The wait is finally over – Californian punk rockers Swingin’ Utters are embarking on their first ever trip to Australia this March/April, alongside Dropkick Murphys and Frank Turner And The Sleeping Souls. Ahead of these killer triple-header shows, Killyourstereo.com spoke to Swingin’ Utters guitarist Darius Koski about the band’s seven year hiatus, the new album, and making the most of Pro Tools.
Hey mate, it’s Jack from Killyourstereo.com. What’s your name, role in Swingin’ Utters and the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
My name’s Darius (Koski) and I play guitar. The weirdest thing I’ve ever eaten would have to be lamb brains.
Can you remember back to the early days when Swingin’ Utters formed? What was it like playing in a punk rock band in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s during the grunge explosion?
Well, we all hated grunge, that’s for sure. I thought Nirvana were okay – now, of course, I love Nirvana – but the rest were shit. The ‘90s were great for punk, though, and our tours were really fun. We had some of our best shows in the ‘90s for sure. That was our time, really.
Considering you’ve been kicking around for quite a while, what are your thoughts on the state of punk music these days?
I think it’s just as good as it’s ever been. I don’t really think it ever changes that much, to be honest, and I’ve been asked this question a lot through the years. There are always a bunch of shitty bands and a bunch of good bands, but mostly shitty bands. It’s in fine shape.
And just quickly, we know you probably get asked this all the time, but why ‘utters’ and not ‘udders’? Udders are kinda gross, but it would make more sense, right?
It was meant to be ‘Swiggin’ Udders’ actually, but it was misspelled. I like ‘utters’ much more, so I’m thankful.
You’re heading our way for the first time this March/April with those awesome blokes in Dropkick Murphys and Mr. Frank Turner. Why has it taken you so long to get to Australia?
I have no idea. We should have been to Australia ten times by now. Hopefully it’ll become a yearly thing. We procrastinate a lot.
Speaking of Australia, do you listen to any Aussie bands or artists? Do you have anything special planned during your time Down Under?
I love The Saints! I used to listen to the Hard-Ons a bit, too.
I just want to see Australia, man. I don’t know what I want to do, but I’m really excited to be going there.
Why did you decide to go on hiatus for so long and what eventually brought you all back together again?
We were just busy raising families, and working our shitty jobs. Johnny (‘Peebuckets’ Bonnel/ vocalist) didn’t want to tour anymore, so there was really nothing I could do about it. We eventually sat down and discussed what everybody wanted to do about our future, or if there was going to be one at all. I’m happy to be back!
Was it difficult writing and recording Here, Under Protest given the amount of time between albums?
The recording process itself – in the studio, and our working relationship with the personnel, that is – was really, really difficult. In the end, it was pretty awful, but within the band, it was great. The songs were great, we were excited, and it was good all around.
What can you tell us about your new album, Poorly Formed?
It’s totally different, which I want all our albums to be. I think we’ve always been eclectic, and this (album) is even more so. Jack (Dalrymple/ guitar) is writing for us for the first time, and that’s the reason, really. He teamed up with Johnny and wrote over half the album. It’s a totally different perspective. We are all behind it 100 per cent and are totally proud of it.
Are there any songs on the new album you’re particularly stoked with/proud of?
‘Brains’ is great – it gives me chills. ‘Temporary Contemporary’, ‘Stuck In A Circle’, and ‘Sevita Sing’ too.
What’s the craziest/stupidest/most memorable thing you’ve seen on the Vans Warped Tour?
Brad from Sublime – and I think the other two in the band also – were totally wasted a half-hour before their set, and I mean like puking wasted. Despite being totally annihilated, they went on stage and played flawlessly. That was impressive.
What do you think about editing software like Pro Tools? Is it useful for correcting mistakes or is it making music sound a little too perfect? Do you use Pro Tools?
That’s what we’ve been recording on for years now. Most bands use Pro Tools because it’s pretty much an industry standard. I think it’s totally revolutionised recording, and editing, mostly. You can do something in a few seconds that wouldn’t have been possible 20-years ago. I think people over edit, for sure. We’ve definitely done that in our recording process, but I’ve really been trying to tone that down recently, because it just feels like cheating. I think it’s a great tool, but using all those fancy editing tools smartly, maybe as sparingly as you can, is the best way to go about it I think.
And on the topic of technology, what do you think about kids downloading your music illegally? Are music streaming sites like Spotify any better given you probably don’t make much money off people streaming songs?
It sucks because bands like us don’t make much money. But what am I gonna do about it? I don’t know. It really does suck for bands like us, but I don’t bother myself with thinking or doing anything about it, really. There are bigger fish to fry, right?
Can you name five songs you wish you’d written?
‘Waterloo Sunset’, ‘Between The Bars’, ‘Possession’, ‘The Broad Majestic Shannon’, and ‘I Walk the Line’.
What’s the weirdest place you’ve ever got stoned?
In Amsterdam in a reggae bar. They didn’t want us there, but we stayed.
What’s planned for the rest of 2013?
As much touring as we can handle.
Anything else you’d like to share with us?
Come see us play and buy our records. We’re not going away!
Dropkick Murphys, Frank Turner and Swingin’ Utters Australian tour dates –
Sunday March 31 – Panthers, Newcastle – Lic/AA
Tickets available from www.moshtix.com.au 1300 GET TIX
Tuesday April 2 – Festival Hall, Melbourne – Lic/AA
Tickets available from www.ticketmaster.com.au 136 100
Wednesday April 3 – Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide – Lic/AA
Tickes available from www.venuetix.com.au 08 8225 8888