Q&A with Chris Conley of Saves The Day

After six studio albums, four EP’s, and two compilation albums since 1998, Saves the Day is now getting ready to release their seventh full-length album. While the original boys that comprised Saves the Day were New Jersey natives, Chris Conley, front man and lead vocalist, is the only remaining original member of the four-person band.

Conley has been the major artistic contributor of the band since its start when he was just at the end of his high school career. At only age 30, he is getting ready for his seventh album, “Daybreak,” to release and will be stopping in Mesa next month during a tour.

The State Press: The most heart-breaking headline about the band recently has been that your album “Daybreak” will no longer have a 2010 release date. What happened in the schedule that brought it to this? Where are you guys in the production?

Chris Conley: I never said anything about 2010. We never made an announcement saying the album won’t come out this year, or I didn’t anyways. I think with the record industry, schedules are a little confusing. The album is finished. We’re in a second round of rough drafts for editing. You don’t really know what timeline the label is working on. They’d like to have two releases coming out this fall, and they just can’t do anything else until next year. So, I don’t know. It’s hard to say when the album will be released.

SP: “Daybreak” will be the third installment to this three-part concept (including “Sound the Alarm” and “Under the Boards”) that you guys began in 2005. Why a series of albums?

CC: The trilogy is about trying to rise above the pain of the past. “Sound the Alarm” was starting at square one with what was really going on in the wounded heart and the hurt psyche. It’s a very fractured sound. That album is filled with turmoil and misery.Under the Boards” was the album where we start to realize, “Wow, living this way with so much pain inside, and reacting to the world from that hurt place was just making more pain and confusion.” And so, “Under the Boards” was the album where we recognized, “Oh wait, this has to change. I can’t live my life like this.”

“Daybreak” is the album where we start to transcend the pain by facing it directly and accepting the past, and learning how to rise above and move on to become the best person I can be. The reason I wanted to get to the bottom of the root of my pain in my life was because I just wanted to be the best person I can be. I have a family and a wife and a daughter. I want to be the best example I can be. I want to be able to be as present in the moment for all the joys in my life as opposed to churning over past challenges.

So the trilogy was a therapeutic way to dive into the pain; talk about what I found; talk about what I knew I wanted to change and, talk about the process of changes. The only way I knew how to change was to start with what was already there, and what was there was a pretty scared person definitely not living in the here-and-now, but reacting from 25 years of sideways eyes and whispered secrets. It was really just my way of coming back to life.

SP: You guys were signed when you were still in high school. How did you continue on with your teenage life?

CC: I guess it was still kind of normal. We were really excited we got signed to Equal Vision. We were jumping up and down when we heard the news. The reality of it was that we were signed to a tiny hardcore label that had a staff of maybe eight or nine people. To our classmates and peers it was really neat, but they had no idea how important it was to us because no one was really connected to the hardcore and punk scenes. The guys and I were just the misfits of the school. So we just continued being our little misfit selves.

I have to admit, senior year was so much fun because we got to make our first album during the winter break in December of 1997 and then we came back to school and we had this record. So we got to drive to school listening to our own record. That was quite a trip being 18 and 17 years old and to have an album that we made. It was just a lot of fun.

When we graduated high school — that was a neat moment because a couple weeks later we went on tour for the first time for the entire U.S. Before that we had just been touring the East Coast. We got to tour with a band called Bane who was also on Equal Vision records. It was a lot of fun, and of course, once we graduated, we didn’t look back.

SP: I read in a bio on you and the band on Last.FM that you took up the cello at age six. How does someone go from studying cello to leading a rock band?

CC: You know, I don’t know. It’s really funny. I was playing the cello for seven years until I was 13 and then at that point I just didn’t want to take lessons anymore and do homework on music. It was really just being a 13 year-old kid. I had been listening to rock bands for a while. I got into Aerosmith when I was like 10 and flipped out on them for years, but they never made me want to pick up an instrument and play rock music.

But then, I started listening to Led Zeppelin when I was 11. For some reason, one day I was listening to “Stairway to Heaven.” When the drums enter the song a few minutes into the composition, it just made me so excited in my bones. I was like jumping. I would listen to just that part in a row and I realized, “Oh my God, I want to play drums.”

So I turned to my dad, we were in like a 1980’s Mazda, and I asked him if I could get a drum kit. He wanted to think about it for a while, so the next day he said that he thought a drum kit would be too loud. So he decided on an acoustic guitar. I taught myself how to play so I didn’t have to go to lessons. I had so much fun with it. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment. It was just a moment of clarity. Even though I don’t play drums for the band, I keep a drum kit at home so I can always play.

SP: Where do you see you and your band mates going after the release of “Daybreak?”

CC: When “Daybreak” is released, we will start moving right away. We’ll do a headlining tour early next year. Then, we’re just going to see what comes our way.

Hopefully, we’re going to go overseas a lot to all of the countries we haven’t had a chance to get to in the last six years. Then, after we tour for probably a year and a half, we’ll just start on a new album. I don’t really feel any need to stop because I still really enjoy it. The songs have always been straight from the heart, even if we play old songs. It still feels real. It still feels honest. I was so sincere when I wrote it. So, I’m just so proud to have a great fan base that appreciates our honesty. I feel like we can keep going as long as we’re gifted the experience of life.

SP: You seem so busy with all of this, and the excitement of touring is overwhelming. Where are you daughter and wife able to come into play?

CC: Thank God I am able to have a recording studio in my home. I never have to leave if it’s not completely necessary. That is great. My family is incredibly supportive and proud of what I do. My wife is my strongest supporter, and she has given me strength when transitions have been tough. I don’t think without my wife I could have come through this difficult journey of self-realization. That is the most beautiful gift in my life. They nurture my hobbies. They come out and visit me on tours when I’m not home. I couldn’t be luckier.

Reach the reporter at lkjorda1@asu.edu