Bayside fans don’t call their relationship with the band a “Cult” for nothing. After a string of much-adored releases, Bayside has one of the most dedicated fan bases in rock, and the group steadfastly rewards those devotees with the musical salvation they seek. Six albums and more than a decade later, Bayside has never lost touch with that mission and, in fact, they’ve only grown bigger. While veteran bands take breaks and regroup, Bayside haven’t taken that route and instead, soldiered on, building up and growing more and more into themselves… to the point in which they are the most “Bayside” that they have ever been. The fact that their audience has grown is testament to that.
Now continuing that legacy is the band’s latest creation, an explosive 11-track collection that captures Bayside in prime form, combining classic elements from throughout their career. Guaranteed to rock the faithful, the new release is appropriately entitled Cult.
“When we were done with the record we were like, ‘This is every Bayside record,’” explains singer/guitarist Anthony Raneri. “It has the honesty and rawness that we’ve had since Sirens And Condolences, and those risks: those weird key and time signature changes, and the different styles of music we explore. The Bayside ‘Cult’ is something our fans have been talking about for a long time, and it seemed like a good name for a greatest hits album, which is kind of what this is: a Bayside discography. On the cover, there are even little symbols to signify each album.”
“As sad as it is, part of rock ’n’ roll is the glory of self-destruction,” explains Say Anything braintrust Max Bemis from his home in Tyler, Texas. He’s currently enjoying the last weeks of domestic solitude before embarking on a national tour to promote the band’s sixth studio album, Hebrews. “You have to write about the joy of misery.”
Over the years of Say Anything, Bemis has become both a devout and mythic character in the alt-rock scene. He’s always strived to find a balance between truth and fantasy. Though, when he starts to lean too far to one side, the band’s ethos always brings him back to center: Do better. Be better. Or at least have the hope that better exists for you. “It’s a cycle of rebirth, renewal and destruction,” Max says about his life, musically and personally. “I do believe in hope and I do believe, at the core of everything, there’s a truth and a hope to our existence. At the same time, we’re only human. We’re animals and we’re going to constantly try to re-evaluate.”
Hebrews is a collection of songs that examine, analyze and test that truth — and all without picking up a single guitar. Yes, all 12 songs trade traditional rock-band instrumentation for more refined and orchestral stringed arrangements. But that doesn’t mean it sacrifices any spit or spirit. The album’s mission statement is set from the opening notes of “John McLane,” which is drenched with analog-sounding keyboards and Bemis’ dramatic vocals, welcoming the listener into his head and his heart, singing there’s “no need for ambivalent music.”