Survay Says! is a New Jersey band who developed their sound by mixing elements of pop punk and ska. Since 2008 they have been steadily gaining popularity up and down the coastline. Survay Says! has found success by constantly striving to improve their craft during their rigorous touring schedule. The band’s discography and hard work landed them on tour with bands like Less Than Jake, Mustard Plug, and Goldfinger. By the Barricade caught up with Survay Says! lead singer and guitarist Henry Menzel at Dipiazzas in Long Beach, California during their tour with with Firestarter to learn more about about what’s next in their musical journey.
Survay Says! started in New Jersey in 2008 and settled on a name that wasn’t taken on Myspace but a lot has changed since then. As you have switched lineups have you ever thought about changing the name?
Henry Menzel: We had a brief discussion last year (2014) but we weren’t all for it. It never meant anything in the first place but I take the band seriously. The backup names we had originally just came across as too serious or pretentious. Survay Says! Is just quick and catchy so even though it’s misspelt it’s sticking that way. The entire discussion of changing our name came up to late in our growth. I believe we would lose a lot of the attention we’ve gained so far if we suddenly changed our name.
Survay Says! played over 200 shows in 2013 and 200 more in 2014. Besides your hometown where’s a place you try to play as much as possible?
Henry Menzel: Well this is our 135th show this year. We don’t really have a hometown. Brent our drummer is from Southern California but the town we live in is New Jersey. There is no scene. If we want to play a show we would have to drive about an hour to play a Jersey Show. Since we tour so often we can only play our “hometown” once every three months. Luckily we can pretty much go up and down the coast. Fans keep us afloat so we try to hit offshoots of local markets. Like this October we’ll be back in Los Angeles and San Diego along with northern California.
It seems like you are almost always on the road, and your currently on tour with Firestarter. What keeps you fired up and eager to play shows?
Henry Menzel: I don’t have anything else to do. Always touring is the best way to stay relevant and I want to stay relevant and be noticed for bigger tours. Subjectively I just need to perform. It’s always the best part of my day! The release really grounds me and I’m the happiest when I get to perform in front of people. Touring is my addiction. I’d rather channel all my energy and money towards that than something destructive.
Henry Menzel: The dollar menu is my go to at Taco Bell. They’ve got the Frito Burrito; it’s a good size, it’s big, and it’s a dollar. I also love the Quesarito. Anything two bucks or lower has kept us from going hungry plenty of times.
Can you tell me a little more about why Survay Says! recently took down a lot of their music to give it away for free on Bandcamp?
Henry Menzel: Well the band and I talked it over. Some people didn’t want it off iTunes because we still get sales through iTunes. Our Bandcamp is still completely run by us and so we put everything up there as well.
You’ve mentioned in previous interviews that one of the major reasons you wanted to remove older releases was because of how much the band’s lineup has changed. Are there any plans to release updated versions of those tracks?
Henry Menzel: We revisited two on our last EP and are currently in the middle of tracking some more. We want to rework five tracks off Where we Exist in the studio. I don’t know where or when those songs will be released but they’re coming. We still play some of those songs and fans are into it. I get nerdy when it comes to seeing a band get bigger and improve the quality of their sound. I want to make our albums as much of a cohesive unit as possible.
How do you balancing touring costs when you give a lot of your music away for free?
Our merch is very important. We have a lot of different designs trying to resonate with as many people as possible. Merch is what we can count on to keep it going. Also, nowadays we get better money than we used to. The more we tour, the more we can earn, and the better we can save. It’s a higher risk but the best way to save up the money to keep doing what we do is by touring.
Well Survay Says! has the upper hand with merch. How does your brother D-Jay’s (vocals/trombone) company Three Engine Screen Printing play into that equation?
Henry Menzel: You’re right! D-Jay’s operation has evolved from just screen printing to a full scale merch company. We started off with just shirts but now we have stickers and try to do everything. Brett (Drums) handles the button side of things and has been getting a lot of orders. Ricky’s clothing company always has stuff at our merch tent as well so we are pretty stocked out. That really helps us keep from going starving. We always seem to have a roof over our head and food to eat nowadays. The way we’ve got it set out, even if a big catastrophe happens we won’t have to stop right way.
Henry Menzel: Well that’s not my go to. It took a lot of coaxing for us to get behind that. I’m ok with Kickstarter if it is going to make a tangible product for fans. Kickstarter really helped us get into the studio and I love how our last record came out. I want to tour on it as much as possible and make sure everyone has a chance to get it. However, I don’t like it when bands do it for things like tours because fans can’t go on the tour they supported so it bums me out.
Speaking of your last album; in an interview with Groundsounds you said you would be teaming up with John Naclerio to engineer your next release. Any updates on that?
Henry Menzel: If everything goes the way I want there will be an EP and then a full length next summer. I like EPs but I’d rather write a full record. Observations of the Human Condition isn’t a concept record but I feel like there is a narrative that we’re telling. I like that experience more than just writing a few songs. I’m writing an EP that’s meant to be a bridge between Observations and our next full length. It’ll be short but I really want it to pack a punch!
You filmed the music video for “Ode To My Willpower?” with John Komar and talked about doing another one in that interview. Any updates on another music video?
Henry Menzel: I want to so bad! Music videos are a lot more of a rough investment nowadays because of YouTube but we have so many cool concepts. Originally we were supposed to do a music video for “Denial”. That song’s about my dad. He was a fire captain for 34 years so we were going to go shoot the video in a fire station. We wanted to patch in home movies but it didn’t work out. We really want to release a music video for every song but we’ll see how it goes.
Is there anything else you want to say to the readers of By the Barricade?
Henry Menzel: Our website is back up! Check it out at Survaysaysmusic.com. Also, go to shows! It’s a cool night out and Netflix isn’t going anywhere. We don’t charge much and this form of entertainment needs support. If it’s not Survay Says!, go see your friends’ band. It’s a fun thing to do.
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