Hailing from Oakland, Bay Area, Survival stand arrogantly on the crossroads between thrash metal and hardcore. Striking back this year with two full-length albums (Shayda:1 and Happiness) and featuring as one of the greatest surprises on the covermount CD of our latest issue, Zero Tolerance had to find out more about the band. We contacted guitarist/singer Nick Noro.
Survival came to life in 2009, Noro begins. “I had been kicked out of a few bands and the singer/drummer who had just been kicked out/quit Hatchet joined up to start Survival. We started in a house with fugitives and junkies. The other guys burnt out, went to jail or just fell off and I stayed with it, working forward.” Staying-with-it and working forward seem to be two of the most vital forces pushing the artist and the band. Just wait to hear how many songs they have actually recorded…
“Survival has been my baby” Noro confirms. “I’ll record riffs wherever I am (sometimes on an acoustic guitar) and take it where it goes. A lot of times finer arrangement happens or doesn’t happen later. In 2011 I recorded about 600 demo songs at home and uploaded them to youtube (survivalbayarea).” This is how the guitarist/vocalist works and it shows, if nothing else, a profound sense of dedication. The songs are not a one-person affair, however, as they then go through the “band” phase which breathes new life into them: “As far as arranging, I like giving drummers room to do what they want, which can transform the feel of a riff.”
Survival seem to be a far greater thing for the songwriter than simply a band, giving him a focus as well as the motivation to get in touch with his inner self. “You can only do so much in life. It’s one of the only things my will has freedom to roam with. I write riffs and lyrics all the time, so it’s mostly life experiences that inform the music. On Shayda (2015) and Unity (2013), the last two records, the lyrics are about depression and the insanity of my personal life. I was on trial for a felony when writing songs like Rig and Persevere. Betrayal is the ongoing theme. But Love God (2012) for example was not an ironic title: it was about experiencing happiness in connection with a higher spirit. I had just gotten clean/sober when writing that in 2011 and the content reflected the awakening to inner self that we all ultimately experience.”
So what are Survival’s main influences? “Sensations and incidents that inspire the truth. Bands like Exodus or Killing Time. Feelings. Betrayal. Happiness. I do not usually take inspiration directly from another band.”
And what about the legendary Bay Area scene? Did that dictate to Noro how the band should sound? “When I was 18 and the band was starting it was important. We were like table scraps of the retro thrash scene (which is always waxing and waning- and always limited). But with the last few records and the hundreds of recordings on YouTube, survival has broken through those labels, for better or worse. Expression should not be conditional” he states.
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