With Marshall Stacks and a Razor Sharp Musical Assault…The Swanks are taking on The World
That’s right folks, this four piece band that hails from Denver Colorado is ready to rumble. This time around they’re asking “The World” to meet them in the back alley. Lookout World! With a punk attitude and sound that can be described as sleaze; The Swanks are known as the badest mother fuckers on the Denver music scene. With Marshall Stacks, raw power and pure adrenaline along with the release of their third album, The Swanks vs. The World, the band is planning a full scale tour to defend its title and prove to all the naysayers why they are the best at what they do. What do they do? They fuckin’ rock!
Since the creation of the band in 1999, national acts such as Betty Blowtorch, Fabulous Disaster, House of Large Sizes, The 440’s, The PolyPlush Cats and Wesley Willis (and the list goes on) have all sought out The Swanks; asking them to share the stage with them. This band has definitely earned the respect of scores of musicians, fans and other bands alike.
In these days of the pop punk phenomena, it is great to see The Swanks climb up out of the underground and remind music fans everywhere what true, gritty, rock n roll is all about. The Swanks carry on the tradition of the filth and the fury of bands like Fear, The Ramones, and Motorhead started. Starting with their debut self titled cd to their latest release, along with appearances on a few critically acclaimed compilations, one thing is apparent; they are great songwriters.
Masters of their craft, the band is multi-dimensional. With a volatile attack they show their strength as a straight up rough, raw band as well as a hard driving, well oiled, polished machine. How do they do this? With musical compositions that have melodic overtones, razor sharp guitar riffs, driving bass lines, hard hitting drum tracks that set the tempo at a feverish pace and lift the songs to another level along with searing vocals.
It was my distinct pleasure as a fan, friend and fellow musician to have had the opportunity to interview this band. The Swanks prove time and time again that they have the drive, the passion and the skill to break out and make it. They truly have the DIY spirit.
The Swanks are Shanda Kolberg on rhythm guitar and vocals, Shay Moss on bass, Rex Burdick on lead guitar and Phillip Atencio on drums. As serious as these people are about reaching goals and making it in the music industry, there is a great wit, sarcasm and humor in their responses to my questions that reflect their views about the music industry and the fact that you can’t take it too seriously. What I think is great about this band and the four people that make it up is that they totally support and give back to the scene that supports them.
This band has been together for six years. Anyone who has ever been in a band knows what a remarkable feat that is. So, my first question focused on that subject. From the first release it is evident that this band has progressed and has become tight as a band. They have kept their raw edge and have taken it to another level by polishing the sound without loosing the sound and attitude they are after.
So, what do they attribute that to?
Well, Phillip’s take on it is, “It all starts with a good drummer.” Although you can tell he is just having fun, it is a valid point. Shay claims, “It’s all about lots of rags and borax.” Hey, this foursome does clean up nicely. Rex jokingly says yes, while Shanda gives a more serious answer. Kolberg claims, “I attribute it to staying together as a band more than six months.” She also went on to say that the four of them have played together for so long now that they influence each other more than any other band could influence them. They are all on the same page and just what to rock.
These guys have become true road dogs in the past few years, being DIY, getting on several compilations and also putting together a new website. Has all this exposure and hard work helped them pull fans from outside Colorado? The answer, according to Shanda, is “Yes!” The Swanks are huge in Vegas.
I was also curious to see if the band has used other music related promotional sites. Were they using the ole’ World Wide Web to capture some fans?
Besides their own website (www.theswanksrock.com), they do have a spot on myspace.com and they have been involved with other sites in the past. They have sold merchandise and gained fans by using this form of technology, which they feel is great. However, they started this band to play music, not spend their time updating websites and becoming web masters. If you’ve ever heard this band or seen their live show you understand what sells this band. Great songs and great performances win over fans, not websites. The Swanks prove that with every show they play.
This band, although a staple in the local scene, has always remained somewhat underground. The main reason for this is because they have stuck to their guns and not sold out to the top 40 pop machine. Glorified cover bands and bands that have chosen to conform seem to be the ones who get all the exposure and backing from all the major local media. These bands are also the ones who have recently gotten signed by major labels. Oh yeah, one last thing, these bands don’t even possess half the talent or ferocity of The Swanks.
Do The Swanks fight against that and try to open people’s eyes or just maintain and keep working?
They just keep working! According to Shay, “If we pursued such lofty goals as being a record label’s tax write off maybe we’d be signed by now.” Shanda claims that they haven’t sent anything out to any labels. Both Phillip and Rex add some comic relief by saying, “What? We could’ve sold out to the pop machine” along with “I want to sell out as soon as possible.” If ya know these two guys, ya get the joke. They are both Harley riding, leather jacket wearing punk rockers who are harder than concrete.
These are the days of the distribution deal where labels sign bands to a two release deal with little or no tour support. Every corporate label needs to claim a loss from time to time in order to continue to get tax breaks in which they invest that money into their own manufactured “band”. The Swanks, in this writer’s opinion, are better than that.
On their latest release, The Swanks vs. The World, the band is playing and sounding better than ever. They claim that the goal with this one was to make an album that they could listen to. They also say that working with Bart at Motaland Studios on this album was a great experience. “He is the first engineer we’ve worked with that gets us and actually listens to what we’re playing”, explains Kolberg.
This album is aggressive, powerful, melodic and very sleazy. The compositions are guitar driven anthems with vocal hooks that bring the crowd to their feet as they sing the chorus back to the band. Reminiscent of The Ramones, but definitely not a copy of; the songs are short and to the point. This album brings out the true talent of this band as a whole and as individuals. For all those out there who read this article, support this band. The Swanks deserve to be signed. They deserve the same respect that they give others. They shoot to kill, and they’ll hit ya right between the eyes.
For more information go to www.theswanksrock.com .. www.myspace.com .. www.denverxsyndicate.com