POZ Contributor Blog: Jono Diener

by Zack Zarrillo - Sep 6, 2012

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The Swellers had a relatively quiet summer to work on a new EP and start planning for their future, and it looks like Jono Diener enjoyed himself, so we’re glad to have him back. In a new Contributor Blog, Jono gives a big update to fans regarding how he spent his summer vacation (get it?) and what it was like to relearn a life away from tour and at home. Check out The Swellers’ upcoming dates with Strung Out here and read his full blog below!

Pushing Play: When The Break Is Over

So here I am, exactly where I started, on the last day of my summer break. I’m sitting at my computer and thinking about how crazy the last few months have been. At the beginning it was about the experience I had while on the road and overseas and how much changed in my life (personal and band-wise). It would be an understatement to say I’ve been through a lot. What makes the next few summer months different for me was all of the changes have been solely in my perspective of everything. Because of that, this summer has saved my life.

No, I don’t mean I was about to end my life. What I mean was I am remembering how to be a functioning member of society again. Instead of loading gear into a trailer or a van, driving for hours, unloading, playing, eating Taco Bell, packing up and doing it again… I got to experience normal life. It was my first full summer off in years, and a lot of people don’t know that or fully understand it. The summer has the same effect as the holiday season does to me. It’s this weird reunion of people you haven’t seen in years, some you missed and some you wished would stay away. But that’s life, right? It’s not perfect. You get to experience it all. I was playing catch up with everyone and it finally got to the point where I didn’t have to constantly answer questions like, “HOW WAS TOUR?” over and over again. I appreciate the sentiment, but sometimes I just want to feel stationary. I want to look out a window and watch the trees stand still and not see them flying by at 75mph on a highway in a state I don’t remember I’m in. Sometimes you just want a breath of fresh air.

For some reason this summer felt like my childhood all over again. We had the “punk rock softball” championship going on, regular karaoke nights, designated food nights with the same group of friends. It was like my life could finally be this strange romantic comedy I’ve always wanted it to all why finding out so much about myself and everything around me. Things just felt good. The strangest part is playing songs from our new EP coming out soon and hearing the lyrics I wrote when I was in such a dark, confusing place. It’s not that I was angry at individuals but the whole feeling of being pushed out of a moving van, looking up and realizing I had to start all over again. The problem I always have is over-romanticizing everything or blowing things out of proportion in a negative sense. I was so enthralled in getting into my own head and finally getting the last scoops of this negativity at the bottom of the metaphorical lyric ice cream carton out and typing it out in prose. Ok, maybe just filling in melodies to accompany music is a better way of wording it. I think I’ve made it through all of the strange parts and now I’m ready to find out what happens next. Are things 100% perfect? Have they ever been? It’s life, it’s all a work in progress.

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PropertyOfZack Contributor Blog : : Jono Diener

by Zack Zarrillo - May 18, 2012

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A lot has changed for The Swellers since Jono Diener last wrote a Contributor Blog for PropertyOfZack, and we are certainly glad to have him back. In his new blog, Jono dives into the image of “misunderstood” musicians and how fans, or artists themselves, can misperceive what they hear around them and how stories of bands being “bad guys” can quickly become over-exaggerated. Jono did a great job with this piece, so read up on his full blog below!

Being in a band is like being in high school all over again. Your world is divided into different lunch tables based on genre of music or the cool kids, the losers, the bullies, the nobodies, and usually you have the goth table for good measure. When you’re traveling you hear A LOT of stories about your fellow musicians and eventually you start to notice certain patterns emerging when it comes to a few select individuals. These are the “bad guys” of music. It’s not different than talk in the hallway before class starts. I used to take everything I heard as gospel instantly, and to be honest I’d spread the word to my peers to keep their distance because it was fun to talk about. Whether or not these people did anything directly to me I was already biased based on their apparent decisions and actions. As time went on I realized I wasn’t solving anything by spreading this gossip, I was just becoming part of the problem and skewing people’s perception based on half-truths. I’d run into these people who potentially even like my band and I’d either keep my distance or keep things short. Over time I began to realize from observing these people like the crocodile hunter himself, they’re not actually BAD people, they’re just incredibly mislead or the situation is misdiagnosed. It might be the hippie in me, but I think there’s a little bit of good in everybody.

