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......::::SURVIVE THE DEMISE (USA)::::......
Realized at: 10th, June 2014
(Answers by All members)
 

"I believe we have developed a pretty unique aesthetic. We’re a bit more on the thrash side of life but we have healthy servings of death metal and prog in our music. At some point, there were a lot of thrash bands; at some point there were a lot of prog bands; there are always a ton of death metal bands. I have noticed that there isn’t a huge pool of technical progressive thrash bands out there; it’s kind of an honor to put our stake in that soil, so-to-speak."

1. Lee, since the inception of Survive The Demise (STD) in 2010, what are the most memorable events you can extract from those early days? Was it so difficult at the beginning?

I ran into Joe in 2010 at an auto parts store. We had previously jammed together and hadn’t seen each other in years. We immediately talked about starting a new band and within a couple weeks, we had one.

The early days were difficult for various reasons. I was working on my Master’s degree and working over full time. Joe worked a lot. We had several member changes – both lead guitar and bass changed out a couple times. It’s tough when you’re trying to make a cohesive unit and the composition of the unit keeps changing – that’s one of the reasons why there’s a clear distinction between what we sound like now versus what we sounded like then. I mean, it’s all STD and we value the creative directions we’ve taken, but we’re finally doing what we really want to do at the level that we’ve always wanted to do it without having to worry about reducing the complexity or watering down the brutality. At some point, you realize that you gotta go for it and just do what you feel is right; it’s not worth undertaking a project that you’re putting your good name on and not challenging yourself to be as good as you can be.

2. Have you, as a band, developed an aesthetic that is uniquely yours? How have you developed a sound that is all yours? What influences have been the most important to you guys?

I believe we have developed a pretty unique aesthetic. Fans have commonly associated us with bands like Trivium, Sylosis, and Megadeth, and I think that’s cool because that group represents a ranged mix of metal, both old and new. We’re a bit more on the thrash side of life but we have healthy servings of death metal and prog in our music. At some point, there were a lot of thrash bands; at some point there were a lot of prog bands; there are always a ton of death metal bands. I have noticed that there isn’t a huge pool of technical progressive thrash bands out there; it’s kind of an honor to put our stake in that soil, so-to-speak. 

3. Does it become easier with time to write songs or is it a much more difficult process in that you don´t want to repeat what you´ve already done?

We always challenge ourselves but I wouldn’t say that the process has changed much, except that our current line-up allows us to do whatever we please; no reservations. I think we really benefit from the extensive range of influence brought to the table. There’s never a period of “writer’s block”; there’s so much to do and so many possibilities – and that’s how it feels with every new song we write. The only hang-up we might encounter is deciding how to trim down all the possibilities, cut the fat, and still make complex music. I mean, we really appreciate bands like Opeth and Dream Theater but, as much as we enjoy listening to tracks like that, our preference is not to make 20-minute monster tracks. In a similar vein, I’ve heard many authors who write these huge 1,000-page novels say that, sometimes, writing a 2-page piece of flash fiction can be the most difficult undertaking. You’ll hear more notes in Megadeth’s three-minute-long track “Take No Prisoners” then you’ll hear in most 6- or 7-minute-long tunes. This doesn’t devalue the “long song”; an artist should keep a broad scope of possibilities when writing songs. It does make you stop and consider your aesthetic though.

I think the second part of your question hits a familiar chord with a lot of bands. It’s difficult to establish a comfortable identity and maintain that without, one day, being old news – that seems to be a common fear – and some bands change so frequently that identity becomes unclear even to the band. People still listen to the same old Rolling Stones 50 years later, but bands like Metallica seem to be changing things up every album. It’s different for everyone, but there is a separate mental process that goes on when we develop our sound. STD is so many things but there are a lot of things that we’re not. There has to be a principle or set of principles established. Each new song might set a new precedent but it still has to represent what we feel STD should represent. There are a lot of riffs and potential songs that we’ve just thrown out completely because we felt like it was something else, not STD. There’s an art to repeating yourself without repeating yourself.

4. You released your debut CD, Born Of Slaughter!, almost one month ago. How pleased are you with your latest recorded work? What kind of responses do you want to get from it?

All things considered, we’re really happy. We got to work with Dennis Israel, who has recorded with bands like Amon Amarth and 3 Inches of Blood. He’s the head engineer for Clintworks Audio Productions: a really cool dude. We recorded the tracks ourselves and then sent him everything for mixing. He made the album, particularly the drums, sound intense as hell! The album is really an ascension process – or so we hope! As we improve our finances through CD and merchandise sales and gigging, we hope to afford real studio time so that we can fine tune everything. I mean, ultimately, the goal is make every project better than the last in every way.

We’ve received a lot of positive feedback on the album, and, of course, that’s great! When I’ve asked people, “What do you think would have made the album better?” several responded with, “More songs!” That’s pretty reassuring feedback, I think.

