Interview with Johnny from the Swingin' Utters!



so your name was often typed with $ for S's, were you pissed when Ke$ha started doing the same thing?
johnny:
hahaha, that's a good question! i wasn't pissed, i was flattered. i think she stole it from us!

probably.
j:
i doubt that! haha

now lately a lot of punk bands have been touring through toronto, ones that started like 20 years ago much like yourselves, why do you think so many punk bands of that time have made it this far and are still so popular?
j:
uhhh it's probably because the new crop of bands uh kind of suck! and there's tons of them… people are just forming bands to try to make a living and are just cluttering up solid bands that are doing it from the bottom of their hearts… not to pigeonhole everyone into that but i think it's because people notice that, and all these bands who have been around for that long notice that these new bands have no heart, and they have heart so they keep going.

fat mike is a really popular man right now so i have to ask, since you're signed to fat wreck and he works closely with his bands, do you have any hilarious fat mike stories for us?
j:
did you hear about cokie the clown?

yep!
j:
that was shocking! …. OH i barged in on him during punk rock bowling, i had too many whiskey shots and somebody said i barged into his room and had a conversation with him and i don't even know what it was! but he's the kind of guy that it didn't matter to him, he didn't even say anything to me like "yo johnny what were you doing last night?' when he saw me he just hugged me and then somebody said 'did you know you busted into his room' and i said 'no what did i fuckin do?' and i guess i just sat down and talked to him, so i guess it went okay! but yeah i don't have any good stories because i don't really hang out with mike that much, it's not that we're not good friends but he's pretty busy and so am i.

you guys were one of the first punk bands to show influence from country and folk music, which is a trend that's blown up in the last couple years… how'd you get into that kind of stuff and what do you think about the bands doing it now?
j:
well everyone in the band has super diverse taste and it's just going to show in the music and we're all good friends, we all have common grounds that we meet on, but there's a few bands that i don't like and the drummer like, or i like and spike doesn't like, and you know whatever it doesn't matter everyone has different tastes but uh yeah that just comes out in the music that we like, because you're going to play what you like, you're going to write the way that your favourite bands write and it's just going to come out in your music. i mean we all sorta come together on punk rock and it's usually early stuff from the 70's and early 80's that we dig the most so that's probably going to be the most prevalent sound that you're going to hear but the country stuff is always there too because we listen to that shit too.

who did you listen to country-wise?
j:
well roger miller is a big one of ours, he's got a fuckin catalogue of great music… um willie nelson, johnny cash, merle haggard, hank williams… all the standards i guess you could say… dolly parton!

you're pretty big into side projects, what do you guys have going on right now?
j:
me personally i have Druglords of the Avenue which is me and a bunch of young dudes who are into Slayer and uh that's sort of along the lines of swinging' utters but maybe a little bit leaning more towards punk and the pixies, if that makes sense? and then filthy thievin' bastards is me and darius and spike with a different drummer. yeah they started a while ago but we just like, whenever there's any down time with the swingin' utters we do that.

do you write all their songs too?
j:
me and darius split it. about 50/50

how do you balance it all?
j:
it's just whenever there's down time you sort of start focusing on other stuff. gregg our drummer lives in LA now, i live in the east and spike's in san francisco, jack is in san francisco, darius is way down in santa cruz so we're all kind of scattered, so its like alright there's down time nobody is doing anything i'll do drug lords for like a month, and we'll just play locally or maybe go down south and play some shows… we haven't done extensive touring with either of the 2 side projects but we want to, it's just tough to be torn while you have kids and a wife

how do you balance home time with the band?
j:
ugh it's just hard you know, i want to keep creating and do as much as possible with music so i mean i just go for it, i give my wife and kids a warning and then go for it.

are they really supporting of what you're doing?
j:
they definitely are, they are the best.

how would you describe your latest album in your words compared to everything before it, since your last studio album was 2003/2004..
j:
um well the first single that came out has 2 songs off that and people have been saying it sounds a lot like our early stuff so i'm going to go with that. the majority of the stuff sounds a little bit early swingin' utters. but we wanted to take out the kind of protools sound of all the music i've been hearing lately and make it sound a little bit more human so it's got more in terms of a new sound, that's what we want… we want to start taking production out of it, less polished, but i think that's why it's being delayed for so long because people who mix records these days they don't know what that means so we're like no stop let it be, we don't care if my voice cracked or what…

does it still have the folk/country influence to it?
j:
that's the one thing that it's missing, there's one country song on it and it sounds like a crazy 70's country song, it's kind of funny, that's the one with the most instrumentation it's got like mandolin and slide guitar? but yeah i'd say we shined away from that one it's more like mid tempo and i guess you could say punk rock!

what was your favourite cover off of untitled 21: a juvenile tribute to the swingin' utters? have you heard it?
j:
yeah i have! first of all that blows me away, it's insanity, you can say 'i can die tomorrow cause that's… you know what i mean?

it's fucking cool man
j:
believe me, i count my blessings…and uh i guess it would be off with their heads… it's not much different but that beat is just, oh man… the dramatic… i love that band so

do you guys still talk to max?
j:
actually he called me on fathers day! and hopefully we'll see him in new york on this tour

this is a pretty big tour, more dates were added… are you ready?
j:
*laughs* it's only two weeks so, yeah i'm ready!

think you can handle it?
j:
i mean yeah! i'm way more tired but um i'm not drinking on this tour so it's easier to wake up, i realize how old i am and i embrace that shit, you gotta fuckin' take care of yourselves, try to get a lot of sleep

you can't be drinking until like 5 in the morning anymore
j:
yeah exactly. only ever once in a while. on a birthday or something… a day off.

how do you think obama has done so far, we read some bush talk in another interview and you were pretty optimistic.
j:
yeah i guess you could say he's trying, i mean the world is so fucked so yeah he's got a tough road but i'm backing him, i'm glad there's an african american in the office it's a step towards the right direction

glad bush is out of there..
j:
yeah definitely jesus christ, i feel like it's promising it's just patience, i got tons of patience so..

THANK YOU JOHNNY AND MELANIE!