Two Tongues

it’s true that great art is birthed out of tension, then it’s not
at all surprising that Two Tongues came together.

The project is the
brainchild of Say Anything vocalist Max Bemis and Saves The Day
frontman Chris Conley. Both are tied to reputations of being very
controlling, if not militant, bandleaders. Both have a history of
battling depression. Bemis suffered a very public breakdown in 2005
that led to his arrest and stay in a mental facility, and Conley admits
to suffering through a “very dark time.”

But out of all the
tension a rock solid friendship has emerged. Bemis credits Conley as being
his rock hero, claiming that listening to Saves The Day is what
inspired him to start a band. When Conley was in his deepest period of
depression, a friend gave him a copy of Say Anything’s debut, and
believes the album helped him find passion and purpose again.

When Bemis approached Conley about working on a side project together, the
subject matter for the songs seemed obvious: write about the friendship
that has proven stronger than depression.

Even though the
idea sounded great in theory, there was no telling how two control
freaks would handle writing songs together (fans often joke that Saves The Day should change their name to “The Chris Conley Show”). What
resulted is truly a collaboration, and not just a mash-up of the sounds
of both bands. The vocal styles of the two compliment each other quite
well, and aside from the obvious emo influences, there are also tinges
of Smashing Pumpkins (“Don’t You Want to Come Home”) and a touch of
’80s pop (“Back Against the Wall”).

“I wouldn’t describe the
process for either one of us as ‘giving up’ control,” Conley says. “It
was more about sharing a vision and knowing the music would benefit
from us learning to listen to each other. Max and I are both extremely
stubborn and we knew before starting the project that we would have to
be sensitive to each other’s ideas for the music to reach it’s full
potential. Since we both have primary control in each of our bands, we
had to learn how to listen to each other and not rule by gut emotions.”

As the songs began to take shape, Bemis met and began dating
his now-fiancée Sherri Dupree, guitarist and vocalist for Eisley, who
also contributes some vocals to the Two Tongues album. The two come
from very different backgrounds; Dupree was raised in a large Christian
homeschooled family in Texas, and Bemis grew up a child actor in
Hollywood (he appears briefly in the Nicolas Cage flick, Face/Off)
with a strong Jewish background.

Two Tongues’ MySpace bio
claims the band is an expression of “the yin and yang;
how two ‘opposite’ souls stimulate and battle each other in any truly
loving relationship.” Although the statement was meant to describe his
interaction with Conley, Bemis admits that the album was equally shaped by
his new relationship with Dupree. “I met Sherri right when we started
writing and recording this record so the subject matter of the material
owes just as much to our love as it does to me and Chris’s friendship.
The statement can apply to any true friendship, one whether you are
close enough and open enough to risk getting really hurt by the
person.”

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Like many endeavors that dig into deep questions
about human relationships, the album has a natural spiritual undertone. Bemis, whose worldview has been changed by overcoming bipolar disorder,
explains it as different than either the faith system he grew up under,
or the one held by his fiancée. “God to me is a lot more of a
metaphysical reality than to many people who take the concept quite
literally. Even people who aren’t particularly religious can still
relate to how I see the greater good, positivity and reaching high for
it. This struggle, trying to do the right thing and stand up for
yourself is a concept that we have skirted around in Say Anything, but
never really delved into. Two Tongues is a mix of Say Anything’s black
humor and my new ‘2.0 mentality’ about life.” 

Ultimately,
both songwriters hope the stories of tension, of overcoming, and of
friendship, will be a light to those who find themselves struggling. “I
think hearing about my inner turmoil can make them feel more secure in
their moments of insecurity,” Conley explains. “The simple fact that I
am able to lift my head and sing about these things, write them down,
own them, is proof that we are able to live through difficult and
challenging times. And that makes the music we produce more about
survival, strength and courage than about sadness, change and loss.
It’s the power to rise above, or rather live through life’s various
vicissitudes, by honestly examining yourself and your feelings, which
makes our music a lifeline for those in need. For me, Saves The Day’s
music is and always has been existential blues.”

He pauses
for a moment, before unknowingly explaining why these new songs will
connect so well. “Sometimes we need to hear each others’ stories to
remember we are together in this existence. Not alone. Not isolated and
not cut off. Together.”

 

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