One of the central vertebrates of the Fat Wreck Chords family, the Swingin’ Utters, shows no intention of slowing down. These boys persevere record after record, clutching to their signature, street punk sound. With an all-to-familiar West Coast tour afoot and a recent release to promote, these San Francisco residents are aching to remind fans of their point and purpose.
Enthused to introduce their audience to their new tracks, guitarist Darius Koski speaks about their latest full-length endeavour, entitled Poorly Formed. This album showcases the writing styles of long-time guitarist and One Man Army front man Jack Dalrymple. “It’s a pretty cool one, in the sense that it sounds really different because Jack is writing for us for the first time. He’s never written for us. He wrote a little over half of the album and it’s just kind of completely different sounding than anything that we have ever really done before. Stylistically, it’s just all over the place.”
Koski continues enthusiastically, “He’s actually been in this band for a lot longer than people realize, I think: he’s been in this band for nine years. I’ve been trying to push him to write songs forever, but he hasn’t done it and I don’t really know why. I don’t know if it’s because he just felt awkward doing it for some reason, because he hasn’t been with us for 20 years, or whatever, or if he just didn’t have that much material. I’m not really sure what the reason was. All of the sudden he started giving Johnny [Bonnel, vocals] music. Johnny wrote lyrics and a melody to the music and they just wrote tons of songs. It’s really cool.”
Poorly Formed sprouts not only from new voices but also a multitude of musical influence. “I know that Johnny has been obsessed with the Velvet Underground lately,” Koski divulges. “Fuck… the one thing that none of us really listen to a lot of is classical music actually. I mean, there’s country, jazz, garage, punk and rock… rap and crappy, throwaway pop music. We listen to everything. If we like it, we like it; we really don’t care what it is… I mean, I like Katy Perry songs, but I don’t buy her records. If it’s catchy, it’s catchy; you can’t help it. Everything just seems to come together and it’s like food in your stomach or something that you just poop out,” he chuckles.
Crawling up the West Coast, The Swingin’ Utters seem to remain creatures of habit, rocking venues that they can transiently can call home. “I guess we try to stick with the venues that we like. In San Diego, we always play the same place, we generally play the same place in LA, but we’ll play anywhere, you know? Playing some place new makes things a little more interesting.” This west coast quest is also accompanied by some overseas dates, including Australia, and also some European dates yet to be announced starting July.
The Swingin’ Utters seem persistent in their musical evolution. These lads stay true to their roots and have grounded themselves as a staple within the punk community. “We’re not going anywhere. I like this position… where we are absolutely fine,” Koski proudly admits. “We just keep going. I wanna release a record every year and a half — two years is a little more realistic — and just keep doing what we’re doing.”
Catch the Swingin’ Utters at the Pawn Shop (Edmonton) on March 5 and at Dickens Pub (Calgary) on March 6.
By Lori Meyers
Photo: Alan Snodgrass