Weekly Discovery: Assuming We Survive

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Los Angeles, CA Pop Punk/Easycore act Assuming We Survive have the honor of being our #WeeklyDiscovery for this week.

In a world where we are constantly surrounded and fed by things that blast negativity in our eardrums, vocalist Adrian Estrella is singing loud & strong that it’s “OK to not be OK”. We recently sat down with Adrian during their Buffalo,NY tour stop.

Can you give us a quick “elevator pitch” about who/what Assuming We Survive is?

We’re a 4-piece band from Southern California. It’s kinda hard to explain musically, some call us Easycore which is a mix of Pop Punk & Hard Rock. We play a little of everything for everyone, and we’ve been a band now since 2007. For the last 5 years or so we’ve been touring pretty proficiently.

Your latest EP “Chapters” was released last month. I personally enjoy all 6 tracks on it, was blasting it non-stop on my drive to the show tonight! What kind of feedback have you recieved on that EP so far?

It has been really positive. Going in to this record, it was one of those thing that although we loved our last record “All Roads Lead Home” we felt we wrote that album for our fans, or what we thought our fans would like versus what we wanted. I’m not saying we don’t love those songs, we love them. I feel like this EP was different for us, we’d been on the road for almost two years straight with minimal time off. So much had changed in our personal lives & in our friends lives back home. The record is a really honest record. When you speak the truth, you get the truth. The feedback has been amazing! With the songs being able to help people, which is what music should do. I think for all of us when we listen to music, we look for that consolation. If you’re having a bad day you’ll listen to certain songs or certain bands, and it’ll help you get through it. Or if you’re having a good day, you’ll listen to music that’ll hype or pump you up. It has been having a truly positive effect. We’re very proud of it, and glad with the feedback we’ve been getting back!

Hopeless Records came out with their “Songs That Save My Life” compilation last week. If my memory serves me well, you did recently did a video with Heart Support about your previous life experiences. If AWS had been approached for this compilation by Hopeless Records, what song would you have contributed?

Ah! Hopeless Records, get on board! We love you Hopeless! We would have contributed “Just So You Know”. I say that because when I wrote that song, it was about two actual people that I know. One of them being my friend Jesse, she was a girl I knew from Texas & was a fan of the band. We once told me that she was transgender and identified as a boy, and was making the steps to become a boy. And I know that wasn’t an easy thing for her to do, and now I am so proud of him. So the first verse I literally wrote about him and his transition. The second verse is about my friend Eric, who at single to his dad, a single parent with his mom not in the picture, told his dad that he loved a boy, a neighbor kid and his dad kicked him out at 16 years old. Eric is now a lawyer, doing very well for himself. No matter what you’re going through in life, no matter what you’re struggle is you can overcome those things. You just have to believe in yourself. I know that it can be hard sometimes, sometimes self-doubt will get the best of you. We live in a world that is negatively driven, we get fed negativity constantly. I feel like it’s harder to be positive through a negative situation than it is to be negative through a positive situation. I feel like if you can find a way to be positive, life does get better. You just got to fight for it! So, “Just So You Know” would have been the perfect song. Hopeless Records, please get on board!

Great point! With many artists, their lyrical content will speak of hypothetical situations or things. It’s great to know that AWS is drawing their lyrical content from situations they’ve or their friends have encountered themselves. There is alot more emotional connection to the lyrics you’re singing

As hard as it is for me, this record is basically my life for these past two or three years. “Let You Down” is a track about my wife & I going through a divorce, and me hurting her and missing her, and being able to acknowledge that. It’s a very hard song, but I’m in love with the song. Sometimes as artists we aren’t the best communicators, even though we write music and we write songs. We find ways to communicate our feelings through our songs.

The song “Making It Out Alive” talks about me running away from home, and my dad being abusive. My parents weren’t really there for me. My dad was abusive, like very bad! Tortuously abusive! And, my mom just kinda wasn’t there. She was taking care of my sister, even though my sister was older than me. I kinda just got thrown to the wayside, and left in the pit with my dad. I had to survive, I had to get away. Turn my life around, which I did. I know many people are going through this, dealing with abusive households. Hopefully that song helps them.

The song “Tear Me” is a heavier song. It was kinda more of an outside perspective of friends who are going through stuff. I can see how people can be so cruel, make assumptions or spread rumors about a person that are not true. Its the whole bullying bullshit. Being bullied really sucks! And 9 times out of 10, bullies are going through tough stuff too, and this is how they cope with stuff. Every song on that album except for “California Stoned” is a serious song, an intimate look into our lives.

