Swingin' Utters will release Poorly Formed through Fat Wreck Chords on February 19th and we caught up with front man Johnny Bonnel to discuss the new material and more:
Swingin’ Utters took a bit of a hiatus in the 2000s, but then you released Here, Under Protest in 2011 and you’re releasing Poorly Formed later this month. What made you guys decide to really get the ball rolling again?
We just got Jack [Dalrymple, formerly of Dead to Me and One Man Army] involved with the songwriting and we sort of wanted to take advantage of that. We’ve been a fan of his for 15-20 years so as soon as he started writing music and sending it to me I started getting songs ready to go right away so that sort of snowballed and then Darius wrote his songs. We’ve just been keeping busy and I just say ‘Why not?’ Right now we’re really happy, we’re in a good place and the writing is coming really easy. I want to keep doing it and we are, we’ve already got two new songs. I think we’re just going to be busy for the time being for sure.
Was there any reason Jack wasn’t as involved with Here, Under Protest?
He wrote bits and pieces, but yeah, he wasn’t really involved with any of the real original music. He mostly just recorded his own parts. This time around he’s written about 50% of ten of the songs. I’m not really sure, I think we were bugging him to write songs way before this so it was mostly on his end. He was busy with other projects and he has a kid so it was hard to get together to write songs. The opportunity just popped up this time around and we took full advantage of it.
I’ve also noticed that you’ve had another line-up change, since Spike is no longer in the band?
Yeah, that happened awhile back. He just couldn’t tour, he couldn’t do any of the touring and it was right when we started doing more extensive touring. He just politely bowed out and there’s no hard feelings. We still play with him in Filthy Thieving Bastards so it’s not like we don’t see him anymore or play music with him. We’ve got Miles Peck on bass now and he’s another cool dude. Right now it seems that the whole band really gets along really well.
Overall, how would you say Poorly Formed varies from your other material?
It’s got a good variety of music styles like the other records, but we tried different styles that we never really worked with before. A lot of that us to do with me and Jack writing together for the first time so they’re going to sound a little different from past Utters songs. His writing definitely comes through, but I think that’s a pretty good thing. “Pour Beans” has more of an old school vibe and it’s one of the fastest songs on the record. I think this record came out a little slower in some places, but I still like fast songs too and I think that one has a really good rhythm. It also came together really quickly, I finished it up in about 30 minutes and I think it's my favourite on the record.
What’s the favourite style that you experimented with?
I kind of like diving into reggae music just because it’s always been a mysterious style of music for me and I like to discover new things. I think reggae has a big influence on this record, even though we’re not necessarily playing reggae music.
How did you come up with a title like “The Fake Rat of Dave Navarro?”
Yeah, that’s kind of a long story. When Jack sends me music the iTunes titles the track itself and sometimes you get these weird crazy titles. It might seem like I’m making fun of Dave Navarro, but it’s just that this track was in some weird language and when I first read it I thought it said “The Fake Rat of Dave Navarro.” I thought that could be a cool name and came up with some ideas surrounding that. So many people are so into dumping all their time into the most stupid stuff and I just though the most absurd thing anyone could care about was a fake rat owned by Dave Navarro. Why are people going nuts over the most trivial bullshit in the world? It’s just about a battle with something that’s really inane.
I understand the Swingin’ Utters is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
Yeah, I don’t really keep track of that stuff too closely, but Darius said it’s been 25 years. It’s a crazy amount of time, the band is as old as a 25-year-old person right now.
I know it’s probably hard to narrow it down, but what are some highlights from all those years?
It’s been mostly good times, we haven’t had anything horrible to us yet, knock on wood. We’ve gone through all the stuff most bands do, like breaking down on the road and having to buy another van. It’s nothing really too spectacular and there’s been way more ups than downs. I’d have to say opening for the Pogues was my most memorable moment being in this band.
What will be next for 2013? I know you have some tour dates coming up in the western US and Canada.
We’ll probably do more extensive touring in the US, hitting up the east coast, Midwest, the south and all of that. Even though the last time we were there it wasn’t all that great, I think it’s good to return to the same places you’ve played before. In the end it doesn’t matter how many people show up at the shows, we’re usually happy to play to whoever. We go to Australia with Dropkick Murphys and that will be our first time down there. We’ll head down to Europe for some festivals too. We’ll be keeping busy for sure.