Flint, Michigan punk band The Swellers are currently on tour in the UK with Young Guns. Despite initial problems (missed flights, illness and cancelled shows), the band have made the most of their British experience. Drummer Jonathan Diener explains to New Kicks why they wouldn't want to be anywhere else...
How's the tour going so far?
The tour has been an amazing and adventurous experience for us. We missed our first show due to airline trouble in the states, played one show, then Young Guns had to cancel four shows in a row. This left us with the only option of getting replacement shows with 24 hours notice, which worked surprisingly well. We finished the shows with Young Guns, Japanese Voyeurs and two with Set Your Goals and had a complete blast. Loved everyone we've played with so far and the cities we've been in.
Have you had the chance to see much of the UK or is it just playing shows and moving on?
This time we were much more prepared on all accounts and finally got to explore places like London with a lot of history. Walked across Abbey Road like complete tourists, took pictures in front of Buckingham Palace, the usual cliche stuff that we've always wanted to do. We even played two shows that day but finally made time to have fun and walk around. We usually unwillingly walk around towns while we're looking for food haha.
Do you find UK crowds to be any different to US ones?
I think UK crowds are more appreciative with the mindset that we're not already coming back next month, which is one thing that can kind of kill it for attendance in the States. It all depends on the type of tour as well. With Young Guns it was definitely a younger crowd who heard of us from touring with Paramore and then headliner shows are punk rock kids and people who saw us last time we played the UK on the Give It A Name tour. Whether people stand still or stage dive, we're just happy to be overseas and living our dream.
A couple of the Young Guns shows were cancelled due to illness. How did that affect you guys?
Financially it changed things a bit, and our morale for a bit but again, we're here to have fun and play our songs. It doesn't matter who we play to, we just want to keep going and play shows. Another band we were with canceled 3 of their shows, and the band on our headliner shows dropped off.. so it seems almost every band in the UK are canceling shows for any reason they can haha.
You and Nick are vegan. Do you struggle finding vegan friendly food on tour?
I'm not vegan, but I'm very very vegetarian. Nick is completely vegan while I still eat things like chocolate muffins. After touring for over 5 years it really isn't hard at all to eat on tour. Eating WELL is a different story, but even the meat eaters still eat fried garbage. Touring over here is harder because it's almost like our first tour, but it's so easy to find things like falafel at service stations or veggie burgers at every kebab shop. I suggest everyone try it, it's quite easy if you care enough.
When you finish this tour you will be starting work on your new album. How do you go about starting a new album? What are the processes involved?
A lot of people don't realize that we are ALWAYS writing new songs. The second we finished recording the last record we were already messing around with song ideas. It's all about what comes naturally to us. We never force ourselves to write which is why it takes a bit of time for an album to be completely written. If there is any part we're not sure of in a song, we immediately take it out to make sure we have the song that we like completely, which I feel a lot of bands just try to kill time in songs and albums.
Do you already have songs for the new album?
We definitely have songs, but we'll be talking about that at a later date when we can announce more.
Your last record, ‘Ups And Downsizing’ was very clearly inspired by your experiences of recession. Will there be a theme on the new album or is it just a case of writing and seeing what comes out?
We didn't really try to make the theme for the last record, we just write about things that directly affect our lives. Since the last record a lot has changed for Nick and I as far as our personal lives like moving to a new house. I think lyrically we're trying to experiment more with storytelling so again we'll be able to talk about it closer to when we record!
You and Nick are always mentioning your home town of Flint, Michigan. Do you really miss it when you’re touring?
Having a place you call our home is really important to us. All of our friends live there or close to it. It's just one of those things when you're stuck with 3-5 other guys in a van at close proximity nonstop, have to listen to music overnight because people snore, sleep on floors, wait to shower... You just want to sit on your couch all day by yourself or with your girlfriend. After a tour it's such a nice feeling to just relax. We grew up going to Flint for the mall and music venue, played our first show there, and now Nick and I live by all of it so it's very cool. A lot of great things there.
What’s the scene like back home?
There used a to be a huge thriving music scene, but our local venue The Flint Local 432 closed down right when we started touring. It's a lot harder to bring people to shows or book shows in the city, but our friends have been trying and it's so nice to see that spark again. There have always been great bands to come out of our area, and it'll be so nice if the scene can thrive again so I don't have to drive an hour to Detroit to see shows every week haha.
What’s been your personal highlight of 2010?
My personal highlight was being able to come overseas to Europe/UK for the first time. Didn't know we'd be taking two more trips over to do each of them again after... that's 3 overseas tours in one year. Pretty badass in my opinion. Also doing Warped Tour was a very great experience for all of us. So many friends and so many new friends. We hope we can play it again next year.
What’s your favourite song to play live and why?
I love playing Watch It Go because my drum parts remind me a lot of The Descendents, which has my favorite drummer, Bill Stevenson in it. I also love the technical stuff I get to do in Welcome Back Riders because it has almost every type of genre in it. Watching the crowd sing along and air drum is one of the coolest things.
Aside from the new record, what’s the plan for 2011?
The only plan so far is to tour a ton and travel the globe to play places like Australia, Japan, anywhere we can play we can. We want this next record to be a big step up for us on all levels so we hope that people are ready to go on the journey with us. 2011 is about to get crazy.