Full Album Premiere: Swimming – That’s OK (2021)
Ahead of the official release of Swimming‘s debut album titled That’s OK on October 8th, we’ve got an exclusive first listen to the 9-song offering from the St. John’s emo / math rock trio.
Swimming on their Debut Album by James Titford:
Swimming have made quite the name for themselves in the St. John’s independent music scene. With a string of well received demos/ EP’s, and gigs that draw out quite the crowd, the emo/ math rock band have gained a strong following. Now the trio of Liam Ryan, Jacob Cherwick, and Nick Hunt are preparing to release their debut full length album. I was able to talk with Jacob and Liam and got a look into the album, their creative process, influences, and more.
How long have you been working on the album?
Jacob: I guess it depends on what we decide to consider “working”. Some of the songs on the album were written almost 3 years ago, others are brand new songs we finished up while we were tracking. We started recording in the summer of 2020 and had more than an album’s worth of bed tracks done when the hard drive we were using to record took a violent plummet to the ground taking all our files with it. We took a short break and started recording again in the fall/winter of that year. We decided that instead of trying to recreate everything we lost right away, we’d focus on working on some newer ideas and spruce up a few older songs, leaving us with the 9 tracks that you see on That’s OK.
What were some of the main influences while making the album?
Jacob: I think all 3 of us have a pretty different set of influences when it comes to writing and recording with this band. Being a band that sort of hovers around the Emo/Math Rock lexicon I think it’s really easy to slip into some of the classic genre tropes and sound a lot like a ton of other bands. I’m definitely influenced by bands like Covet, Hella & Algernon Cadwallader, but personally I’ve never gotten super into a lot of the big Emo/Math Rock bands, that’s definitely more Liam & Nick’s field. I’ve tried to take the role of outsider and bring in other influences that don’t necessarily fall into the Emo thing. I’m definitely more influenced by a lot of indie rock/power pop bands like Sloan, Jeff Rosenstock & OK Go but I also tried to channel some pop punk, hardcore & metalcore inluence into this album.
Liam: For emo/math rock my big influences for Swimming would definitely be Oliver Houston, I Kill Giants, Title Fight, Nai Harvest, Algernon, Gulfer and local emo acts that came before us, Little Things, Pillowcount, etc. As for non emo/math rock acts, local bands Yee Grlz and Hard Ticket were two big inspirations for myself and Jacob to start a band in the beginning. Also Ron Hynes and Phoebe Bridgers have influenced my songwriting quite a lot.
How has the pandemic affected work on the album?
Jacob: Honestly, as a band and as individual musicians the pandemic has really destroyed a lot of important opportunities & revenue streams. It’s completely eliminated the ability to tour, it’s amplified every isolating factor of living on an island that already existed & it’s greatly limited the amount of ways we can connect with listeners. However, in terms of making this album the pandemic has provided us with the ability to put way more work and attention to detail into this album than we ever would have otherwise. Most often there is such immense pressure to be releasing content immediately, however with the whole world on pause, that immediacy is totally gone. We’ve had no pressure to have the album out in time to tour, we haven’t had to impose any tight deadlines on our mixing & mastering engineers and we’ve been able to take time to reflect on the music and think critically about each move we make. So in as many ways as the pandemic has been detrimental it’s also been beneficial.
Liam: I think the pandemic has affected myself and the band on a professional level but also personal lives quite a lot. Everything that Jacob said is super valid and I think covers a lot of the same feelings I have regarding the band. On a personal note I’ve realized how much I depended on shows and practices leading up to shows for my social life. I feel like there’s a lot of friends I don’t see quite as much as I used to and figuring out what I should do for my weekend evening is also a lot harder than it used to be. That being said, if that’s my only part of our lives being affected by the pandemic, we are very lucky and appreciative of that!
How do you think the local independent music scene will recover when things start returning to normal?
Jacob: It’s hard to say. I feel like the independent music scene in general is quite malleable and dealt with the blows of the pandemic pretty well. I think the hunger for the return of live music and the social aspect of the arts is definitely there, however with the uncertainty of how or when this will all go away it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. There’s a large possibility that creating, performing and releasing music will never be as easy as it once was, but hopefully everyone feels the same passion that I do and we can forge some sort of normalcy once this is all over.
Will the album see any songs returning from the previously released demos or will it be all new material?
Jacob: The majority of this album is fresh material. A handful of these songs we’ve never even played live. Anyone who was into the Math Demarco demo we dropped a couple years ago should be excited to hear a more polished version of that track on this album. Our sound has certainly evolved a good bit since the release of our first EP back in 2018, so we released a quick little tape called More of the Same earlier this year. All the songs on that tape were put together while recording the track Gower Tower, which was originally intended to be a single. Listening back to the recordings of us warming up in the studio, we decided to flesh it all out into a collection of 4 tracks, all in the same key (hence the name) that could be listened to as an EP or as one big long song. More of the Same should give everyone a taste of what to expect from the full album, but I definitely think that the songs on That’s OK are some of our absolute best.
Who is handling production on the album?
Jacob: We’ve been extremely lucky to work with a really top shelf production team. Liam & I have both done a lot of audio engineering work over the years so we engineered the whole record ourselves at my home studio. The album was mixed in Seattle, WA by Dylan Hanwright who is a very accomplished engineer and musician in his own right. He plays in a really cool band called Great Grandpa and was a member of beloved Boston Emo band I Kill Giants, on top of working on the production side of dozens of great albums over the last few years. He was an absolute pleasure to work with. The album was mastered in Oakland, CA by Jack Shirley who has worked with bands like Deafheaven, Joyce Manor, Jeff Rosenstock & Remo Drive, just to name a few. He’s worked on literally hundreds of amazing albums & we’re honoured to have him on board.
Will the album have a physical release (CD, vinyl, tape), or will it be digital only?
Jacob: We are all huge fucking nerds so this album will likely be released on every medium known to man at some point. We’re working with Chillwavve Records on a cassette release and there will also be a vinyl release very soon. Eventually there might be a CD as well. My dad always asks when we’re gonna start putting out 8-tracks haha, who knows what’ll happen.
What have you guys been listening to lately?
Jacob: It’s always changing for me. I know everyone hates hearing people say “I listen to everything” but I really, honestly do. I just went through a 3 week period where I listened to only Nine Inch Nails every day. Next week I might be listening to Buck Owens but I could very well be listening to Sum 41. Who knows? Some of my favourite music came out in 2020, really loved the most recent albums from Crack Cloud, Phoebe Bridgers, Sean Panting & Waxahatchee.
Liam: In the same boat as Jacob where my listenings can change on a flip of a dime. Nevertheless some newer releases I’ve been stoked off of are Jean Dawson’s “Pixel Bath”, Spectral Wound’s “A Diabolical Thirst”, Fiddlehead’s “Between The Richness”, Milly’s “Wish Goes On” and Spirit Of The Beehive’s “Entertainment, Death”. For not new releases and just some stuff I find myself revisiting, Blair, Knocked Loose, Torso, Jesus Piece, Chief Keef, Television, Show Me the Body, Wiki, Neil Young, Lil’ Ugly Mane, Navy Blue, Griselda, Nothing, Trippjones, Drew Beez, Ogbert the Nerd and Pillea.
If you could only listen to one album for a full week, what would it be?
Jacob: That’s a really tough one! I think I could listen to any album for a full week and I have, so I’ll give you a couple albums that I’ve done that with. It’s a toss up between PUP’s ‘The Dream Is Over’, Cake’s ‘Fashion Nugget’, Underoath’s ‘Define The Great Line’ & Charly Bliss’ ‘Guppy’.
Liam: This is a tough one for sure. Off the bat my mind goes to “Marquee Moon” by Television but then if I think about it for a second I realize that I have actually had weeks where I’ve only listened to one album. Last summer I pretty much listened to “Whatever Works” by Oliver Houston every single day on repeat for about 2 months. I listened to it so much that when I got my Spotify wrap at the end of the year, it was pretty much only songs from that album. So yeah, “Whatever Works” baby.
Outside of Swimming you’re all involved in various other projects as well, anything else in the works for people to look out for?
Jacob: I’ve had my hand in a bunch of projects over the last little while. I started releasing Honky-Tonk Country music under the name Big Slaps & The Meat Sweats. I have a Hardcore band called Sick Puppy who are getting ready to play our first show. My Ukrainian Speed-Folk band Kubasonics have a really fun album coming out very soon too. I’ve always got something in the works.
Liam: I have a project or two almost done and under the belt that I may release soon. One is a slowcore/folk/Neil Young worship vibe and the other is kind of a surf rock/slacker rock vibe. I’m constantly working with my two good pals Albert Dalton and Reggie Morales, on their material, my material, our collective (Already Dead), making beats for them, filming videos for them, etc. They’re two dedicated talented people and if you haven’t heard their music do yourself a favour! I’m playing guitar in a fun emo/alt band with my friends Derek, Walt and Giles that should be releasing a debut of sorts soon. I also have a small label started with my pal Derek called Barely There Records, we’ve put out a couple of tapes already so check that out. As for that, I have a few albums for other bands that I’ve had the pleasure of engineering/producing that should be coming out soon!
Is there anything you’d personally like to say to fans of your music?
Jacob: Hello, fans(?)! Not sure if you exist or not, but if you really are out there thanks for listening to the music we make. It would feel good to know that we haven’t been loudly disturbing my roommates for the past 3 years for nothing, so please listen to our album. Contact me if you want to know the simple secret to making up to $600,000 a year working from home in 3 easy steps!
Liam: If you are a fan of us and you’re reading this, I appreciate you and hope you’re staying safe in these weird times.