Survival on Getting the Band Back Together and Burning Instruments

Photo courtesy of Thrill Jockey

Over the last several years, Hunter Hunt-Hendrix’s Liturgy has become a force in the indie-metal scene, but he’s not a one-riff pony. He’s recently reunited with longtime buddies Jeff Bobula and Greg Smith (they were all once in screamo band Birthday Boyz together) sparking the rejuvenation of their longtime, yet elusive band Survival. After recording the songs nearly five years ago, Survival is unleashing their debut LP this week, where we find Hunt-Hendrix trading in his deafening Liturgy roar in favor of surprisingly melodic yet complex chant-singing; the guitars and drums hellishly mangled yet erupting into intricately-crafted riff massiveness. Hive recently spoke with the group about getting the band back together, burning instruments and why the Smashing Pumpkins were inspirational.

There’s so much going on with metal in Brooklyn. Since you guys hadn’t played live in five years, do you feel detached from “the scene” although Liturgy has been a presence? Do you think there is a scene?

Jeff Bobula: It’s tough to say. All these people in all the bands that we see and that most people will be talking about—and at this point we have lived and performed in the city for ten-plus years—they’re all friends of ours. So yes, there is definitely a scene. But it’s more like a camaraderie of musicians rather than a scene that sounds like one particular thing, which is probably somewhat obvious to people who are aware of what’s going on. I think only recently has the more exploratory kind of rock music that’s been happening in Brooklyn been actually getting its fair chance with press and with being able to play higher profile shows. Whether or not it’s the fact that people we know are now the people booking these shows or if the public has a new ear for something a little more interesting, I’m not quite sure.

Greg and Jeff, you have your band Crushed and Hunter, Liturgy is still active…

Hunt-Hendrix: Yeah, yeah. We were just in Mexico, we’re still playing shows and working on new material…

How do you guys balance all your bands and where does Survival stand?

Greg Smith: In the example of Crushed, we started that band during a pretty inactive period of Survival and it’s a really different type of songwriting and a different type of performing. Crushed is pretty much straight up hardcore, kind of like mean, pissed stupid hardcore — N.Y. and Boston hardcore-influenced. It’s super fun to play and it means we get to hang out with our singer a lot, who is weird and cool—Fred. Crushed is a very different outlet. It’s a different type of endeavor entirely (than Survival) so it’s pretty easy to balance in being such different bands. One practice feels totally different from the other.

When you do Survival, it must be an insane departure from doing hardcore.

Smith: It’s weird because in a way the songwriting of Survival is much less self-conscious actually than Crushedor other bands I’ve played in, even though we end up with something people have called math or post-rock or heavy rock or whatever. There definitely aren’t preconceived ideas about the genre of rock that we’re going to play. It just evolves based on our tastes in instincts and stuff. In a way, the [Survival] songwriting itself is a lot more open but at the same time super-elaborate. [Laughs.]

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