Las Vegas is known for plenty things. It’s the City of Sin, the gambling and party capital of the Western Hemisphere, and has launched the careers of some of the biggest names in entertainment. What people may not know (unless they frequent The Joint) is that Vegas is a budding hot spot for hard rock and metal.
The City of Sin can claim Panic! at the Disco, Imagine Dragons, Escape the Fate, Five Finger Death Punch, Adelitas Way, the Killers, and now Epitaph Record’s Survive This!. These fresh faces of Epitaph are chasing the paths of others who have broken out of the desert and onto the charts, which is why it only made sense to team up with former Escape the Fate vocalist and current Falling in Reverse frontman Ronnie Radke to produce their debut album.
We spoke with Survive This! vocalist Shawn Zyvoloski about hard rock in Vegas, how they teamed up with Radke, and whether or not a Falling in Reverse/Survive This! tour is in the near future. Spoiler alert…it is.
Fans can currently stream Survive This!’s debut album, The Life You’ve Chosen, out October 29th.
Tell me how you started and how you got to where you are currently with Epitaph.
Me and Billy are cousins, and Daniel is Billy’s best friend from growing up. We all kinda came from a small subsidiary town in Las Vegas called Pahrump, where we all met. We have all been together playing for about ten years, just out and about in different projects. This project in particular started in 2009 when we met AJ.
Where did the name Survive This! come from?
It’s kinda silly. We’re all kinda into survivalist reality TV shows. It’s not really the coolest thing ever, but there was this TV show called Survive This that Daniel really liked watching, and we were all into it. So we were just like, “We like it. Just go with it.”
How did you guys get linked up with Ronnie Radke?
We met Ronnie before he was even signed. I was playing in a band with Michael Money from Escape the Fate, so we’re kind of like the little baby band for Escape the Fate in the local scene. I’ve just had a friendship with him ever since.
Do you think being so similar to Escape the Fate and coming up in that same scene helped you guys break out or was it more difficult being so similar and from the same city?
I think it helped. I think Escape the Fate opened the doors. If anything, it made us try harder. Them getting signed and getting out, for people in the scene, it was like, “Wow — you can make it if you live here.” I think they definitely opened up some doors.
So when Escape the Fate and a large number of rock bands were dropped from Interscope and other labels, did that affect your drive at all?
We kinda stopped following Escape the Fate after Ronnie left, and we all kind of ventured into our own things. As far as anyone else, I think, personally, I was looking at a lot of heavier bands getting a lot of attention like Devil Wears Prada, and Underoath was still doing well. There are still a lot of good up-and-coming bands like Motionless in White, and just heavier and heavier bands doing well. I don’t actually think we’re that heavy, but I think there’s always a market for heavier music.
I think it was more that we realized we needed to be more independent and more hands-on with everything we were doing. Everything started taking a turn where you had to be really professional even if you weren’t signed — you had to act like you were your own label. That was the biggest thing watching people fail. You have to really write songs and be really particular in your songwriting and not just your sound.
Your genre unfortunately doesn’t have a lot of success on terrestrial radio. I know Survive This! has had success on the Internet. How important do you think the Internet and digital is to not just your band but the genre?
Definitely. YouTube is the new MTV pretty much, and the Internet’s everywhere. Anywhere you look, someone is on their phone or on the Internet. You can listen to our band on your iPhone or Android, you can listen to any band. You can Google any band or song. It’s insane how much the Internet has taken over the world.
That being said, when you’re writing, is it your goal to write songs for radio?
Oh, definitely. I mean, who doesn’t want to be on the radio? Whenever I think about writing or anything else, we’re like, “Oh, this could be cool. This could be on the radio.” I think that’s a great feeling — when you have a song that’s powerful like that. I definitely feel that we’ll be able to write, eventually, a really powerful radio-sounding song. That’s something we’ve all wanted to accomplish in our lives.
Tell me about this debut album with Epitaph. I know debuts can be pretty heavy-handed on the management side. Do you feel that you were able to put out the album you wanted to as artists?
Yeah. It’s definitely what we wanted as artists — it’s a great album. It’s well-rounded, and Ronnie did a fantastic job producing it. We really got to fit in everything that we wanted to do. We really got to sit down and mix genres, and I don’t know if you’ve listened to Falling In Reverse, but Ronnie’s biggest key point is taking different sounds and mixing them together. He really brought that to the table with us to create the sound that we really wanted.
I mean, there are always days looking back when you’re like, “Man, I wish I could redo that” or “This could have been done better,” but that’s just being an artist. You’re always going to critique yourself. If you don’t, you’re never going to be able to move forward.
The actual track with Ronnie on it is super poppy (“Wrong Direction (Hey You)”). I was expecting it to have a bigger hip-hop vibe or be heavier. Is there a reason you went in that direction on that one?
I, particularly, am actually a huge fan of pop music. For me, that was one of my favorite things to do on this record. It was a great idea. We were just like, “Let’s write this really poppy, really driven song.” It was originally Ronnie’s idea — he actually dared us to do it. We fell in love with the idea and just thought, “We have to do this.” That’s another reason Ronnie’s on that track in particular — he just had so much involvement with it.
How heavily involved was Ronnie with the album? Was it mostly in the post-production or was he there for the entire process?
He did everything with us. I mean, we sat through everything. We worked structures, we worked riffs together, we worked lyrics together — he really had his hands on everything we were doing.
Do you have any plans to go out with Falling In Reverse?
Yes…we do. It’s actually already being set up, but it hasn’t been announced yet.
For tour updates and more, check out the Survive This! website.