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Keep Flying tour manager and saxophonist John Ryan talked with Vermont News & Media about the meaning of "survival" and the return to the stage after a year of isolation.

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BRATTLEBORO — Keep Flying recently took some time out of its Survival release tour to talk about the new album and what it’s like to be a high-energy ska-punk band during a pandemic.

The band recently performed in Brattleboro alongside other acts, including Jared Knapik, Derek O’Kanos, Slob Drop, Neighborhood Shit, Riley Lücifer, Moxie and CityState.

We caught up with tour manager and saxophonist John Ryan about the meaning of “survival” and the return to the stage after a year of isolation. More information on the band and opportunities to listen to its music can be found online at keepflying.band.

Q: Can you give me a little background on Keep Flying? Who are you guys, Where are you from and how long have you been playing together?

A: Yeah! We are Keep Flying. We claim the Northeast and East Coast of the USA nowadays, but when we first started in 2016 we were New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Now we are spread a little further out, but it’s all the same. We started cranking this out in winter 2016 and have now put out four records, which we are all pretty proud of. Our band rose from the ashes of each of our old bands calling it a day and moving on.

Q: How has the Survival tour gone so far? Any highlights to share?

A: Having released a record during COVID we, like all artists, were super nervous about what the response and reaction was going to be. Fortunately, our community has been super good to us. The tour is going better than expected and every city we are playing the attendance is the highest we have ever had for a headliner. Couldn’t be more grateful. I mean hell, we ripped an outside gig in the pouring rains of Roanoke, Virginia and still managed to wrangle a ton of people in.

Q: Is there a deeper meaning behind the title, Survival? Is it a personal mantra for you guys or inspired by the general state of disarray in the world right now?

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A: We actually decided on the title before COVID, so it isn’t connected to that, it just definitely ended up being related for some people. It’s more the journey of our survivalist on the cover of the record, and pushing through to overcome their fear of having to deal with life.

Q: After a year of isolation, is there a different energy at shows or does it feel like you’ve never left?

A: For us, we got the cobwebs off and are rocking, but we can tell that a lot of people are having their first show back at our events and are figuring it out. We don’t mind. No harm in getting a little weird. Hopefully it all ends up smoothing out for people.

Q: Were you able to play music together (via Zoom or otherwise) during lockdown?

A: We did! We were able to do an unofficial release for our record and livestream a performance. It did well for us and was super fun. I think we would consider doing that more often in the future. We had a blast engaging with folks live.

Q: Your social media presence can best be described as hilarious. How have you been able to use the various channels on tour? Is it a priority to put out digital content or just a bonus for the fans that can’t make it to your shows?

A: We do our best with the socials. Henry [Menzel] has been killing TikTok. We try to keep our YouTube relevant. And the social media we each check every day just to engage with people and make some laughs. It seems like the sharing of content on the tour is increasing people’s desires to come out to shows coming up. Letting them know we are back, baby!