Still unknown across much of the United States and the wider world, Swell Daze are working hard to make themselves heard. The quartet from Purcellville,Virginia is made up of vocalist McCoy, bassist Mitch, guitarist/backing vocalist Addison and drummer/backing vocalist Titus and they kindly agreed to this EXCLUSIVE interview, working together to provide many of the answers. Read on to discover all about their influences, their touring plans and how the new album is slowly taking shape.
How would you describe Swell Daze?
We’re a four piece alternative rock band. We write with a focus on intricate rhythms and tight three part vocal harmonies. The bass and drums are always locked in leaving plenty of room for some great lead guitar work. The melodies are catchy and the lyrics are relatable. The four of us are truly great friends whose passion for making great music is really what matters most to the band.
How do the four of you know each other/how did you meet?
Addison and Titus are next door neighbors who grew up playing music together. In high school they decided to form a band and asked Addison’s friend McCoy to front the band. In their freshman year of college Titus and Addison met Mitch through Titus’s roommate.
Who are your musical influences? Who did you grow up listening to?
Mi: Pretty much all classic rock especially from 67 to 80. My biggest influences on bass are Tiran Porter of The Doobie Brothers, Chris Squire of Yes, Dee Murray, bassist for Elton John and Geddy Lee of Rush. I also really enjoy playing jazz which is what I played all throughout high school.
A: Influences include names from all different decades and genres such as: Kevin Parker of Tame Impala, David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, Chaka Khan, and many more. I grew up listening to bands like the Who, Queen, Styx, Metallica, and Coheed & Cambria. I give my dad all the credit for helping me develop my taste in music.
T: I really appreciate drummers who have a laid back but melodic style of playing with a focus on a tight groove. John Bonham from Led Zeppelin and Stewart Copeland of The Police are two of my favorites. I got into music because my dad is a guitar player and Addison started playing when were kids and I wanted to be able to play with him.
Mc: I have a ton of influences, some I probably don’t even realize. I’d say my biggest influences on both my writing and vocal styling would be Anthony Kiedis of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Billy Squier, Benjamin Gibbard from Death Cab for Cutie, Billy Joel, David Byrne of Talking Heads, and my mom, Sheila Douglasson. Some other artists I like are Johnny Cash, Vintage Trouble, The Beatles, Graffiti6, The W’s, Modest Mouse, Frank Sinatra, She & Him and The Strokes. Also my car radio is always tuned to the classic rock station.
You formed in 2011, so in the eyes of many, you are very much a ‘new’ band – how do you think things are going for you so far?
Things are going great! We’ve been progressing very quickly as a band and are very grateful for all of our success. This summer we won a huge battle of the bands that over 90 bands from the mid-Atlantic competed in, our song “Hooked” has been used on the Discovery Channel tv show called “Saint Hoods”, our debut EP charted at #167 on the national college radio charts (CMJ), and most recently we were invited to audition for the tv show “America’s Got Talent” with a front-of-the-line pass. Things seem to be going in the right direction!
Last year you were sponsored by Red Bull Soundstage. How did that come about?
Our manager applied for the opportunity through Sonic Bids and the people at Red Bull seemed to really like our sound so they offered us a gig.
You released your debut EP in 2012 – what was the writing and recording process like?
The songs were a collaborative effort of the entire band. At the time we had a different bassist – we call him The Legend – who contributed highly to the simplicity of the record. The EP was recorded in six days in one of our friends’ houses and was completely self produced…somehow we managed to make a CD with a $0.00 budget!
Do you have a favourite track and if so, which is it and why?
I think we have to answer “Hooked” simply because that song has seen the most success out of all the songs on our EP. This song has also stood the test of time as it is the only song off of our EP which we still play live. People always get excited when they hear this song at a show which is another great reason to like it. We will actually be re-recording the song for our full length.
How big of a deal was it to have ‘Hooked’ licensed to Tony Hawk’s Ride Channel as well as it featuring in a number of shows on various networks including MTV? Did such promotion/publicity help and if so, how much?
It’s totally surreal. We’ll never forget the first time we heard our song tv. As far as how big of a deal it was…we don’t really know. Unfortunately our name wasn’t on TV, only the song so it wasn’t really promoted. It is, however, a great accolade to have when we begin promoting our full length album due out in the spring.
