“Stuck in my head.
“Only feel safe in my bed.
“But the anxiety is killing me.
“These pills don’t help with anything.
“Just want to fix all this.
“Just trying to do my best without sabotaging everything.
“I’m sabotaging everything.”
The opening lines to Keep Flying’s “Reason” (from 2019’s EP, “Unbreakable”) seem indicative of a generation dealing with old anxieties (bills, jobs, family problems) on top of new ones (crushing student loan debt, stagnant wages, over-medication), as do accompanying tracks “Bargaining” and “Artie (The Strongest Man In The World).” They’re wrapped in punk-driven energy and indie-rock sounds and sprinkled with pop leanings.
Keep Flying is made up of John Ryan (sax, vocals), Henry Menzel (vocals, guitar), Charlie Bruno (guitar, vocals), Peter Vriones (drums) and Chuck Bernard (bass, vocals). The band’s past couple of EPs— 2017’s “Walkabout” and 2019’s “Unbreakable” —produced and mastered between New Jersey and New York, respectively, combine carefree horns and wind instruments with the nonstop rollercoaster roar of drums.
Keep Flying will play at The Zoo Art House in downtown Wilmington on February 24, along with Nonchalant Shotgun and Windley. “You know it’s going to be sweaty, wild and incredible,” Ryan describes. “It’s our first time in Wilmington proper. We need to make this one an instant memory. We simply must!”
While Keep Flying went back into the studio to hash out their next project, encore asked Ryan to share more about their forthcoming album and show.
encore (e): Tell us about the EP you’re working on: Do you have a working title and drop date?
John Ryan (JR): Oh, yeah, baybay! We actually just finished tracking the new EP and couldn’t be more proud—our best work yet by far, and truly the start of our next chapter. We should be releasing it in August and, nope, no working title. Henry told me twice he had “transparency” on his mind, but as a band we just have our “new” EP.
e: Will we hear any of these new songs at your show in Wilmington?
JR: We won’t be playing anything new yet, as we leave for that tour next week and haven’t rehearsed. Also, we are still touring off our fall EP release, “Unbreakable.” We want to highlight those songs still.
e: Can you tell us about one or two new tracks—their titles and what they are about?
JR: I’ll talk about a track on the record called “They Never Lie Down.” It’s actually about our band and coming up, even when we feel there are forces working against us. It’s in the back half of the record and starts to pull you back up from the dark, transparent lyrics in the first half.
e: Could you tell us more about those forces? What they were?
JR: We are a punk band with horns. We already have a harder time sliding right into people’s mainstream—coupled with family and personal lives, grinding on the road, doing all our own tours (aside from a few friends who have taken us as support), as well as time and making sure we can keep doing the thing for our own happiness.
e: Tell us more about instrumentals, sounds, melodies we can hear on the new EP.
JR: You’re in luck. There are actually two instrumental tracks on this record. Don’t want to spoil too much, I can give you that. You’re going to hear classic Keep Flying sound on most tracks, but we do try different things, opening up new doors for our potential debut LP in the future.
e: Is this EP a continuation of 2019’s “Unbreakable,” so to speak, or a departure in some way or another?
JR: It’s not so much a continuation or a departure. “Unbreakable” was something different for our band: a different sound, a different style. Now we hit you with a new EP that is the creation of both “Walkabout” and “Unbreakable” being slammed together [as] the next step in our musical journey.
e: You mentioned an LP in the future … could that get started in 2020?
JR: We actually have a few more tricks up our sleeves before we finally hit you with our first full-lengtn—at least three more things I consider awesome and abundant for a band our size.
e: Keep Flying strikes me as super-high energy in sound and on stage. Tell us about the dynamic of a typical live show.
JR: Well, we are hyper energy—you nailed it! The live show is something special for us. It’s what we know how to do best. We truly want people to see us for the first time and have that feeling of being young again, enjoying live music for the first time. Get your ass to the gig. We won’t disappoint you.
e: Tell us about a song we’ll definitely hear at the Wilmington house show.
JR: What do you want to hear? Friendly reminder: We will play any requests, so you tell us and we will make it happen.
e: You have a sax, but sometimes include other horns and wind instruments. Can we expect surprise players at the show?
JR: We have our great friend, Rick Coates, filling in on trombone for this tour. He’s been killing it with us. As far as the record, our friend Sam Gellerstein laid down the bone for all tracks, and, yes, we have a few guest horns/woodwinds finally on recording as well.