had really just messed around with and fleshed them out. Some, more and turned them into songs. That song ‘About Falling’ was just a little instrumental bit. But then he added some vocals to it and expanded it out, and it turned into this elegant song in the end. I think it wound up always being the 27 tracks or whatever.
What’s different in marketing and costing out a double album? How much extra goes into it?
I’m not really sure. The label fought with us quite a bit about doing a double. They talked at first about getting all of the material onto one disc so it could sell like that. They were talking it up like a double-disc, but it was going to be expensive. But the last disc was released as a double by J Records originally. For us, it was a question of what the CD might be like if we removed a song or two from it to fit it onto one disc. We felt it wouldn’t be complete. So we stuck to doing a double.
How do you find your fanbase read into the CD? The title is In Defense of the Genre. Is that the genre of Emo as a style?
Well, yes, it could be described that way. It’s a bit weird. We, as a band, have never really been classified as a genre. People have always been weirded out by what we are, and they can’t seem to
A lot of fans need that, though. When I was growing up, if you listened to a particular style of music, you clicked with a group that was also into that genre. If you suddenly stepped out of that genre and started listening to something new, they’d be all like, “What the fuck are you listening to?”
Yeah, totally. It’s funny because we have five different genres on this record. It has everything from hip hop to dance to really slow emotional (quote-unquote) emo music. There’s some folk stuff in there. Everything really. There’s so much stuff on this record it’s hard to classify.
And the industry will attach their staple to what you are and who you’re selling to as well.
Exactly. And of course, if we get classified as Emo or pop-punk, or whatever. Or punk-rock or rock & roll. Even indie. It’s all in there. We do a lot of our stuff. We do our own merch designs and things like that. We like to do a lot of that stuff ourselves still. So, it’s like the defense of every genre – because we’re touching on a lot of them with this record. I think Max just wanted to capture an even bigger genre of life in general – a full genre of people who just like music if that makes any sense to you at all.
For sure. Who’s the designer in the band. Who’s doing the merch layouts?
We all kind of mess around with this stuff. And if we can’t produce what we’re thinking, I have a couple of friends who are excellent designers. We’ll just tell them what we are after, and they’ll work it up for us. We just kind of mess around with stuff. It’s kind of fun, y’ know?
Who’s the comic book fan in the band?
Max. He’s obsessed with them. He’ll get his per diem for the week that we’re supposed to buy food with, And come Wednesday – you know how CDs come out on a Tuesday? Well, new comics come out on a Wednesday. Wednesday will come around, and he’ll make it a mission to find the nearest comic book store, and he’ll buy every new comic they have that week. He’s obsessed. He seriously carries a bag, like a big clothes bag, that’s just full of comics around with him on tour. It’s like the most substantial thing on the bus. And well get into the next city we play at, and he’ll be like, “Ok, I gotta go find a comic book store guys.” Sometimes it’s just for one comic. We were on tour with Saves The Day. Manny, their bass player, is a huge comic book fan as well. It was like every day; they’d be bailing out to find a comic book store together. It can get pretty gnarly sometimes.
Most comic stores are all the same; Holes in the wall. They tend to not be in malls or anything, but down the city cores, where the rent is cheaper, and the walk-in traffic is higher.
Exactly. Max always seems to find things he thought he would never find. Like the guy that did our cover. Uhh…
Yeah, Jeff Smith. We were in this store one time, and there was this big book that was all about how he draws and comes up with his stuff. And Max was soo into it. I wanted to get it for him for Christmas… but after that one time we found it, and we didn’t buy it, we’ve never seen it again.
The first thing I noticed about this disc when I popped it out of the mail was the Jeff Smith cover. And I was already intrigued before the CD even went into my player because I like Jeff Smith’s stuff.
He did a great job. It’s really funny because when Max found out that Jeff Smith was going to be able to do it, he was freaking out. He called up everybody he knew and was like, “The dude who does Bone is going to do our CD artwork.” He was really stoked. And they even got in some back and forth. Max gave him the overall idea, and then Smith would elaborate on Max’s ideas and fleshed out the armies. He brought in the kids versus the older people on the cover. It just turned out the way it turned out. It’s excellent artwork.
I really like it. As a Bone fan, it was pretty cool to see him doing some other stuff. And the artwork is all over your website and your message boards. Very cool.
For our headlining tour, there will be two large banners of each army over our amps on either side of the stage. I’m looking forward to seeing them.
No Canadian dates on your headlining dates? What gives?
You know… it’s weird. I know where you’re going with this. It’s always lovely coming to Canada. It’s been great to hear people’s reactions after our sets. And I can go back to our management and say people in Canada really dig our stuff. Why aren’t we playing there more?
No disrespect to Thrice at all here – but I’m toying with driving over the border to see you play with Biffy Clyro.
I love Biffy. That would be a fresh double bill in my books. You and them together.
They’re so sick, man. It’s funny because I’d never really heard them, and our management confirmed the bands. We’re friends with Manchester Academy. Really great guys. Good musicians.
Another excellent band for sure.
