Heading to Australia for the first time to play at Counter Revolution are American rockers, The Swellers. Formed nearly ten years ago back in 2002 the band have just released their highly anticipated new album Good For Me, which followed on from their 2009 release Ups And Downsizing.
When it comes to describing the music of The Swellers, there is no better description than straight from the bands lead singer Nick Diener during our recent interview….”kind of like a punk rock band mixed with a big arena rock band, big rock n roll choruses and big punk rock verses which I think is what makes our band special”.
We chatted with Nick about the upcoming Counter Revolution dates and their very recent experience supporting Paramore in South East Asia!
Hey Nick, thanks for taking the time to chat. So it’s confirmed, you are actually headed out to Australia. That was obviously looking highly unlikely a few weeks ago with the Soundwave Revolution cancellation?
Yes absolutely. As you said, it was a little bit scary there for a bit hearing about cancellations and stuff but we are happy to hear that they salvaged it and turned it into a bill that was a little bit more affordable and with a lot of our friends bands. So I’m excited to make it out there as it’s our first time.
Being your first time here in Australia, what are your expectations?
You know what, I really have no expectations at all. I’ve only seen pictures and videos of my friend’s bands playing out there. I don’t really know what our fans are going to be like, we’ve really only spoken to a couple of them online over the past four or five years. The online response of us coming over has been really great. So I am basically just simply looking forward to playing a few shows and once we get a few of them out of the way we will be able to sight see and get a feel for Australia. So it will really be fun to do that and also catch up with some friends of mine that live out there too.
Given we have not seen you perform live before, what can we expect from your set?
Oh man, well I think you can just expect four dudes on stage probably sweating like way too much after the first song even! Then we will be super tired after 8 or 9 songs and we will want to play a lot more, but that’s all we can play, 30 minutes or so. Then we will be hanging out amongst the crowd hopefully and meet some people. Then we will be excited to come back again when we leave Australia.
And what about your setlist, do you think it will be mostly made up of tracks from your latest release Good For Me, or will there be some of the older tracks as well?
I think we are just going to mix up things a bit because we’ve never been there before and we don’t know what people want to hear. We might post online to see what people want to hear from us. But we will definitely be playing some of the heavy hitters off the new record and some off the last record as well. We may even throw in a song or 2 from our older records just for people that have been waiting for us for a while.
Now you were just over in these parts recently, when you joined Paramore in the likes of Indonesia and Singapore, Hong Kong etc. Having seen some of the video footage, that looked like it was a crazy experience!
That was just unreal, I mean getting the opportunity to visit a third world country on the other side of the world like Indonesia was definitely really, really cool. Singapore was probably one of the better shows we have played. I really, really love coming to play places that are really far away from home. I’ve been in this band now for nearly a decade and it means a lot that there are some people singing the words to our songs so far away from us.
Has that been your furthermost and most unique tour you have done so far?
Well we’ve done Europe and UK, but in a way that feels like home, especially the UK. Which is awesome though, we have a blast in the UK and I have a feeling that Australia is going to have a similar kind of vibe. We’ve also played Japan before, so definitely the Asia shows are the most distant places we had ever thought of going and we are really, really glad that we did as they were a lot of fun. Hopefully we will be able to get to Africa and South America someday so we can cover yet more continents.
Playing big festivals such as Vans Warped tour and the like, versus playing smaller intimate club type shows, do you guys have a preference for the types of shows you play?
I think I really like going from the really small, punk rock basement shows as such, all the way up to thousands of people, it keeps us in check. Going from playing in front of 15,000 in Jakarta, Indonesia and coming home and playing for 200 people in a club in the middle of nowhere in Ohio. It’s really cool we can do both and play to a bunch of different crowds and people. As long as the show is good and the room at least looks packed, there’s nothing worse than playing to a small room with virtually no people.
You have recently released your latest album, which is titled “Good For Me”, how would you describe what you were aiming for musically with this record?
I think the new record got a bit more focussed as far as what we wanted to do. We got better at our instruments and better at writing songs. We grew up a little bit so we had more of a focussed subject matter, things that a lot more people can relate to. All in all, everything added together and for us, made for a better record that we are really proud of. It’s just a little more focussed in like a big rock n roll direction, we’re not trying to please anyone in particular. We took the 10 best songs and put them on the record in an order we thought worked really well and that was that!
