INTERVIEW WITH THE SWON BROTHERS
OMNI HOTEL, NASHVILLE, TN
It’s always a pleasure to hang out with The Swon Brothers. They came by to talk with Think Country during CRS 2018 and never before have they failed to bring their quick wit and engaging personalities with them and they didn’t this time either, even when it was way too early on a Monday morning. The brothers, Zach and Colton, once again showed up dragging that suitcase of humor and some very good information on what’s been going on with their music.
After a little dipping into our community Altoids tins (you don’t even KNOW how well those Altoids go over during CRS), The Swon Brothers and Think Country were ready to roll. Annette Gibbons, the Founder of Think Country, mentioned that the last time she saw Zach and Colton was at CRS 2017 and Bill and I had our last official encounter with them at their EP Release Party for “Pretty Cool Scars” at Acme Feed and Seed in March of 2017. Oddly enough, they seemed to remember all of that too. These guys are no strangers to us, which is a great thing because aside from covering their music for our followers, we are also fans and enjoy their company.
Asked how things have been going for them the response was, “Terrible. Just terrible.” Clearly this was that sense of humor I told you about. Annette replied, “Yes, I thought so, I saw you playing in the street.” They came back with, “No, really, it’s going great. We’re already getting ready to put out new music.”
The Swon Brothers have been indie artists for a while now and when you ask them how that’s working out for them, they have no problem talking about it. “The thing about being independent. We’re not really independent. We have a great team behind us. A lot of people that make it work. Musically though, we are living and dying by our decisions, and that’s got its perks and its lows. I guess, well, not really lows, but it definitely lets us be a little more free and lets us grow with no restrictions. An artist is going to evolve no matter what. No record is going to sound like the last, but if you’re on a label, we’ve been on a label, it’s got great things about it, but they want you to stay in this little box a little bit and we have learned to just do what’s fun and definitely with the new song that’s what we did. Honestly, I like this better than anything we’ve ever done.
Annette commented that so many artists just seem to “go to work”. The Swon Brothers appear to “live and breathe” their shows. They both enjoyed this. “That’s good to hear, because whatever you’re singing about, you’ve got to relate to a little bit or your audience is going to see right through that. A country music audience for sure, because they just see realness. Like, we wrote a song called, ‘About Last Night’ that was on our last record, and it’s funny that it became one of the more downloaded tunes, and we actually were writers on that song. So, I think they just have a sense of realness and it’s hard to give ourselves credit, you know, we didn’t even want a cut on this song. It’s funny it’s what people gravitated toward on that record, so I’m glad you said that. This year, as far as the live show, we’ve added staging and lights that we’ve never done before and it’s gone to another level.”
Speaking of the live show, the band will be touring, so do check their website (swonbrothers.com) for dates. Last year they did their first headlining show, which they said “was a blast” and right now they’re just playing music, writing music and “being brothers.” The new single, “What Ever Happened” is out now and for a song Zach and Colton Swon wrote in about an hour, it’s really impressive! Definitely check that out too.
Bringing up a song from the last album, “Dwight Trashed”, Annette mentioned that it was one of her favorites, to which the brothers replied it’s definitely a “live song”. If you haven’t ever heard that one, add it to your playlist as well. It’s one of my favorites too. I’ve seen it live, but only in an acoustic setting. I can only imagine it with their new stage set up. I certainly HOPE it’s included on the current tour’s setlist. If it isn’t, here is my personal plea.
Now, for our many UK followers. When will The Swon Brothers ever be coming over? Don’t think they don’t want to, they do! They just need to know how and where. Well, lucky for them they had the foremost expert in all things country music in the UK sitting right across the table because she had answers. “Where do we need to go over there first?” “Well, you need to go to London. Also, Manchester and Scotland. The smaller venues would sell out.” They seemed both intrigued and excited by this news, prompting Annette to continue. “There is a nightclub in Chelsea, called ‘Under the Bridge’ that has country music once a month and that would be good to look into.”
CRS is great, but time is always so tight, so we had to move on to our fun questions. Celebrity bars. If The Swon Brothers were to open a celebrity bar in Nashville, what would the name of it be and what would the theme be? They were a bit slow on coming up with something, but once they got going, they moved right into the hammer lane! “The Swon Brothers Brewery, is that too lame?” “We’re lame. How about The Lame Brothers? The Lame Brothers Steakhouse?”