For sure, and my friend Ollie was doing merch for us in the UK, and he was like, “I want you to listen to this Biffy Clyro band. Max was saying you might be touring with them”. And he pops the CD into my iPod, and I play it right through, and I was like, “This band’s a three-piece? Are you serious?” And I went online and watched some footage of them on BBC. My mind was blown.
When you see that vocalist throw down with his guitar, you’ll get the shivers. I kid you not.
Biffy is totally sick. I’m really excited about it. And even Weatherbox. It’s going to be a good bill. They’re a great live band, and their record is really good too. So it’s going to be a good show.
I’ve seen Thrice before. I caught them on Taste of Chaos. And I liked them enough to buy Vheissu. I haven’t picked up their new disc yet. I’ll probably buy it here tonight.
You know, when I first played it, I was underwhelmed. But on repeat listens, especially seeing them play some of it live, there’s some awesome material on the new CD.
They can get kind of trippy in places.
Exactly, some of their stuff is pretty out there, but their live show is something else. Thrice are a great band to be on tour with. I have a lot of respect for them, cause they just do what they want to do.
I’ve got my eye on your Saint Andrews Hall date in Detroit, Jake. I play Manchester a fair bit, and I love Biffy. I think it will be a good 4-band bill and worth doing the drive.
It’s definitely going to be an excellent tour, man. I really wish it was coming to Canada. At least Toronto and Montreal. Maybe Vancouver. Our Vancouver show was amazing on this tour, and Toronto blew my mind. It was awesome.
When was Toronto for you? 2 nights ago?
Yep. We did Toronto, then Montreal, and then came back here for London, and we head over the border from here. So, how far are we from Toronto right now?
Two hours. I tend to drive to either Toronto or Detroit to see my shows if they aren’t stopping in London.
We heard that folks from Toronto were coming here for this show tonight.
And I bet that people from London drove in to see your gig two nights ago as well.
I think tonight is almost sold out. I heard less than a hundred tickets available when we pulled in. When I look at the floor of the venue, I can’t believe 800 people can even fit in here.
I did Silverstein here last week, and the show was sold out. It was jam-packed.
Bill, the bassist from Silverstein, came out to the show in Toronto. It was good to see him. Who did you wind up interviewing?
I interviewed Bill, actually.
He’s a great guy.
He was really nice. So you’re not active in any other bands or anything, Jake?
Well, we all have little things we do on the side. My brother Jeff and I have a side project called XO that we record under when we’re not doing anything with Say Anything. It’s just him and me. My brother played the drums for a few years before he started playing guitar. He plays a little bass too. We recorded an EP. Hopefully, it’ll come out soon. Max and Coby are in a collaboration with Dave and Chris from Saves the Day, and they just recorded a full-length record. I heard it last night for the first time, and it sounds really good. It sounds kind of tough in places. Not really like anything we’ve already done.
How did you guys put together your wish list of people to work with on this new record?
It was pretty much friends. And friends of friends. Also, our producer got involved. He asked Pete Yorn to come in.
Pete Yorn sold me on this disc, man. I’m a total fan of his stuff.
He’s really great. He does a really fantastic job. And he was seriously so excited to come in and do the song with us. He was talking with his manager, and I guess his manager has a daughter who’s a fan of ours. And I think through her, Pete got exposed to our music and it kind of went from there. Gerard was cool to work with. And Anthony from Bayside. Friends who we’ve played with over the years.
How about Hayley from Paramore? Did you tour with them as well?
We never have toured with them. We’re just friends. They were on warped tour, and I would kind of come in and out of Warped tour because my girlfriend was on that tour, so I’d be around for some of the dates. And Max was saying I should ask a few people if they’d be into singing on our record. And Hayley was into it.
Did they all come into the studio to record with you?
Some of them did. Pete Yorn did. Matt Skiba also came in to record with us. People that couldn’t would record their parts in their house or on their bus or whatever. It was kind of cool. Brad, our producer, was sending around WAV files here and there putting the parts together via the internet. It was kind of cool. You can’t even tell some of the songs were done in different places at all.
That seems to be the way it’s going, doesn’t it?
It does. We actually had some concerns that we weren’t going to be able to get some of the people just because of scheduling. Gerard Way sang his part the day before mixing began. It was that close. Even Matt Skiba, who came in a week into mixing, he came to us, did his thing, and then jumped a plane to Hawaii on vacation. It really worked out for us on this disc. We were lucky we got the input from the people we wanted to work with.
Have you had any of the guest artists come out to your shows and join you for their songs?
Hayley has come up and sung her part on ‘The Church Channel’ with us one time. Other than that, nobody else. We’re hoping to get a few people out in New York to sing with us. Chris Carrabba and Caithlin maybe. We’re hoping that we can get two shows together. One in New York and One in LA and get as many people as possible to sing their parts with us. And do the record from front to back.
You can’t even do all of these songs in a live set, could you? There’s too much material.
Yeah, it’s too much. For our headlining tour, we’re only playing six or seven songs from Is a Real Boy, we’re doing a song called Walk Through Hell’, and every other song is new. And we’re doing a cover of the Smashing Pumpkins song called ‘Stand Inside Your Love.’ It’ll be a good mix of music.
Alright, man. Thanks for your time. Looking forward to seeing your live set in a few hours.