The Swifts are a four piece pop punk outfit out of Colorado. Their excellent new album All Sunshine was produced by guitar legend Ahrue Luster of Ill Niño.
What is one fact about each member of The Swifts that your fans might not know?
Mike: I still love to skateboard even through I’m way too old and am going to seriously injure myself any day.
Rich: My favorite music to play is actually Dixieland Jazz.
Rob: I grew up in a very small Kansas town, which happens to be the home of Kustom Amplifiers and Ross Electrontics.
Jim: I am the son of a preacher man, so I am a very bad influence of the rest of the guys.
Please each Swifts member give a very influential song in your life and why.
Mike: The first time I heard Going to Pasalacqua by Green Day, it blew my mind. I was 14 years old and it was the first independent punk I ever heard. I was hooked immediately. Fast forward 28 years, nothing as changed.
Rich: This is a complicated question for me… I am influenced by so many different types of music in many different ways. Mostly, I have memories, good and bad, associated with different songs. Example: California Man by Cheap Trick is one of my favorites because it reminds me of growing up in Fullerton and brings warm memories about school and growing up. I suppose everyone has a song that takes them to the place where they grew up…
On the other hand, My Funny Valentine, by Rodgers and Hart, is a beautiful melody and one of my favorite songs. The melody and harmonic progression reminds me of a time in my life when I was really empty. The song takes me back to that time and allows me to reminisce and become mired in self-pity… Then I just cry and cry.. good times…. good times…
Rob: Music has always been a part of my life, and various bands at different times have provided the soundtrack. So I might give a very different answer tomorrow. But I would say AC/DC’s Back in Black because it’s the song and album I first learned to blast loudly and play with my guitar. I even had an old ’67 Gibson SG and little Marshall, so I felt just like Angus Young in my room!
Jim: I haven’t had many favorite songs that have influenced my life very often. Most of my influences have come from bands, like Black Sabbath, Kiss, early Aerosmith, and Van Halen.
What are some of the music videos that have struck you cinematically
Mike: That’s a great question. I loved the video for Ruby Soho by Rancid. It was so surreal to me that a band like Rancid had mainstream popularity and had a video playing on MTV. Not taking anything away from the video. I love the video.
Rich: Take On Me is one of my favorite videos. Also, Don’t loose my number by Phil Collins… funny… I love the intro’s to the David Lee Roth videos too, they’re hilarious.
Rob: Billy Talent Fallen Leaves, I love that song and the video
Jim: I’m a big fan of a dark, brooding video, which feels like a horror movie. One that comes to mind is Demon Hunter’s video for I Will Fail You. Good stuff.
Tell us about your latest release All Sunshine. What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?
Mike: The record is not a super serious or ethereal musical experience. But, the lyrics do convey life experiences that I think everyone could find a way to relate to. We tried to write an album that was melodic and easy to listen to but also had a few twists and turns that you weren’t expecting. For example, we use some weird chord progressions that create some dissonance while still keeping a melodic vocal line.
Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?
Mike: It’s not really hidden, but putting Zombie on the album would be one example. We wrote that tune several years ago and it’s been a consistent part of the live show for quite some time. So if you’re hardcore fan, that one’s for you.
You worked very closely with Ahrue Luster on this one. What’s he like as a person? What’s he like as a producer?
Rich: He is a very cool guy and talented musician. He has a knack for getting all of the sounds just in the right place in your ear. He definitely pushed us to do things we wouldn’t have done without him which is exactly what you want in a producer. We hope to work with him again.
What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?
Mike: I lived in a small town in southern Iowa and we didn’t get MTV until long after it was a thing. Once we got MTV and I saw music videos of Motley Crue, Def Leopard, etc, I knew someday I wanted to play guitar.
Rich : I first took an interest in drums after seeing Buddy Rich and Count Basie at Disneyland back when the bands used to come through town and play at the Carnation Garden in the park… So cool… But, the moment I decided I wanted to be a musician was when I was around 7 or 8 years old and saw Johnny Cash live. Johnny and the whole scene for me was like,,, “I wanna do this!”
Rob: I would sit in my room as a little kid listening to any music I could, so that got me started. I realized that I wanted to be a musician the very first time I walked into a music store down in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Jim: I started playing guitar at age 14. I saved up all my money and bought a cheap guitar from Sears. I would sit around, playing my records and try to play what they were playing. I guess I always knew that I wanted to be on stage with the lights and stuff.
Rich: Melodic punk rock with elements of surf punk, hard rock.
What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?
Mike: Probably nothing in the cringe department. Honestly, the reviews of All Sunshine have been pretty positive and we’re very thankful for that. If I have to pick something, sometimes we get the comparison to Blink 182. Don’t get me wrong, I love Blink 182. I just don’t think we actually sound like them.
Who in the band are the sports fans? Who are the nerds? And is there anyone who is both?
Mike: I’m going to take some risk with answering this question. Rob and I are soccer fans and talk a lot about it in front of Jim and Rich and they have no clue what the hell we are talking about. Jim is a diehard baseball fan which makes no sense to me. Rich is a big hockey fan. In terms of nerdiness, I’d go with Rob as he’s an expect in network technology and can explain exactly how the internet works.
When was the last time you were star struck and who was it?
Mike: Last year I saw the Longshot play in Phoenix. The Longshot is Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day’s side project. I saw them play in a club that held about 200 people and I stood about 10ft away from him. It was a pretty surreal experience.
Rich: I think the last time i was starstruck was when I met Simon Philips for the first time. He produced and engineered drum sessions for one of my previous bands. I am easily star struck and having to perform for a world renown drummer, such as Simon, was really a challenge for me. Simon is one of the nicest guys in the music industry FYI. He was very kind and offered me some great advice. It was like a 2 week long drum master class/private lesson. It was an incredible experience…
Rob: I think the last time I was star struck was like 2005 or something when I stood in line for coffee with Joan Rivers in Santa Monica. I said Hi, and then I completely blanked out saying nothing else.
Jim: Back in 2000, my band was playing a festival in Denver. As we were sound checking, I looked out, and about 6 rows back, I saw all the guys from P.O.D. standing there, watching. I felt like crawling under a rock. All I could think was how badly I was going to be judged on my rig, style, and performance. I’ve never had a problem playing in front of anyone, but that one bugged me.
What is the craziest thing that has ever happened at one of your shows?
Mike: Here’s one story…not so much crazy but entertaining. Early on for some reason we agreed to play for almost two hours at this club. That was a problem because we didn’t really have that much material. It was like a Wednesday night or something. There was nobody there except the owners. So we awkwardly gave them a private show of us playing every single thing we could think of. I think both parties wanted it to end after 30 minutes but were too polite to say anything.
What equipment are you using? Any sponsors you’d like to plug?
Mike: For drum gear, Rich plays Ludwig, Zildjian, Paiste and DW 9000. Rob and Mike play Fender and Gibson guitars. We use Ross guitar pedals and Marshall, Carvin, Dean Markley and Vox amps. For bass gear Jim plays Schector and Warwick. We are close on some sponsors but aren’t quite ready yet to announce.
What are your plans for 2019 and beyond?
Mike: We are playing more shows in 2019. We didn’t play very much in 2018 because we were working on the album. We’d love to get back in the studio late this year and work on the next recording.
Thank you so much for taking to the time to interview us!!!