Interview by Sarah Williams.
Growing in popularity in the last six months, Swan Prince at a Midlands skate-punk band that you may recognise from support slots with bands like Red City Radio and The Bombpops. Unfortunately, they called an indefinite hiatus after completing this interview, but we’re sure they’re still worth a listen.
You’ve recently released an EP Enjoy The Rain on Hell Hath No Fury Records. What part of the EP are you most proud of?
Josh S: Personally I think our sound became more focused in our new EP and has definitely set us on a path for the new stuff we are working on. Also, being self produced, I was happier with the production than that of our first EP. Albeit taking us a fraction of the time.
My personal favourite part of the record is that we have managed to capture the energy and angst of the band. Choosing 5 songs to help portray that to the listener isn’t easy but from start to finish the listener is able to truly and fully understand who we are and what we feel is important.
How does it feel to be working with a fledgling record label?
Rachel: Awesome! It felt really great to be the first band that they signed (I think?). That makes HHNF super special to us. I’ve always admired Holly since we met, I am really glad Holly, El & Carly liked us enough to give us this chance! Now the label is growing and it’s becoming a proper family!
Josh S: It’s been great working with them and they have made everything so easy for us. Everything has been really relaxed and being new, they have that initial excitement and motivation to help promote you and establish themselves as a label.
You’ve shifted around instruments and line-up since the origin of the band – are you content with the new set up?
Josh S: Hell yes! We have had a lot of members and I originally started on guitar as I write most the songs however I later moved back to drums which was probably a smart move as I’m a much better drummer than guitarist. Josh and Jamie have also been great additions to our line up and have added something we needed from day one in both sound and social elements of the band.
Rachel: This has been the best lineup in terms of the band dynamic (as well as musically), we all have a laugh and don’t take the band too seriously. It’s made me a lot more relaxed as I used to stress about the band way too much in the last 2 lineups.
As a newer band, it must be exciting to see your own growth, as you continue to find your feet. What elements of growth are you most proud of with Swan Prince?
Josh S: Personally, getting offered a show with a band you would get excited to see anyway is huge and definitely makes you feel proud of how things are going. On the other hand, just getting so many opportunities to play with all kinds of other bands is something I’ve never had on this scale so that in itself is awesome.
Josh G: it’s amazing to see how the songs grow, from the first demos to what ends up on the final mix. The process of getting there is amazing to witness, the band is only young and as players we are growing into our style together and that is shaping the songs as we go along. We are having to drop songs from the set because they don’t fit the sound anymore and the songs that are replacing them are different.
Have you been involved in other musical projects in the past? How have they influenced what you’re doing now?
Josh S: Only one. I was in a band I started in high school called ‘More For Me’. It was a typical high school band that made very slow progress and did very little. Quite the opposite to Swan Prince.
Rachel: I have been in around 7 punk bands in total from the age of 12, and I always played drums in those bands. Swan Prince is special to me cos I tried something new at the age of 30! I never thought I would learn to play guitar. I guess my past experience of drumming in bands and not really enjoying it inspired me to make some changes. I always found drumming way too much pressure and if I fucked up at a gig I’d dwell on it for weeks after.
Rachel, as a women fronting a band, do you feel there’s increased pressure to appear a certain way, or have you found it easy?
Rachel: Within our DIY community I don’t feel any pressure at all. I do feel able to be myself, I think this is because of how friendly the DIY punk scene is though, and all the hard work that certain people have done over the years to make things better. I actually feel really comfortable right now, after playing 3 really good shows this weekend surrounded by nice people.
As a band starting out, what’s been toughest for you?
Josh S: I haven’t personally found anything that tough. We got insanely lucky from day one with people offering us great shows and being supportive. We love the fact the UK DIY scene is so lovely and I have yet to come across anyone who isn’t really friendly. That being said, Rach does all of the promotional and booking side of things and puts an insane amount of effort into it for which I can only be hugely grateful for.
Rachel: Finding a solid lineup was probably the hardest thing. In terms of getting shows, we have been really really lucky from day one, which I am super grateful for.
What do you think could be done to remedy that, and make progress easier for other bands?
Rachel: I think maybe not rushing with lineups and just letting anybody join the band. Maybe it’s better waiting for the right people to come along. But then at the same time, maybe getting yourself out there before the lineup is solid is still a good thing because of getting the band name known. It depends how you look at it!
Josh S: I think if you work hard and do your research it’s possible for anyone to get to do what we have done. Doing this band has took over our lives and we did nothing but contact promoters, write and record demos, practise and so on for the first year and still do now to a certain extent.
You’re based in the Midlands, which is frustratingly viewed as a bit of a deadzone in the gig scene. Are there many shows or much of a scene locally? What do you think could be done to improve it?
Josh S: It is an odd one. There are some good shows in Birmingham having just played with The Bombpops and at Itchfest which were both fantastic shows but there is definitely a lack of compared to other places in the UK. Redrum in Stafford however is always putting on great bands and is probably the best spot in the midlands for punk rock.
Rachel: The scene is so bizarre here, we will have a few really busy shows and think yes! It’s happening! It’s coming back! Then nothing happens for ages. The main issue is people just don’t go to gigs, so promoters are spending their own money to put on the shows. I wish I knew what could be done, I ask myself this almost weekly when bands message me asking for midlands promoters and I awkwardly reply with one or two names and ‘ermmm it’s shit here’.
Am I going to get the chance to see you live at some point?! We’ve been trying to make it happen for over a year!
Rachel: I hope so! We have three gigs in/near Manchester soon so I hope to see you at one of those!
Catch Swan Prince at one of their upcoming shows:
- 29th June at Mama Liz’s, Stamford with Wonk Unit (Skate Aid)
- 3rd July at Eagle Inn, Salford with City Mouse & Werecats
- 6th July at The Trap, Bristol with The Liarbilitys & Kearney’s Jig
- 3rd August at The Mitre, Stourbridge with Laughing In The Face Of & Teresa Banks
- 17th August at Bank Top Tavern, Oldham with Shackleford & Question The Mark (Flair Witch Project)