Pop on the sound of Long Island punks Suburban Zombie and enjoy being instantly whisked away to the good old days of early 2000s punk rock. Or, as the band succinctly put it: “Basically it’s like if the soundtracks from the American Pie movies and the old Tony Hawk games had a baby and it was raised by modern day Pop Punk and Emo, that baby would be us.” What’s not to like?
The New York quartet first began with near-neighbours Daniel Labbato, then a drummer, and Andrew “Sugarrr” Lichtenstein (bass and vocals) looking to start a band with a pop-punk focus. After a few line-up changes Daniel moved onto lead vocals, they added Ryan Grabowski (guitar and vocals) and Dan Avellino (drums) to the mix and haven’t looked back since. As Daniel says: “Since we became a band, we’ve put out two EPs, three music videos, one single, and we finally got to tour just last fall and we are currently making even bigger strides towards achieving our goals!”
One of the first things we noticed about the band is their claim on Facebook that they ‘play the same Blink-182 song at least six times each practice.’ As Daniel tells us: “It’s funny, most of us are more Sum 41 fans than Blink, but many times at practice we’ll break out into songs like First Date and Carousel just because we feel like it’s like the pop-punk thing to do.”
And that kind of gives you a clue of what to expect of the Suburban Zombie sound – it’s fun, angsty and nostalgic with their classic feel-good pop-punk vibe.
Latest single Dog Days, released last year, is proof of just that, opening up with a fun darting guitar riff that quickly jumps into singalong vocals over a chugging bass and fun guitars. A big singalong chorus “When I was younger nothing ever changed, Then I lost my hunger for the better days, But when those nights would arrive and the skies were our guides, The only time I ever felt arrive, Don’t wanna memorise” gives way to the fun little jumpy riff.
Prior to that they released second EP New Year, New Tears back in 2017, which is packed with pop-punk goodness. It includes the lively, brilliantly titled Anger Management Makes Me Angry, with a relentless pounding drumbeat firing the track forwards and a very Sum-41 like feel to it generally.
But perhaps my favourite of their tracks is Driveways, which opens with a cheeky little guitar lick then a big drum roll leads into a smash of guitars and drums. High pitched vocals kick in over punky guitar chords before jumping into a singalong chorus “This time I’ll try, I’ll slow down time, Time to stay another day, When that time has come the only thing that’s there to see, An empty space that’s not for me” – which has a hint of The All American Rejects’ Too Far Gone to it. It’s lively, energetic and we love it, check it out in the video below:
Unsurprisingly, the band draw influence from the aforementioned Blink and Sum 41 as well as other punk greats Green Day, The Story So Far, The Lillingtons and Millencolin.
But when it comes to their musical inspiration, Daniel tells us: “Much of our music is inspired by some of the emotions that we feel during trying times as we transition more and more into adulthood. We started this band right around when we were all leaving high school and starting college, which is a weird time for everyone, so a lot of that is what influences our songwriting. Overall, some general themes that we write about in our music could be narrowed down to nostalgia, facing fears, and the anxieties that come with growing up.”
But it’s also fair to say that they’re not your archetypal punk rock band, and offer proof that music is a vessel for anyone to express themselves. As Daniel explains: “One thing that we would like people to know about us is that when we were younger, we were always the types of kids who would sit alone during lunch at school and not socialise with others very much. So at shows when we get to talk to people in the crowd about our music, it’s the most exciting thing for us. Many of our fondest memories as a band have involved just simply making friends and forming bonds with fans and other artists.
“The conversations we’ve had with people from all over the country have helped us learn so much about ourselves and the scene. It’s been incredibly rewarding because Suburban Zombie isn’t just another band trying to make it. Suburban Zombie is just four guys experiencing some of the best parts of life through the power of music, and we hope that we’ll continue to gain opportunities to keep going for many years to come!”
We’ve not met too many bands from Long Island, so we asked Daniel for his insight into the local scene. He told us: “The Long Island music scene is pretty great! There are so many talented artists here and the scene is overall very supportive. We all feel very fortunate to be part of it and hope that it continues to grow with time. As far as hitting up the UK, it would definitely be a dream come true to play and travel overseas as a band, so hopefully someday soon we could start making that happen!”
You can expect plenty more from Suburban Zombie this year as they’re heading into the studio to record music that, in their words, “will sound bigger and better than anything we’ve put out before.” They then plan on playing more tours and getting as much content out as possible.