I didn’t even know that “California Stoned” was going to be on the record, because we had released it as a single earlier in the year knowing that California was going to go legal with marijuana. It was also a hypothetical twist of things. Going on tour, some of my band members some weed. Nobody does hard drugs, half of us are sober. I’d be in a group circle, and people would be smoking weed. We’d be away from Cali, maybe on the East Coast, and someone would offer us some weed and we’d be like “Ah yeah!”, and we’d smoke. Then my boys would be like “Have you tried Cali weed?”, and they’d be like “Oh yeah, I like that stuff!” but wouldn’t be able to handle it. It was kinda a metaphor of that, how potent California weed is, but also how cutthroat California is as a place. Tons of people think they can move to Cali and just hack it. Cali is a very cutthroat place, as I’m sure everywhere is. Cali has this thing about it. It’s very superficial, it’s about who you are and what you have kinda place. The cost of living in itself is outrageous! If your a musician on minimum wage, and you’re moving from Idaho to pursue your dreams, just know that life in Cali isn’t easy! I kinda used that whole metaphor of how hard it is to move to Cali, and how gnarly Cali weed is, all one song! That’s the only non-serious song on the album, a nice little Pop Punk song. You should never take yourself too seriously.

Great transition to talking about California! I’m sure you heard about the whole Jered Threatin story over the last few days. The LA-based musician singlehandedly booked a whole European tour with a fake promoter, label, etc

I heard! Dude created a fake fan base, fake label, went to Europe and had like one or two people show up to his shows. Here’s the thing: Dude is an idiot, but also a genius at the same time! Genius because look at all the work he put in to get that done, but if he’d had done all that plus put in the effort, he could be killin’ it right now! I know everyone is talking about fake it till you make it, but this is on a whole other level!

Or for the amount of money he invested, he could of jumped onto another artist’s tour as a supporting act!

I don’t even understand. Our band has never bought a like or follower. I remember back in the MySpace days, bands would have like 200,000 “Friends”, but when they posted something they’d maybe have two or three likes on their post. Or they’d playing a show with us, and they’d have no fan base showing up to the show. Real is real at the end of the day, we may not have the most followers on our social media, but we have true fans! We appreciate that, and we work hard for those die-hard fans! We work hard with those fans to let them know we’re there for them. We’re very aware that if it wasn’t for our fan base, we wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing. We take the time every show to interact with them. I personally at every show spend hours talking to anyone or everyone who wants to talk with me, even people who aren’t there for AWS. I appreciate the simple fact that they came to support live music, that is very important!

But yeah, that Threatin story is very wild!

He’s ruining some of these venues for other acts

Dude! We just played the same venue in Camden as he did, The Underworld. I just played that venue recently with a band named Mest, a band I play guitar in on the side. We were just in Europe recently, right after Warped Tour. I got on a plane the day after Warped and flew to Europe to play. Legendary venue, awesome venue to play, and he’s burned that bridge! Even if he does end up doing something great in the future, that venue won’t ever give him another chance!

But he’s going from a nobody to somebody overnight…haha

That’s the flipside of things. I was talking about him with a few buddies the other day and they weren’t impressed with his antics, yet they were bringing him up in a conversation. He has become viral & relevant, so maybe he is a genius?!? Some bands do the cover song thing to make a name for themselves, maybe this was his way of attempting the same? It’s crazy, we live in a crazy world! The hateful comments he’s getting aren’t really that bad.

He’s probably destroyed the reputation of smaller American bands going to Europe now

It’s certainly a possibility, but I think promoters/venues will be a lot more aware to the back story of artists who want to come through their area on tour. Every promoter should do their research before booking an artist.

This tour is called the “Turn The Stage Tour”, but it should have been called the “Where Is Our Flyer” tour! We’ve only seen our tour flyer two times on this whole tour! I always say that the machine only works if all the parts are moving. Down to the little things like a flyer at the venue. There is so many people who know our band or saw us on Warped Tour, but don’t follow us on social media. Had they walked into a venue and see our poster, maybe they’d have come out to a show a few nights later.

How was it being one of the acts on the final leg of Warped Tour?

Doing Warped Tour in the past has been like a family environment between bands. I mean, 9 months of the year we’re all touring across North America or other continents, and not able to hang out with our friends that are in other bands. We don’t get to see each other because we’re all working. Warped Tour is that one place that we get to hang out with each other, all the while still working all summer! You become friends with your peers, or even bands you grew up listening to. You get to meet so many beautiful people. Meeting new fans and seeing old fans/friends, its so beautiful. We were so blessed to be a part of the final Warped Tour, it was definitely very sad and surreal that such a staple in Rock & Roll history is coming to an end, in what consists of a cross-country tour. We were very humbled to be welcomed back, and it was also our first time doing a bus for a tour! We’ve done it previously in a minivan, sprinter, a passenger van, so it was fun to do it in a bus this time! Not having to drive or navigate, being able to retreat to the A/C when needed. That tour is hard work, regardless if you’re in a bus or van! That tour is basically a mental roller coaster! The weather is brutal, not only the heat but also the summer storms! That’s a whole other animal, mother nature is beautiful but she’s not shy! It puts your work ethic to the test. We recently had a band open for us in Atlanta, who although not playing Warped decided to follow the tour all summer long. They said they saw our guitarist Phil & I every morning walking up/down the lines with a big billboard showing our set time. For us, work ethic is everything. We were up every morning, walking the line with this big ass sign! On the windy days, I felt like I was going to fly away! It’s one of those tours that you need to work your ass off!

