The Swayback
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The Swayback

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"Swayback Curate Carnival, Write About Colorado"

Swayback Curate Carnival, Write About Colorado
Jun 4, 2008
Story by: Michael Tedder

Denver, Colorado-based indie rock trio Swayback has been tapped to curate the live music stage of the second annual Electric Daisy Carnival, which will take place on June 14 at Denver's Arapahoe County Fairgrounds. The line-up will include performances from the Photo Atlas, Red Orange Yellow, Astra Moveo, the Chain Gang Of 1974 and Picture Plane. There will also be three stages of electronic performers—including Nitemer, Ascension, Jaytech and DJ Heather—as well as carnival rides. Woo-hoo!

Last year the festival was held in Los Angeles and played to 60,000 thousand people. For this Colorado offshoot, the promoters approached Swayback for curatorial duties. A second California Electric Daisy Carnival will take place on June 28 at downtown Los Angeles and will feature DJ sets from Moby and Benny Benassi, as well as live performances by Rabbit In The Moon, BT and Z-Trip among others.

In addition to their curating and musical work, the members of Swayback recently contributed an entry about their favorite Denver haunts to an upcoming, European-marketed Indie Travel Guide, which will also reportedly feature entrees from Trail Of Dead's Conrad Keely (regarding Austin), the Strokes' Albert Hammond Jr. (on his New York City hometown), Hot Hot Heat's Steve Bays (writing on Vancouver) and many others. -

"NPR Feature on The Swayback"

NPR did a 10 minute feature on The Swayback that aired July 1 2008.

You can listen here: - NPR

"Westword: Best Rock Band"

July 8-

Westword readers vote Swayback Best Rock Band in Denver 2008: - Westword

"National Anthems: 100 New Homegrown Bands"

Swayback is in the November 2007 NYLON Magazine. In the cover story: National Anthems: 100 New Homegrown Bands, NYLON "polled experts across the U.S. to unearth the best, unexpected local music scenes". Our sweet Denver was one of those scenes and Swayback was mentioned. - Nylon Magazine

"The Swayback Raises the Bar"

The Swayback Raises the Bar

Long Gone Lads, this trio’s long-awaited album, is a painstaking work of art.

By Dave Herrera
Published on April 03, 2008

They say the devil's greatest trick was trying to convince the world that he doesn't exist. A decent ruse, but as the Swayback just proved, the devil truly is in the details. Although the act's latest, Long Gone Lads, has a loose, almost tossed-off, insouciance, its creators actually toiled endlessly over the tracks on DJ editing software, building and deconstructing them to the point of distraction before finally entering the studio with lauded producer Andrew Vastola for the sessions that produced Lads.

"Our only goal was to make something that preceded us," says Eric Halborg, the Swayback's frontman. "That was it. That was the only goal."

Mission accomplished. Lads is absolutely stunning from start to finish, both from a songwriting and production standpoint. Not only is this the Swayback's strongest material, but it's the band's best-sounding effort to date, and that's thanks in part to the members' meticulous preparation. From investing what amounted to six months in pre-production with venerable knob-turner Bob Ferbrache, to learning to record themselves at home, to rehearsing with a click-track the band spent close to eighteen months just getting ready to record the album, writing and rewriting parts, constantly practicing, tweaking and experimenting. In fact, several of Lad's tracks appear in their ninth iteration.

"With some songs," explains guitarist William Murphy, "there's infinite versions that we didn't even finish editing. I would do too many guitar tracks or Eric would do too many vocals, and we'd just kind of pick the few good ones and shape them up."

Once those tracks took shape, the players presented their sketches to Vastola, who indulged their ideas no matter how far-fetched they seemed. Although the Swayback has recorded at close to half a dozen of the area's finest studios with some of the best engineers, this was the first time the band's members really felt like they were given room to experiment, particularly on songs such as the fantastic "Queen's Dance," an ode to Salome, the daughter of Herodias, who requested John the Baptist's head on a platter. The ominous yet alluring track conjures up a subterranean disco housed inside a Middle Eastern opium den, in which Halborg's come-hither vocals straddle a seductive dance loop that he and Murphy constructed, and Vastola wisely chose to keep.

