PropertyOfZack spoke with Jono and Nick Diener of The Swellers at the tail-end of their fall tour for a brief interview. We discussed the band’s past nine months off of a label and with new releases, what they learned on their time off, their timetable and expectations for a next release, and much more. Check it all out below!
In the last nine or so months, The Swellers left Fueled By, released a 7”, and have released an EP. Would you say that fans have been more receptive to the 7” and EP then past material suddenly? There’s more interest.
Nick: The music scene has changed so much in the past three years while we were on Fueled By Ramen. People who listen to music, they want to be able to relate to their favorite bands a lot more now. Between social media and knowing where the roots came from. Knowing that we did this record on our own, in our own house, on our own label, I think people aren’t as shallow anymore and really appreciate that. The 7” that we put out on SideOne, I think they appreciated that we put music out immediately after we announced that we left the label. There was no down period of wondering what we’d do. That and the combination of seven of our most kick ass songs, I think it made for a perfect storm leading up to album four.
Have the past few months been a great learning experience for you?
Jono: We needed a grace period in between labels. We know what we never want to deal with again, and we know what we missed doing by ourselves. Being on tour, it’s a lot harder to be in control of something when you’re not home to be constantly doing it. If we had our own way, I’d love to have an actual label and be doing stuff all the time. But we can’t do both at the same time. I’m kind of excited to see where this ends up.
A lot has changed from the time that The Swellers signed to Fueled By and now. There wasn’t a great community at the beginning, and now there is. It put you at a weird playing field with other bands and fans.
Jono: Musically, our last record, we took a little turn musically, but it was a cool rock record. With all the other variables happening at the same time, it kind of put a big wrench in the gears. That’s why it’s so nice that we have time to rethink everything. No stress, no pressure, we’re just writing songs. That’s what we used to do all the time until that record. We’re “winning” older fans back. People are surprised that we’re sounding like this again. If people are liking us again or getting into us again, that’s awesome.
The band will be taking a while off now, right?
Nick: Hopefully. The cool thing is that we keep getting really cool tours and keep wanting to put out records for us, so it keeps us busy. But we haven’t been home for more than two and a half months at a time in over six years. Since high school, basically. Even to take off three or four months, it’ll feel amazing. We’ll go crazy at home, but it’ll be amazing. Things are changing at Fueled By Ramen as well now more than ever as well. The founder went to Interscope and is no longer affiliated with the label. The guy who signed us in the first place was let go from the label. A lot of the people that we signed with are not there. It was a great time to get out. We appreciate our time there, but the decision was compounded by how awesome everything was.
The Swellers took most of the summer off to record the EP. Do you think doing that for the record will have the same sort of good affect on the writing process?
Jono: Nick and I were writing and recording songs write after Good For Me. We get the weird stuff out first, and overtime figure out what we want to do. Ideas first, and then we start putting them into actual song form as they get serious. There are so many weird transitional period issues that we’re going through right now, and that’s why I like our EP so much. There’s a lot of anger and confusion in general. We’re pissed off, and that’s what happened. We were always an emotional driven band. I think this record will be in the same vein mentality wise, but I don’t know about music wise yet.
Nick: Ups And Downsizing was one of my favorites by us. We recorded that before we were even on a label, then Fueled By Ramen picked it up. That’s what I want to do for this record. I would love for a label to do the same this time. It’s pretty much going to be Ups And Downsizing II, as far as where our heads are. I think the songs will be even better because we’re a better band and have been playing so many shows. Good For Me was our only record with a big budget and people pushing us. I don’t think that record was put out well. I think it’s great, but that nobody that needed to know about it knew about it.
Is there a timetable for this release in your mind?
Nick: I can’t put a month on it, but as soon as possible. I can’t sit around. The second we have a record written, we’re going to do it.
Do you think you’ll record it yourselves?
Jono: Everything is up in the air as far as logistics.
Nick: The coolest thing about this EP was how DIY it was. Even if we do sign to a label for the next record and get a budget, I feel like we’ll take a lot of same approaches for it to save money and for the label to focus on getting our music out there. I love recording stuff myself too, so I think some of it will be.
So the plan is to write for now while you’re talking with labels?
Nick: There are labels that wanted to do our EP, but we wanted to do it right now in our own way. It was very therapeutic for us. It was really cool how it all came together. The holiday season is a great time to unwind and figure it out.
Jono: It’s been cool because it’s the best press we’ve ever gotten.
Nick: We were in Rolling Stone. I thought that was cool for a bunch of dudes who put out a record without a label. That is pretty cool and made my parents real proud.
Would you like a summer release?
Nick: Summer would be rad.
Jono: At least summer.
Nick: If our songs suck, we’re not going to put them out.
What about touring?
Nick: We’ll probably do some shows here or there.
Jono: Our New York show got scheduled in late-December and we’re trying to do a few shows around that. That’s all we’ll be doing for the next few months.
Is it exciting to take a touring break?
Jono: It’s terrifying and exciting. Everyone wants to be on the road or home all the time. It’s so back and forth for me. Now I actually want to transition into normal life and experience normal things. So I’m getting a job when I’m back and am gauging out building friendships and relationships and things I haven’t been able to do for a long time.
Nick: We’ll go home for a few months, build up some cool stuff, and three months later when we’re back again everything’s different. It’s been like this for almost seven years. The work we put in is worthwhile, but it’ll be cool to take a breath for a second. Maybe we’ll appreciate touring a little more after. After doing it for so long, the magic wears off.
Jono: It’s been two months straight now.
To finish things up, do you think the past few months of learning how to do everything yourself is going to be big for the next cycle?
Jono: To be completely honest, we were treating ourselves like a DIY band during our last few months on the label.
Nick: I was setting up our own interviews because press couldn’t get a hold of anyone. I was doing things that I didn’t have to be doing.
Jono: That’s how it started, so it’s not much different. If a band solely relies on everyone to do their own work, it’ll fail. Unless it’s a weird phenomena. You get back what you put in.
Nick: Labels know that too. All we want form a label is for them to do their best to get us out there. You can blame everyone you want for why your bands not huge, but it’s the right place at the right time with the right scene and songs. It’s so many little scenes and factors.
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