AND THEIR FORTHCOMING CD
JULY 26, 2008
GIG MICHAELS OF SWAMPDAWAMP TALKS TO ROCKWIRED
ABOUT WALKING AWAY FROM THE ROCK N ROLL LIFESTYLE ONLY TO COMEBACK ROCKING HARDER THAN BEFORE (READ MORE)
WE WILL NEVER DIE!:
SIMON YOUNG OF THE SLANTS TALKS TO ROCKWIRED
ABOUT THE BAND'S DEBUT CD 'SLANTED EYES, SLANTED HEARTS', THEIR SUCCESS ON HE ANIME CIRCUIT
AND TAKING OWNERSHIP OF A STEREOTYPE
A PERSONAL JOURNEY:
ALYSSA GRAHAM TALKS TO ROCKWIRED ABOUT HER LATEST CD 'ECHO'TAKING THE LISTENER ON A MUSICAL JOURNEY AND FILLING PEOPLE WITH A SENSE OF HOPE
LIKE FLOWERS THROUGH THE CONCRETE:
MARC PANNI OF LOS BLANCOS TALKS TO ROCKWIRED
ABOUT THEIR LATEST CD 'JUST THIS ONCE' REELING IN THE AUDIENCE AT MAKING FOLKS RECONSIDER MUSICIANSHIP(READ MORE)
|ROCKWIRED INTERVIEWS SWAMPDAWAMP|
A SECOND TIME AROUNDWhen I first interviewed GIG MICHAELS of SWAMPDAWAMP a year ago, they had just released their self-titled debut CD and were taking a break from a grueling tour schedule that had taken them across the country. It was a long and memorable conversation filled with shots of vodka and four letter words and it was all good. SWAMPDAWAMP (a named derived from some scatting that MICHAELS had done for a recording session) was breaking through in rock radio, SIRIUS, and XM RADIO. The band's lives sets were all out parties thanks to rocking numbers like BIRTHDAY, BLIND CRIPPLED AND CRAZY and SATURDAY. At the time, the pandemonium was being filmed and was slated to be released as a documentary entitled 'THE REAL MAKING OF A REAL BAND' - a film documenting the bands birth in a recording studio and it's maturation into one of the most exciting live rock bands around.
GIG MICHAELS OF SWAMPDAWAMP
TALKS TO ROCKWIRED
ABOUT THE BANDS FORTHCOMING CD
GOING OUT ON THE ROAD AGAIN
AND WHERE HE'S AT IN LIFE
INTERVIEWED BY BRIAN LUSH
While SWAMPDAWAMP is still going strong, a couple of changes in the bands line up compelled MICHAELS to drop the documentary."Let me tell you, we did go through about three members and then we were like 'We're not gonna do this real makingof a real band!'" recalls MICHAELS. "It was getting to be too much like a reality show, and the other thing was that we didn't want to put any of our friends in a bad light, because everybody thats been in the band has been cool. This band is very much like an NFL football team. You have to make changes and there's gonna be cuts and their is one goal for the team and the team is made up by the sum of the parts and the weak links have to be weeded out. We decided to put the documentary on the shelf and now we've got hundreds of hours of film which will come out someday."
Now, SWAMPDAWAMP is on the verge of releasing their eagerly awaited follow up CD, tentatively title THE RISING (BIG PENNY ENTERTAINMENT) which is scheduled for a July 2008 release. In the meantime, the band has released a three song taster entitled SWAMPDAWAMP 2.0, which features the free wheeling rockers 'DANCE' and 'FIRE IN THE HOLE' and the contemplative 'SHOEBOX MEMORIES'. "I think you're going to hear more musicianship, for one." says MICHAELS about the new album. "You're going to hear me going out on a limb on a couple of the tracks."
When I spoke with GIG MICHAELS this time, I came prepared with a Jack and Coke made from my very own SWAMPDAWAMP shot glass. We spoke of his anticipation of the the new album and the addition of two new bandmates; MIKE HUFFMAN (B3 organ, piano) and KEITH INMAN (guitars). Here is how it went.
You've got SWAMPDAWAMP 2.0 coming out in July. How do you feel about it?
I feel really good about it and in all honesty, I think we're going to get away from the '2.0' and call it 'THE RISING'.
That's a better title anyway.
Yeah. The '2.0' was actually just the name for the promo that sent out for radio and all that stuff.
That three song thing.
Yeah, so it's no big deal. You did a get a copy of it I assume.
