Survivalist: Bone Crunching Metalcore from Southeast Wisconsin

Coming from Racine, Wisconsin, Survivalist has called the city their home ever since they all attended high school together. Three years ago Cory Powell, Justin Montemar and Dan Beltran were working together in a different project; however, they still needed a drummer. After getting in touch with Ryan Mooney and showing him what they were doing, Mooney said “the rest is history.”

Powell describes the band’s work as “American metalcore” favoring “heavy breakdowns with both screaming and and clean vocals” in their songs. Their current line-up has Montemar as the vocalist, Powell and Beltran on guitar, and Mooney on drums. According to Montemar, Survivalist is “getting by just fine” without a bassist.

While their individual influences range across genres — from jazz to classic rock, classical to death metal — their various tastes and backgrounds come together through the band’s main influences. According to Mooney, they stay mostly within their genre and look to bands such as Like Moths to Flames, Haste the Day, Architects, Of Mice and Men, and The Color Morale.

When writing their songs, Survivalist comes together to brainstorm different ideas and subjects. Montemar, the main lyricist for the band, then takes those ideas and turns them into songs. Their lyrical inspiration comes from a lot of different places, but there is one rule they stand by and that it has to be about something they’ve personally experienced.

“We try to touch on anything that’s real at the moment of the songs inception, whether it be a general feeling of anxiety or self-doubt or something more specific such as my house getting broken into,” said Montemar. “As long as it is real and honest, it’s free game.”

Luckily, Survivalist hasn’t had many big challenges to overcome. According to Mooney, their biggest challenge would be figuring out the balance between their music lives and their adult lives.

“I’d say the biggest challenge is us all being functioning adults while keeping the fire of this band lit and burning bright,” said Mooney. “Dan goes to school and works, Cory works and is going back to school, Justin works two jobs, and I have a wife, son, and full time job, but we still always find ways to make things work. We still have band practice once a week, sometimes twice if we feel the need to, playing shows as much as we can. We always get things done when they need to be.”

That balance between their music and adult lives has made it difficult for Survivalist to do lengthy tours. However, Beltran said they would be open to coordinate short-term tours in the future.

The atmosphere of a Survivalist show is filled with “lots of energy,” coming from the band’s philosophy of “taking the stage every time as if it’s the last time we’re going to have the chance to” said Monetmar. They also take time to appreciate the audience at each show by incorporating them into everything they do.

“I mean it’s all for them in the end, and a lot of times local bands forget to just engage them,” said Montemar. “Make an experience instead of a show and they will come back time and again.”

The band spent a while getting their material together and ready for recording. It was important to the band that all the songs on the EP were practiced, written and arranged just right.

“As for the recording process, it was a dream come true,” said Beltran. “We went to 608 Studios to record with Derek Moffat and Mike Rosenfeldt, and those guys really made us feel welcome there and took good care of us. I personally couldn’t be happier with the way these songs turned out.”

Just recently Survivalist has been working on a debut music video that the band is excitedly looking forward to the release. Aside from that, the band’s biggest goal for the rest of 2016 is to continue pushing their work, which they want to resonate with more and more fans.

“Honestly, our biggest hope is that people listen and relate to our songs,” said Beltran. “As much as they are energetic and aggressive, they come from a real place within each of us. We hope our fans and listeners dig deep into our songs and embrace the emotions that were put into them.”


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