If you go
What: Saves the Day, in concert with Bayside.
When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 22.
Where: Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 S.E. 39th Ave., Portland.
Cost: $16 through TicketsWest, 800-992-8499 or http://ticketswest.com.
Chris Conley, singer and guitarist of Saves The Day, compares the experiences and emotions he went through in making the group’s new album, “Daybreak,” to the 2003 release “In Reverie.”
“When I feel at peace and I’m not as agitated or distraught, there’s sort of a neutral song that’s inside,” Conley said. “I just hear little fragments of it every once in a while as I’m trying to fall to sleep. To me, that was what was special about ‘In Reverie.’ So many of those melodies just sort of came to me in a dream. This album has that as well, because that’s where I was in my heart.”
But he doesn’t want a repeat of the events that came after that 2003 album was released.
On the same day “In Reverie” arrived in stores, Saves The Day’s then-label, DreamWorks Records, reported that radio had not responded to the CD’s lead single and declared the album dead in the water — no more promotion, no future for the CD.
Stung by the rejection of “In Reverie,” Conley fell into a crisis of self-confidence and an 18-month bout of writer’s block. By his own admission, he became a difficult person to be around as he spiraled into depression and his anger rose to the surface. His actions spurred the group’s guitarist at the time, David Soloway, to issue an ultimatum: No more drama or no more band.
Conley got the message, and he began channeling his feelings into his songwriting, working through his anger and eventually finding a place of acceptance and renewed optimism. Along the way his story inspired a trilogy of CDs that concludes with the release of “Daybreak.”
The first album in the trilogy, 2006’s, “Sound The Alarm,” introduced fans to Conley’s angry and destructive side.
On 2009’s “Under The Boards,” he spiraled even further downward, reaching what Conley has described as his “complete collapse,” before chronicling the start of the journey back.
“Daybreak” captures Conley on the upswing, finding his way to a happier, more balanced place.
More than just his mood has changed. Soloway departed. Then Conley lost bassist Manuel Carrero and drummer Durijah Lang when they rejoined their former band, Glassjaw.
“I think my past bandmates are angels,” Conley said of those musicians, as well as drummer Pete Parada (who left to join The Offspring after “Sound The Alarm”). “They should be awarded the Purple Heart.”
But the frontman also said he sees the current lineup of Saves The Day — guitarist Arun Bali, bassist Rodrigo Palma and drummer Claudio Rivera — as the best he’s had at any point since he formed the group in 1997.
“It feels really good to play together,” he said. “We’re all on the same wavelength creatively. We like a lot of the same music. We also have the same sensibilities. We take our instruments seriously and we care about putting on a good show. And we also all feel incredibly lucky to get to do what we love for a living. So we have collectively a good attitude. We like each other a lot.”
“Daybreak” reflects Conley’s more upbeat and hopeful mood. The title song features bright guitar riffs and bouncy melodies. There are also a few melancholy tracks (“E” and “Chameleon”), but the CD is defined more by songs like “1984” and “Deranged & Desperate,” two riff-driven rockers that pack plenty of melodic punch.
“I was definitely having fun with music again,” Conley said. “I purged myself of so much of that, that I found that there was joy under there.”
The “Daybreak” songs add an upbeat dimension to the Saves The Day live show. The new band members are also giving Saves The Day’s older songs a different sound than they had in the past.
“Especially the way Arun plays guitar, he uses effects and techniques that are quite unique,” Conley said. “I’ve never seen anybody play the way he plays. He can make his guitar sound like an organ, like a choir and then he’s an incredible lead guitar player. So he brings a lot of fresh ideas to the old songs.”
Yet the new band members came into a project that Conley had completed well before their arrival.
He had even finished the key song on the new album — the 10-minute-plus, multi-segment title track — and had recorded a version of the “Daybreak” album with the previous lineup, before deciding to re-record with Bali, Palma and drummer Spencer Patterson (who was recently replaced by Rivera).
“I wanted to be able to bring these songs on the road with the people that brought them to life in the studio,” Conley said.