"Andrew was really good," says Murphy. "He indulged all of our ideas, even if they were bad. He would plug them in and then we'd realize — yeah, that was a really bad idea. Andrew let me do weird things; he let me run two amps. One was just doing something so odd, I didn't even want to listen to it, and then there was a normal one, and he recorded it all."

"But we knew where we wanted the weirdness, which was a huge part of it," adds Halborg. "We had recorded the weirdness a bunch of times ourselves and then brought it to Andrew, and he juiced it up."

"I think it was hard to convey our message," Murphy continues, referring to past sessions. "And this time, since we realized how to record ourselves, we could bring it in and show them, rather than explain to them with weird sounds or rough sketches of things. Like the vibe parts: If I were like, 'Hey, Andrew, this song's really heavy; I want to put some vibraphones on it,' it could be like, 'Whatever. You're fucking crazy. You're going to waste my time.' But then you'd have the opportunity to bring stuff in, and you can kind of look at it in an objective forum and see how it fits."

"With these other cats," Halborg chimes in, "with most of them, they'd be like, 'Hey, you guys are really good.' But it was cold; they'd never heard us, they'd never seen us live. We'd walk into their studios and set up these huge amps and blast them. So not only did he know us, but we knew what we were thinking for the first time, full-on."

While that's partly what attracted them to Vastola, they were also keen on what he'd done with their friends' records and were eager to see what he could add to their sound. Plenty, it turned out. While the disc was tracked live at Rocky Mountain Recorders, Vastola worked closely with the band, adding subtle flourishes on the back end, such as the layered vocal harmonies that enhance Halborg's already penetrating melodies. And while Halborg's sweaty bass lines and drummer Martijn Bolster's taut timekeeping are prominently featured in the mix, Vastola also left ample space for the unsettling backdrops created by Murphy's textured guitar lines.

"We all knew that we could play live — Born in the Flood, Photo Atlas, Hot IQs, whoever, all of us, Denver, collectively," Halborg muses. "We all go to each other's shows and support each other. We'd watch each other live and be like, 'Fuck, yeah, that's pretty rowdy. I like it. I like the way it looks, how it sounds, how they're feeling it, whatever.' But the next step was for us to project out of here, to have not just good recordings, but really good recordings that would transcend and let us go to other places, because the kid in Stockholm can't see me play live.

"So to have really good recordings, that's the catalyst for the scene," he adds. "And I think Andrew is doing that, just naturally, because he grew up in that studio and he knows it. He has killer ears, and his pop taught him right with patience, dealing with bands and getting performances out of people, all that stuff. I don't think it's his biggest quality, but I think it's an interesting one: He does have pop sensibilities. That Photo Atlas record — it's Alan's voice, but then it's three echoes of Alan's voice, and boy, didn't that make it sound that much better. When I heard that, I was like, 'I play with Photo Atlas all the time; I love Photo Atlas, but this takes Photo Atlas to another level' — another level where it is artistry, where you are sort of painting these songs."

Or splicing them together, in this case. Penning the songs for Lads, Halborg and Murphy often sat side by side, manipulating their ideas in Ableton Live, a DJ program that a friend and part-time collaborator, Shawn Astrom, turned them on to. The result is a sound that incorporates all of their disparate influences. Listen closely to Halborg's brooding croon and you can still hear shards of the Misfits and the spirit of the Stooges in his vampiric sneer, while Murphy's careening guitar lines continue to draw upon the vintage work of early U2, as well as the minimal arpeggios of '80s-era Brit rock and shoegaze.

The two came to their love of music early. Murphy, who was weaned on the sounds of KROQ in his native Los Angeles, began taking guitar lessons when he was seven, as makeshift daycare after his mom was in an accident. He had inordinately large hands for a little kid, and before long, he was playing Beatles songs. Meanwhile, Halborg was growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, where, thanks to his older siblings, he was singing along to Frank Zappa songs and obsessively listening to everything from Zeppelin to Talking Heads and the Smiths. "I would sit in my closet when I was in kindergarten," he recalls. "I had the little FM radio, and I would sit under a blanket and listen to the radio all day and all night, wouldn't sleep, just listen to the radio. I just thought it was amazing that there were sounds that I could get in my closet."

