The Swellers are a melodic punk band from Flint Michigan who’ve been blowing audiences away throughout the States and abroad at festivals such as Vans Warped Tour and Gainsville’s The Fest. Having recently split from their label Fueled By Ramen, they’re getting started on some serious touring, first through the States with Strung Out and then on to Australian shores for a KYS presents tour. We caught up with drummer Jonathan Diener about everything going on in the world of The Swellers.
So how’s things in the Swellers camp?
It’s been a really strange transition period for us. We lost our label Fueled By Ramen and we’re doing things on our own right now, since then we did a seven inch with Side One Dummy Records and that was just a limited to a thousand. We’re about to release our new EP, which is just released by ourselves in the states and then we picked a few other labels in different countries. So we’ve been relaxing at home this summer and in about in two days that’s when everything just kicks back into full gear, no more relaxing, full on work but it’s the stuff we love doing so it won’t be a strain for us.
So what led you guys to split with your label and go out on your own?
It was a long time coming, for the first record things went really well, we had a great time, they did a lot for us and then as time progressed, we kind of realised we we’re doing most of the stuff on our own like we always have and even they admitted it wasn’t a perfect fit like we all thought it was going to be. Over time we just decided to do things how we always did it, especially in the music industry landscape that’s going on right now where usually bands are better off on their own whether they realise it or not, so we wanted to try and kind of regroup and experiment and do it all on our own, do our own release and then once we feel that the timing is right then we’re going to go back to a different label for a full length record so we’ll do that sometime next year.
So the EP was like a trial sort of thing?
Yeah pretty much, we just went through a bunch of strange life transitions like the band getting off the label. We were a dealt a crappy hand this year, everything from like strange things happening to tours we were on or the new record, a lot of things being rushed and just not dealt with properly and then me personally I went through a breakup and it was one of those thing where all these changes in life led to a better standing ground where we are right now. Once we wrote all the songs on the EP a lot of it about that awkward transitional phase we vented out all the, whether it was anger or sadness, you know all those feelings, now we’re at this place where we know what we want as a band and we’re totally comfortable with just seeing how things turn out instead of having these these super high hopes for everything. We’re just going to see how things turn out for the first time and that’s the best mentality, work hard but you also have to have a ‘whatever’ attitude and that’s kind of what we’re going for with all of this.
You guys have had a few line up changes over the years, are you settled now?
We’ve had this line up for four years pretty soon which is awesome, that’s almost half of the bands time span which is really cool because we had, I guess it was the same thing with the Foo Fighters back in the day, they were talking about how they had all these awkward growing pains in public and obviously theirs was a on a way bigger scale where once they settled on their line up, they we’re selling millions of records and were in the public the whole time. With us we’re a much smaller band obviously but since day one, in theory we shouldn’t have kept the Swellers name since we were like 14 and 15 years old when we started the band and to a lot of people especially in our area we were just a goofy local band or whatever but as time progressed we consider once our first EP came out ‘The Beginning Of The End Again’ that’s what we consider the real Swellers so technically we’ve only had a bass player and a guitar player change since then, it’s kind of nice having the line up we have now because it’s all people who do this for the same reasons, we’re all touring veterans and we’re in this for the long haul instead of just realising we want to go to college or realising our job is more important so it’s a pretty nice having a good solid line up for once.
You’ve been doing some big festivals, Vans Warped Tour and The Fest? How did you find those experiences?
We still want to do Warped Tour again so bad, we did it in 2010 and that was one of the coolest things ever, a lot of people complain about how it’s hard work and everything but that’s our bands foundation. Before we even did our first tour, technically a week of Warped Tour was our first tour in 2005 and it’s a lot of waking up early promoting the crap out of yourself, selling as much as you can and playing your ass off and those are the things that because of that we always did on a normal basis, so when we got a month of the tour we took full advantage of it. We had a blast and made so many new friends and that’s the cool thing about festivals in general, whether they’re a tour or just one day you get lumped together with all these bands you’ve always wanted to meet or bands you never thought you’d meet. If you look at the Fest in Gainsville, this year is going to be our fifth year playing it and it literally is my favourite weekend of every year, it’s this weird punk rock mecca of sorts where everyone from the punk rock world slowly ventures and they land in this destination in Florida and you walk down the street and you see a bunch of guys with tattoos or beards or the cliché thing they always say where everyone looks like they’re probably a member of Hot Water Music but you’re probably going be friends with them for that same reason. It’s just amazing, you’ll look over and you’ll see one of the guys in your favourite band eating next to you and it’s a normal thing so we’re so excited to be doing it because we didn’t get to play the Fest last year but this year it’s going to be huge for us and we’re really excited.