The dudes in This Wild Life, they’re a main stage band. All summer, every single day they were out there selling CDs and meeting people. They’d go back to the bus to maybe rest for a little bit, but their tans were immaculate because they were in the sun all day. For them to be working as hard as they did, that takes a lot of heart, and an example that other bands should look at!

We’re so thankful to Kevin Lyman & his whole staff. Most people don’t know this, but Warped is run by some powerful and strong women throughout the summer. They often don’t get the credit. I’m thankful to be able to call everyone on Warped Tour a friend or family member. I wish people would have kept going to Warped, instead of complaining about the lineups. Warped has also been a place to discover music. That’s what you go to Warped Tour for. Obviously you also go to see some bands you’re a fan of, but you also go to discover new music. I feel like many lost sight of that, and just wanted to see the bands they wanted to see. Obviously with this being the last one, everybody wanted to come but were sad it was the last one.

Warped Tour is a community about music, it’s always been about that. Eminem did Warped Tour years ago. Katy Perry did it a few years back. Warped Tour is about music, not a genre. The Punk Rock thing about Warped was there was no genre. It was a mix of awesome artists, working their asses off to get to that next level and become something.

You’ve got legends like No Doubt, Sublime, Blink-182, Pennywise, NOFX who’ve played over the years. I think many people who forgot what Warped was supposed to be were reminded about it this summer. I feel like the support in the music community will be bigger now, even though we don’t have Warped anymore. I can already see the ripple effect to not having Warped next summer. Maybe what’ll take over is that tour packages will go from being three bands to six or more bands tour packages? If that happens, I think it’ll be more bigger name bands on the packages and the smaller local bands will feel the impact.

I mean, Kevin Lyman never alluded to this being the “Final” Warped Tour, but rather the final iteration that would be month-long/cross country. A lot of things were left unsaid

Yeah, I mean it could turn into a 1-day or 3-day festival on the West Coast, Texas & East Coast. He did say it was the last cross-country tour, so you never know. Plus, I know that the anniversary of the tour is coming up, so we really don’t know what is going to happen. I think what its going to do is make bands work even more harder to succeed. You need to be humble and hungry in this industry.

The term ‘genre’ in itself can be a damning thing. Do you ever feel as if the concept of genre limits you?

Limitation is all what you think it is. If you’re in a Metal band and you love to listen to Metal, then who cares. I feel like people nowadays like to listen to a bit of everything. In our band we listen to Country, Hip-Hop, Metal, Pop Punk, Punk Rock, etc. We listen to everything, and the younger fan base they listen to everything too. If you feel like genre is something that is limiting to you, then open up and do whatever you want. But there really isn’t a limitation. Our band plays a bit of everything, we have Heavy songs, we have Pop Punk songs, and we have ballads. We do what we want to play, and we grew up listening to all kinds of genres of music. Music is every changing, you might as well play a bit of everything. I think it’ll affect the bands that are pigeonholed into a certain sound that they’ve played for years, where the drastic change in sound might be too much. If you gradually do it, then maybe it’ll succeed.\\

A band like Blessthefall, they were super heavy before. Their last album they did with Tyler Smith, who also did our album. Their new record is so good, a lot more vocals & singing. Overall more catchy, with some Pop elements in there. At the end of the day, good music is good music. I never hate on a band for trying to do something different, I think its cool.

We we recorded our Chapters EP, we recorded 10 songs. We only put 5 on Chapters + our earlier track California Stoned, and kept the other 5 songs. The songs that aren’t on the record, once everyone hears them, they’ll be very surprised! No song sounds the same! None of the songs we didn’t put on Chapters sound anything like what is on Chapters. It’s like a totally different side of us, which I can’t wait for people to hear.

So, they didn’t really fit the Chapters vibe?

