Saves The Day’s Chris Conley discusses the music that influenced ‘Through Being Cool’
Saves The Day are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their classic 1999 sophomore album Through Being Cool this year with an expanded reissue (due this Friday, October 25, via Equal Vision) and a short tour with Hot Rod Circuit where they'll perform the album in full (HRC will be performing Sorry About Tomorrow). Ahead of all that, we caught up with Saves The Day leader Chris Conley and asked him about what music influenced Through Being Cool back in 1999.
Chris picked six songs that he called "my favorite jams on some of my favorite albums back in the fall and winter of 1998 and the early spring and summer of 1999 while I was at NYU writing Through Being Cool." His list includes a song by one of the band's most overt influences from early on, fellow NJ band Lifetime, and it also includes songs from the sorta-emo-adjacent Weezer and Foo Fighters albums (Pinkerton and The Colour and the Shape, respectively), and songs by Jawbreaker, Archers of Loaf, and Refused. Chris discusses the ways in which each song impacted the writing and/or recording of the album, and you can very much hear how these six songs were all different ingredients in Through Being Cool. Read on to see his commentary on each pick.
Saves The Day also just put out a new animated video for "Shoulder to the Wheel" off Through Being Cool, which "reimagines original footage of the band at the start of their career - driving party to party, picking up a cast of characters along the way." You can check that out below too, after the list.
SIX SONGS THAT INFLUENCED THROUGH BEING COOL (by Chris Conley)
Archers of Loaf - "Web In Front"
When I was a kid growing up in Princeton, New Jersey I used to walk to the Princeton Record Exchange every day after school and bother the staff about new bands and cool records. One of the bands they turned me on to at an early age was Archers of Loaf. I discovered their album Icky Mettle at the Record Exchange when I was a freshman in high school and I listened to it so much for so many years the CD eventually stopped spinning in my Discman. I used to put this as the first song on almost every mixtape I ever made for friends. It’s strange, to be sure, and I could never quite figure out what the song was about, but it was catchy and fun and I couldn’t stop listening.
Lifetime - "Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey"
This song came out as a B-Side on The Boy’s No Good 7” before the release of Jersey’s Best Dancers in 1997. It was the first taste of the band’s new sound and I was hooked immediately. Lifetime usually played fast and loud and sounded like Bad Brains with poetic lyrics, but this song was mid tempo and catchy and emotional and raw. I must have listened to this song a thousand times in my lifetime and its essence is fused with my DNA. This song is a major reason why Saves The Day slowed down a bit on Through Being Cool and started playing more mid tempo melodic rock and roll.
Jawbreaker - "Bad Scene, Everyone's Fault"
This is a fun song with fun lyrics and a super catchy chorus. Before I ever heard Lifetime I was the biggest Jawbreaker fan in the world and I was absolutely obsessed with their album 24 Hour Revenge Therapy. I read and reread the lyrics in that CD booklet so many times the pages turned to dust. This song on Dear You feels like it could have been on 24 Hour Revenge Therapy but the production is massive and the lyrics are irreverent as opposed to emotional and deep. It was somehow a departure for the band and a throwback all at the same time. The overall sound of this song is a big reason why Through Being Cool sounds the way it does, and the upbeat mood was inspirational as well leading to Saves songs that were less brooding and more spirited and fun.
Weezer - "Why Bother?"
This song is just too catchy and too fun and it rocks too. I’ve never been a big fan of Weezer’s lyrics, but this song is so good it almost doesn’t matter. It’s fast without being played at the speed of light and the chorus is massive and memorable and makes you want to pogo in place. The sound is stripped down and dirty but the energy is on eleven and the guitars are crunchy and crude. The solo in the middle of the song sounds like The Cars at first but then transitions into a melodic emotional buildup that climaxes in a gut-wrenching crescendo. It’s a song you can listen to a million times and it’s a major reason why the songs on Through Being Cool are upbeat and fun and short and sweet.
Foo Fighters - "Monkey Wrench"
This album is so good from start to finish it’s hard to pick a favorite song, but this song was an instant standout and a song Saves The Day listened to on full blast in the van on almost every long drive in the early days of touring. The high-octane guitars leap out of the speakers like a chainsaw swung at your head, and when we started tracking the guitars on Through Being Cool we would play this song through the loud speakers in the studio before starting each track to make sure we were getting a guitar tone as close to theirs as possible. Our producer Steve Evetts also pointed out the solid double tracking on the vocals, and we did our best to stack the vocals on Through Being Cool like Dave Grohl’s on The Colour and the Shape to make them thick and loud and present. This song is the blueprint for what we wanted our album to sound like, and even though we didn’t have major label money, I think we came pretty close in the eleven days we spent with Steve in the summer of 1999.
Refused - "New Noise"
When this album came out in 1998 every single punk and hardcore fan flipped out. It sounded like it came from the future. The guitars were larger than life, the drums were bombastic, the bass was blasting, and the vocals were powerful and thrashing. The production had elements of so many different genres of music as well, yet somehow it all held together and was cohesive. Even now, every song still sounds like it’s been sent back from a distant future where music is the most important art form on the planet and people are unafraid to speak their minds and challenge society. Opening with an iconic hard rock riff, and then exploding into full blown ecstasy after a bizarre slow build with bits of electronic jazz mixed with EDM, this track is one of the most energizing and singular songs ever released. The chorus is catchy and rough, the riffs are vicious, the sound is enormous, and the structure is strange and familiar at the same time. Saves used to play this album on repeat in the van back in the day and it inspired us to try to make more urgent and raucous rock and roll like the intro of “Holly Hox, Forget Me Nots” and “Banned from the Back Porch.” This song is by far one of the most energetic and exciting pieces of rock and roll ever recorded and it will likely still sound relevant when that distant future comes into view.
Pre-orders of the TBC reissue are available here, including a few different bundle options. Here's Saves The Day's new video and list of all upcoming tour dates (all sold out):
Saves The Day - Through Being Cool 2019 Tour Dates
11/02 - Sayreville, NJ @ Starland Ballroom
11/03 - Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere
11/09 - Anaheim, CA @ House of Blues
11/10 Los Angeles, CA @ Bootleg Theater