Interview: Survay Says! [Slam Dunk 2015]

By Samarth Kanal

Henry Menzel, guitarist and vocalist of the six-piece ska band from New Jersey, Survay Says, spoke to us at Slam Dunk South. He was really knackered – and perhaps slightly hungover – but still so upbeat about his tour with Goldfinger, the chemistry he has with his other five band-mates, and going home to spend some quality time with his cat.

Hey Henry, you’ve been touring with Goldfinger right now – how’s that been?

It’s been good, it’s only been two shows so far but it’s exciting because they’re another one of the third wave ska bands who, if they don’t exist, we don’t exist. To do it on our first tour of the UK is an honour and a privilege.

So you tour in a band of six members with your brother included, don’t you ever argue or have disagreements?

Oh yeah of course. We’re touring as seven as we have a crew member and it’s a challenge man. We’re best friends and we have a strong bond already but we still butt heads on trivial things – most of the time it’s not about anything huge so we know each other well enough to deal with it. We’ve done everything together basically since he was born, so 21 years. He’s still going and I’m still growing and we both have a lot of growing up to do and a lot to learn about life, and it’s good to do that together.

That’s really nice! So do you have any good tour stories from this current trip?

Hm. Uh, haha, nothing that I’d be willing to share at the moment. It’s been pretty status quo, and we try not to get ourselves into mischief or anything like that. We’re not a big party band. We do the job, we have fun and then we go to sleep, which I didn’t get to do last night.

So are you looking forward to a good sleep?

Oh yeah, definitely. Actually last night I was doing what I don’t normally do and there was a big after-party fro slam dunk north and I wanted to go make an appearance. I’m not usually a big drinker but I imbibed more than I usually do which I’m not too happy about! I learned my lesson. There’s not been much weird stuff but it’s been really fun.

You seem so positive, and does that work its way into your music?

My lyrics are about insecurities and the things that bother me, and singing about them is my way of working it out. In a way it does, because I like to think that at the end of the record there’s an upswing of ‘hey, it’s alright!’ haha. If for no other reason the positive attitude I try to have is because being miserable all the time is not productive. Trust me, I don’t know if you’ve listened to my lyrics but I’ve got plenty of mental anguish holding me back! It helps to keep me positive.

How’s Slam Dunk been then? Have you seen any bands that you like?

Yeah we have a lot of friends from the States that we’ve toured with, that are here, and that’s probably been my favourite part that we all got to load in like a big family reunion. I kinda focused [yesterday] on seeing my friends that I haven’t seen in months: Patent Pending, Zebrahead, Reel Big Fish, Big D and The Kids Table. Hopefully I get to see some different bands. I want to see The Wonder Years, Fireworks and I saw Neck Deep and Taking Back Sunday which was fun. I don’t wanna see we get paid but we get to come and see it for free, play a set and hopefully connect with people which is awesome.

Are you looking forward to getting back to New Jersey?

Even in the States we tour about 200 shows a year, so I’m not in NJ a lot. I’m always looking forward to it because I live with my mom – I’m not afraid to say it – judge me. I take care of my mom, I have a very simple home life, and I just kinda hang out and conduct the online end of the Survay Says business and spend time with my cat. I’m comfortable being on the road, and it’s something I enjoy as long as I’m playing shows. It’s like one seamless continuum: I’m always looking forward to playing shows, but I’m also looking forward to being lazy.

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]