Actually, if we would have put all ten tracks as a full-length they would have fit perfectly. I already had it all arranged in what order the song would go in, because all together they really tell a story, and really fills in a gap between songs. We owed our record label Third String an EP, so that’s what we gave them. We really love Third String and all they’ve done for us. We’re so thankful to Mike Ziemer and the whole Third String team for giving us that platform to do what we love. I don’t think we wrote a bad song out of those 10 songs, I think we gave each one of them 1110% of ourselves. I just think the other 5 songs are very different from anything we’ve ever done before, and I’m excited to hopefully release them next year! Maybe release them as singles, or record a few more songs and release a full-length. We’re definitely looking at some labels. Hopeless Record…come on! We don’t know exactly what the future holds. We haven’t even started to shop those songs yet. I’m so excited to play those new songs, we’ve been playing the same ones now for over two years!

How does creativity inform or alter your happiness?

I’ve been through so much in life. I ran away from home, had an abusive dad. I’ve been through so many things, and life is short. I’ve been in the army, I’ve done so many different things in my life. I embrace every emotion of everything I go through in my life. I find a way to not turn a negative thing into a negative. If I write about the negative stuff I’ve been through and flip it to the positive, it’s hopeful. I find inspiration in everything. Like, I could find inspiration in this conversation we’re having right now. We’re sitting upstairs in this freezing room with no heater, in downtown Buffalo. I can feel the bass from the opening band on my feet right now. This whole conversation could inspire me.

I was helping my buddy Tony (Lovato) from Mest recently to write some songs. We were brainstorming on a chorus, so I asked him to look around his room. Everything that is in your room is a part of you. He had this sign that said “Dead End Street”. I told him that would be a good line. So, I think we wrote something along the lines of “I’m living my life on this dead end street” with a sick melody. We had nothing, and then seeing that sign helped us shape those lyrics. I’m very inspired, I take everything from everything. You can be inspired by anything in life, you just got to look for it.

We’re big on indie artists at DigiSpun. Any hidden gems you’ve been listening to lately?

That’s a hard one. It puts me on blast with so many people that I love so much! Right now we’re on tour with two very talented bands.

One band is called Riot Child from Stockholm, Sweden. They’re two powerful & talented women. I’m so happy and thankful to have them out on tour with us. Performance wise, they’ll blow you away!

Has anyone compared them to a female version of Twenty One Pilots?

Yes! I find myself doing that too, but definitely a more grungier Twenty One Pilots. There is something way more Rock & Roll about Riot Child. I feel like Twenty One Pilots is a bit more polished, these girls are not. They do have their moments of being refined, but for the most its very grungy.

And then we have our buddies in DOSE. Two brothers that have dealt with a crazy life. I’m sure if you ever hear their story, its a crazy one! Their mother committed suicide, and I know that the singer Jimmy dealt with a drug & alcohol abuse for a very long time. They both found a way out, & for them that way out was God. They found performing as their savior. I got them to do Warped Tour as the catering band. They not only did that job professionally, politely and without complaining, but they did it in a van with their 80 year old dad & three dogs! All summer long! They’re out on tour with us now, with their 80 year old dad & three dogs. That is inspiring! We grew up playing local shows together, so it’s great to be able to bring them out. Their work ethic is so inspiring, it’s amazing!

Also wanted to give a shout out to a band that was on the first leg of the tour with us, a band called Rivals. Their vocalist Kalie Wolfe is one of the most talented singers/frontman/frontwoman. She’s got a set of balls on her! She’s amazing & incredible! A lot of times, women don’t get the credit they deserve in this industry. So, we thought it was fitting to bring out two female bands for the first leg of the tour. Definitely give them a listen, they’ve got cool stuff coming up. They’re doing the Shiprocked Cruise in January.

There is so many good bands. The list is endless. So many bands that are out there touring & grinding it day after day.

I watch every local band we ever play with. You never know who you’re going to see that’ll blow you away. There was this girl named Maggie in Atlanta…

Do you mean Maggie Schneider?

Dude! I think I totally fanboyed because I wrote to her on Instagram. Told her how amazing she was! Maggie if you’re listening (or reading), you’re incredible! Don’t even know how to explain it, she’s dope!

I will watch every local band we play with, because you never know where they’ll end up! Some of these bands blow me away, and I’m amazed that I’ve not heard of them.

What’s next for you guys? What does the future hold for Assuming We Survive?

I think it’ll be putting out more music. I think we’ll be making a few music videos, maybe even short stories with songs. We trying to get out touring some more, hopefully jump a few support tours so we can have a bigger platform to show what we’re doing. We have a lot of cool ideas, and hopefully we’ll be able to make them come into fruition. It’s all about how hard we’re willing to work, & I can tell you were ready to work as hard as needed.

Their latest EP, Chapters is available now on all streaming platforms.

Go give our #WeeklyDiscovery playlist a listen on Spotify!

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About The Author

Canadian with passion form music, technology, and social issues.