From Handling This Pandemic to Creating Their Debut Self-Titled Album, Rock Band DEAD SWELLS Breaks It All Down!
The Charleston-based indie rock band Dead Swells recently announced that they will be releasing their debut self-titled album later this summer in August via Artist Formula Record Group. In support of this news, they out out the collection’s lead single “Out of the Window”. The track is a groovy, synth heavy love song, about how a lover can help you throw your insecurities out of the window. The first half is filled with that sentiment and idyllic “lovey doveyness,” but halfway through, the tone shifts. That carefree, in-love vibe changes to something darker. The music mirrors the swirling insecurities that can occur in relationships, that looming feeling that whenever things are going well, there is always something around the corner to change everything.
A product of years of tireless work, the upcoming record was produced solely by Paul Nederostek (vocals, guitar, keys) and co-producer Wolfgang Zimmerman, whom Nederostek credits for being his “guru and life coach.” Speaking to the front-man’s endless pursuit of perfection, the album’s overarching theme is a chase for that “good feeling,” a journey of a person always looking for a solid flow of dopamine. The lyrics follow Nederostek’s path to self-discovery. “I feel like I’m just now waking up into a more confident me,” he says, crediting this change partly to psychedelics. Nederostek recorded everything on the album except drums and mixed it entirely himself, a choice that, while daunting, felt truest to the music. “In the end, at least it’s the most honest me that’s being put through the speakers and not someone else’s take on what it should sound like.”
Dead Swells is an indie rock quintet based out of Charleston, SC. Front-man and songwriter Paul Nederostek started the project after having written a handful of songs that commanded a wider vision, so a band was born. These songs laid out a vision and the foundation for the band’s live and recorded sound, reflected in their upcoming debut album. The band, each being seasoned musicians, locked in a heavy groove based upon the songs written by Nederostek alone, and performed throughout the Southeast as a fully formed set up. After moving to Charleston in 2017, Nederostek buckled down and focused on recording and producing the songs that make up the band’s self-titled debut release. The upcoming record is the product of years of perfecting and honing in on production techniques, having mixed and recorded the entirety of the upcoming album with the guidance of co-producer Wolfgang Zimmerman.
The group is currently made up Paul Nederostek – vocals, guitar, keys, Adam Haltiwanger – guitar, Luke Reeves – Keys, Ben Moody – Bass and Joe Lansburg – Drums.
Learn more about Dead Swells in the following All Access interview:
Thank you for your time. So given these unusual Covid-19 times, what does a typical day look like for you all? How have you guys adjusted to these times?
Everyone’s trying to stay busy and positive. A few of us definitely enjoyed the solitude part of quarantine and we got a lot of personal recordings done which is nice. But we are definitely eager to get back to normal life and being able to play shows and have fun outside of home, with other people.
What has been the hardest/most challenging part about being quarantined? Is your city starting to open up more now? Have you been able to get together much to play?
I think we all learned we could isolate ourselves pretty easily in a good way. Most challenging part was giving up live shows. You don’t realize how much you love playing shows until you are literally not allowed to play shows. We got together once to make a little video but that’s been it really.
How have you been able to use social media during these unprecedented times? Are you finding that you use it even more to stay connected to fans and other musicians?
We’ve never kept a very strong social media presence. We usually only posted to promote a show but that’s not happening so we’ve been lacking. But now the album is coming out so that’s been fun to share and post about. We haven’t tried to do any live streams because we’re just not fans of it really. They end up not looking or sounding good and the excitement of a real live show just isn’t there.
Since we are all desperately missing live music, can you recall a favorite show of yours from the past? What do you think ultimately makes for a great show for you? Have you started scheduling some shows yet for 2021?
All the shows at Royal American in Charleston are always great. The vibe is just unmatched by most places. We played a house show with The Mobros and that was awesome. Everyone is just so sweaty and right there in your face, we loved it. Any show where we don’t mess up is a good one. Some shows just hit differently than others. Sometimes everyone is on it and feeling it and sometimes not. We all couldn’t be happier than we are on stage though.
Tell me what it was like coming up with a band name? Was this a hard decision to make? What other names were you considering? What is the meaning behind Dead Swells?
We had been practicing for a few months and decided it was time to book some shows so we needed a band name. After practice one night we were like, alright let’s come up with something. Someone said Swell, and I was like ok, I like the word swell, what about “something” swells. Then I think Adam said, what about Dead Swells? And we all thought, yeah I don’t hate it, that works. Haha. Not the most exciting, meaningful story. I don’t know what it means, but the two words together provoke this cool, evil sunny beach in my head which I like.
