Rock is alive and well in Jacksonville, Florida
"They owned the rights to the name we were using at the time so when the 4 of us decided we wanted to move ahead, we took on the name Surviving September because the 4 of us made it through September of 2019 together."
By Kreig Marks, September 2020
TRR: You guys have been together now since 2010. Originally you had a female singer. With her, what style of music were you writing? You’re the one doing the vocals now. Was it different than what you write now?
SMP: The idea of the band started in 2010 with me (Steven) and yes, a female singer. Our song style was basically the same as it is now, obviously progressing over time, with me on vocals now. Basically, we were writing the same type of music as we are now.
TRR: With the current lineup, what’s the first song you all played together?
SMP: The 1st song we played together with the current lineup was a song called “Your Fall”. It came from an article I read about a porn star who was cyber bullied. It was so bad and so hurtful to her that she ended up committing suicide.
TRR: There’s so much cyber-bullying these days. Unfortunately, you could write an entire catalog on this subject. Lets’ get to a more positive area. I especially liked your tune, ‘Prey’. Can you tell me why you wrote it?
SMP: When we wrote the music for it, we recorded it at our studio. I just played it on a loop and the chorus line, “I’ll see with my own eyes what's waiting for me in your afterlife” just popped in my head. I’ve always thought all religion was B.S. so I wrote the rest of the song around that idea.
TRR: What about spirituality? Keeping religion out of it, do you feel you are a spiritual person?
SMP: I think that there is something out there but its nothing like what we have been told by any religion.
TRR: What is the best song you guys have written so far? Second best would be…?
SMP: As of now it’s the song we close out all of our live performances with, it's called “Afraid”. The 2nd best is a newer song we just wrote a few weeks ago called “Longing for” really catchy and fun song to play.
TRR: What makes “Afraid” your best song?
SMP: Musically, it's one of the best songs we’ve put together, very dynamic with clean guitars and heavy riffs throughout. Lyrically, it's the 2nd part of a story about being cyber bullied into suicide. The idea of the song came from an article I read a while back about a porn star who was cyber bullied and committed suicide because she refused to do a scene with a dude that did gay porn but hadn’t been tested for std’s in a while. The 1st part of the story “Your Fall” is from the perspective of someone seeing the situation from a far and reacting to it and Afraid is in the perspective of the afterlife and regretting killing oneself but realizing it's too late.
TRR: That's pretty heavy. Bullying is a big issue, especially in today's climate. What do you think makes a musician write a song?
SMP: Not sure why all musicians write but speaking for myself it's more of a constructive outlet. When I’m pissed, instead of breaking stuff I hit the studio and push record and just play for hours.
TRR: That's a good outlet. Releases your anger and pushes your creativity.
TRR: How do you transition to being home so much right now? What is working and what isn’t working?
SMP: For us none of our day jobs were affected by Covid. musically we shifted focus from playing live to recording and just last week we signed our 1st music licensing agreement for a short film that will be out later this year. Also have some streaming shows that we are looking into.
TRR: Congrats on that honor. Can you give any details yet?
SMP: As of now all I can say is it’s a short film about zombies. The director’s name is Lavar Leo. He does a lot of stuff for Amazon TV. We are working with him on a few other projects as well but can’t get into anything else about those just yet.
TRR: Keep us in mind when you're able to discuss it a bit more.
SMP: Will do.
TRR: What intimidates you the most in Music, individually and as a band?
SMP: The business side of it. There is so much more than just picking up my guitar and playing.
TRR: How so? The financial end? Scheduling, promotions?
SMP: All of it. LOL. When you dream about being a musician, all you think about is being on stage and writing music. But in reality, it is like running a small business. That's why we brought in a media marketing company to help out (Madd House Media). We would have never been able to negotiate that deal with the movie on our own. Until we signed on with them we never knew all the different avenues to making money in the music industry.
