PropertyOfZack Interview : : The Swellers
PropertyOfZack had the chance to speak with our good friend Jono Diener of The Swellers just last week. Jono and I discussed the band’s decision to leave Fueled By Ramen Records, where they see themselves in the current landscape of the scene, excitement for the future, a new 7”, future label situations, and so much more. Make sure to check it all out below!
It was just recently announced that The Swellers had parted ways with Fueled By Ramen after three or four years on the label. When did the discussion start and when did things come to fruition?
Definitely a few months ago. We all started talking about what was best for us in general. I think a big part of it too was that we kind of realized that they would understand because they have these bands that are doing so well. And then a band from a world like ours. A DIY and I guess punk band being bunched with those other bands doesn’t really make any sense for them because of the way they promote. They have a surefire way of doing promotion for those bands. But when you put a band like us in it, it doesn’t really work. So one thing led to another. The little things added up. Not saying that the label is doing poorly. You look at a band like fun. and they’re breaking world records right now for sales. We just wanted to do our own thing and we think we’ll be better off.
It doesn’t seem like you guys have any bad blood with the label or anything. But The Swellers don’t really fit on the label too well. Do you regret it at all? Or do you think it’s helped regardless?
I think it definitely helped. When we signed, the whole point was that we signed to a label that was the best choice at the time. It definitely was. We got some really crazy opportunities out of it. It definitely opened a lot of doors. And the sound we’ve had since 2009, I won’t rewrite anything. I like what happened to us and it got us to this point. But because we did all of that, it’s not that we learned from a mistake, we just learned how the reality of things worked in the major label affiliated world. I think we are where we are today because they chose to sign us in the first place. And that’s a good thing, that’s not a bad thing.
I feel like the landscape of our genre has shifted too since you guys got signed. I feel like pop punk or whatever you want to call it was the last in the forefront and now within the last two years it really has begun again to be the center of attention. Even if it wasn’t a priority for a label like Fueled By Ramen. Are you optimistic about things too? It seems like there are all these great things for other pop punk bands, even if you don’t want to be on a label like No Sleep or Rise or Hopeless. But it seems like there is a large community out there now that wasn’t there when you signed.
Yeah. The comparison a lot of people make is talking about how back in the Drive-Thru Records heyday where there was a whole label of bands that people were stoked on. Regardless of how the label operated, people are like, “Oh man, I have Rx Bandits and The Movie Life.” All those bands. It developed into this huge thing to where they would tour together and do all this cohesive stuff together. With us, we were always in a weird spot. Because we were on a label called Search And Rescue Records. When we were on that, we had Alucard which Ryan in our band was in before. That was the only band we could really tour with. We never had a label that was like, “Hey punk rock fans. We’re putting this out there for you.” We never had that. We never had hype, we never had this big connection with all this other stuff. We were just the weird odd band out all the time, but we just happened to make friends with bands in other scenes and all that. It is bizarre because when we started the band and over the years, all we were thinking about was, “Oh man these Fat Wreck Chords bands. We’re going to be touring with them all of the time. It’s going to be the best.” Then after a while it was like all of the bands we grew up listening to either broke up or don’t really do anything anymore. It kind of moved over into that new pop punk direction. So I think when Four Year got signed to Decaydance. And Set Your Goals got on Epitaph. I think there became a mini signing spree. It was like the Sunset Strip thing back in the day in the eighties. So I think people thought we were part of that, but all of us and our friends bands each got signed with different labels. So it was really interesting seeing where that went. Now you look at a label like Rise, they have like twelve new bands. But they’re all really good bands. I think it’s really cool and I’m just interested to see how things turn out. Like how they are now. Because you can look at a label and the way I look at is if you would go to their warehouse and you could leave with five different bands’ shirts, you’re like, “Okay, that’s really cool that they can do that.” And there’s a lot of labels where there’s this one band you like and then with everyone else you’re like, “That’s alright.” It’s pretty cool. I just hope that it doesn’t isolate people too much. Because whenever a genre gets too big, it’s like a radio song. A song blows up on the radio but then you get so sick of it because you hear it every day. It’s the same as hearing people talk about pop punk all of the time. It’s so cool that’s it’s doing bands like The Wonder Years and bands like Transit and Man Overboard and all of them. But is it going to be this weird bastardized version of what it is and all of these local bands start doing that? And then over time it just gets so obnoxious that it kills itself. And then some new genre destroys that. It’s all cyclical. It happens every few years. Once you realize that and not only adapt but kind of stick to your own thing, so everything is blowing over you, you just keep chugging through. I think that’s kind of what our band did. Every time something kind of got popular, we didn’t do it. So maybe that hurt us in the long run, but we’re just doing what we want. Hopefully people can notice that, you know?
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