Max Bemis (Say Anything)
Max Bemis is the lead singer and primary lyricist for the band Say Anything. He is also a co-singer along side Chris Conley (lead singer of Saves the Day) in the supergroup Two Tongues, which features members of both the singers bands. For Say Anything's breakout record, "...Is a Real Boy", that was released in 2004, Max performed the vocals, guitar, bass and keyboard parts for the album. Max has also made cameo appearances on several albums/songs including "Inhabit" by Hot Rod Circuit, "Ready" by The Starting Line and "Hello Helicopter" and "Point of Extinction" by Motion City Soundtrack.
Matt Pryor (The Get Up Kids)
"I've always wanted to do something that was quieter and acoustic and could be played by one person. I wanted to go out and play shows alone. I just want to have my little folk moment." That's the first thing musician and songwriter Matt Pryor, known and beloved for his role fronting The Get Up Kids and The New Amsterdams, says about the impetus behind his new solo album, the flagship disc on his extensive discography to be released under his own name.
The album, entitled Confidence Man (Vagrant, 07/29/08), is just that, a hushed, intimate collection of folk-tinged acoustic songs that strip Pryor's skillful songwriting down its bare, emotive minimum. The 15 tracks encompass a long span of Pryor's career. The oldest, "Dear Lover," originated in 1995 and appears on this record in its third incarnation. The newest songs, like "A Totally New Year," "Only" and "Lovers Who Have Lost Their Cause," were conceived only a few months before the actual release of the record.
"When I decided to do the solo record," Pryor explains, "there was a really short window to get it done in time. That's all I did for a month. Write and record. Write and record. That's where the bulk of the songs came from. And then beyond that going through the back catalogue and saying 'Well, I've always like this song and maybe I can make it better and make it fit."
The writing and recording was all done in Pryor's garage, where he self-produced and self-recorded the entire album. This sounds like a practiced musician returning to his roots, but actually it is only in recent years that Pryor has attempted the art of home-recording. "I never actually recorded in a garage before now," he notes. "The first records that I ever did were in fancy recording studios, but I've been doing a lot of home recording lately."
Like on Pryor's most recent albums, the songwriting on these tracks is less autobiographical and more observant, often drawing on his friends' bad relationships to inspire the lyrics. But despite the portrayal of anything negative, Pryor's own happiness and stability are reflected throughout, shining between the sparse acoustic guitar riffs and his sweetly sung vocals. "It's subtle, but there's supposed to be this underlying air of positivity to some of the songs," he admits. "Just trying to reevaluate things and take more responsibility for the things that need to be done. I love my wife, I love my kids, everything's great, but that doesn't make for a very good or interesting record. You start to sound like you're gloating."
Pryor, who notes that "this probably will co-exist with the New Amsterdams in some capacity, I just have to wait and see what that capacity is," shouldn't need to prove that he is a successful solo musician after so many years of honing his chops in bands, but ultimately does do so on this album. And while he didn't set out to do so, he joking admits that's the root of the disc's title.
"It's tongue-in-cheek," Pryor laughs. "I'm trying to convince you that I can pull this off."
Sherri Dupree-Bemis (Eisley)
Max Bemis from Say Anything met Sherri DuPree from Eisley
With their four older siblings and cousin comprising indie pop outfit Eisley, their brother-in-laws consisting of Max Bemis of Say Anything and Darren King of Mutemath, their mother being a vocalist and their father being a drummer and a band manager – it surely would surprise none that Christie and Collin, the two youngest members of the DuPree family, would choose to embark on an equally creative and musical path of their own. The young duo has essentially grown up on the road, having toured alongside Eisley nearly non-stop since they were young kids, and have made the move to sharing the stage with the band as the opening act on recent tours.
Prior to their days of performing though, the band spent their time honing their skills, learning as much as possible about music and songwriting, and developing their own unique sound. “I think I was 13 or 14 when I first started trying to write songs, I would just open up Garageband and record myself making up melodies and such. Then after a while I asked one of my sisters to show me a few chords on guitar, and started writing songs that way,” states Christie. “And since our mom sings too, we grew up always singing with her.”
Christie kicked off her recording career in 2010, with the aforementioned Darren King serving as engineer on her very first [untitled] EP, which led Christie to the first tour offer opening for Eisley. Having accompanied Christie on guitar for the tour, it only made sense to have Collin officially join her as a collaborator on the project when it came up for the follow-up recording, and first official release.
The four-track album, Through The Rough, was recorded in their hometown of Tyler, TX, with the assistance of Andy Freeman for the recording, engineering and mixing of the EP. The duo self-released the album on March 6, 2012 and later released a vinyl split 7” with Eisley, featuring the EP’s title track, on July 3, 2012.
The true beauty of Through The Rough lies within its seemingly simple, yet subtly intricate compositions. While on the surface each track carries the sound of delicate sweetness, further listens reveal a mesmerizing darkness within the lyrics, fueled by the pure pain of love lost. Musically the album is airy and whimsical with light, dancing guitarwork and gentle percussions guiding along the angelic, emotional vocal work of Christie. Their memorable tunes blend together elements of indie, folk-Americana and pop music - reminiscent of the innovative likes of Iron and Wine, Red House Painters, and Bon Iver, offering a graceful, modern sound that is sure to appeal to the masses and displays a musical maturity well beyond their years.
Merriment will spend the remainder of the year touring in support of Through The Rough and writing for their next release. “We’re both overjoyed and so thankful that people have been responding so well to our EP,” Christie concludes. “And we hope that they’ll love whatever we do next too!”