Come November, US hardcore heavyweights Sworn Enemy will be taking in the sights and sounds of our fine country for the first ever time as a full unit for their ‘As Real As It Gets’ tour. This five-date Australian tour – presented by our mates over at 1054 Records – has been a long time coming for Sworn Enemy and their singer, Sal Lococo, is fully aware of this.
“Sworn Enemy has been trying to get there for years and it just never came to fruition” states Lococo. “A friend of ours gave me the info of Chris Brayshaw and we started talking and put this all together. It most definitely will be the first time for most of us in the band some have been there for other reasons other than Sworn Enemy. But I have no expectations. I’ve learned not to put any expectations on anything, I just enjoy my time and get to see a great country and have some fun in the meantime. He continues, “I’m really looking forward to hitting up the beaches. I love swimming and I love beaches so hopefully, I get some quality in the water.”
Our beautiful beaches aside, the vocalist admits that Australian bands aren’t really on high-rotation in his own musical playlists. “I’m actually not that familiar with the Australian scene, but if I had to choose one opening band I would say, Crowned Kings. They are super awesome! However, I don’t listen to much hardcore these days, my ears are burnt out. I prefer easy listening like The Eagles.”
The Eagles & Crowned Kings? Now, that would be one hell of a weird lineup! In fact, they’re supporting Sworn Enemy at a handful of these shows (No, not The Eages, Crowned Kings!) Speaking of which, the tour dates are below:
Wed 16th – Enigma Bar, Adelaide (18+)
Thur 17th – Barwon Club, Geelong (18+)
Fri 18th – Bendigo Hotel, Collingwood (18+)
Sat 19th – Factory Floor, Sydney (18+)
Sun 20th – Crowbar, Brisbane (18+)
The supports for this tour will be an eclectic bunch of Australian bands. Brisbane will feature metallers Daemon Pyre and Amicable Treason, as well as hardcore outfits Perpetrator, and Boston Blackout. Crowned Kings and Southpaw will be supporting at The Bendigo Hotel in Collingwood for a hardcore night-out (man, that sounded oddly sexual), and the Geelong date will feature Jack The Stripper, Crowned Kings, Rust Proof and extreme metal band, Blackhelm. Jack The Stripper & Daemon Pyre get some further love supporting Sworn Enemy alongside Absolution and Staunch for the Sydney show of the tour. (The Adelaide stopover has yet to have a support list announced yet).
But fuck me sideways, that’s a bloody good lineup of local metal and hardcore talent! But as one can imagine, the band isn’t phased at all by playing mixed bills. After all, mixed bills tend to work better than hearing the same goddamn riff or breakdown for four hours (Northlane’s 2014 Free Your Mind Tour was a great example of that, I find).
“We have played with many metal and death metal bands in the past and have had some great shows. But I think that in order for the mixed bills to work there must be some kind of common ground. For me, I love death metal with the hard breakdowns I think we would do well on that kind show, but I also love playing shows with bands like Madball, Sick Of It All and Strife.”
Within the Sworn Enemy camp, the mission statement of late is a simple one – play as many shows as possible can and finish writing their new record. A quick gander at the band’s Wikipedia page reveals leagues of ex-members, and even with having so many band members over the years, Lococo says that SE is in a really good place right now with its lineup.
“Everyone gets along great. We all hang out on daily a daily basis and are constantly going to other shows together to see our friends play. Right now, I’d say that the band is in such a great place interpersonally.”
But with the band being together for almost 20 years now (including their time under moniker Mindset), the band must have a lot of experience & knowledge to pass on. After all, they could essentially be mentors for younger bands coming through the scene. However, Lococo doesn’t see himself as a mentor; he’d rather leave that up to
“No, not me. I’m not a mentor or a guru you can leave that up to Sick Of It All, Agnostic Front, Murphy’s law and Madball. Those are the bands to ask for mentorship”
Sal continues this line of thought, specifically mentioning Madball and their singer, Freddy Cricien. “They have been motoring their way through the decades killing it all the time. They put on one of the best live shows you will ever see and they have stayed true to their sound . There’s not much more that I can say about them except that they a great band. Freddy is leaps and bounds beyond any other frontman out there if you’re a singer and you want tutelage, watch this man work!”
Yeah, I can attest to that, but come on, don’t sell yourself so short, brother!
While Sal may remain very humble, when a band is hitting that big two-decade milestone, I feel a legitimate question is would the band have done something different in their long run? Or would they do it all over again if it meant they could be where the band now stands in 2016? Well, the vocalist is very candid about what he and his band should have done differently, and it all comes down their excessive interest in wanting to have a good time.
“I can’t say I’d do anything differently because we have had such a great career in my eyes, but if I had to do one thing over I would have tried to reduce the amount of partying that was done in the past. I think that had a lot to do with us not reaching the next level, like a Hatebreed or Killswitch Engage did.”
Now with the band working away on their next album, what continually motivates a band with such a long career; what makes Sworn Enemy want to go through this process of writing and recording and then go out touring every couple of years? I mean, shit, it must feel like a 9-5 job sometimes, right? Turns out, I’m wrong.
“You know, music is never a job for me. I enjoy it to the fullest or I wouldn’t still be here doing it. It will always be a rush for me to get on stage and do my thing and see people go crazy for us. We are not a band that follows any trends, we do our own thing and do it the way we want to do it, not how someone else wants us to do it”.
Regarding the band’s previous two records, 2009’s ‘Total World Domination’ and 2014’s ‘Living On Borrowed Time’, I wondered what was separating this new record from their those two releases and their earlier work – if anything at all.
“Well, I‘ll be honest with you, those records are very different in my opinion due to their different writers, each of whom all had different writing styles. This new record will most likely have more of a Living On Borrowed Time feel to it, but still retain that old-school Sworn Enemy feel, much like on As Real As It Gets.”
‘Living On Borrowed Time‘ meets ‘As Real AS It Gets‘? Oh, man what a time to be alive!
Now, as for that new record, all I’m told is that it’ll probably be out by “Spring time next year. But who really knows.” So, I guess it’ll be ready when it’s ready! But hey, perfection takes time and Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Of course, with almost two decades down the pipe and with dozens of songs under their collective belts, picking a set list from that many songs could be a lot like starting up the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt for the first ever time. That is to say, daunting as all fuck. But Sal says that picking a set list, especially for an Australian tour, is a simple mixture of the new and old, the deep cuts and the classics.
“We all decide as a band what songs we are going to play. Obviously, the older stuff gets played a lot more but we always try to throw in a good blend of old and the new. The fan favorites will always get played, though”.
While the fans most definitely have their favourites, Lococo must have his own favourite songs. Sure, this can be like picking your favourite children, but that’s a cop-out; bands most definitely have their favourite songs, and parents also have their favourite children (just ask mine).
“I’m gonna say that…Absorb The Lies is probably my favourite old school song, while Slipping Away would probably be my favourite newer song.”
If the man himself says that those are his personal favourite SE tunes, then you may want to get acquainted yourself if you haven’t already. So in summary, listen to ‘Slipping Away‘ and ‘Absorb The Lies‘ by Sworn Enemy (and the rest of their discography, while you’re at it), grab your tickets for their Australian tour here, and maybe practice those old mosh moves so come November, you won’t look like such a greenhorn.