You currently play a lot of shows in and around your home state of Virginia and for local radio stations. What are your plans regarding the rest of the States?
For now our focus is on Northern Virginia and Washington D.C. We are willing to travel as long as there are good opportunities out there. This past summer we played in Harrisburg, PA and occasionally play in Maryland. One of the best things we can do to promote our music is gig as much as possible.
Would you like to travel further and hit up Europe and the UK in the near future?
That is a big step! We would love to if there were demand in Europe and the UK for Swell Daze. It really depends on how successful our album is. In reality that probably is something for the distant future, not the near.
Social media is nothing short of a necessity for bands today. You currently have over 1000 Facebook likes and 5500 Twitter followers. How much of an impact has the ability to instantly communicate and reach your fans in such ways had?
It has had a huge impact. It is incredible what having the ability to reach so many people with the click of a mouse has done for us. We use Facebook and Twitter to promote everything we do as a band. We always promote our gigs, share pictures and keep our fans up to date with what we’re up to as a band. Our latest announcement was that we just made plans to go into the studio with multi-platinum record producer Jim Ebert in January. That post reached more people on Facebook than we have fans. We actually picked up some new fans because of it. Social media is also a great tool to use for booking gigs. We’re often reached out to by other bands or venues looking to put a show together. Their being able to see pictures of us, listen to our music and watch our videos really keeps up a step ahead of bands who don’t have those kinds of things posted online. Our Electronic Press Kit or EPK on ReverbNation has helped us to land some of our best gigs.
You recently auditioned for the 9th season of America’s Got Talent. Whose idea was that, why did you do it and how do you think it went?
Our manager decided to apply for a front-of-the-line pass using our electronic press kit and it worked out. We decided to do it because if we were to get on the show, not even win, it would be great exposure for us as a band. The audition went great. We played an acoustic cover of ‘Rio’ by Duran Duran because it’s our favorite cover to play in our regular, electric set. Unfortunately we need to wait until February to find out whether or not we made it through to the next round.
You posted on Facebook recently that you’re about to ‘officially’ begin recording your next album soon. Even now, in these early stages, how do you think it will differ from your EP?
This album couldn’t be more different from the EP. We have matured so much as a band and as song writers. The EP was driven by vocals and power chords. It’s entirely in 4/4 and with very few vocal harmonies or backing vocals and was recorded with our old bass player. The new record will not only be driven by McCoy’s vocals but also with catchy harmonies and melodies, some excellent lead guitar work and very melodic bass lines . The style of music is also much more diverse. The EP was a very straightforward rock album. This new record will be an experience with several feel changes song to song. On this record you will find reggae, classic rock, surf and modern rock influences. There are two ballads and some very heavy rock songs. What is great about our new music is that we can really make you feel what we want you to feel. McCoy’s words are deep and can make you cry, smile or even be angry. Addison is doing much more lead work now, in his solos you can find influences from everyone from David Gilmour of Pink Floyd to Terry Kath of Chicago. Greg’s drumming is relaxed, yet flashy, groovy and tasteful but terrifically melodic. Mitch’s bass is melodic and intricate, he cuts through the mix with catchy lead lines but still holds down the bottom end. Everyone’s individual part on this record was written to compliment everyone else’s part.
What do you think makes Swell Daze so different from all the other bands out there?
Our vocal harmonies really set us apart from all of the other college rock bands we’ve played with. Falsettos and polyphonic melodies saturate our music giving it life and color. We also really focus on making our sound clean in the sense that nobody is playing something that gets in the way of everyone else. A lot of musicians think that if they just play all out 100% of the time it will sound good. We realize that we are a unit and need each other to make the entire song sound good. We are also just great friends. We don’t look at each other as irreplaceable because no one else knows how to play our songs, but because there just really isn’t anyone else we would rather have playing in this band.
Finally then, where can people go if they want to find out more about you?
Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SwellDaze – it’s a great tool for getting in touch with us and keeping up to date with upcoming gigs and any news. ReverbNation: http://www.reverbnation.com/swelldaze – is great if you want to check out our music or any live videos, and it is also updated with our live performance dates. Also, follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/swelldaze.