Okay guys, let’s give you a minute on the name, how about your signature drink? “Alka-Seltzer? We ARE in Nashville.” Alright… now they might have been gaining a little steam. We knew they had it in them to be creative, but keep in mind, they were an early interview, it was a Monday and the coffee probably hadn’t yet had a chance to fully work its magic. They had suggested a steakhouse, and suddenly, Zach came up with “The Steakarosa?”, which indicated the wheels of creativity were starting to move, because that was a pretty decent spin on the name of the ranch on TV’s “Bonanza” which was The Ponderosa. Maybe it wasn’t an A+, but it was a passing grade.
Then, IT HAPPENED. They went from The Lame Brothers to full- out Disney-caliber, devil-may-care, “Let’s spend a king’s ransom on our bar owners”. “I’ve got it!”, piped up Zach. “What if we have our faces, like holograms, so when you open the door, it’s us opening the door for you and we smile, because we’re happy to see you. Then when you leave, it’s us opening the door for you and we frown, because we’re sad that you’re leaving?” (Colton jumps in here and says, “Can we just stop right here for a second and say that was NOT a frown?” Obviously, he thought Zach’s frown was LAME. Uh oh, don’t go back to being a Lame Brother Zach. Work on your acting skills or this plan will never work.) I then had to ask about the patrons that weren’t so well-behaved during their visit to “The Steakarosa”, would they get a frown on the way out, or a different face? “They get their own special door.” “Oh, a trap door or something, I get it”, I answered. These guys went from lame to hardcore in a matter of minutes. What’s not to like about them? Just be nice when you go there because they don’t play.
Artist merchandise is part of what makes going to concerts fun. People love it and we, at Think Country, wholeheartedly encourage our followers to support artists by purchasing official artist merch at the venue. The one thing that drags us down a little is the same old stuff over and over. Of course, we love t-shirts and ballcaps and koozies, but nothing floats our boat better than something UNIQUE. We asked The Swon Brothers what kind of merch item they would have that would be different. Something we just couldn’t leave their show without? Colton said he always likes phone cases because everyone always has their phone at all times (I hope my mother is reading this because she thinks we’re all crazy for carrying our phones with us every minute) and most people have iPhones. He especially said he likes the phone cases with “poppers”. I don’t have a phone case with a “popper”, but maybe if The Swon Brothers were to add this item to their merch table, I might get one, so there’s their first potential sale. If you, our readers, would buy one, you might drop these guys a line and say so, it might help make this new item happen someday.
Imagine if you will, The Swon Brothers have just taken over the country music world and are bigger than life. Vocal Duo of the Year, winning all sorts of awards, being invited to all the coolest parties, you get the idea. They are now headlining the biggest tour of the year. Who would they have open for them? Almost in unison they answered, “Blake Shelton.” “We’d have to give him another chance. We’d actually have three. All 15-minute slots. Brad, Carrie and Blake. They were all just so good to us. We’re on our way up, they’re on their way down. It just makes sense.”
The venue for this iconic show? “Red Rocks.” The second time that morning we heard that answer and as Annette remarked, “The second time we’ve heard that today and it was another person from ‘The Voice’ oddly enough.” It took less than a seconf for Colton to ask, “Was it Red (Marlow)?” We both nodded that it absolutely was Red Marlow. Colton just smiled and said, “He’s got his media training down. He just went through the media training of all media training boot camps.”
Finally, because we are Think Country, when The Swon Brothers Think Country, what do they think?
From Colton: I honestly think of my Dad, working to the bone every single day. It’s not like it was a country job. He delivered UPS for over 26 years. It just was tough. Whether it was snow, 110 degrees, cold or hot, calloused hands, you know, his legs, he’s got the biggest calves you’ve ever seen just because he was in and out of that truck all day carrying packages and stuff.
From Zach: I think Blake Shelton, but not like the music. I’m talkin’, like if you ever hung out with this guy behind the scenes, he wears the same clothes everyday. It doesn’t matter how pretty you make him, this guy is what he is.
We think, what they think, is pretty country cool.
THE SWON BROTHERS can be found: