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What It Was Like to Have Met and Commissioned 3 Songs From Indie Rock Music Legend, Max Bemis

Justus enjoys supporting both local and widespread talent by attending concerts, shows and events.

Max Has Written 3 Songs for Me on His Guitar

Meeting My Musical Idol

On January 16, 2022, I had an amazing experience meeting a man whose music, writing and journey as an individual has tremendously inspired me since I was 13 years old; I met Max Bemis, most popularly known for performing in the indie rock band, Say Anything, and for writing comics for publishers like Boom, DC and Marvel.

When I was 13 years old, I attended my first ever concert with my dad and a close friend; I saw Say Anything open for My Chemical Romance on the latter's tour for The Black Parade. Seeing Gerard Way and Max Bemis dance and sing on stage with fervent passion, was not only surreal but also helped to mold my taste in rock music for years to come.

Furthermore, Max's confessional lyrics and openness regarding the matters in his own life have inspired me to share not only his but also my own art with others. I've always taken comfort in knowing that there are others who have similar thoughts (and that sometimes, these thoughts are just as uncomfortable and distressing as my own).

I take catharsis in Max's art (as I know others do with their favorite compositions), and know that I am not alone in my neuroses.

Since 2009, Max has been married to his wife, and fellow musician of the band, Eisley, Sherri Dupree-Bemis. They have a beautiful family of 5 children (4 girls and 1 boy) and while raising a large family comes with many trials and tribulations, Max and Sherri have nonetheless remained quite open with their fans.

Just as Max has remained transparent regarding his own struggles with bipolar disorder, self-medication and co-dependency, Sherri declared on Instagram on March 10, 2022 that she was going to a rehabilitation center to get sober from alcohol.

Relatedly, and for nearly his entire career, Max has taken criticism for his lifestyle, views, and perhaps especially for his creations.

Because he writes comics with liberal, bold messages and songs with unashamed, honest lyrics (that unknowingly to casual listeners, sometimes relate to his created characters), Max has not only been labeled as a social justice warrior but also as a delusional, sexist and blatantly cruel man. The opposite is true.

To be fair, I indeed write this article with bias because I am a fan of Max Bemis as a musician. I also admit that no individual is perfect and that throughout our lives, we all make mistakes.

For example, Max once removed himself from Twitter (and from all social media) because he had been acting aggressively, and was getting into arguments with those who would criticize and threaten his loved ones online. He has also written lyrics criticizing other artists and groups of people.

Despite this, however, and as is mentioned in his song, "Admit It," Max's greatest criticisms are aimed at those who judge him or others with little or no remorse.

Within "Admit It," Max Describes Those Who Have Always Criticized Him

"You adhere to a set of standards and tastes that appear to be determined by an unseen panel of hipster judges."

— Max Bemis

Bridging the Gap Between Performers and Fans

In high school, I was hospitalized twice due to struggles with mental illness. While it upsets me that Max's wife is struggling with her sobriety, I think that what matters most, is that she is indeed seeking help and that her family remains as happy and healthy as possible.

In addition, I've been fortunate because, despite the hardships they've endured, Max and Sherri have always delivered the products and services that I've purchased from them. In my opinion, this reflects positively on their character.

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Yet how exactly did I meet Max? I met Max through the purchasing of a 40-minute, private, live acoustic show, where he played 5 songs for me that I had previously selected from a list of his most popular songs. I paid for this session through the service, Song Stream, and attended the show with my grandmother, who is also a big fan.

Max was attentive, humble and seemed genuinely interested in our comments and questions as we talked. He also improvised, recorded and played a 6th song that I had commissioned for my mother. Before the session was over, my grandmother and I met Sherri and their child, Charlie too!

Throughout the bulk of his career, Max has been condemned by frustrated fans for having never released another record with the same angst and level of vulgarity as his sophomore LP, "...Is a Real Boy."

While some claim that Max's creativity peaked amidst a manic breakdown during the recording of the aforementioned record, he has never stopped pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a creator.

Though best known for having performed in the band, Say Anything, from 2000 to 2018, Max is nonetheless still renowned for his other musical endeavors. These include the acoustically driven, Max Bemis & the Painful Splits, and the supergroups: Two Tongues (with fellow singer-songwriter, Chris Conley, of Saves the Day) and Perma (with Sherri Dupree-Bemis).

On March 10, 2022, Max also premiered the debut single, entitled "Evermore (and the Grammy Goes to)," from his solo project, Maxim Mental (its name satirically addressing Max's schtick as "that bipolar guy").

Despite a music scene housing the ingenuine (where people I personally know, including one of my closest friends, have been conned out of money), the hateful, and even sexual predators, Max has made consistent efforts to remain genuine while bridging the gap between him and his fans.

Max, by far, is not the only one to have done this, and he won't be the last. He has delivered personalized Cameos and has taught guitar lessons for fans.

Max has also offered dozens of perks through a successfully funded Kickstarter (such as writing-related commissions and written lyric sheets) and has launched Song Shop and Song Stream for music-related commissions and private shows.

As technology advances and the effect of globalization becomes increasingly present in society, I believe that more creators will discover ways to bridge the gap between performers and fans. It was unforgettable to have met Max (even if online) and to have expressed to him what his music has meant to me throughout the years.

He thanked me for having bought tickets to his show and humbly expressed that he would have no career at all if it weren't for his fans. I don't know what the future holds for Max Bemis or for myself. However, I will always have art to look forward to and to soothe me in times of distress - as will we all.

  • Summer 2022 Update: Sherri is back from rehab and is sober. She has released a new Eisley single (about overcoming addiction) entitled, “Raise Your Glass.”

Max Has Written for Various Comics Publishers, Like Boom, DC and Marvel

Justus, delighted to have received Max Bemis' 2015 graphic novel, "Oh, Killstrike"

Justus, delighted to have received Max Bemis' 2015 graphic novel, "Oh, Killstrike"

In "Admit It," Max Also Expresses His Wish to Live a Purposeful Life

"And I am done with this; I want to taste the breeze of every great city . . . When I'm dead, I'll rest."

— Max Bemis

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2022 Justus Reinhardt

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