Shawn Zyvoloski Talks Zombies, Critics and Surviving “This!”

Ashley Winward

“Every artist feeds off the energy of the crowds and other people that are involved around you. When everyone is on the same wavelength it’s like, I don’t know, it’s like this great euphoria,” lead singer Shawn Zyvoloski explained to me, coming off their set at the sold out Palladium in Worcester on the Bury the Hatchet tour (featuring Chelsea Grin, Escape the Fate and Falling In Reverse).

Photo Provided by Ashley Winward
Photo Provided by Ashley Winward

He was practically beaming as we left the merchandise table to chat, especially as fans kept coming in waves, even upon leaving. It was so nice to just watch him interact with the fans, so genuinely grateful for each and every person who came to speak to him. “It’s such a rewarding and touching feeling that really, you can’t describe unless you get to go out and experience something like that,” he said.

Vegas boys Survive This! have been out in support of their debut album The Life You’ve Chosen all winter and have been getting a lot of buzz for the release. When asked what kind of statement they were hoping to give with the album, Shawn put it very simply, “That we enjoy what we do, like our biggest statement is that we’re here to have fun and write songs. We’re not trying to be somebody, we’re not trying to be a sound, and we’re not trying to be the next big thing. We’re trying to give you great songs that we enjoy playing, we enjoy writing and we would hope that people would like.”

The album, while being a generally heavy piece of work, has so many different elements of pop, synth, chugging chords and growling vocals. Being someone who doesn’t naturally gravitate towards screaming or growling groups I was surprised how quickly I fell in love with this record. It’s a great balance with deep, personal lyrics that are easy to relate to. “I think the hardest thing for people is that everybody’s hurting and just having such a hard time these days and that’s what I’m there for. Shawn spoke of his lyrics, “I want to write my feelings out and I need to express myself so I’m not hurting as bad and it makes me feel better to get things off my chest and then other people can respond to what I’m doing and to interpret it in their own reflection to get things off of their chest by you know, singing along or listening to us.”

One song in particular has come under quite a bit of fire, “Pardon Me.” The song is no longer available on Spotify, and has even been blasted by blogs like Property of Zack who claimed the song, “displays the band’s thoughts on being pro-sexism and abusive towards women.”

Zyvoloski spoke out in support of his work. “As much as people want to put negativity on it, kids love that song, kids ask to hear it. What people are trying to perceive that song to be and what it actually is, is really just funny. That song is actually about trying to get the things out and how cheating can affect someone’s personal mind. It’s actually the mindset that you have from your inner thoughts and the things that you go through inside that you consistently battle with when someone has demeaned or put you down or hurt you in such a long way that you have these bipolar moments and when you listen to the song that’s the whole point.” He also added how the critics have affected him personally. “We’re completely against all sorts of violence and we’re just…it’s offends me really, like it sucks…. for someone to come at me and tell me that I am offensive towards women and everything else, it’s like do you know who I am? I’m someone who’s completely against this and I’m trying to give a completely different message than what you’re trying to see me as. Listen to my record. I’m not a crazy person, you know, I’m speaking truths and trying to get feelings out not this pain that you’re trying to bring upon us.”

These guys have such a genuine demeanor and it’s not only seen through their interactions with fans or their music, but in the overarching theme of “Survive This!” as a whole. “It actually originated, the silly thing is, the idea of it started from the fact that Dan and everyone like to watch survivalist reality TV shows, then when coming up with the name, actually building onto it. It became the idea of how I was saying before, that society nowadays, especially kids younger and younger are so depressed and they’re hurting and people are talking about suicide it seems more than ever before or you know talking about money and debt and everything. So we have this great thing where we want to be and I look at it as, with us, you’re all survivalists and we’re all a big group together and together if we could stand united and really lift eachother up we can all survive this world together” Talking about being survivalists I had to ask….did the band have a zombie apocalypse survival plan? “Shoot things, kick things, burn things, fight, run a lot…” he said, chuckling.

As always, I asked for some advice for our music majors with aspirations of breaking into the business. “Never stop practicing. If you think you’ve practiced too much, you don’t have a life, you’re probably not practicing enough. The greatest people in the world have locked themselves in a room and completely made their lives about it. If you’re passionate about something don’t be afraid to put everything into it because it’s going to pay off later.”

Thanks so much to Shawn and Survive This! for chatting with me, it was an amazing performance and the record is fantastic! Be sure to check out The Life You’ve Chosen and for the full interview head on over to unhmic.tumblr.com!