Last year was definitely an eventful one for New Jersey’s pop punk heroes, Saves The Day. From playing the Skate And Surf Festival alongside Glassjaw, A Day To Remember and RX Bandits, to releasing their eighth studio album last fall, to playing intimate pledge-donated shows throughout the year, Saves The Day still stand 10-feet tall as a band that continues to put a smile on everyone’s face. Now, this fun-loving quartet is finally on back on the road in support of the Vans Warped Tour this summer for the second time in eight years. While they were traveling down to Houston before the festivities began, I talked with guitarist and leading frontman Chris Conley about being a part of Warped Tour again and what to expect along the way.
What are you looking forward to the most about playing Warped Tour this summer?
I loved the Warped Tour. We did it in 2006 for the first time and it was a total blast. We had a lot of fun in the sun with a lot of friends. There were a lot of good bands that played and it should be a fun again this year.
What made you guys want to play Warped Tour again? Was Saves The Day asked to be a part of this year’s festivities or were you guys trying to get on the bill again?
We’ve been wanting to do it for years now. I keep asking every summer if we could do Warped Tour, but you know, it’s a logistical thing, whether or not it works for Warped Tour to have whatever bands come out. So, this year it worked for us and it worked out for Warped Tour, so we’re happy that we get to do it again.
Even before Saves The Day got really big or even before you guys started playing Warped Tour, did you have the opportunity to attend the festival in its glory days when you were younger?
You know what, I always wanted to go, but I could never get a ride, and by the time I had a license, I was already in Saves The Day touring the country, so it just never really worked out. The first time I ever got to go was when we were playing it in 2000. We did a week in Texas and Tennessee, so that was the first time I got to see Warped Tour, and it was really awesome. It was cool to see so many bands at one time. I think Green Day was on that one, but we were really excited to see Hot Water Music the most.
What were some your favorite memories you guys had when Saves The Day played its first Warped Tour and some of the coolest spots and weirdest places you’ve been to along the way?
Umm…you know, I can never really remember any weird stuff that took place, but I think the coolest thing that happened when we did the entire Warped Tour was when Joan Jett was a part of it and I got to meet her; she was really cool. Their setlist was just a powerhouse hit and that was really fun to watch every day.
Now, the last time you guys played Warped Tour was when you put out Sound The Alarm. Since you guys are playing Warped Tour for your second time this year, what would you say is the mindset or mentality that you guys have coming into this summer compared to when you were on the bill for Warped the first time around?
We’re really super psyched. I was really looking forward to it when we first did Warped Tour and it was so much fun. So this year, I am even more excited, and we got such a rad group of dudes in the band and we all like to hang out together. So I think it will be more camaraderie and there will be a lot more shenanigans.
When you were getting ready and preparing for Warped Tour, was it really difficult to pick and choose songs you wanted to incorporate into your setlists each day?
Yeah. Usually we play 90 minutes, so playing 30 minutes a day on Warped Tour will be kind of funny for us; it will be like a warm-up show. So we decided to try and change it up every day, so that way we can play as many songs as possible over the course of the summer. It’s not just, “Try to have one setlist that will be played every day,” so we are going to try to just wing it. We pretty much usually switch our set up constantly, so we will try to play a little bit of everything, but so far, the only real goal is to have fun.
Is Warped Tour going to be Saves The Day’s first full U.S. tour technically since your set of dates in support of the new record [Saves The Day] last fall and also as the full-band acoustic shows last winter?
Yeah. We were overseas in Europe for about a month in between and that was a lot of fun. We went over there with Brand New and we played a lot of cool festivals with other bands like Of Montreal as well as Bayside, so it will be fun to catch up with them [Bayside] again on this Warped Tour. We also played with The Front Bottoms too on that tour and they were fantastic; both bands were amazing live.
Also, Say Anything’s new album, Hebrews, came out this past month, and you had a guest vocal part with Matt Pryor [guitarist and lead vocalist of The Get Up Kids]. What was it like being on that record? When you guys were laying down the songs, did it almost feel like a family reunion of some sorts?
Oh, you know, it was a real honor to be included and invited to participate on Max Bemis’ [of Say Anything] album. He’s a great talent and to do it with Matt Pryor was an honor as well because he is a hero of mine as well as a friend, so that was a really cool experience.
You’ve teamed up with Max in the past, from appearing on the Say Anything record In Defense Of The Genre as well as the band Two Tongues. Are there any possibilities of any collaborations to happen again in the future?
We [Two Tongues] are going to do a new album very soon. Hopefully we are writing for it this year and we’re probably going to record next year, and once there is another Two Tongues album, we will try to tour.
Last year, you also played several smaller, more intimate shows through a series of online pledge campaigns. How did that come about? Would you consider these smaller shows as a way to give back to your fans, supporters and friends over the years?
We found out about PledgeMusic—which is a website like Kickstarter, but just for music—and we just thought it would be something fun to try. While we got to make a new record, we also got to do fun things like play in people’s backyards. Even though it was definitely a great way to get close to the fans, it was also a way to sort of play music without worrying about the industry, so it was very liberating and fun.
We already wrote everything for the new record ahead of time, but with the pledge campaign, we were able to spend as much time as we wanted in the studio, which was great. So, yeah, we really loved doing those shows, and we really want to do more of them in the future, and whether or not we decide to do it through another PledgeMusic project again, without a doubt, we’re going to be back, rocking out in people’s faces.
So, after Warped Tour, what are some other future plans you guys have in the works?
I think we might be going to the Philippines or maybe Thailand after Warped Tour, like late August, and then we’re home for a couple of months and then we’re doing another tour this fall that will be announced soon. And then there will hopefully be a little bit more overseas stuff to finish up this touring cycle for the album and then it will be onto working on the next album.
Would you say that Saves The Day is the kind of band that is always writing constantly?
Yeah, I mean, the way that I usually work, I let these melodies occur naturally in my mind, you know? Without sitting down to try to write a song, I will just be driving around town or I will go out for a walk or hang out my with friends and grab a bite to eat, and there’s a little melody in the back of my head. I will record these ideas down onto a voice memo recorder any time they come up.
When I have a month or two of solid downtime, I’ll go into the studio and try to bring those little parts to life and make a little skeleton of a song out of these melodic ideas that have occurred spontaneously. Once I have a handful of these skeleton ideas, I show them to the band and we brush them out all together and that’s pretty much the whole process. I like to let the ideas come as they do and then I shift through them later, but I don’t like to have my unconscious mind involved in the beginning.
Saves The Day will be playing on the Vans Warped Tour at PNC Bank Arts Center on July 6, Susquehanna Bank Center on July 11 and Nikon At Jones Beach Theater on July 12. For more information, go to savestheday.com.