Let’s talk about your forthcoming debut self titled album set for release in August. What was it like creating this collection? Did anything surprise you about the overall process? Any unexpected challenges? How long did it take from start to completion?
Too many unexpected challenges to think of. Every time I sat down to record, there was a new curveball. That’s the whole struggle and beauty of recording I think. I still feel like I haven’t scratched the surface but I’m going to continue to keep trying to climb up the endless ladder. It was a wild ride actually completing the album, I’m glad it’s all done. It consumed me for a while in maybe not the most healthy of ways but it was a great experience. Some of the music was written over two years ago and some of it was written right before I sent it to mastering. It’s a solid accumulation of probably a year and a half worth of ideas.
Paul, I am curious to know what it was like recording everything but the drums yourself and mixing it yourself as well on this album? Would you choose to do this again on a future collection?
Recording everything is pretty easy for me, like actually playing the parts is easy. Mixing everything was the daunting aspect. I knew I could’ve handed it to someone and they would’ve made it sound great, but it just wouldn’t have been “me” in the end. I think I have a decent ear for sounds and I also put in so many hours into messing with and listening to these songs. There’s no one I could pay to spend as much time as I did with these songs. I can’t feel good about something unless I’ve been through hell and back with how I feel about it and spent hours changing little parts. Having someone just make a quick mix of something I spent so much time messing with wouldn’t seem right to me. Of course, every once in a while a quick mix is all it takes and it was good right from the start. Either way in the end, I’m selfish about it and will probably continue to mix my music. Unless the album comes out, and everyone’s like “hey man, uhhh maybe don’t mix your stuff.” Haha. I have high hopes though.
How do you think your first single, “Out Of The Window” prepares listeners for the rest of the collection? Can you pick out a few of your other favorite songs on this album? How did they get written and come to be part of this collection? What was the inspiration for them?
I think “Out of the Window” is a fun blend of all the sounds on the album. It’s caught in this old but new area. I like to think it’s kind of genre-less. I really like the song called “jealous”. I made it pretty quickly with 3 different sampled drum beats that I chopped up. I started it as a fun break from mixing and recording other songs and then was like, wouldn’t it be funny if this was on the album, as a break from the other songs. It’s just like a quick, beat heavy jam sesh and then boom, it’s over. It seems like most people gravitate towards “Always thinking bout it” as their favorite which is cool. I was trying to think like Alex Turner for the vocal melodies and style of voice but I don’t think it came off that way. I’m pretty proud of the vocals for most of the songs, especially “SUMMERNAKEDHEAT”. I like the vocals on “IDK” too. Most of the inspiration is just in the moment stuff. I feel like every time I try to come up with a feeling and write about that feeling it never works for me. So I try to keep it day of, or whatever I’m thinking about. But most of the lyrics are relationship stuff. My mom was a family and marriage therapist and it rubbed off on me, so I’m always critically thinking of relationship stuff a lot. I have a hard time reading my own emotions though. Somebody else will know how I’m feeling before I know, if that makes sense.
Do you have plans to make any music videos for any of the songs on this album? What would your dream music video look like today?
We have a few videos in the works right now being edited. My dream video would be visually pleasing. Tarantino directed. A Tarantino psychedelic love story would be my ultimate video. Animated music videos are always great. Choreography centered videos can be awesome too. I still watch a lot of music videos.
How do you think future music is going to be influenced by this incredible and absolutely necessary Black Lives Matter movement that the US and even the world is going through now? Is it inspiring you and your music today at all?
It’s very inspiring, but also very sad that things are the way they are. I’m glad there has been some change, but it’s a long ongoing process that hopefully doesn’t lose momentum. It’s impossible to not reflect the times in the music I’ve been creating now. I’ve never thought so politically before in my life. I want some popular angry music to come out. I feel like now more than ever there should be some band or singer, just letting this pent up rage out and screaming F you, but in a cool new way.
If you could get into the studio with any artist today and collaborate on a new song, who would it be and why?
I would want to just watch some people work a day and create. Danger Mouse, Steve Lacy, Toro y Moi, Brittany Howard, Kevin Parker. I just want to write music for a badass female singer and have her sing on it honestly. I really love Willow Smith. People turn their heads when I say that. I prefer female singers in general. UMO would be another cool one. Free Nationals. List goes on and on and on.
Would you like to share anything else about yourself or your music with our readers?
I think I’ve already said too much! Haha. Thank you for the questions and your time. Hope you like the album. Plenty more to come!