The Swillmerchants Bring Northhampton Rock to NYC
It’s not often you run into a band that has it all: talent, experience, and a good hand on the business. Northhampton, Mass rock group, the Swillmerchants are taking over the northeast music scene by embracing “cult-classical” anthems, bringing modern rock a new edge, and making their own rules in the music business. I got the chance to talk to bassist/guitarist and all around indie music biz guru, John St. Onge about the Swillmerchants’ much anticipated and overdue return to New York City next week. The Swilmerchants are joining fellow Boston rockers, The Honors at their last night of residency at legendary club The Bitter End on Friday, July 31st.
Here’s what John had to say about surviving the industry and how it feels to come back to New York.
Give us a bit of background on how the Swilmerchants was found and your musical direction.
Myself and Rich had worked together in another project called “Dorzia” and I was in a different band back then as well. I got to a point with my other band where it (meaning the culture, other members, music) just was not for me anymore and the other members wanted to keep it the same rather than evolve. Rich (vox) was really into his poetry after Dorzia ran it’s course and I was always impressed with his lyrical content, delivery, swagger and the way he lives (we have been best friends for many years). We decided to form Swillmerchants under the notion that:
1. It would be a vehicle for us to document the course of our personal evolutions through music. We really stay open and write what we want to hear from the stuff that goes on with our lives.
2. We would take it as far as we can take it (a very relative notion considering that with each goal attained, we set new ones).
Swillmerchants music will always be: ever-evolving and expressive of the group members experiences. We don’t write for the radio or to follow what is being done but rather, we stay open and write what we need to. Who knows, the next record may be a bluegrass-rock-electronica hybrid; we just go with it and it has our hearts in it all the time.
What’s the Boston/Northhampton, MA scene like?
The Boston/Northampton scenes are cooking. Boston seems to be hot compared to it’s recent street cred/activity. Three years ago it seemed relatively stagnant but now has awesome bands popping up, performing regionally and making noise. Northampton has been on fire with indie music at places like The Elevens, The Sierra Grille, The Ironhorse Music Hall and Bishops Lounge – nowhere better in the world for Indie rock right now! There is also a thriving hip hop/reggae scene going on out here as well as jazz, blues and folk, all around awesome area to see/hear music!
How has the New York City scene been receptive to the Swillmerchants?
NYC has been receptive to say the least! We’ve played a couple times @ CBGB’s (R.I.P), The Knitting Factory, Arlene’s Grocery, Sullivan Hall, The Continental, The Trash Bar, and others…love it! We have friends and family there and have made many fans out of New Yorkers in our brief time performing there. We intend to grace the city with our presence much more in the near future.
What other bands have you toured with and what has been some of those highlights?
We’ve played with bands like Mudhoney, The Picture and TSAR. We mostly organize awesome shows and include the hottest acts that we can find in the appropriate region we are doing the event in. We are planning another tour for spring 2010 which should be fairly extensive plus we are working with some companies to “green” the tour in order to help the environment while rocking!
What can audiences expect at a live show with the Swillmerchants?
Explosive intensity, passion and for the very essence of life to change for the better! Or, just an energetic, candid, intense depiction of the music we love.
You can catch the Swillmerchants performing live with The Honors in downtown Manhattan’s notable rock club, The Bitter End on Friday, July 31st. Show starts at 7pm and is only $10! Come say hi, I’ll definitely be there!
*By Alisha, who can’t stop pumpin’ the jams tonight!