TRR: It's a lot. Most bands, especially those just starting out don't realize what is needed beyond the music to succeed in the industry.
SMP: Very true.
TRR: This may have happened with you guys the past several months because of the pandemic. If you could only write a song virtually, online, no getting into a room together, what would be the toughest thing for you guys about that?
SMP: Not being able to feel out each other. The way we write is just bouncing ideas off each other. One of us will play a cool riff just messing around in between songs or Bryan will play a cool drum beat and kind of getting everyone going.
TRR: You’ve been together about 10 years. Band stories. Anything that bonded you, or that you all had to go through; something that made you closer as a band?
SMP: With the current line up the most trying thing we had to go through was when we first met back in June of 2019. I answered an ad for a band looking for a singer, Joe (bass) and Mike (lead guitar) were already in this band and Bryan came in about 2 weeks after I joined. We had a show booked at a large festival in VA that September and had to write enough material for a 30 min set. VA went good the real tough part was when we got back we all started talking and I brought up bringing in outside management to help because things were looking up at the time but the one member that is no longer with us didn’t agree and left. They owned the rights to the name we were using at the time so when the 4 of us decided we didn't want what we had to go away we took on the name Surviving September because the 4 of us made it through September of 2019 together.
TRR: Worst case scenario here. The pandemic continues into 2021. If you weren’t able to do a show for another year, what would you guys do?
SMP: We switched focus back mid April to steaming our practices, recording new music, and locking down licensing agreements. We just recently were on a internet radio show talking about how we think live music is never going to be the same and the different things we’re doing to keep ourselves going.
TRR: What are some of those things? Things you guys are now doing differently than before the pandemic?
SMP: We just shifted focus from playing 8-10 shows a month to recording music and streaming videos through our website (survivingseptember.com).
TRR: What are some new things you’ve learned about each other from this quarantine time.
SMP: Joe and Mike really likes dad jokes.
TRR: How does everyone stay in shape in the band now? Any exercising going on?
SMP: Bryan just plays drums like a mad man so he really doesn't need to exercise. I hit the gym 3-4 times a week for cardio to help me sing.
TRR: Wildest gig you have had so far? Or most interesting?
SMP: That was a festival in Daytona Florida, the stage was just barely big enough for the drums. So I set up behind Bryan and sang in the back. Bryan loved it because he finally got to be out in front. Everyone that was watching really enjoyed it also, we got a lot of positive feedback from that one.
TRR: Daytona Beach. I know Daytona very well. Any flying beer bottles to duck during your set?
SMP: No, no flying bottles but the stage was set up in the middle of the street where people were walking by to get to different parts of the festival. By the end of our set we made a traffic jam of people trying to get to the other side and people stopping to watch us. Even saw a few people singing the songs by the end.
TRR: Your band gets to play with any idol doing a LIVE HOUSE CONCERT. Which one or two artists do you guys jam with?
SMP: Mike's favorite band is Pearl Jam. Bryan is Godsmack, which we did get to play with at the music festival we did in VA. Mine would be Thrice, one of my all time favorites.
TRR: Gotta love “Black Honey” and some “Paper Tigers.” If there was no Rock music, you’d play which style of music next?
SMP: Pop music…. just kidding, although Bryan does have a headset mic. He quit using is because we started calling him Brittney. But for real though would be blues.
TRR: What blues artists do you listen to?
SMP: Stevie Ray Vangh, Eric Clapman.
TRR: The pandemic ends tomorrow. What’s the first venue you call to get back out there?
SMP: We are from North Florida but we have a bigger following in Central and South Florida, so anywhere down there we could get into.
TRR: Anyone you want to thank or give a shout out to?
SMP: Melissa and Denis over at Madd House Media for all the help and support, All our families that have put up with the long hours we put into this everyday. And the last thing I would like to thank Brian Paul over at Rock 989 in Jacksonville, FL for giving us our 1st radio play and really kicking off everything.