5. When you work in the studio what kind of process do you go through? Do you come in all prepared or do you improvise?

We recorded the tracks for Born of Slaughter ourselves and then sent them off for mixing, but we have been in official studios in the past. I would say that our style is to go in completely prepared. We don’t want to waste time and money stringing up ideas that should have been threaded long before we took step into the studio. Granted, sometimes, as you record, things change because new realizations happen, but we want to be as prepared as possible so that potential changes don’t become insurmountable obstacles. Incidentally, the evolution of ideas is natural and that process can change what you originally had in your mind to what eventually comes out on a record, but we want to record the highest evolved form of our music, which means that the majority of any song’s evolution should have occurred well before entering the studio.

6. I remember in the 80s how hard it was for smaller bands to get a decent sound? How easy is it today to find a producer/studio that understands your needs?

It’s gotta be way easier now. The internet really revolutionized everything. That doesn’t mean that “success” is easier; that’s a completely different issue. But, in terms of recording, anyone can do it and sound professional. You don’t have to rely on some huge label to fund you anymore; bands can finance themselves and find producers, audio engineers, and even studios that can do a great job for reasonable costs. You just gotta look around, ask the right questions, hear legitimate samples or source material, and make sure you have a contract.

7. This is a question that I often ask simply because I’ve never ever been in this position. What is it like to release an album? What kind of emotions runs through you?

Honestly, it’s pretty fulfilling to see something you’ve spent so much time and money on get printed. The music is a huge process in-and-of-itself but then there’s album art, graphic design, advertising, copyrighting, and so on. Physical CDs are old news these days because a lot of people just get mp3s on iTunes or Amazon, and although our album is available in those online stores as well, there’s something special about having a printed album in hand. I really loved having cassettes and CDs when I was a kid. Those albums that really influenced you and accomplished great things deserved some admiration, and I would just sit there, listening to the music, staring the CD art or carefully turning through the pages of the inserts. It’s almost surreal to have your own CD in your hand. Part of you thinks that you’re looking at someone else’s work, even though you just spent a significant portion of your life working on it.

8. How much fun is it to hear people’s interpretations of what you created – things that you might never ever have dreamed up about the stuff you’ve written?

It may be one of the best aspects of being an artist. I know what I meant when I sang a specific lyric but someone else may take something completely different from it. We put a lot of effort into layering not only our music but the contextual meanings of our songs; it’s pretty great to see even more layers gleaned from listeners. 

It’s even better to see listeners make real associations and links with own music. For instance, one of our fans told us a story about how he was listening to a history-based radio broadcast about Atilla the Hun. He didn’t know, until hearing that broadcast, that Atilla was referred to as the Scourge of God, and in that moment, also realized why the second track of our album bares that name.

9. Another of my fave areas is art work. In my opinion, bad art work can’t kill great record but great art work can make a half-decent record seem so much better. What are your opinions on art work and what did you intend to express on your CD cover?

All the components of a good album matter, so, I definitely agree with you; and like I said earlier, it’s a personal ritual to just admire a new album when you have it in your hands, particularly if it’s an album you really identify with. When you think of Megadeth, you can visualize Vic Rattlehead; when you think of Tool, you can visualize all of those abstract extraterrestrial or physio-spiritual portraits of the mind or body; when you think of Cannibal Corpse, you can visualize disemboweled zombies and corpses committing acts of debauchery. Image-association is important. It’s not so important that more attention should be placed on the image than the music – that creates a whole different problem – but I do think that each element plays an important role in finalizing your vision as an artist.

The cover for Born of Slaughter depicts Atilla the Hun and his riders in all their gory glory. It’s a reference to track 2 of the album, but historical context is a pretty big theme for Survive The Demise. After all, how better to escape death than to create a self-legacy that outlives your mortal existence?

10. With the easy access to internet you can spread your music across the globe just sitting in front of your computer. How much effort do you put into promoting the band worldwide?

I like that you used the word “spread” because our slogan is “spread STD”! And, honestly, we do put effort into spreading the good word, but there’s a lot more effort put into creating and finalizing our music and content. It’s sad in a way. Our efforts in networking should really be incremented and we’re gradually working toward an improved marketing strategy. I would say, all-in-all, we do as much as we can, considering how busy we tend to get both as a band and as individuals living separate lives. Most of our following has been developed through live performances, and we’ve been fortunate enough to play with some pretty great bands, giving us exposure to some really great fans. Fortunately, metal fans tend to be fanatical about metal, and there are always people out there scouring the internet and the underground movements looking for new metal. Several of them, like yourself, have found us and really helped to let people know that we’re here. We haven’t even scratched the surface of marketing and advertising and it seems like we already spend a considerable amount of time responding to fans. That spells good news to us though; regardless of the size of our current and/or future audience, we’re truly grateful to have dedicated metal heads on our side.

