Interview with Survive

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Interview with Survive

Interview by Demitri Levantis

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Japanese thrash metal outfit Survive have returned with a new live album: Live at Death Valley. I caught up with the band to see what made them release a live album and what the last few years have been like for them.

Hi and thanks for joining us. Let’s start with Live From Death Valley: what inspired you to do a live album in the first place?

This live album is the sound source of the streaming live event that I planned after the concert was cancelled by the pandemic last year. I wanted to keep moving in the pandemic and I’m preparing for a new album. Partly because of that, it became a story to make a live album. I played in a special venue. Well, since it’s only sound, the idea of it can only be seen from the music video.

Were these songs all recorded at the same gig or are they from a tour?

Yes, all the songs were recorded at this same gig. It was a pandemic time and I’ve been away from the tour for the last few years…

What can you remember about the nights you recorded these songs, what were the venues and the audience like?

This show was a livestreaming. There was no audience. We played live with the nature. That’s why we played while gaining a lot of energy.

Why did you choose these songs in particular and which is your favourite to play live?

These songs are the best setlists of recent years. I chose a song that are very popular with fans. I think they are aggressive and very mellow.

Why did you include the EP “The Road to Hell is Paved by Good Will”, is it linked in any way to the album?

In this live streaming, we performed only 8 songs, and that’s not enough for an album, right? The EP was originally a digital sound source, and hadn’t been released. So we added it as a bonus to the live album. I thought that the listener would be satisfied for this.

What was it like working with Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan of Venom and why did you choose to feature him?

I’m a big fan of him. That’s from the album when he first joined Venom. I was able to connect with him on a tour and tour with him in Japan. That’s why I wanted him to sing. Because he gave me a really great take, I’m respecting it again.

Where have you guys toured lately and do you have any tours planned for the near future?

Recently, we haven’t been able to tour at all due to bad timing for the pandemic. Last time we toured Europe in 2018. Our previous agent offered only expensive tours anyway, and I couldn’t do such a tour every year. But our new agent does a great job and I’m sure there will be another great tour by the time the pandemic settles down.

What has it been like working with Pest Records and how are they different to other labels you’ve worked with?

They worked very honestly. The contract details were simple and easy to understand. Anyway, I was told that he is working hard for the band. I’m glad above all.

How did the covid pandemic affect the band, did you have a lot of gigs/tours or other big plans cancelled?

We couldn’t do anything at all. All the obvious things disappeared. I’m also worried that this will come back as before. People may have found new value in their lives through this pandemic, right?

What do you make of Japan’s metal scene today and how has it changed in your eyes since you started out?

Japanese metal scene…I don’t think there is any evolution. Don’t feel like an isolated island on land, just like the land. I feel that it gets worse year by year. There is no metal that seems to be metal. Everything has a hybrid sound.

What do you hope for the future of the metal scene in Japan and in the rest of East Asia, is there anything you would like to see happen?

First of all, I want a solid organization in the metal scene. There are no local managers and no agents. It is still difficult to do as a business in Japan and Asia, so I think that more bands will be able to play an active role across national borders if those areas are properly maintained.

What other bands are you guys involved with and how are they different to Survive?

We’ve no other bands, just Survive, active for 20+ year with 8 albums released.

How would you describe Survive’s music to new fans, as many say you are thrash metal but some websites say you’ve moved into more metalcore territory?

Metalcore? I don’t think it’s metalcore. Is that because I use clean voice? If so, it wouldn’t listen to us deeply. Metalcore is the sound of a young band, isn’t it? I’m studying and experiencing deeper things. I’ve never been particularly interested in metalcore. It’s indistinguishable by sound. Everyone sounds like Ghost inside.

What are the biggest non-musical influences on Survive like books, films, art, current events etc?

Our lyrics are about current affairs and personal inner anger. Sometimes I get inspiration from movies and books. Even if you walk, you can touch artistic things, which is also a source of inspiration. In short, everything is inspiration. There is little influence from something specific.

If you could tour with any band living or dead, whom would it be and why?

Sepultura with Max Cavalera era. Death. Pantera. Metallica. I liked these bands very much when I was young. I had a lot of respect for them.

What inspired you to become a musician originally, was there any certain moment when you decided that was the path for you?

I was obsessed with the sound of the guitar. The moment you start, other positive effects on your life, I was convinced that there was nothing to give. I don’t care about other things. I still think so.

What advice would you give to people wanting to start their own bands from your experiences on the road?

Do it anyway! Believe in yourself and keep doing it. The road is sure to open.

Finally, do you have anything you would like to say to our readers?

Please go and support SURVIVE, which is aiming for the world from a strange country called Japan. I’m sure we really do great music.

Thank you so much for joining us and I wish you all the best for the future.