Interviews

New Jersey ska punk rockers SURVAY SAYS! interviewed!

Formed in 2008, New Jersey ska pop punk rockers SURVAY SAYS! have spent the last 4 years honing their craft to bring listeners an impressive combination of horn-driven ska and high-octane pop punk and they have done the job very well. The band is currently on the road in support of their 2014’s record “Observations of The Human Condition” and have just been confirmed for 2015’s Pouzza Fest in Montreal. Bold and powerful, doverse and electrifying – this band will blow blow your mind! Launch the player below and listen for yourself!

SURVAY SAYS have previously toured with some of the biggest names in the genre such as MXPX and REEL BIG FISH and a lot more. Having recently completed a month long East Coast/Midwest run and is currently on the road in Canada with HARBOUR will soon hit the UK with GOLDFINGER soon. This June you can catch the band on the US east coast with LILA IGNITE, with a lot lot more tour dates to be unveiled soon!

Top photo by Julie Ferguson Photography.

SYRVAY SAYS band

SURVAY SAYS!

Hey buddies! You’re like the 30th NJ band to be featured in my interviews section on IDIOTEQ :) 99% of these packs kicked ass big time and you are no exception. How are you?

Hey! Thanks for having us! At the moment we’re getting ready for our first UK tour this May. It’s been a tough process to say the least but I think it will all be worth it when all is said and done.

Cool. Can you give people a short view on who is who in the band, how you guys formed SURVAY SAYS! and what’s your musical background?

SURVAY SAYS! is Henry Menzel (/guitar/lead vocals/me), D.Jay Menzel (trombone/vocals), Michael Fenton (saxophone/vocals), Ricky Coates (trumpet), & Brent Friedman (drums). This version on the band took some time and effort to form. SURVAY SAYS! started as a project that my brother and I and some friends from our hometown in New Jersey conjured up as something fun to do. Over the years, it took on a life of its own and went from a hobby to a career. D.Jay, Mike and I are the original members and we picked up Ricky and Brent along the way. They played in bands we took along on tour and then subsequently joined the band. That’s as short as I can make it. haha

How is your local music scene? Are there a lot of ska punk rock acts around?

At this point in time, NJ is in a little trouble. We’ve had a lot of venues close so right now on a local level, we’re depending on a lot of house shows. But in comparison to other parts of the country, there’s a decent amount of punk ska bands playing around NJ.

SURVAY SAYS live band

What is your favorite thing about New Jersey area and its music scene?

Nowadays we don’t get to play at home a lot so its a nice treat to be in NJ and play. We get to see alot of old friends and long time supporters of the band

What’s your take on all the webzines and online music mags out there? Do you think sites like IDIOTEQ give artists a useful way to showcase their art? How do you prefer to stay informed about topics related to your favorite bands? Can you share us some names of local zines and magazines worth checking out?

My take on the blogs is I appreciate all of them and as long as everyone is fighting the good fight, I’m cool with it. But I have to imagine getting the right amount of attention is hard to get. Its hard to break a new band or record without putting in alot of the effort yourself. I imagine a publication of any kind is the same way.

I prefer to follow up with my favorite bands myself. Each band generally likes to post their news themselves or through who they prefer.

Ok buddies, back to the band.. “Observations of The Human Condition” is a perfect execution of your abilities and I’ve been wondering…Was it your main goal or mission to sound so damn energetic? Is that why you have decided to create music that’s capable of exciting your followers so much and make their parties livelier?

I’d say yes. That was our mission. Our live show is about energy. Before “Observations…” we never had a record that translate our show into a product correctly. We were so happy to finally have an album we are truly proud of. As you said, we want to make music that incites a reaction; either physically or emotionally. I want lyrics people can relate to and feel and a beat people can dance to.

Apart from music related inspirations, what inspires you guys to continue to make music and stay so engaged in this band?

We’re committed to the goal to keep this alive. I’m lucky enough to assembled a likeminded group of bandmates as committed as me to keep this going. One of the biggest struggles I’ve had in keeping all of this together is making sure the band see the same vision I have for the band. Its tough to keep everyone believing sometimes. But all the opportunities we’ve gotten, the friends we’ve made and our love what we do and our love for each other are enough to keep us going.

How hard is it to compose punk rock tunes spiced up with the trombone, saxophone, trumpet sound? Tell us more about your writing and recording process. How do you approach to your creative work?

Hard isn’t how I’d describe it. We like melody, a working that over a pop punk arrangement is something we do. Luckily, some people dig it.

