By Tyler Fox (@TylerFox585)
Everyone has a soft spot for some good ska music. How can you not? The guitar riffs are catchy, the bass is all over the place and those horn lines are infectious. But it seems like fewer and fewer bands are able to put their own spin on ska to keep it fresh and interesting. Long gone are the days of bands like Less Than Jake and Streetlight Manifesto paving the way for a new wave and talent of ska. However, there is a band on the verge of breaking out because they do offer a new spin on the genre and are finding opportunities to play with ska giants of yesteryear.
In comes Survay Says! These punky kids from NJ are creating a blend of power pop-punk and ska, which may not be a new thing, but sure feels like it is when they do it. These guys are doing the work. Playing over 200 shows a year, they just never stop. On top of a busy touring schedule, they are always writing and getting ready to release new stuff.
Recently I got to speak with Henry Menzel, guitarist and singer of Survay Says! to discuss the band’s busy schedule, their history, and what is in the works. Be sure to check out their Facebook, because they are constantly adding new shows, and be on the lookout for new music in the coming months. You won’t want to be the last kid skanking at this party.
Let’s start at the beginning. How did Survay Says! come to be and how did you guys get to be the band you are today?
Survay Says! was never supposed to be a serious project, hence the silly and purposely misspelt name. We were a group of post high school graduates who could kind of play our instruments, so we started a ska band. We wrote some goofy songs in my house and then we started playing shows here and there. I’ve never loved anything more than performing so as the band gained some traction with finding fans, I wanted to take it more seriously. I studied some of my favorite DIY bands to learn what it takes to get people’s attention. So we became a full-time touring band. And some people like us so, here we are!
The band’s style seems to blend the ever popular power-pop-punk sound (old Title Fight, Four Years Strong) and the classic 90’s and 2000’s ska sound that never seems to get old. Where do you guys pull musical influence from to get this unique sound?
Exactly there. haha. I love nearly all types of punk & pop punk; from State Champs to 7 Seconds. I also love ska (unironically.) Powerful guitars and breakdowns get me going as much as upstrokes and horn lines. My goal is bring as many of these worlds as possible. This kind of music excites me. I can’t imagine playing music that doesn’t get me stoked.
You guys work super hard. It seems like the band is constantly touring. Let’s just look at this year since May. You did a Canadian tour for the first half of May, then went to Europe to finish out the month, came right back and toured the states for the entirety of June, went back out from August to the beginning of November, and now, you guys are playing the Northeast through mid December. How difficult is it to keep up with this schedule? How rewarding is it when you look back and see you have done 100+ shows in a year?
200+ actually. haha. It’s difficult but extremely rewarding. To keep it going like this we have to suffer many hardships: personally, financially etc. But we knew what we were getting into. My band is extremely brave and I couldn’t be more proud of them.
Survay Says! has shared the stage with an absurd list of pop-punk and ska giants, including Mustard Plug, Reel Big Fish and Goldfinger. What has it been like sharing the stage with these guys? What band was the most exciting for you to play with?
It’s surreal every time. The careers of these bands make it possible for us to exist. To be a part of their world, even temporarily, means everything to us. It’s hard to rank each tour because each one has opened different doors for us. One leads to the next. Our first support tour (with Big D And The Kids Table) was a catalyst to us being able to support Reel Big Fish the following year. Our run with MxPx lead to Goldfinger and so on and so forth. It’s a cool, fluid process sometimes.
You recently finished up a European tour with Goldfinger. Was that your band’s first time overseas? What was that like?
That was our first overseas tour. Un. Real. It was a cultural experience, along with being great for the band. It opened up a fan base in the United Kingdom and possibilities in Europe. Now if we can only make our way back there. Plane tickets are expensive.
On top of touring Europe, you guys have played these epic festivals like The Fest and Riot Fest. Out of all your opportunities, what would you consider your biggest break to date?
Again, tough to rank. The Fest & Riot Fest, while both awesome, offered different opportunities for us. Riot Fest is ridiculous. Not a single band on that bill isn’t major player in music, let alone just punk rock. Our being there last year must mean we are doing something right. And we’ve played Fest 3 years in a row now. Being a part of the Fest makes us feel part of the punk rock community. It feels good. Personally, I have a problem feeling accepted anywhere so it’s very rewarding to have a sect of the music world like our music.
Obviously we can count on some more tours, but what do we have to look forward to from Survay Says! in the coming months (other tours, shows, new music)?
A new EP and a new full length are on the way! Once the EP is complete, we’ll be back on the road to show everybody what’s next! I wish I could tell you more but in due time, we’ll have some announcements!