Though the band’s moniker most directly summons to mind a failed suicide—the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline literally has a resource page entitled Attempt Survivors—the truth is that our lives are a series of sometimes interrelated, sometimes completely divergent attempts that are survived...until they’re not.
Which is to say, Jim Morrison didn’t have to die in a bathtub to prove no one gets out of here alive. “You get yours, baby/I’ll get mine” is the truth that defines our lives: The race against time; the fight against death—whether bodily, spiritual, or artistic.
“All art is a kind of confession, more or less oblique,” James Baldwin argued when it came to the latter. “All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story; to vomit the anguish up.”
And this, more than anything, is the feeling that the music of Attempt Survivors evokes: A fuller story and sound, actualized through decades of separate preparation in a series of groundbreaking bands. (Go ahead and check that curriculum vitae: Helmet, Errortype: 11, Instruction, Saetia, Six Going on Seven, Big Collapse, Fires.)
These diverse, nuanced post-post-hardcore songs are, essentially, a conversation between four individuals who have put in the Gladwellian ten thousand hours—and then some, if one counts overnight tour van journeys!—to develop the vocabulary necessary to have it. There are shades of recognizable precursors—80s goth, burly AmRep groove, expansive 70s rock, 90s emo—but the dialect is its own. And within this unique dialect there is a fluency which allows for flow; that prevents the second-guessing, analytical left brain from fucking up the intuitive rhythm of the desperate-to-transcend right brain. (A good thing, too, considering the piecemeal, long-distance approach to collaborating mature living and a world-halting pandemic necessitated!)
Attempt Survivors is the sum of the many, many survivals of vocalist J. English, guitarists Adam Marino and Matthew Kane, and drummer Kyle Stevenson—surprising, in the best possible way, for those familiar with the aforementioned current/former bands, but not out of character.
“We’re only going to be on this star for a few minutes,” English says. “Let’s contribute something —make cool stuff. I want to leverage everyone’s lifetime of musical experience, hopefully wind up with something we’re collectively jazzed on, maybe not repeat the same mistakes? We can write a cool riff or steal a cooler one. Let’s see what happens. Just because we’re alive. That is the intention—to create something new out of love. Keep each other honest and pushing. If we’re on borrowed time — let’s make up some killer stuff & send it into the ether”
It is futile to try to make life or bands last forever, but these ripples from the still-beating heart of Attempt Survivors ably demonstrate the beauty of imbuing moments with meaning and keeping on keeping on straight until an end that need not be bitter if you live right along the way.
Attempt Survivors is:
Adam Marino: Guitar
Kyle Stevenson: Drums
Matthew Kane: Guitar
Joshua English: Voice | Bass