When guitarist Jeff Turner played his first gig after joining the band Say Anything, it kind of freaked him out.
"We played a sold-out show at (the now defunct punk palace) CBGB's," Turner said by phone from a restaurant in Los Angeles. "In my band before, we did have some songs go to the radio, but our audiences were less than 100. So I didn't know what to do."
Turner has since adjusted to his place in Say Anything, which includes Turner's brother/guitarist Jake, vocalist/founder Max Bemis, bassist Alex Kent and keyboardist Parker Chase.
Currently, they are preparing to release a new album later this month, "In Defense of the Genre." The two-CD album is the follow-up to " ... Is a Real Boy," which, despite being released under Say Anything, was basically a solo album by Bemis.
"I'm excited to see how people like the new album," said Turner. "It's a deep album. And very autobiographical for Max, who wrote all the songs. And, in a sense, it is for us as well because we know where the songs come from and he's had a lot of things happen in his life. Sometimes it's hard for me to listen to the album because it is so personal, but at the same time that's why I feel the album is so beautiful."
Turner and the band are planning to showcase some new songs off the album during this tour. "We got finished rehearsing and relearning some of the songs. They are so intricate, and not just a bunch of power chords that I was initially trained on.
"And then we also had to go back and relearn some of the older songs because, as you know, when you don't practice for a few months, you tend to forget things."
Turner was originally a drummer and then switched to guitar. "It was a strange adjustment, but it worked out fine. We are all excited to be in the band, and we haven't had time to get ourselves jaded. And right now, we're trying to convince our tour manager to book some shows in Japan."
Speaking of Japan, Say Anything's tourmate is a little band called Polysics, a pop-new wave-punk band from Tokyo. The group, which is very popular among anime fans in America, said the language barrier isn't really a problem when they play countries other than Japan.
"It is more difficult playing in Japan at times," said band leader Hiro Hayashi in an interview with the entire group by phone through an interpreter in Los Angeles. "When we perform in Japan, I always feel like I need to have a message to convey. When we go to Europe or America, I see kids enjoying the music because of the energy, the musicality, and, of course, the live production.
"In fact, when we first played in America and I saw the energy and the audiences enjoying our music, it gave me confidence to go back to Japan to perform and not worry about having a message or an agenda."
Polysics' goal hasn't changed a lot since its inception in 1997. "When I was a child, I saw Devo's video of the Rolling Stones' cover of '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction,' and it floored me. I wanted to do that. I wanted to make a band like Devo."
Through the years and lineup changes — the band now includes drummer Yano, bassist Fumi and keyboardist Kayo — Hayashi's band has found a niche for itself in its home country as well as abroad. "There are quite a few Japanese bands that have come over to America in the past few years because of the popularity in anime and J-Pop styles, but they are all different in their own way. We are very different from a majority of the Japanese bands in style. So, there isn't a lot of pressure for us to make an attempt to set us apart. And we don't feel a responsibility to be a representative for Japanese bands."
The only major concern is timing the CD releases. Fumi spoke up and said, "We have a lag between releasing our CDs in Japan and releasing them in America and other countries.
"We would like to one day release our CDs simultaneously throughout the world, without the wait."
If you go
What: Say Anything, Hellogoodbye, Polysics, Young Love
Where: In the Venue, 219 S. 600 West
When: today, 7 p.m.
How much: $23
Phone: 467-8499, 800-888-8499