Hailing from the Flint area in Michigan, The Swellers have made quite the name for themselves within the American Punk scene over the last decade. Fresh off of a U.S. tour, and a brand new EP release, I recently had the chance to catch up with lead singer, Nick Diener. Nick speaks candidly about finishing their last tour in their home state, what Michigan bands had the greatest impact on them starting out, what this EP means to him, and even his man crush on a certain WWE wrestler!
Grizzly Bomb: First of all I want to thank you for agreeing to this interview. You guys just wrapped up a tour last month and of all places, at The Magic Stick, in Detroit. What does it mean to you to end a tour back home in Michigan, and how does it compare now playing a show here, as opposed to how it did 10 years ago?
Nick Diener: It was incredible to end our tour in Michigan, since we hadn’t been in the state for 3 months. Just lots and lots of tour and no Michigan date! It was a great homecoming, seeing all of our friends, and knowing we could fill up the room decently well. Felt good. Ten years ago would have been a completely different thing. We only played in Michigan and no one really knew who we were!
GB: As somebody who grew up in Michigan, one thing that I love is that we take a ton of pride in bands and musicians that come from our state. The music scene in Michigan, in my opinion, is one of the most passionate in the country. What bands, either locally from the Flint area or just the state of Michigan did you grow up listening to?
N.D: Kid Brother Collective from Flint is a huge influence on us, still to this day. They grooved so hard. Lucky that they’re coming back for some reunion shows in a bit here. Also, bands like Black Dahlia Murder, Suicide Machines and Mustard Plug are all examples of bands we were fans of, but then they took us under their wing, helped us out, and we became buds. Michigan is a really cool place to play music.
GB: While we’re on the topic of Michigan bands. We’re there any bands in particular that you guys played with during the early days of The Swellers that had a great impact on you?
N.D: Mustard Plug and the Suicide Machines were the first two Michigan bands we got to play with that were also worldwide nonstop touring bands that had done really well. It was like a dream come true to share the stage with those guys. We learned a ton from them.
GB: On top of just coming off of a tour, you guys have also released a new EP in October, Running out of Places to Go. What made you guys decide to release an EP now, instead of waiting for your next full length album?
N.D: We had some songs ready, and wanted to show the world that after we left our label, we weren’t dying out. Just wanted to put more gas in the vehicle and keep it going. It was a good move, i think, because now people seem to be hungry for more and don’t think that we’re starting to suck or something.
GB: You said before in an interview that one thing that stood out to you as being different about your last album, Good for Me, was that you felt it was the band’s first album that had a really good “flow” to it. To you, what stands out about this EP, that’s maybe different from some of your previous releases?
N.D: We were really bitter and angry when we made this EP. It’s an unfair world/business. We worked so hard and saw little in return. That’s why we decided to make this record on our own, put it out on our own label, and show the world it’s still possible. Very rewarding.
GB: One thing that has always stood out to me about The Swellers, is that you guys have a way of maintaining your own unique sound, while also changing it enough between albums to keep your music from becoming repetitive. Is that growth as a band something that has come natural over the years or has it been a part of writing music that you guys have had to work for?
N.D: Luckily we’ve been a band to never release the same album twice. We grow, our tastes change, we get bored, so it’s natural that we sound a bit different on every record. Our EP was a bit more raw and angry than Good For Me, while Good For Me was much more polished and poppy than the last record. Writing for our new full length now, and it’s in a totally different vein but still sounds like us.
GB: Just last month, the music video for the song, Hands, was released, which is one of the songs off of the new EP. One thing that caught my attention about this video was that it’s incredibly simplistic. The video is really just you four hanging out at your house. How did the idea to do the music video like that come about?
N.D: We were over-thinking what our next video should be like, and decided that, like our record, it should be as real and DIY as possible. That’s what ended up happening.
GB: Like I said before, you guys are fresh off of a tour, and a brand new EP release, what’s next for the band?
N.D: Lots of time off of touring, with a few shows here and there. Lots of writing. Re-energizing.
GB: One topic I have to ask you about is pro wrestling. Not only because it’s something that we cover in great depth here on Grizzly Bomb and I’m a huge wrestling nerd, but also because I’ve read that you’re a fan yourself. What first drew you into becoming a pro wrestling fan?
N.D: There was something about the action, the drama, and the sports that drew me in. The characters were so cool. Some of them were HORRIBLE which made me love them even more. I think my grandpa or my cousins were the ones who had it on their TV. I was about 5 years old. Sports and entertainment are such a great combo, it’s so brilliant.
GB: It was funny, I was watching a video a while back of CM Punk during Wrestlemania week this year, and he was wearing a Swellers hoodie. Does it at all seem surreal to you, as a childhood wrestling fan, when you see one of the guys from the current roster supporting the band like that?
N.D: Not just the ‘current roster’, but the CHAMP. The WWE CHAMPION. It’s mind-blowing. We’re so proud of Punk. We see a lot of parallels to wrestlers and musicians. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how good you are, people just won’t take notice. People suck. But Punk finally broke the barrier and showed everyone what he was made of, that he was the best. That’s our goal. It’s inspiring. But.. Dolph Ziggler is also the MAN. Huge man crush on that guy. So much talent.
GB: Switching gears now back to the music, you guys have been a band for ten years now, and I feel like if there has ever been an interesting ten years to be a band, it has been the past ten. Music has become easily accessible largely because of the internet, yet promoting your own band seems like it is also easier than ever because of the internet. It’s somewhat of a double-edged sword, and with the benefits that social media and the internet have provided bands, there has also been quite a few negatives as well. In your experience, do you think that overall, the existence of social media has been a good thing for you guys or a bad thing?
N.D: I think it’s hard to say. It is what it is. The times change, things change, you adapt or die. Champions adjust and that’s all you can do. Since social media exists, we take advantage of it and have fun with it. Sure, it sucks that people don’t buy records like they used to, or wait till release day to check out a band’s new album, but that’s something we have grown to accept.
GB: After a few LP’s, non-stop touring, and playing shows with some of the most popular punk and pop-punk bands out there, what goals do you feel still lie ahead of you all as a band?
N.D: We just want to keep working. Keep progressing. Keep making music and enjoying life. Thanks for the interview, dude!