The stories become exaggerated over time like a bizarre game of telephone. My favorite stories are usually along the lines of seeing your favorite musician and yelling out to them… but then they COMPLETELY ignore you and walk away. From the storyteller’s standpoint, this was an incredible moment in their life finally seeing their idol and having their dreams shattered. The person goes from idol to asshole instantly after the story. It spreads and spreads until they tell it to me and I just start laughing. I then ask the context of the story, for them to get a little deeper into it. It goes from them being completely ignored to it being a thunderstorm and the singer of their favorite band was running into his tour bus after a show to get out of the rain passing a crowd of people. Most musicians usually have a set time to meet fans after shows at the merch or by the bus when the show is over. If they don’t, that means they just want a break and have some time to themselves. It doesn’t make them a bad person, it makes them a human being. I met someone from one of my favorite bands and he was pretty snide with me and almost made fun of my praise for him and his music. I was turned off instantly and left the show pretty bummed out. I found out a few months later that he was going through a divorce that week and was miserable. Do you have to tell your fans about your personal life? Hell no. People have bad days. I’ve had many bad days on the road. When you play from thirty minutes to an hour every night you get to forget about your problems but when you’re talking to fans and hanging in the crowd you’re just back to being a person again. You can’t always wear a mask or you’ll go insane. Sometimes the situations aren’t simply misunderstood, these people just have so many things wrong with them they get stuck in their metaphorical mask and that’s when problems begin.

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PropertyOfZack Contributor Blog : : Jono Diener

by Zack Zarrillo - Mar 9, 2012

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Jono Diener from The Swellers has written some of the best blogs for our Contributor series on PropertyOfZack, and we’re glad to have him back. In his new blog, Jono dives into the Kony debate that was recently launched by Invisible Children earlier in the week. The topic is a touchy one, and Jono did his best job to give his thoughts on the situation in a well-thought out manner. Read up on Jono’s full blog below!

Three days ago I saw people on Twitter and Tumblr urging me to repost a video about some fella named Joseph Kony. Kony is a terrible person who abducts children, forces the boys (literally young boys) to go into war as his soldiers and forces the girls into sexual slavery. There are parts about the children being forced to kill their parents, and it just gets worse and worse. It really is a terrible thing. A Non-Profit Organization called Invisible Children who I’ve known about for years due to some really great bands supporting them were the ones responsible for putting together the video and creating the Kony 2012 Campaign. The idea is to make Kony the most famous person in the world to raise awareness of his wrongdoings and eventually get governments from around the world to step in and stop the problem at its source. It was an emotional video utilizing our digital-aged generation to unite and post everywhere we could to get this to pretty much take over the internet. I admit I was teary-eyed watching the video, especially seeing the founder’s young son so passionate about stopping the bad guys. 

So I did as I always do. I reblogged and retweeted the video (before watching it, so I could get to it later) and later that night went through the 30 minute emotional roller-coaster. It was all gravy until the next morning out of nowhere there was a post called Kony Criticisms posted all over Tumblr. I thought it was criticizing Kony the person, but no, it was criticizing the tactics and overall idea of how Invisible Children was operated. It went through some specific details about how much money IC currently had, and how much they spend and claiming that they were in fact a FOR PROFIT company. I also read something along the lines of the government already being aware of Kony and the LRA and how it was misleading to everyone that they weren’t… This was a red flag for me and I kept reading. It continued to detail individual “wrongdoings” of organization and how they supported military action, etc. etc. So before I started dialogue with my friends and public I sat back to develop my own opinion on the matter, as everyone should before donating time, money and a mentality to something. I decided the overall idea of getting Kony out of power and stopping LRA would be great. Stopping the slavery of children and forcing them to be soldiers would be a great thing. I was still weary of openly choosing a side on the issue as far as Invisible Children or not so I took it public.

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PropertyOfZack Contributor Blog : : Jono Diener

by Zack Zarrillo - Jan 16, 2012

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Jono Diener from The Swellers has written some of the best blogs for our Contributor series on PropertyOfZack, and we’re glad to have him back. In his new blog, Jono opens up by discussing “The Recession” and leads into talking about how bands have shifted their ways in terms of selling merch and “giving back to the people who make you exist.” The band will also be heading out on tour with You Me At Six, so check out the dates hereRead up on Jono’s full blog below!

