“It’s a pop-punk record for grownups” — In The Studio with the Swellers

May 30, 2013
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You mentioned feeling angry, musically and lyrically with these songs.

JONATHAN: Before, I was always like, “Yeah, you know everything is good, but I’m mad at the music industry.” Now I’m dealing with my own personal problems, and for the first time, I’m okay writing about strange encounters with potential relationships and all of that kind of stuff.

Nick and I are writing from each other’s perspectives on some songs, which I think is pretty strange, but we’re doing whatever is best for the song and we’re so like-minded in the understanding of each other to where we could finally… You know, it’s the same as when we’re playing: That chemistry is there.

When I was younger, I thought, “Man, we’re going to be as big as the Foo Fighters, and we’re going to do this…” Life kind of throws you these weird curveballs, but you eventually become okay with it for the first time, and you know, I’m only 24, but I feel like, mentally, I’ve matured so much in just the last year. I’ve learned so much about everything.

In The Studio with the Swellers 2013, photo by: Brett Gross | Alternative PressNICK: It’s kind of weird. We’ve always tried to write in metaphors. I think this is the first record where I got very blunt with what I was trying to say. It’s like, “Hey, what’s that song about?” and it’s like, “Dude, read it. Read exactly what the lyrics say, and that’s what it’s about.” So when I showed some of these songs to some of my buds, some of them aren’t really Swellers fans, some of them are, but it was cool because they’d be like, “A: That song is rockin’. B: Holy crap, I could relate to those lyrics 100 percent right now.”

It’s a very social record. I guess it’s a pop-punk record for grownups. Like dudes in their 20s doing that awkward “Well, I’m not in college anymore, I don’t really have a job-job [and] I want to meet a nice girl.”

JONATHAN: I think a big part of it was we kind of got forced into reality. You know a week out of high school I was already touring when I was 17, and now it’s like for the first time in my life I have a retail job. For the past six months, I’ve been working at Guitar Center, and I’m literally living off of 20 hours a week of minimum wage just so I can pay my rent. Whereas before, music was the thing that was at least supplying me to just pay my rent or whatever. So, now we got this kick in the ass to where we’re like, “Oh man, almost everything we talk about is so much more relatable because we’re living lives of actual people now.” You know, we’re not living in this goofy little dream world where we can do whatever we want. Reality is kicking in, so lyrically that is really showing through throughout the songs too.

The Swellers In The Studio 2013, photo by: Brett Gross | Alternative PressYou mentioned these are the most direct songs you’ve written thus far lyrically. Are you concerned they may be too direct? That they may be too to the point and might hurt or offend somebody?

NICK: These [songs] are pretty easygoing. I think even if you look at it a certain way, we’re definitely an underdog band. We’ve always been an underdog band no matter what. [With] bands like us, fans haven’t really heard of us yet [or] maybe fans don’t get us. It changes all the time. We’re like the Angus of bands. You know, “We’re still here, assholes.” That’s how I feel.

The lyrics that we have, they’re relatable to—we had a conversation about this yesterday—to the “leftover kids.” There are a ton of kids who come to our shows alone; they don’t come with their seven pop-punk friends, jumping on people’s shoulders. They come to the show completely by themselves, and they don’t even come talk to us after the show half the time. They’re very introverted people.

On the other side, we’ll have the punk fans, the pop-punk kids who are going off and getting wild. We have a wide variety of people, but I feel like these songs, even if you’re the most popular kid in high school, you’ll be able to be like, “Oh yeah, I can think of a situation where this makes a lot of sense.”

I should point out that I’m recording this interview on the B-side of the cassette tape I used to record my CM Punk interview. So, the real question is, which will we see first: a new Swellers record or CM Punk returning to the WWE?

NICK: You know what, I think [CM] Punk needs some time off. I think he needs to relax. I think he needs to get his head back on straight. You know, he’s a little bit injured right now. You can tell in his swagger, and we need to give him some time. He needs to just get his attitude back on track, man. I miss the old [CM] Punk, dude. I have his back; we got that straight-edge brotherhood. We have that mutual respect for what one another does, but man, you’ve gotta get your head on straight. You can’t be throwing around Paul Bearer’s ashes like that; you can’t be making fun of Jerry Lawler having a heart attack.

JONATHAN: Seriously, though, a lot of people always come to us and ask us about wrestling stuff and all of that, and they’re like, “Why the hell are you guys into wrestling?” But then you start realizing that these are a bunch of dudes that are taking rental cars and paying out of their pocket to go to these events and do all this stuff; it’s exactly the same as being in a band.

So, when we saw someone like CM Punk, where there’s this underdog dude filled with tattoos who loves punk rock, and he’s in a world full of a bunch of meatheads who don’t even appreciate this kind of stuff. They don’t even have a part of this counterculture; they’re just in their own world. It’s kind of the same as us where when you finally see someone do well from your world, it’s one of the coolest things ever. I think that’s how we are with everything.

One really strange thing I guess is the whole Fueled By Ramen thing. You look at the band fun. and us, our records came out I think one after the other. [Theirs] broke records and sold over a million copies, and it’s like, that’s so cool. If this was a few years ago, we’d be jealous as hell, but now it’s like, good people deserve good shit. The way I look at it is, we’ve changed our expectations of everything, but I hope one day if we do something cool, people will realize that we’re doing it because we were in the same world as everyone else. I would love to be the CM Punk of music.

NICK: The question really is, are you going to see CM Punk returning before a Swellers record or are you going to see Nick from the Swellers coming to the WWE? I think that’s the question that we all better ask. I’m up to 210 pounds, six feet three inches. I’m getting close to [CM] Punk, so he’s gotta watch out because there’s another straight-edge superstar in town. alt

Written by Scott Heisel