Just Surrender’s big break has been a long time coming. The energetic quintent from New York began like so many other bands – working their way from small-town band practice to widespread publicity by posting their catchy blend of pop, punk and rock on websites such as PureVolume.
But unlike countless other bands, Just Surrender had enough skill and staying power to earn a massive following of fans hungry to hear more of their engaging, fiery, emotional rock. Just Surrender toured relentlessly and managed to sell 40,ooo units of their two previous independent releases.
In the words of Brian Willett, Phoenix “combines catchy leads and engaging rhythms with well-written vocal melodies and relateable lyrics into memorable songs.” As it turns out, Just Surrender’s album isn’t the only thing with personality – Bloginity recently spoke with guitarist and vocalist Dan Simons, who shared his thoughts on touring, writing and everything in between.
Brian: Your sound on Phoenix feels polished, but still has a lot of raw emotion. How do you strike that balance when writing and recording?
Dan: When you’re passionate about something, you’ll do whatever it takes to make it work. We felt that on this record, we took the strengths from past records, and tried building upon that and refining our sound a bit.
Brian: Just Surrender has a unique two-vocalist approach. What effect does that have on the music you produce and the ideas you can pull off?
Dan: We’re just two guys that love to sing. We’re willing to do anything to compliment each other, and that’s rare when you’re dealing with singers.
Brian: What was it like going from posting your own stuff on PureVolume to being signed to a major label?
Dan: We’ve been touring since ’03, and there has been a lot of heartache and heartbreak along the way. Nothing has ever been handed to us, and we’re still working as hard as we can to make quality music, and continue to tour.
Brian: The Stronger Now EP has a pretty hard edge with some screaming, and that sound came through on a fair bit of Phoenix. Is that a direction you’d like to explore more in the future?
Dan: We like to rock. We have songs on every record that are designated for certain groups if you will. There’s always a song or two for the ladies. There’s always harder songs for the guys who have cool cars and bad tempers.
Brian: With your success on PureVolume and the recent leak of Phoenix, you’ve seen both the up and downside of digital music distribution. Do you think the music industry will one day be all digital based?
Dan: I don’t think it will ever be totally based upon 1 format. There will always be a demand, even if it’s low, to distribute records/cd’s/other media.
Brian: I noticed some critics called your sound “unoriginal”. Besides “F*ck you”, how would you respond to that?
Dan: It’s subjective. One person can draw inspiration and meaning from what we do, and others will say we are derivative. I personally don’t care.
Brian: How has the Zumiez Couch Tour been treating you?
Dan: This tour has been very awesome so far. We’re with our friends, Hit The Lights, and they are just great. Everything about this has been magical.
Brian: What’s the best part about being in Just Surrender?
Dan: I love the troubadour lifestyle. We’re vagabonds on the run. Another town; another postcard; another memory.
Brian: What’s your best story from the road?
Dan: The best stories end when we get to our destination safely.
Brian: Where do you see Just Surrender in five years?
Dan: Hopefully making music. I couldn’t predict where we’re going to be in five days, let alone 5 years.