The currency of caring
Deep thoughts with Saves the Day’s Chris Conley
Chico, CA 95928
behind long-running indie-pop band Saves the Day, Chris Conley has always been something of a monolithic figure in the swirling sea of change that is the music industry. But 16 years, 17 band members, six full-length albums, three record labels and a bajillion miles of touring later, Conley is, it seems, all the more steadfast in his determination.
“I once read a quote from Neil Young saying that if you stick around long enough making music for the right reasons, you start to notice that success comes in waves. People will like your music, then they won’t like your music, then they like it again, and then they don’t like it again. Round and round we go,” Conley said from the road on the band’s current tour with fellow scene vets New Found Glory.
“I have developed slightly thicker skin weathering the changes, yet at the end of the day I feel blessed to play music, and that’s my bottom line. For me, failure would mean having to give up music to work a normal job, so as long as people still come out to our shows and listen to our music, whether they like it more or less at the time, I am thankful and lucky to be gifted this existence.”
This thicker skin is a relatively new phenomenon for Conley, who perfected the perennially tortured, self-conscious-frontman style back when most of the current crop of swoop-haired scene screamers were in grade school. Even the band’s most recent albums, 2006’s Sound the Alarm and 2007’s Under the Boards, parts one and two of a loosely themed trilogy, were according to Conley especially inspired by “turmoil and pain.” However, the band’s forthcoming album, Daybreak—the third in the trilogy and first with new members Rodrigo Palma on bass, Arun Bali on guitar and Spencer Peterson on drums—marks what Conley describes as “both an ending and a new beginning.
“In a way, it makes sense that Daybreak features a new lineup, as thematically the album deals with coming back to life with a renewed appreciation and attitude of perseverance and acceptance.”
This catharsis did not come easy for the mild-mannered and humble Conley: “I was crushed by the weight of the world of judgments and expectations and found myself unable to cope and deprived of self-esteem. By honestly facing my fear, I recognized how heroic we all are … Many of us don’t realize the stress we are under just trying to get by from day to day, just trying to find a reason to carry on. Yet through all the pain, through all the challenges, we care about each other. We hold on. We are stronger than we give ourselves credit for, and through my internal reflection, I found compassion and caring.”
With his new band mates “here to stay” and a full slate of touring—including the band’s current jaunt with New Found Glory (making its way to the Senator Theatre March 14), and festival dates both here and abroad—the group is set to build up to the release of Daybreak later this year. Conley’s newfound optimism even extends to the music industry as a whole. Sort of.
“I know music will always be important to people and it is a special way humans connect with each other and communicate beyond words and concepts. We can directly reach each other’s hearts through music, and that power will always remain. Hopefully in the future, humanity will find the only true currency of caring to be more valuable than gold, but perhaps this is not our destiny. No matter what, we will carry on and the world will spin off into eternity, the end and the beginning being one and the same.”