You know, those three tracks were pretty strong that we decided to put them out just to keep the ball rolling. We've still got a few things to wrap up in the studio before we get the album put to bed, but it's really sounding great. The band is stronger than ever and the musicianship, after being out for God knows how long on the road, is just really, really tight. And of course the band has already been through a couple of changes since the last record.
What kind of changes?
Well, we have KEITH INMAN on guitar now. He's replacing MARTY HILL who was on the first record. MARTY really didn't want to commit to going out full time and beating the road down, which is cool. We all respect MARTY and we miss him, but as always in change, change is for the better. I'm a firm believer in that. KEITH brings in a style that is similar to MARTY's but he's a little more of a metal guy. His chops are somewhat different, but when me and KEITH write together, it's really got a cool edge to it, so it's not so twangy. It's got a little bit of fire in it. So we're all hyped about the second record. It's looking like the July release is going to be happening, with some radio edit versions and album cuts as well as the video. The video is actually going to be on the disk but it will only play on computers I believe. So, were pretty hyped about it right now.
Is the guitarist the only change in the line up?
We've got MIKE HUFFMAN on keyboards now. You know, remember BRIAN, the last time I talked to to you, I was talking about this documentary that we were working on called 'THE REAL MAKING OF A REAL BAND'?
Let me tell you, we did go through about three members and then we were like "We're not gonna do this real making of a real band!" It was getting to be too much like a reality show, and the other thing was that we didn't want to put any of our friends in a bad light, because everybody thats been in the band has been cool. This band is very much like an NFL football team. You have to make changes and there's gonna be cuts and their is one goal for the team and the team is made up by the sum of the parts and the weak links have to be weeded out. We decided to put the documentary on the shelf and now we've got hundreds of hours of film which willcome out someday. So, anyway, we've got MICHAEL HUFFMAN now on the B3 organ, and we've got CODY BENNET on the bass guitar.
What's going to be different this time around as opposed to the first album?
I think you're going to hear more musicianship, for one. You're going to hear me going out on a limb on a couple of the trracks that no one has heard yet. We've got a track called 'CHERRY SKIES' that reminds me of JAMIROQUAI or something.
Simply because of the vocal structure and the phrasing and where I'm able to go up and down in my range. I don't have a hell of a range as we all know. All of the reviews I get go something like " We really love GIG's whiskey charred, smokey vocals!" Fucking asshole! How the hell do you know I'm drinking whiskey? Needless to say, I am.
And I've got proof! I've got the tape from last time.
Well, I'm sipping on a little crown right now.
And I made some Jack and Coke with the SWAMPDAWAMP shot glass you sent me the last time.
Are you really?
Yes. I pulled it out because I knew that this interview was coming.
Cool! But you know what's gonna be different about this record is the sincerity of the lyrical content. It's definitely going to reflect where I'm at now in my life. Of course you're still going to have the whole 'life's a bitch and I'm just trying to get through it' kind of connotations and that there is basically your middle class America. We have a track off of the record called 'AMERICAN MAN', that's going to be all about that. It's all about things like immigration and what it means to be an American, and about how many casinos can we build. Of course, we're playing casinos too. The diesel fuel for our tour bus is like $4.70 something a gallon. It's like damn! What are you supposed to do. Of course it all trickles down to the ticket price, but it still puts a hell of a burden on the band, because we want gigs. We don't care about the money, but you've got to make money or you can't be out there. With diesel being five bucks a gallon, whose gonna fix that? You tell me and I'll but them a fuckin' cookie or something. There ain't nobdoy that's gonna fix it.
You said something earlier about where you're at now in life. Where are you at now? You do seem more somber in this interview than you were the last time I spoke with you.
I've been sick for the past couple of weeks. We're playing so much and I'm around people all of the time and you just end up picking up germs. I've been on some medications. These codiene-based cough syrups. I blew my throat out last week and I couldn't even talk for two days because our booking agent booked us with some stupid routing and I was singing way too much, and of course I've got to party. I can't stop that. But good call man! You're absolutely right. I am more somber tonight than normal. But as far as where I'm at in life, I feel great. Our royalties from BMI for the first album are comingin now - which is a big deal for us. I feel really good about the band and where we're at. The things that are coming up for us right now are just incredible. We're heading up to Sturgis for ten days in August for -
The rally there.
