Juicy reads are always good things, but when you have a well thought out and conveyed interview, it makes the piece all the more interesting.
Ryan Sollom (vocals), Kyle Newton (guitar), Kevin Cortez (guitar), Seth Borges (bass), and Jake Cooley (drums) make up a little band of brothers from Sacramento, CA known as Surviving The Era. This five-piece alternative rock outfit is getting ready for their second offering to the masses to drop on Jun 18, 2016, entitled, Parallax. We managed to grab the very willing Seth for a few minutes of vigorous questions and answering there of.
So, grab your favorite drink and prepare to read a well thought out interview from a bass player no less. Those in bands or knowing a bassist in a band will get the good-natured humor in that. After you’re done, hit us up on our Facebook or Twitter feeds and let us know your thoughts on this piece or who you’d like to see us cover next.
NRR: Thanks for taking some time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions for National Rock Review. What’s been going on with Surviving The Era so far in 2016?
Seth Borges: Hey, it’s our pleasure. It’s been a crazy year for us so far. Partially because we keep ourselves pretty busy playing out, but mostly because of the whole recording process and all the behind the scenes stuff that we have been working on to make sure we can make the most of the summer.
NRR: Let me start off by asking about the new album, Parallax. What’s the background on the CD and what can fans look forward to listening to it for the first time?
Seth Borges: As people may or may not know, Parallax is our sophomore release. The five songs that we chose each represents a period of time, from when we wrapped our first recordings until just before going into track for this release. So it kind of tells a story of who we are as a group. We wanted this release to show our versatility as a band while still being a cohesive and logical set of songs. I feel like we did a pretty good job so hopefully, that translates for people.
NRR: Give me the history on the band. How’d you first get together and who all is in the band?
Seth Borges: So, we all met on Craigslist. I’ll give names first, so the story flows better for readers. Ryan’s the vocalist, Kevin and Kyle are on guitar, Jake is our drummer, and I play bass. Okay. After responding to an ad for a bass player, I showed up to jam at one of those big, warehouse-type practice spaces that reeks of marijuana and abandoned dreams. That’s where Kevin and I met.
We had some fun, but this isn’t the group that turned into Surviving the Era. We played with these guys for a couple of months. On the other side of town, Kyle and Ryan had found each other, via Craigslist, and started working out some ideas together. Well, after a little bit of time together, Kevin and I were feeling a little creatively frustrated with the group we were with so we went online and found an ad from Ryan asking for a second guitar and bass player. So we set up a time to get together, and the rest is history.
A funny thing is that Kyle and I knew each other. In fact, we played in a band together. That band called it quits, and we went our separate ways, only to be brought back together again without even realizing it. Jake joined the band about eight months later after we parted ways with our original drummer. It was the best thing that could have happened for us. So, that’s a pretty fun origin story, right?
NRR: “Queen Of The Sea” is your latest video, right? What was the experience like making it and what was it about this song that deserves video support?
Seth Borges: Recording the video was a lot of fun. It was done during a live performance, so nothing was staged, and we only had one chance to do it. We each just gave it our all, like we always do, and trusted the camera crew (Atrocious Works Productions) to capture the energy that we express. They did a great job. We chose Queen of the Sea because it is among our more well-known songs and it’s one that we always seem to get a positive response from. Wish I had a more meaningful answer, but it was just the logical choice.
NRR: Being an unsigned crew, at least for now, what are some of the harder issues to deal with as a DIY band?
Seth Borges: I’d have to say getting people to give us the time of day is pretty difficult sometimes. It can take weeks and months of emailing and calling just to get a promoter on the phone so they can tell us we aren’t big enough to play their venue. Is what it is, I suppose.
We’ve been fortunate enough to play with some pretty well-known acts, but even then there is no guarantee of attendance. All you can do is promote the hell out of a show and hope for the best.
Additionally, the financial aspect can be rough. I think we do better than other bands might because everything we make at this point goes back into the band. More merchandise, publicity, promotion, travel expenses, recording costs, etc. We never spend band money on food or beer, so that helps, but things are pretty lean.
NRR: What’s the local Sacramento, CA music scene like right now and do you guys fit in it well or stand out proudly from it?
Seth Borges: We definitely stand out proudly. There is a lot of diversity in the Sacramento music scene, but it seems like the only acts that Sacramento folk pay attention to are those that are reminiscent of Deftones. Not a bad thing at all, but there is so much good music in town. I just wish everyone could have their day in the sun.
NRR: Tell me about your CD release party. And how did you guys have enough pull to get 20% off the ticket price for your fans? Very Pearl Jam against Ticketmaster like, good job by the way.
Seth Borges: (Laughing), thanks. First, Fest is a great event showcasing local musicians, artists, and entrepreneurs. We played last year, too, so we were in good standing with the organizer. We just got in touch with her and said we wanted to release the album during the event. She got on board right away and had the discount code ready by the end of the day. Really awesome person doing great things for Sacramento with this festival.
NRR: Now, every band worth their salt thinks they should be headlining sold-out tours almost out of the gate. If I put your master for Parallax to the fire, is the band’s rise through the ranks on schedule or do you think you should or could be a bit further up the career ladder at this point?
Seth Borges: I think we are right where we should be. We have played some big shows and have had some great opportunities in the couple of years that we have been playing together. We have also worked really hard to get here. If you ask us again next year, and we are in the same spot, I’ll have more to say.
NRR: Walk me through the writing process that you guys have. Is there a method to the madness or is it a jam session until a new track is forged?
Seth Borges: I love writing music with these guys because every song is a team effort. There is a mutual respect for each person as a song writer and musician, and I truly believe that that respect is the only reason we are who we are today. I have played in groups where one person writes the songs, and if you don’t play it according to their vision, they get upset or fuss until you change it.
We have each put a lot into our individual crafts and should each be afforded the opportunity to be a part of the writing process. We’re also not afraid to tell each other if something sucks, so that’s good too.
NRR: With festival season here, where would you be a good fit for the lineup of a show either up north, in the 50, or even across the pond for you guys?
Seth Borges: Oh, man. I think that we could fit in at so many different festivals. Warped Tour has always been a dream of mine, Aftershock, SoWhat?! Music Fest, SXSW. Happy with First Fest until we can make those happen.
NRR: Just out of curiosity, who did the jacket art for Parallax and was it something everyone had to feel fit the vision of the music before signing off on it and does the rack symbolize anything special for the band?
Seth Borges: I did the artwork. We went through about 50 different designs before finally deciding to use this one. Everyone always had something to say. We try to make sure everyone agrees before moving forward on anything. It can make things super difficult at times, but totally worth it if we can all be happy and satisfied at the end of the day.
As far as the antlers are concerned, we have a big stuffed deer named Derek that we tote around with us to all of our shows. The artwork is derivative of that. Kind of a joke to start with, but it has evolved into a logo of sorts.
NRR: If you got a song on a video game or used by a sports team, etc., is there one situation over another that would tickle you guys to be associated with that use?
Seth Borges: I know Ryan would be pumped to be involved with the Sacramento Kings basketball team in just about any capacity. Likewise, Kyle and the 49ers. I’d be happy to be in any video game or used by any sports team. Beggars can’t be choosers. Still earning our stripes.
Surviving The Era
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