A rough arrangement of the song comes me or D.Jay. We work together to build the arrangement (basic guitar and drum structure). The horn melodies come to spice it up. I work in guitar melody here and there but we only have one, so the musical hook generally come from the horns. Lyrics are written all the time. Lines pop in my head and I jot them down, basically writing what amounts to a small poem. Then I work them into the song as I see fit.

I try to let ideas organically come to me. I just sit down and say “I’m gonna start writing a song” Often times it comes to me when I least expect it to. Sometimes I have stop what I’m doing in my tracks to jot down what I just thought, because my favorite lyrics or ideas are the ones that reach me, rather than me trying to reach them. I hope that makes sense. haha.

SURVAY SAYS WInter tour

You recently wrapped up your massive Spring tour and played so many amazing shows. Would you mind recalling some of the best gigs and moments of your recent treks?

Oh that’s a lot of shows to recall. The 1st tour was especially cool because we got to tour with our friends in CAROUSEL KINGS, FRESHMAN 15 and EVERYBODY RUN. It was cool be a part of an awesome package. It put either others bands in front of different folks and we all felt right at home. If I had to pick a favorite show from that run, I’d say The Nether Bar in Minneapolis MN. Amazing and surprising energy; surprising in that we didn’t see it coming. We knew we had friends in the area but we may have miscalculated how many.

The second half was a solo tour of mostly the west coast. It was our first tour with the vinyl version of our album available and it was cool to have such an awesome response to the album in a different format. Favorite show of that run: A toss up between Denver CO and Tampa FL. Both had crazy response. With the exception of a nasty car accident on an icy highway, overall January thru March was all a great time.

There are a couple of UK gigs scheduled for May this year. Can we expect more European dates to follow?

We’re gonna do our best to keep consistently touring internationally. However, the process of making this UK tour with GOLDFINGER has been more difficult than I thought, primarily from a financial standpoint, but there’s nothing too new about that concept for us. But I trust it will all be worth it. So the answer is I really hope so.

GOLDFINGER dates

What is it like to be a self-managed band playing over 150 shows a year? Was it a struggle to develop this project all by yourselves? Tell me more about your work and promotion ethic and how it has benefited you as a band.

It’s hard. It’s challenging. Sometimes It’s discouraging. But it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done with my life.

Its a struggle that keeps evolving. Once we feel like we’ve got something done, another new task or challenge pops up that we need to learn how to do.

My philosophy with promotion and marketing SURVAY SAYS! is simple; be anywhere and everywhere we can. Any opportunity to get people’s ears, take it. We’re not too discerning. We have the disadvantage of being in the business of selling an art that is taken very much for granted. The value of music has depreciated. So many people get it for free. So many people give it away for free. Honestly I wish we could. If I could take the need for money out of the equation I would. But unfortunately, in order do as much work we do, we need at least enough money to survive. I operate under the assumption that there is no “big break” for a band like us. It’s every little and big thing we do that amounts to our reach to people. So we do anything and everything we can.

SURVAY SAYS tour

What filled up your days during all those years spent together? How would you sum up the band’s course until now? Are you satisfied with your progression so far?

Shows, video games, movies, & food. I’ve boiled my life down to the simplest of needs. I’ve got my art, my work, my entertainment, my friends and I don’t go hungry. The icing on the cake is that there are people that enjoy my music. That’s sufficient enough for me to fill a day.

I’m very satisfied with our progression. We’ve been very lucky. We’ve done some amazing things in a pretty short time. There has been alot of personal sacrifice but no regrets. I keep seeing progress and as long as thats the case, I know we’re doing the right thing.

What would you advise young DIY bands out there?

Don’t be afraid. We’re faced with new problems and sacrifices everyday. Believe in your project but know you have to work for what you get. A lot of bands quickly start to think the grind owes them something. It doesn’t. You have to go get it. Your comfort zone is going to be put to the test. Perhaps even your ideals and convictions regarding how a band should “make it” will be called into question. You must sacrifice. If you’re okay with all that, the success you manage to receive should be enough to sustain you.

SURVAY SAYS band live

Ok mate, what else? Are there already some ideas for your next recording?

I’ve started penning some lyrics and constructing ideas for a concept for the next one. In the meantime we’ve started to re-do some old recordings to have as some bonus tracks. “Observations…”, to me, is still a relevant record and good enough to tour some more on for a while. It will be time for a new release soon but for right now I still want to get our current records into peoples’s hands.

Ok, that’s it! Thanks a lot for you time. Really looking forward to catching your set somewhere in Europe. Cheers from Warsaw!

Thanks for having us! We’ll see you soon!

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