We'll be playing with guys like KID ROCK and ZZ TOP and we'll be headlining a couple of nights, but it's gonna be a hellacious week. They're gonna have me singing six nights in a row, which means I'm really not gonna get a chance to have a lot of fun until that very last night. On August 9th we're headlining the BROKEN SPOKE CAMPGROUND at the COUNTY LINE, and that my friend is going to be one hell of a party. Now here's cool thing BRIAN, we're all about film in this band. We've got KEITH INMAN, our new guitar player who majored in film editing and cinematography, including ROB FARRIS who is our sound guy who is also into film. We're filming a documentary called 'THE ROAD TO STURGIS' and we've got people in bed with us for the project like JACK DANIELS, and QUAKER STATE AND LUBE, and there are some other sponsors that I can't name yet. We're going to have a big kick off in Charlotte, North Carolina at the QUAKER STATE AND LUBE on July 23. We're being furnished with some hi-def cameras. Each band member and road crew member will have a camera so all of us will be filming all of the time. This show will go from Charlotte to Cincinnatti to the DEADWOOD SALOON, which has become a really good place for us. Then we'll go on to Chicago and then we go up to WHISKEY BONES in Rochester, Minnesota and then we drop down to Sioux Falls, and then we hit Sturgis. All along the route we've got the sponsors helping us with the shows through advertising, and the specials and the bike nights and all that kind of thing. When we get to Sturgis, our first days there, we'll have off. We'll just walk around and meet people and film. They're trying to hook me up with some backstage bullshiting with KID ROCK and CHRIS ROBINSON of THE BLACK CROWES and MARSHALL TUCKER, but he's a friend of mine anyway. So I'll get a chance to sit back and interview these guys. It's gonna be cool as hell! So there'll be ten days of that shit in Sturgis and the we come back down to Colorado for three days, Kansas City, Omaha, and then Springfield Missouri, then back to Nashville, and then home. We'll take a few days off and send all of the films to whoever is going to do the editing. The documentary will probably be coming out in October, right before Christmas. It'll have our new video for the song 'DANCE' and a video for 'FIRE IN THE HOLE'.
Has the way that songs get written for this band changed much at all?
No, not really. I'm the lead singer of the band and I sit around and write. that's what I do. It's changing a little bit in the way of how everybody has come to learn one another and getting to know everyones strengths and weaknessses. The idea of the whole band trying to write a song at once never works. I can come up with an idea and throw it out to the rest of the band and that can work sometimes. Going in with a song already in place and working out the kinks with the band is what always works. What's different this time is that DAVID LEE (drummer) and I are working on some things on the side. Me and the B3 player "SCOOBY" MICHAEL HUFFMAN, are working out some songs. The song 'CHERRY SKIES' is a song that "SCOOBY" brought to the table and that's something we're working on together. I think everything on this new album is going to be better and it's not all one sided, whereas everything on the first CD was stuff that I had written. You listen to stuff like 'DANCE', and 'FIRE IN THE HOLE' and even 'SHOEBOX', and they are kind of collective pieces, and everyone has more hands in the writing this time around. I don't give a shit who writes what as long as its good. In fact, we have cut on the record that a couple in Nashville had written. They wrote the track for us after hearing the vocal and I'll tell you, it blows me away. Everywhere we go, it's the showstopper.
Yeah, and I'm sittng here going "Uhhhh!!!". Now I'm threatened. We're doing this song that a couple outside of the band in Nashville wrote, and now it's the most requested song that we have. I'm like 'Damn! I've gotta step my ass up!' But that just lets you know how open we are to peoples stuff and how open I am to working with other people. MICHAEL HUFFMAN and KEITH INMAN are bringing a lot to the table, and I've got to tell you about MICHAEL HUFFMAN - the one we call "SCOOBY". He is 22 years old and this kid is the baddest motherfucker that I have ever seen next to GREG ALLMAN. I kid you not, and when you see him you will understand. Everywhere we go, the band is blowing people away. As a baand, we're finding that we're coming into our own identity. Our demographic is country music fans as well as rock fans and that's good. It's good for us and it's good for them. It's good to see that people nowadays are so diverse in what they like.
What's your hope for this CD? What would you like someone to come away with after hearing it?
That's a strong question! I get so lost in the business side of things that I end up having to fight and struggle with myself to shut down and go back and write which is what I really love to do. I wanna touch the hearts of people. I wanna make peoples lives easier. I want people to be able to listen to this record and go "You know what? Life is a celebration! There's good and there's bad, but at the end of the day I'm breathing, and this is just fun stuff!" And I think they're going to get it out of this one.