So what are some of the influences you guys bring to your sound?
One of our earlier influences definitely was the band No Use For A Name. Tony Sly recently passed away so obviously rest in peace to him but that’s what kind of made us want to do this fast punk rock stuff but also have melody which a lot of people don’t really focus on these days. They were the forerunners for us alongside bands like NOFX, Lagwagon, all of the Fat Wreck Chords and early Epitaph stuff in the 90’s and we also on the other side had bands like Weezer was a huge one for us, Saves The Day and The Get Up Kids. We had these big 90’s Emo influences that really affected us and then on top of all of that, the cherry on top would be Foo Fighters where it’s like ‘we’re not afraid to have our rock roots show’ where as a lot of bands are too punk or too indie to try and do that. We just try and make a perfect mix of all those things together and that’s what we’re trying to go for where you don’t clearly hear each part of each band or each genre but it kind of makes this perfect Swellers sundae if you will.
You mentioned Tony Sly, I noticed you guys did a cover of International You Day on YouTube?
No Use For A Name was that one almost untouchable band for us and they weren’t even a big band that’s the crazy part but for us they meant so much. I met Rory the drummer years ago when they were on tour opening for Sum 41, we went just to see No Use For A Name and I think I was actually fifteen at the time and he sat down during their whole set and talked to me, I think it was forty five minutes to an hour and just talked about everything, it was one of the most inspiring things because to me they were this massive band that was changing the world when in reality they were just down to earth dudes and that’s what we kind of try and do. Whenever someone comes and talks to us I always go back and say ‘wow, Rory from No Use For A Name was my biggest influence as a drummer and talking to him like that, I could do that for other people and not even realise it’. So we knew a quarter of the band but Tony Sly has always been one of my favourite songwriters since forever. I heard they’re actually doing a reunion show having different people sing so that’ll be pretty cool, wishing all those dudes the best.
Nice, what can audiences look forward to in your live shows?
Well we’re hopefully going to be a well oiled machine, we’re doing three weeks with Strung Out in the US and then we’re flying right from LA to Australia so jet lag aside we’re trying to be as tight as we can, we’re going to throw in at least one new song and just play a long energetic set. We don’t have anything flashy you know, no crazy lights, no pyros we’re just are a bunch of dudes who sweat through our clothes and show people how we feel and hope they react to us. We’re actually pretty excited too because when we were on Soundwave a bunch of people were saying you should do your own shows here at smaller venues and cheaper ticket prices and all this other stuff and you know obviously we love Soundwave as do a lot of people, but it’s kind of nice getting to experience Australia in a different sense for the first time where tickets are cheaper, we get to play longer, fewer bands on the show so people will be there just to see us for the first time instead of us just being part of a package deal. On top of that hopefully our merch will be cheaper and we want to do this for ourselves as much as we want to do it for everyone else so I think it’ll be a really nice experience all together.
So what’s the future hold for you guys you mentioned you might be doing a full length?
Yeah right now the plan is to tour with Strung Out, do the Australian tour, do another US tour, potentially Europe and the UK, we’re still working that out and then after four months of all that we’re going to be working on writing new songs for a full length. We have our new EP we’re putting out ourselves, that’s coming out in October and should be on Shock Records in Australia as well so we’re trying to do things ourselves with a little help from our friends, do things the right way, regroup and show people that we’re not slowing down by any bit, if anything we’re going faster and harder and we’re a band that’ll stick around for a while.
Well best of luck with everything man, thanks for taking the time to talk to us.
Awesome thanks so much.