I bet you’re really tired of people using “The Recession” as an excuse for literally everything these days. You want to buy a house? Sorry man, you know, the recession. Want to go to the show? It’s only thirty miles away! Nah man, recession! Yeah, it’s annoying as all hell. How will people make money again? Tying this into what I do, being in a touring band, how do WE make a stable income? It’s really frustrating, though it seems more people complain rather than be proactive about the situation. Let’s say I have a new album coming out, a new tour and a new merch line… how do I get it to sell? Well, this recession should have taught you the perfect lesson by now. People spend money on things they want, and things they can afford. So what do YOU do? You give the people what they want.

I was watching the Pearl Jam documentary on Netflix (my endless source of knowledge) and it really opened my eyes to some amazing things. Sure, I didn’t grow up with their music, but I knew they took a lot of strong stances in the industry that blew them up to the band they are now. They were infuriated that Ticketmaster had the monopoly of all concert ticket sales, and had incredibly high prices along with fees. To go to one of their shows, or ANY show at these bigger venues, you HAD TO go through them. They took the ballsy stance of taking Ticketmaster to court. They believed in having affordable tickets SO much that they took legal action on the issue to help their fans, and boy did that help. Tickets were cheaper, and the money was going to the right places. People knew their favorite band had their backs. Not only that, but these individual people were going to FIVE TO TEN SHOWS for every Pearl Jam tour because the band changed their set list EVERY NIGHT. It’s always something different so people were OK with spending the money to see them over and over again. The fans got what they wanted, and they paid for everything because they loved it.

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PropertyOfZack Contributor Blog : : Jono Diener

by Zack Zarrillo - Jul 22, 2011

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Jono Diener from The Swellers has written some of the best blogs for our Contributor series on PropertyOfZack, and he recently came to us with another idea that turned into a fantastic piece. Being online for many hours during the day is sort of the norm now as part of being in this music world, and Jono wrote up a great blog discussing his addiction to the Internet and it’s negative side-affects. The Swellers also announced just yesterday that they will be opening up for Four Year Strong on the AP Fall Tour, so check out the dates here if you’ve yet to. Read up on Jono’s full blog below!

From Jono Diener:

I think it all started when i was on a cruise headed to the Caribbean Islands for a nice relaxing week of vacation with my girlfriend and her family. There would be no phone signal and no internet connection, unless you wanted to pay way too much for it. A major problem with me is I don’t really know how to relax. I have a lot of stress problems and I learned over the years before I start over-thinking and get down in the dumps for no apparent reason, I could turn that empty space in my day into being completely productive. Thus, eliminating down time to think like that. I geared this energy toward promoting my band’s online presence, sending emails, doing things on social networking sites (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc.) The sad thing is, the cruise was the week before our new album was released. It should have been the best opportunity to clear my head before the real work started, but all I could think about was getting online and filling that “business guy void” I was feeling. I ended up spending $20 total on two days of terrible internet. By two days I mean I was able to check a few replies on The Swellers’ twitter and see that the stream of our album was up on Facebook. That was literally it until the computer froze. The cyber withdrawal was so bad I spent that obscene amount on something I really didn’t need. It bummed me out.

Now on my time off from touring there were more reasons why I’m virtually plugging my eyes into my computer for hours each day. Sites like turntable.fm which have become incredibly addictive took up weeks of my free time. My incentive was to play music with my friends, chat with people and eventually get enough points to get the infamous gorilla suit avatar. That’s right. I was actually obsessed with a site just so my character could look like a gorilla. Obviously I found some great bands out of it, and networked as well by talking to some really cool/interesting people… but it felt like I couldn’t escape. I achieved my goal of being a gorilla and haven’t really used the site since thanks to this program now available in the US called Spotify. Spotify is virtually Rhapsody with a different name, but I’m sure there are a lot of different features I haven’t discovered yet. I am having a blast finding some new music instantly, then out of nowhere hearing terrible rap album ads and Coca Cola commericals in between every 5 songs. Yes, it’s because I’m using the free version but I’m not about to pay $10 a month to get myself obsessed with something else. I KNOW me. Spotify, Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr not enough? Well, apparently not enough for me so I joined Google+ which is the lead competitor for social networking domination. It’s pretty much Facebook just designed a bit better. Yes, it will make you start from scratch all over again. Now as dumb as it sounds, I feel the responsibility to post on each site separately, it’s almost like I’d be abandoning the other sites if I gave up on them. That’s pretty sad, but that’s what the internet does to a lot of people.

