Alter The Press!


Interview: The Swellers

While in the UK headlining this year's Give It A Name Introduces tour, Alter The Press! sat down with brothers Nick and Jonathan Diener of Michigan based punk-rock four piece, The Swellers for an interview before show time at London's Kings College.

The guys spoke to ATP about their first trip overseas, how the band originated, the latest release 'Ups and Downsizing', Michael Moore and more.

Alter The Press: How has the first overseas trip been going?
Jonathan Diener (drums/backing vocals): It's been amazing; we really didn't know what to expect. We started doing the festivals with AFI, Sum 41, Bouncing Souls and those were incredible. And now we're in the UK, playing last, which is new for us, and people are coming out every night. We're having a super awesome time.

ATP: What's been the best show so far?
Nick Diener (guitar/lead vocals): We played a one off show in Southampton, and that’s one of the best shows we've played so far. It's been lots of kids singing the words to our songs, which we didn't expect from a town we've never really visited. People were going nuts; it was really cool.

ATP: How did you guys get together?
Nick: My brother, Jonathan, and I were playing music together since we were nine years old. Around 2002, when we were fourteen, we decided we wanted to keep playing music together, get some other people involved and write some of our own songs. That's how the band started, it started from: “Let’s write some songs, let's record some songs, let's play some shows and let's tour all the time!”

ATP: What was the punk-rock scene like, breaking into it, in Michigan?
Jonathan: There actually wasn't much of a punk-rock scene. We grew up in the Flint music scene, which is completely different to the Detroit scene; there were a couple of bands around, like a hardcore/punk band, an old-school band. Back then, we did kind of our own thing, we played really different things, like a metal show, a show with like Blink-182 kind of bands and eventually we made our own fan base. The whole state of Michigan, and the country, opened up; people we’re trying not to sound like us, but had a similar style of music, so then there were bands that we could play with, like We Are The Union, Fireworks. There are a lot of Michigan bands now, which is really cool.

ATP: Every time I think of Flint, I just think of Michael Moore speaking out saying, 'My hometown, Flint, Michigan!'
Nick: Over here, people know Michael Moore a lot more than in the US. We'll say Flint and they'll say, “Oh, the Flint, Michigan!” In the US, people would be like, “Oh, never heard of it!” I guess people aren't very observant of where we live.

ATP: When people find out you've been going for eight years, with four albums written, what's the reaction to that?
Nick: It's like people heard of us six months ago, so they have no idea what we've been up to. When people interview us, they think we're brand new to everything! We tell them we've been touring since 2006, done this and this, but there are a lot of people who knew of us from years ago, who just forgot about us, moved on, started a family etc. Now they’re seeing us in magazines and stuff, saying like, “What are you guys doing? You're blowing up! You're famous now!” It's like, “No, we're doing what we've always been doing, just people are starting to notice more now.”

ATP: With your new album 'Ups and Downsizing', how would you compare it to your previous three albums?
Nick: Definitely the most cohesive sounding record. It's finally all of our influences that we've wanted to put into our music. We weren't too afraid to write an acoustic song, we weren't too afraid to write some songs with different time signatures. Basically, we recorded what we wanted to do, and made sure it flowed exactly how we wanted. It's definitely our favorite one so far, bands will usually say that, but I will have trouble putting out a record that I'm not 100% proud of. Hopefully the next one is alright, because otherwise we're breaking up!

ATP: You signed to Fueled By Ramen with this album. Is it true the albums sold only 6,000 copies?
Nick: Probably more than that, right now, in the US, but not by much. There are definitely a lot more people who have downloaded it for free, and you can tell that by how many people are singing at our shows! It doesn't really reflect that on record sales. There are bands who will sell a couple of hundred records, but pack out shows, and it makes no sense. We are just stoked that people are into our music. The album before this one, sold 2,000 copies, with this one selling twice more, and just as fast; it’s definitely been great.

ATP: As long as people come to the shows, that's all that counts.
Nick: If you want to come to the shows, and pick up a shirt and sing with us, that's awesome. Record sales just help with you getting on better tours, but we've seemed to get on some great tours without having great record sales. That's always good.

ATP: Do you have plans to do another video?
Nick: I think we are going to try and do a video for the song 'Sleeper' in the next few months, have that ready before Warped Tour this summer.

ATP: Have you already started writing new material?
Nick: Yeah, we have a bunch of ideas; they are all scatter-brained right now. Once we get home, we are going to sort them out, make some demos and hopefully have a record out by next summer.

Jonathan: We have skeleton songs at the moment; there is nothing too cohesive. We need to start putting parts together, rearranging everything. Nick: It usually takes us about two years to have a record ready. A lot of bands will sit down for a month and write a record, but Jonathan and I are always writing. It's a slow process but we are really happy with what we come up with.

ATP: What's the plan after this tour?
Nick: Three days at home, then a tour with Crime In Stereo and This Time Next Year in the US, it'll be fun; we’re going to smaller cities that we don't usually get to play. Afterwards, It’s home for three weeks then Warped Tour. It's all pretty jammed packed.

ATP: Do you have plans to come back to the UK?
Nick: Yes, but nothing written in stone. We are going to try and come back as often as we can, try and get on some festivals and maybe do a proper tour in the fall. I hope we do Reading and Leeds, everyone has been telling us we'll be great for 'The Lock Up' stage.

ATP: Anything to add in closing?
Nick: Go check out our record 'Ups and Downsizing', its out now!

'Ups and Downsizing' is out now on Fueled By Ramen.

- Jon Ableson

Alter The Press!