The two met in Breckenridge, introduced by Halborg's future wife, who'd roomed with Murphy in college. Murphy, schooled in indie and alt-rock, was by now heavily into electronic and punk, while Halborg, a student at the University of Colorado, had been a faithful reader of NME and Melody Maker, with tastes that ranged from My Bloody Valentine to Ride. The two headed to Mexico, where they spent several months bonding, surfing and eating tacos. After that, Murphy returned to California and Halborg went back to CU, where he earned a BFA in photography and design.

Five years later, the pair reconvened in Denver and formed the Swayback, going through — by Murphy's count — at least 47 timekeepers before they found Bolster, whose precision drumming slices through the mix and serves as the band's anchor. Bolster was sold the first time he saw the Swayback, gushing to Halborg that his band was the best he'd seen locally. A short time later, when the Swayback parted ways with yet another drummer, Bolster, a highly sought-after and well-paid engineer who hails from Holland, lobbied for an audition. He immediately won the slot, partly because of his tireless work ethic, which matched that of Halborg and Murphy.

"That was big with us," says Murphy, "because we would rip through drummers. We would out-practice them with a three-to-five-practices-a-week type of thing. They couldn't keep up. He hadn't played for three months when he tried out for us, and he was better than a lot of people that we had played with. And Martijn will just be there. We can be like, 'Martijn, let's practice at six in the morning,' and he'll be like, 'Okay.' And we'll just march down there and practice. It's not an issue."

Their shared drive paid off with Lads. But as good as the album sounds, and as happy as they are with how it turned out, you get the sense that they really view it as more of an entry point — as though Lads were merely a record they made while holding down day jobs (in Murphy's case, that's in the Westword classified department) and maintaining other obligations.

"I don't want to say it's a perfect record," Murphy stresses. "I think it's perfectly reflective of that time frame in our life, of us coming from different angles, coming from electronic versus organic, and introducing us into a studio that met our needs."

"We're not like, 'Oh, we did it,'" Halborg adds. "We're like, 'All right — finally! What's next?"

The Swayback drives this point home on Lads' opening track, "Concrete Blocks," which contains these lines: "Music puts concrete blocks on feet/Even when victorious, let there be no joy/And if we succeed, we are just doing our job/With these concrete blocks on feet - Westword

"Swayback Finds Its Own Sound"

The Denver Post 04/04/2008

Swayback finds its own sound

Denver indie trio records best album yet

By John Wenzel

Swayback guitarist Bill Murphy has a hard time remembering when his band formed, which is mildly distressing because it happened around the same time as a national catastrophe.

"What year was 9/11? Was that 2000?" he asked, his furrowed brow perched over a pile of spent food baskets at Scruffy Murphy's pub. "Oh, it was '01, because we had just started when 9/11 happened."

Don't hold it against Murphy. The Swayback's career reflects that of many bands — the stop-start jolts of label interest, the rotating drummers, the indie festival circuit, the bursts of recording.

It just so happens that the Denver indie-punk trio has survived those travails to record the best album of its seven-year career.

"We are, for lack of a better term, lifers," said singer/bassist Eric Halborg, his elbows finding a spot on the table between the snack mix and barbecue wing leavings.

Longtime friends Halborg and Murphy, and drummer Martijn Bolster, a native of Holland, recorded their new disc, "Long Gone Lads," last year with producer Andrew Vastola (Signal to Noise) at Rocky Mountain Recorders.

That 11-song disc will see release Saturday at the Bluebird Theater with locals Autokinoton, Red Orange Yellow and DJ Michael Trundle.

The self-released "Long Gone Lads" has already asserted itself as one of the year's best. Halborg's throaty, quasi-theatrical howl soars and dips with impressive precision on songs like "Little Sisters of the Poor" and "Concrete Blocks." Murphy smartly parses his arsenal of shimmering effects and riffs, and Bolster's dance- friendly drumming glues it together — with the occasional drum loop and Murphy's ambient segues to add atmosphere.

"If it had been 1970 and the album went straight to vinyl, it would have been more seamless," Halborg said. "But in this iPod age where people are hitting 'party shuffle,' a blended, cross-faded song comes in more jagged."