11. As I read on your website, you have constructed strong ties between the band and your fans, by creating a “hang out” basis with your fans on the road. Could you explain to us how it works and how it helped to establish a solid fan base?

At this point, the majority of our fans either discovered us at live shows and/or opted to share the road with us. We understand that money can get tight, and if we’re traveling 4 hours east from one show to the next and we have followers in proximity that want to see the show but don’t want to spend $100+ in gas, then they can jump in the trailer with us and share the burdens of the road. It helps everyone and we appreciate the extra support.

12. How would you describe STD live? Any funny road stories to tell? What sort of good and bad experiences have you had on tours?

Lee: Big guys with big hair! [laughing] Both Bruce and I get plenty of attention from the wild-haired thrasher look, but our whole front line, Jake included, are long-haired dudes playing high-energy metal music. There’s no shortage of head-banging, wind-milling, and thrashing about. We love crowd participation; for instance, during “Dive” we like to get the crowd chanting “dive” during the choruses, particularly the last chorus. It’s great to see all that fist-pounding in the air while people sing along to our song. During “Born of Slaughter” there’s this fast thrashy interlude where synchronous up-and-down head-banging looks just beautiful, particularly when the whole pit is doing it with you! The funny thing is that I personally miss a lot of crowd activity because I’m so busy head-banging, but later I might see some footage of it and think, “Wow, what a show!”

Joe: Well, let’s see – funny stories: I made the mistake of powder-coating my cymbals before a show and the heat made them brittle, so, while I was playing, the cymbals just suddenly shattered – went scattering everywhere! [laughing] Luckily, one of the other bands loaned me cymbals for the night. Maybe the audience just thought it was part of the show – that’s good if that’s the case!

We opened for Obituary last year and it was a crazy show. The funny thing was that everyone was going nuts, moshing, and running around and I look up and see this chick doing some crazy sex dance on her knees in front of Lee like she's getting ready to give him a BJ on stage. I was like, “...the fuck?” [laughing] I guess, Lee being a gentleman, decided to move out of the way; the chick nearly fell over on stage reachin' for him.

13. I always enjoy hearing what life is like outside of a band. What can you share with us about what your lives are like outside of the band? Do you guys have wives, kids, jobs, or hobbies?

Lee: I own a house in Western Maryland and live there with my girlfriend. We’re really into remodeling, landscaping, and exercise. When we’re not reconstructing our home or planting and mulching, we’re usually working out or talking about working out. Going to the gym and moving weight is definitely a big passion of mine. I love to read for both edification and entertainment purposes. I have a lot of interests and I try to balance them all with my work and band schedules – I work for a Federal retirement plan.

Joe: I work for a coal company: drilling, driving dozer. I try to multitask when I can. I usually wear headphones while I’m working to keep all the clamor at a minimum, so, I just throw the midis of STD music on my mp3 player and study the music while I’m working. I also love to work on cars, engines, bikes, you name it – if it has wheels, I’m on it! I’ve built my own oven to powder-coat metal – like I said, I personally customized the hardware on my drums doing that. I recently built a 10-speed mountain bike with 29” wheels and an engine attached to the chain; that way, when you’re tackling a big hill, just release the engine valve and off you go! I think Lee called it the Silver Bullet. [laughing] I work on some stuff like that for some other people from time-to-time also but welding and powder-coating and all that is really something I like to do for myself; it’s a big passion of mine.

I have two daughters, and my girlfriend is currently pregnant and we’re lookin’ at an August due date. It can get hectic with everything going on at once, but I feel pretty comfortable balancing family and work and band and all.

Bruce: I recently bought a house and my girlfriend and I have been sort of stressing about getting everything done. We’ve been working on new flooring and some basic remodeling, and we’ll be pretty happy when it’s finally done. I work for a truck outfitting company. The benefit is that I sometimes have to travel as a representative for the company; the downside is that my life can get kinda hectic, especially when STD’s schedule starts getting busy.

Jake: Well, playing guitar and parkour are pretty much my two favorite things. In case you don’t know what parkour is, it’s getting from one place to another in shortest amount of time possible. That means that, if there are obstacles in the way, like a table or something, you jump it, climb it, scale it, or whatever to get by. Lee calls it Jackie-Chanin’. I have been trying to develop some interest in our local area for parkour; unfortunately, I haven’t had much luck with that, but it’s something I do almost daily with my friends.

14. Well, that would be all for the moment...thanks very much for your time. Do you have anything to add to conclude this interview?

We want to thank you for interviewing us and including us in the CD compilation. The following statements probably can’t be said enough: we are truly grateful to all of our fans and supporters. We’ve come a long way in a relatively short time and we hope to go much further. The dedication we see day-to-day in the eyes of the metal heads outrivals the dedication we see in almost any other musical microculture out there. We’re honored to be a part of it.

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