Saves The Day look back on 15 years of ‘Through Being Cool’

November 3, 2014
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Can't Slow Down was a lot quicker and harder. Was it a conscious decision to move toward the more poppy side of things with Through Being Cool?
CONLEY: No, I think it was just… You know how you find different bands or artists that inspire you over the years? There were really only a couple hardcore bands that really ever did it for me. The Gorilla Biscuits. Lifetime. Minor Threat. And bands like Propagandhi, even. I really liked their record, Less Talk, More Rock. By the time I was working on Through Being Cool, I had listened to those albums to death. And you find yourself looking for more stuff that excites you. The Colour And The Shape had come out, that Foo Fighters record, and also I had come back around to Weezer's album Pinkerton, which I did not like when it came out. But suddenly, six months later, it was like my favorite thing ever. The same thing happened with the Jawbreaker album Dear You. I did not like that when it came out. I was severely disappointed. And six months later, it was my favorite album. I also started listening, randomly, to Joni Mitchell's album Blue. Somebody gave that to me and I was just this lonely college guy living in my dorm room at NYU listening to Blue. And I really loved it. A friend of mine from high school gave me Van Morrison's Moondance. I was also listening to a lot of Archers Of Loaf and the Refused album, The Shape Of Punk To Come. That was such a cool and exciting record. We were listening to that just constantly in the van in the early days after Can't Slow Down, when we started touring a lot more. Those records were just on, and I was just soaking it up, so excited about it. I had already kind of worn out the few hardcore records I liked and I was just looking for more. So, that stuff just kind of comes out.

Like, once I found the Beatles, I realized my songs were sounding more like the Beatles. That's kind of just how it goes, in my opinion. You change and your musical tastes change. I was also playing tons and tons of guitar. When I wrote Can't Slow Down, I was only maybe four years removed from being a cello player in an orchestra, and I didn't take guitar lessons, so I taught myself. Can't Slow Down is me coming out of being an orchestra guy, not knowing the guitar. I was playing guitar a ton on the road, but in my dorm at NYU, I was alone, and I was just starting to play around with different shapes on the guitar. I didn't know what I was doing, but I just threw my hands on the thing. The chords became a little bit more fun to play with. So, as you grow as a musician, your musical interests change and the sounds kind of evolve. At least it does for me. It evolves all the time. 

I also want to talk about the upcoming tour. Whose idea was it to go out and celebrate this record in this manner?
BALI: I think it was pretty collective. We knew that if we were going to do something like this, we wanted it to just feel like it was the right time and organic and not forced. Not to say other bands are doing that, but for us, we would get that question a lot: Why aren't you doing this? We were just like, “We didn't want to.” 

CONLEY: I forgot about it for Can't Slow Down. I didn't even realize that it had been 15 years. I'm very oblivious; I'm just focused on the next thing. 

PALMA: I guess in a way, we were focused on doing our thing—just  putting out new records. 

CONLEY: Yeah, I remember randomly it came up in a conversation with Max Bemis. We were just talking as friends one day, having a conversation on the phone. We were just talking about the past and stuff and I didn't realize that Through Being Cool was about to turn 15 in, like, a year-and-a-half or something. He was like, “Is A Real Boy is going to be turning 10 at the same time.” So, that was probably the beginning of the dawning of the idea. It just randomly came up. I don't think any of us sit here and plot what's the next, right step nearly as much as we should. 

BALI: I think at this point, we just want to do what feels right. 

It's a pretty short record. Are you going to play other songs? 
CONLEY: We're just going to play it twice, we figure. [Laughs.]

BALI: We're going to do it forward and backward. 

CONLEY: We'll play it at least once, and then probably go into a selection of people's favorite songs and our favorite songs. 

Where do you guys think Through Being Cool lands in the legacy of Saves The Day? If you were going to rank albums, where do you think this sits?
CONLEY: I wouldn't rank them, but I would say it's the most important record that we did. Clearly. It definitely inspired a generation of musicians to start their own bands. You see it in interviews all the time: “Through Being Cool was our favorite record.” And that's just a really special thing. It's extremely surreal and bizarre, but wonderful and awesome and I feel proud of that. It was completely by the benefit of the record being good. It's not like we were some huge commercial success. This was before there were emo stars. The whole thing had not become a mainstream thing yet. It was the first record where people started to notice this cool scene that was going on underground. Bands like the Get Up Kids and Jimmy Eat World were out there killing it all over the country, putting out really cool records and people were starting to pick up on that. Within the next couple years, Alternative Press started covering all that stuff. Mike Shea just understood that this was a thing. It was a cultural thing that was really happening. It was kind of the beginning of all that. Not our record, but that moment. In 1999, there were a couple of really important records that came out that launched the whole thing into the stratosphere. 

PALMA: Through Being Cool is definitely part of a moment. It's a very creative record. It's a very cool record. I guess it's part of a cultural moment, and that's really cool. 

CONLEY: It's clearly having impact, which is awesome. It's hard to say how it's all going to look in 30 years—there’s going to be a body of work and a lot of different records—but to pin it down, it was definitely the record where people started to notice us. It was also a kick-ass record that inspired a lot of people. 

Do you think there is anything you would change about the record?
CONLEY: Hell no, dude! That thing is awesome! I certainly learned over the years how to sing in a way that sounds nice to me and feels comfortable. But at the time, it's just so raw. It's just these little fucking kids playing punk rock and I wouldn't change anything about that. I'm so proud of the honesty and the courage. It's almost like blind courage because it's not like we were thinking about what we were doing. 

BALI: I think most musicians listen back to records and say, “Oh, yeah. Maybe I would have done that differently.” But you learn from experience. So, those moments kind of need to happen. 

PALMA: We've talked about what we were all doing during that time and I was like the band. We were all changing, growing up in that punk-rock world. We were listening to Lifetime and Jawbreaker, but we were also discovering that other shit. Like, Elliott Smith. So, it's kind of funny: we were in Michigan, having a similar experience just without this cool record to show for it. We were growing up in the same scene, just a few states away. 

And finally, how does it feel to make a perfect record?
CONLEY: First of all, you're too sweet. [Laughs.]

BALI: Ask the Beatles.

CONLEY: Yes, ask Bowie. That is extremely flattering, just you saying that. But I do think it is a special record and I'm honored to have been a part of it. I had so much fun writing those songs and bringing them to life with the guys in the band at the time. I think we all had fun doing it. I'm proud that in hindsight, it was such an important record for a lot of other people, as well. 

Written by Colin Mcguire