Did having this greater focus as you described translate into a more enjoyable or easier recording process do you think?
I don’t know really. I guess going to Bill Stevenson’s studio to make the record is the first time we have had someone in the studio with us as pretty much like the fifth band member. Normally I don’t like anyone working on our music with us, or telling us what to do. But since he’s like my favourite songwriter, producer and pretty much favourite drummer, I had no problems with all of his input and ideas and I think we really matched well together and had lots of fun.
Good For Me, what’s the meaning behind the album title?
We didn’t have a name for the album for like the longest time and we were listening to the last track, Warming Up and the phrase good for me comes up quite a bit in the bridge for that song and I like the way that it sounded. Then I realized those 3 words can mean quite a few different things. It could almost be like a self help kind of thing, saying something is good for you. It could also be a self loathing thing, almost like a sarcastic way of saying it. It definitely summed up all the feelings on the record. It’s not like an overly political record, it’s not dealing with emotions left and right all of the time. It’s just a nice little span of subject matters and I feel like the name has summed up the record.
What is the songwriting process in the band, who are the key players and how does the process typically kick off?
Its all my brother and I. It’s just been us two since the beginning and we kind of have our real niche of the songwriting and we are always writing together. Once we demo and write everything, we bring it to the rest of the guys and that’s where the magic really happens in the studio.
Has the songwriting process changed significantly or is that the way it’s pretty much always been?
Well it used to mostly be me. But even though my brother is a drummer, he has been learning to play guitar a lot better so he’s been writing actual full songs now, which is awesome. It used to be just me writing the songs and him just coming up with some ideas. Now we are feeding off each other quite a bit and it’s been a lot of fun.
Now I can’t help but ask what is it like having your brother in the band, are there many Oasis, Gallagher type moments?
Haha luckily no fist fights like the Oasis boys. Mostly any fight that we have had is about our music and the songs and it’s a good thing we get that out as in the end we end up with the best possible sound or lyric or whatever, so good things come from it.
How diverse are the musical influences in the band?
I feel like once you get to the root of everything we all have a similar pool of influential bands like Nirvana, Green Day and The Descendants. Kind of a big span of rock, grunge and metal bands from the 80’s and early 90’s. That’s what we all grew up with and as time went on we have started listening to different things. Ryan is kind of our metal guy, Anto is like the emo, screamo, indie dude and my brother and I are very much into the whole punk rock thing. Some of our favourite bands are like Nada Surf, Jimmy Eat World, Get Up Kids, Foo Fighters. So I guess that’s where the sound of The Swellers comes in, kind of like a punk rock band mixed with a big arena rock band. Big rock n roll choruses and big punk rock versus which I think is what makes our band special!
And yes definitely on this latest album that’s something that has been captured really well.
You head back to the USA after Australia and you have a pretty busy touring schedule that takes you through most of November. Is it then a bit of a break to see out 2011?
No, there’s still more touring. We actually have just announced a tour today, about 4 hours ago. Right after that USA tour, we fly to the UK and Europe, then fly home pretty much just in time for Christmas. That will then be a bit of a break and give us a month or so off.
So in closing do you have any messages for the Aussie fans about your upcoming shows?
We are excited to make it down after all these years and we hope this will be the first of many times we play in Australia.
Band members: Nick Diener – Guitar/Vocals, Jonathan Diener – Drums, Ryan Collins – Guitar, Anto Boros – Bass
Latest release: Good For Me (2011, Fueled By Ramen/Warner Music Australia)
You can catch The Swellers on the following Counter Revolution dates:
SATURDAY 24 – BRISBANE, THE RIVERSTAGE
SUNDAY 25 – SYDNEY, BIG TOP LUNA PARK
FRIDAY 30 – MELBOURNE, FESTIVAL HALL
SUNDAY 2 – ADELAIDE, JUBILEE PAVILION, SHOWGROUNDS
MONDAY 3 – PERTH, CHALLENGE STADIUM