Photo by Dara Munnis
It has been a busy 2013 so far for electro pop band Swords. From playing at Other Voices, to an eagerly awaited debut album, Swords are tipped for big things, and are set to make 2013 their year.
In a brief chat with bass and synth player Jarlath Canning, he gives us an insight into the last two years, from creating their sound to playing the prestigious Other Voices on its adventure from Kerry to Derry.
But we’ll start at the beginning of the Swords journey back in early 2010, where singer and keyboard player Diane Anglim, along with drummer Ian Frawley met through a similar interest in music.
Realising the potential of having similar interests in matters of musical life and death, they decided to try write some songs together. The duo went under the name ‘Swords’, a name fashioned from a Morrissey B-Side and popular Leftfield song of the same name.
One demo and a few months later they met bassist and electronic whiz Jarlath Canning through some mutual friends.
It wasn’t long before the band had a setlist compiled, and thus began what would turn out to be a 35 date tour throughout Ireland the following year.
So a year later, the band met with producer Karl Odlum, who had worked with the likes of The Frames, Gemma Hayes and David Kitt to name a few. Swords end product of their time with Odlum was their four track short player ‘Black Balloon’. The EP gained the band some success across the media, with a successful tour and a highly anticipated live show.
Following the conclusion of their Black Balloon tour and time hidden away in a studio last year, Swords hit the ground running in 2013. The electro pop trio have played Whelans Ones to Watch Festival, released their new single ‘All The Boys’ to critical acclaim and have had appearances on TG4 and RTE 2fm.
Swords were part of the Other Voices Music Trail in Derry back in February, when the music show made the trip from Kerry to Derry, in a bid to showcase Irish music as part of Derry’s Capital of Culture plans this year. Jarlath says “Other Voices was an amazing experience. To be a part of something that we have all loved and watched since it began was incredible.”
The trip seemed to have a positive effect on the band, as Jarlath explains “The thing about Other Voices is that it doesn’t have that Irish media desire to just provide more of the same, safe, diluted shit that you sometimes get.”
There has of course, been mentions of the honesty that Other Voices seems to show when aired on television. It’s evident in the show’s selection of presenters like Annie Mac and Aidan Gillen. “They (Other Voices) are people who genuinely love music and everyone we met was so enthusiastic and pro the development of our own Irish music scene. The fact we’d never played up the North was an extra bonus. We met some deadly folk along the way.”
With their debut album ‘Lions and Gold’ expected for release in early July of this year, Jarlath talks about the great experience the three friends have had making the album, “It’s been great. I mean, music is all any of us want to do so you can’t have any complaints putting out your first album. Whether people like the album or not, it represents us and each one of us is in every song and we’re proud that it’s a product of the three of us sitting around a room playing music. It’s a collection of music that three friends put together. If anyone else is into it then that’s a bonus.”
Swords have already been busy on the gig front. The fast approaching May Bank Holiday weekend see’s the band play support to the legendary Echo & The Bunnymen in Dublin’s Button Factory as part of the Meteor Camden Crawl.
The band is also “blown away” having been asked back to Vantastival the same weekend as The Meteor Camden Crawl, which will see them play both festivals for the second year running. They will then kick off their summer with a new single release and Whelans headline show on July 5th too.
Having just released their latest single “All The Boys”, Anglim and Co. have certainly grown in sound, by developing their style of upbeat, catchy rhythms since the Black Balloon EP. “It seemed like an obvious choice as a single” remarks Canning, “We’ve had some great reaction to the song, We view it as the most lucid and direct song on our debut album.”
Unsure what to expect from Swords debut long player, something along the lines of the Black Balloon EP perhaps?, “We all believed that the album wouldn’t be a departure from Black Balloon but I think we realised along the way that we’re making music for ourselves. None of the choices we made in putting the songs together were made with anyone else in mind and as a result the album mightn’t be as snappy or as instant as the EP, as a collection of songs. There’s a wider range of moods and atmospheres throughout the songs and it represents a progression of sorts.”
When asked about their debut headline performance in Whelan’s in July, and if they are excited about it, Jarlath replies “Excited is understating it. We are still finishing the album and playing the odd gig here and there, trying to get to grips with new songs and songs that have been reworked and developed. It took us a couple of gigs to get that confidence of playing in front of a crowd again after quite a few months out, but we’re becoming more and more comfortable with every performance. “
There is obviously a hidden secret in store for those attending the show in the summer, when questioned about what it might be, Jarlath simply says “The July show is going to be enormous.” So should we expect something out of the norm? “Maybe, don’t bring any kids or people with nervous dispositions.” he laughs.
Swords new single ‘All The Boys’ is out on iTunes and CD Baby now.