Halborg should know a little about sequencing. He has maintained a weekly DJ night at Rockbar for the past six months. On some nights it mutates into an acoustic set with friends from other local acts.

It tends to reflect Halborg's larger creative grazing, since he's a full-time designer and co-founder of Dragondeer Design (with Jonathan Till of Denver indie act Hearts of Palm). Born in the Flood, Photo Atlas, Hot IQs and Flobots have all called upon Dragondeer's services, and Halborg's taste and attention to detail are clear in the Swayback's own visual presentation.

"I've done everything from P. Diddy Burger King ads to real estate business flyers," he said.

Murphy screen prints and sells ads for Westword, and Bolster works — often out of state — as a construction engineer. But they would rather focus on music full time, even turning down early label offers after sets at CMJ and South by Southwest to do things their way.

That means not settling for a sound they didn't want, rejecting early recording sessions for "Long Gone Lads" with veteran engineer Bob Ferbrache due to a lack of chemistry.

"We were just sitting and watching Satanic psychedelic early '60s movies on DVD and not getting anything done," Halborg said.

"He wouldn't take any suggestions at all, so we had to figure out how to record it ourselves so we could get it close," Murphy added.

After introducing the self- recorded songs to Vastola at Rocky Mountain Records, the band realized a more focused tack. The band played nearly everything together in the studio, which comes through on the album's hook-laden tracks.

Yet the guys aren't pegging everything on one album.

"I think we finally figured out how to make a record," Murphy said. "I'm just happy this one's done, and I'm excited to make another one." - Denver Post

"SPIN MAGAZINE // September 2008"

Sinister and seductive, the Swayback's sound - Eric Halborg's throbbing bass and vampiric croon, Martijn Bolster's taut rhythms, the brooding guitar of William Murphy-recalls the Velvet Underground if they were forced to share a jail cell with a codeine-addled Danzig and fed a steady diet of Factory Recod remixes. - SPIN MAGAZINE

"Long Gone Lads Review"

Rock music is a lot like a cup of coffee: Some like it as strong as The Stooges, or dark like Joy Division. The Swayback takes it both ways-usually at the same time. The Denver act revs up the same sort of swagger that's floated around local rock clubs since well, forever but instead of reveling in trashy garage-punk sleaze-gasms The Swayback cuts it with a healthy dose of art-school gloom. Both sides are essential to the band's long-awaited debut, Long Gone Lads. Even when languishing in acoustic, rainy-day sulkers like "Just Like The Old Days" the disc is more dangerous than Interpol's sweatiest nightmare. And when it kicks out the jams on "Concrete Blocks" the trio's command of atmosphere is far more sophisticated that your average Motor City wannabes. B+ - The Onion

"Swayback Records with ledgendary British producer Andy Johns"

Eric Halborg and William Murphy from the Swayback, have been holed up in L.A. for the past week recording with legendary knob twidler, Andy Johns, who, as you're probably aware, is the guy who manned the boards for classic albums by Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones and produced Television's Marquee Moon. - Westword

"Swayback in Dec 2009 Music Connection Magazine" - Music Connection Magazine


Swayback's track Forewarned has 500+ spins on Denver's Indie 101.5 FM

Long Gone Lads LP 2008 (Self Released)
Forewarned Single (What Are Records)
S/T LP (Too Bad You're Beautiful)
V/A PS2 Compilation (Public Service Records)
V/A Radio 1190 Local Shakedown 2 (Alternative Tentacles)
V/A Underground Screams (Asian Man Records)
V/A Taste of Colorado (Suburban Home Records)



Late 2009 finds Denver rock band The Swayback fresh out of the studio with legendary British producer Andy Johns, the man behind Television's Marquee Moon, Rolling Stone's Exile On Main Street, and Led Zepplin 3 & 4. Years of obsessive turntable seance with rock and punk classics led The Swayback to work with one of genre's masters at Capitol Studios in the depths of the Capitol Records building. The new record will be out Spring 2010.

Swayback has been covered in Spin, Nylon, Brooklyn Veagan, NPR and played shows with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Raveonettes, A Place to Bury Strangers, and Gang of Four.