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PropertyOfZack Contributor Blog : : Jono Diener

by Zack Zarrillo - Jun 24, 2011

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It’s been quite some time since we’ve had Jono Diener of The Swellers featured with a new Contributor Blog, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have him back. In his new blog, Jono tackles the subject of reviews and reviewers and it makes for a great read. The Swellers also just released a fantastic album called Good For Me that everyone should check out and purchase here if you’re into it. Make sure to read the full blog and enjoy!

A Review On Reviews And Reviewers

This is a pretty relevant time for me to write a piece on this subject. My band’s new album, Good For Me, just came out on Fueled By Ramen Records. It’s a joyous occasion celebrating 2 years of hard work and getting to work with producer/punk legend Bill Stevenson of Black Flag/Descendents fame. This is our fourth release on a label and we’ve had a wide variety of reviews over the last 9 years of our existence as The Swellers. The funny part about ALL OF THIS is that we actually received all awesome reviews on this new album. So you’re probably wondering, “Why the hell is he writing this? Wait, more importantly, why am I reading this?!” Well, Metaphorical Person, those are very valid questions! The reason I’m writing this to you is very simple. Your opinion should not be based on one person’s thoughts. You should always try to experience things for yourself first. This is what I like to call, “forming your own opinion.” I know not many people are into the idea, but trust me, it’s well worth it. 

If you’re in a band, you know the drill. You bust your ass working on a record, you send the record to magazines/websites to check it out, you promote the hell out of it, and RIGHT before it’s coming out you start getting reviews. That’s right, you get the email in your inbox or the call from a band member/manager and in the back of your head you’re crossing your fingers for some rad score or high number of stars. So you dig into the first review! First you’ll read the introduction talking a bit about your past and how that compares to your current musical endeavor. Next you’ll notice what they thought of each song whether it goes in order, or it groups them stylistically or mentions the message behind each song. They’ll awkwardly describe each member of the band’s role in the songs, even if it’s not a stand out part (“Steve totally played EVERY NOTE on the bass in that song!”). It’s oddly formulaic, but that’s what you’re supposed to do, right? Then you finally get to the score. Whether it’s out of 5 stars, the number 10 or a percentage, it’s going to put its mark on your record potentially forever. This is where your reaction varies between: “Boys, we really did it this time!” and “Are you serious? That is complete bullshit!” 

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PropertyOfZack Contributor Blog : : Jono Diener

by Zack Zarrillo - Feb 11, 2011

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PropertyOfZack is thrilled to be debuting our first Contributor Blogs with Jono Diener of The Swellers. Jono is not only a phenomenal drummer, but he is also always free to speak his mind about the music industry. In the blog that you’ll read below, Jono discusses how technology for better and for worse has changed the way bands spread their music, tour, and become successful. It’s one hell of a read, and Jono will continue to write his thoughts for us every few months. Click “Read More” to read the full post, and enjoy it— it’s truly informative!

Creating Connections and Destroying Wonder

Advancements in technology have always helped the world grow and simultaneously effected many in a negative way. Science created heart transplants and also created the Atom Bomb. The world is changing and people are afraid. There’s no need to send hand written letters when you have an email account. You don’t need photo albums when you have Facebook. You don’t even need a camera anymore because you have a cell phone. Like all of these things, music was greatly effected. It has been a tremendous evolution for the formats in music distribution over the last few decades alone. A large vinyl record, a cassette tape, a compact disc, and now an mp3. This new technology you can’t physically hold in your hand has changed the world. Is innovation in the music industry getting ahead of itself?

Our band got together at a strange time in music. The shock of Napster dissipated and programs like Kazaa and SoulSeek were in full force. Our first week as a band we wrote three songs, recorded them, then sold burned CDs of those demos to our friends and classmates. It was the first time we were making money from a hobby and little did we know it was our introduction to business. Soon we were informed of sites like Mp3.com where you could host your songs for friends to hear. It was bizarre, but we were hearing from people around the world who would search keywords like “punk” and find our music. From there we were introduced to PureVolume and MySpace. These sites took advantage of the three song demo idea and made that the industry standard for bands around the world. We began building a network of fans, eventual friends, and then contacts we would use later on. Things were great.

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