Las Vegas is known for a lot of things and it isn't just glitz and glamour. Sure, that's part of it, but ultimately people go there for a chance to push their luck in order to transform their lives--and that spirit of perseverance lies at the core of Survive This! and their unique blend of rock, metal, hardcore and pop. On paper it may seem like this combination wouldn't work, but like hitting a Sin City jackpot, the music created by Survive This! is an against-the-odds combination that is nothing short of transcendent.
Vocalist Shawn Zyvoloski, his cousin drummer Billy Sanderson and childhood friend and guitarist Daniel Ingram started out as teenagers playing music in their hometown of Pahrump, Nevada, however Survive This! didn't come into existence until the addition of guitarist AJ Veloz back in 2009. "Despite it being a small town Pahrump had a pretty good music scene and we would always play at a community center and fill it to the back," Zyvoloski says of the band's early days. "Before we knew it we were getting shows in Vegas and eventually we built such a strong fanbase that it made sense to relocate where there was more going on."
Vegas was also where the band met Falling In Reverse frontman Ronnie Radke who has become a vocal supporter of Survive This! who co-produced The Life That You've Chosen and also lends his famous pipes to the song "Wrong Direction (Hey You)." "We became friends with Ronnie through local shows and coming up together; one day I was hanging out with Ronnie and we were listening to my iPod on shuffle and one of the songs randomly came on and he really liked it and wanted to work with us," Zyvoloski explains when asked how the group got the attention of Radke and, eventually, Epitaph Records.
If you couldn't guess from the title The Life That You've Chosen tells the story of Survive This! and while the band have always remained hopeful they certainly haven't lead a fairy-tale existence. "This album is intensely personal," Zyvoloski says, "I think we were all fighting depression and I literally had no money while we were writing it. " It also wasn't easy for Ingram to be away from his newborn son, a fact that is chronicled on "Father." However the band's commitment to their music and fans is evident on "Ten Years," a track Ingram describes as "a celebration of the fact it's taken ten years to get to where we are now, which makes it extra meaningful to everyone in the band."
Survive This! stuck to their self-sufficient roots and did all the pre-production at their house, recording 20 songs and emailing them to him while he was on the road with Falling In Reverse. "We would send him the songs day by day so we knew exactly what we wanted on the album by the time we we went into the studio," Zyvoloski explains. "Once he got back from tour we recorded 'The Life That You've Chosen' with him and he helped bring a more mainstream vibe to the music we were playing that really showcased our melodies and that song helped get us signed and kickstart his career as a producer."
Recorded with Radke and Ryan Ogren at Ogren's studio in Hollywood, The Life That You've Chosen sees Survive This! taking their diverse musical interests and combining them into one incredibly catchy amalgamation that's already won them fans all over the world thanks to their strong Internet following. "When we were writing this record it was really important for us not to be pigeonholed," Zyvoloski explains. "For me Justin Timberlake is in rotation just as much as the stuff we loved growing up like Underoath," he continues "We wanted to bring everything we love into play in one sound and make it work because the ability to do that is what makes us stand out, you know?"
This diversity is evident while listening to The Life That You've Chosen from the alternately melodic and crushing nature of the title track to the acoustic ballad "Father" and everything in between. Maybe most impressive is the fact that Survive This! are able to combine all of these genres within the context of a single song as evidenced on "Pardon Me," which manages to merge chaotic chugging with soaring choruses with neither part sounding out of place. Then there are the electronic flourishes and accents that help take "Coming Clean Takes Heart" to the next level sonically and emotionally. Oh, and the band's knack for crafting innovative-sounding breakdowns doesn't hurt either.
Survive This! have sacrificed everything to make The Life That You've Chosen yet despite the amount of work that's going into every single note, they feel like they're just getting started when it comes to what they can accomplish. "Even if we weren't on a record label we would still be writing music and singing these songs of whether we were in the garage playing to ourselves or rocking out at packed clubs," Zyvoloski explains. "If we didn't have this release I don't know where we would be in life," he summarizes. "Everyone needs a release to get out the frustrations that you have inside and I'm so thankful we found this and other people can relate to it as well. It's something really special."
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