While supporting Deaf Havana on their current tour in the United Kingdom, Nick Diener, lead singer and rhythm guitarist for punk-rock act The Swellers, spoke with Mind Equals Blown to discuss their latest album, their separation with longtime affiliates Fueled By Ramen, their new music video and the future of the band as a whole.
MEB: So as of right now, you and The Swellers have got a ton of different things going on. You’re currently doing a tour of the United Kingdom with Deaf Havana, you’re preparing for a two-week stint with The Early November, The Wonder Years and Young Statues, your album’s been extremely well received, etc. What’s been your reaction to this overwhelming response with the band?
Nick Diener: It’s definitely not overwhelming for us. We worked hard and we really like our product, so we knew we were going to have to tour hard to get it out there. Last year we toured nine months out of the year! Very grateful to have these opportunities, though. Sometimes we have to sit back and think about how not many bands get to do what we do.
How do your family, friends back home and Taylor take everything that’s happened so far?
Everyone is behind us 100%. Great to have support coming from all of those angles. It’s funny, though, we’ll run into people when we’re back home who think we’re absolutely famous and making loads of money. It’s pretty funny.
Once you have a little free time, how do you plan on spending it?
Hanging out at home and relaxing as much as possible. Also, recording bands in my studio and writing/recording music for The Swellers.
A little while back on your Facebook, at about the time you were on your co-headliner with You Me At Six, you posted some photos of you and the rest of the guys at what looked like a WWE match. Are you and the guys big fans?
75% of the band is pretty into pro wrestling. Going to see RAW in San Diego was pretty incredible. World Champion CM Punk got us front row tickets.
Do you have a favorite wrestler in particular?
Bret Hart. Hands down.
Now, last summer, you guys released your second album Good For Me on Fueled by Ramen. First off, where’d you guys come up with the title?
It appears in a couple of the songs’ lyrics in different ways. We felt it summed up the different sentiments of the record.
The whole album has a vibe to it that feels like it’d be perfect for summer. Was that what you guys were going for?
Nope, just wrote songs. I guess it just so happened that we were in pretty good moods for a lot of the writing process! That is pretty rare; we usually write when we’re feeling bummed out.
In the lead single “The Best I Ever Had,” there’s a line that says, “I remember April of ’94, September of ’96 and every day of ’99.” What’s the significance behind those dates?
Might take away some of the magic to reveal all of that. Maybe look around at some of the records/things that happened in music around those times. As far as ’99 goes.. just LOTS of great albums!
What records did you and the guys tend to take influence from when creating Good For Me?
Lots of Foo Fighters and Descendents. Two completely different bands, but that’s what I was going for sonically.
What song on the record would you say you’re most proud of?
We all really like playing “Warming Up” live. It’s a groover. Big solo in it, too. Pretty emotional.
The reaction to Good For Me has been fantastic so far, receiving positive response from both critics and fans. Do you have any idea how you guys are going to follow the album up?
We have a 7″ coming out in a month or so, we’re going to record and self-release an EP later this year, and then hopefully a new full-length in early 2013. So yeah, lots of music!
Recently, you’ve decided to part ways with record label Fueled by Ramen, under which you produced both Ups & Downsizing and Good For Me. What fueled this decision to leave? Was it a long time coming or was it just time to switch things up?
It just wasn’t the right fit. We didn’t have a lot of freedom to do what we wanted to do in some aspects and didn’t get the attention we deserved after Good For Me came out. The label changed, we changed, it was time to go.
Have you been in talks with other labels lately, or is that looking too far ahead at the moment?
Not really looking that far ahead, though SideOneDummy is putting out the 7″. They’re awesome people. We have a few labels that are interested in doing our next record, but we’re not actively talking about it.
When do you guys anticipate you’ll be signed with a new label and producing a new album?
I’m hoping to have the full-length out by summer of next year.. hoping the EP will be out in the fall of this year.
About a week ago you put out a new music video for the track “Inside My Head,” where you volunteer at a Big Brothers-type organization as a PR stunt. Where exactly did the idea for this premise come about?
We were just sitting around and decided it’d be fun to do a video where we were getting bullied by little kids, and in return giving THEM a hard time. We just wanted to have fun making a video with our friends and a bunch of kids. Ended up being pretty fun!
Also, something very cool, I saw that you did some guest vocals for the latest MxPx album Plans Within Plans. How’d you guys come in contact with the band? Are you a big fan of the group?
Huge fans of MxPx. Been listening to them for almost fifteen years. We met at a show. We just stayed in touch a little bit and it was a big surprise when Mike (Herrera) wanted us to sing on their new record. Very cool.
I’m sure MxPx was definitely up there on your list, but who else have you dreamed of collaborating with?
Never really had any desire to collaborate with anyone, though I would love Matthew Caws from Nada Surf to sing on one of our new records. Best voice.
Now, you’re currently on a tour in the United Kingdom with Deaf Havana and what was supposed to include The Dangerous Summer. How is that going over for you guys?
It’s going alright! Getting the crowds moving and pumped up. We’re the only punk band on the bill. If the crowd is boring, we’re bored. If not, we have a good time. Seems to be going fine.
And after that, you’re doing a two-week stint with The Early November, The Wonder Years and Young Statues? Are you guys looking forward to that?
Are you and the rest of the band big fans of The Early November?
No. I just heard them a few days ago. But I really like their guitar player, Joe. I met him when we toured with Hellogoodbye.
How are you hoping to spend your time with the guys on tour?
Playing shows and eating. Some sleeping.
If you had the choice of touring with any band, larger or smaller than yourselves, who would you choose?
I’d love to do a tour with Propagandhi. Maybe Weezer, Foo Fighters, Jimmy Eat World, and this new band I really love called Diamond.
Your brother Jonathan plays drums for The Swellers, and you guys remain the two founding members since you started making music in 2002. Have you guys had any kind of sibling rivalries at all, be it on the road or when recording, or is it pretty relaxed?
Any arguments we have are usually about the music, and it ends up making us come to great agreements and the songs get even better. Nothing too intense, just usual brother stuff!
So as you look toward the future of the band, where do you guys see yourselves in five years?
Hopefully doing much better, but getting to stay home more often!
Final question: For all of the bands out there hoping to achieve what you guys have accomplished, what would you give as advice for succeeding in the music industry?
Just write great songs and sound good live. If you don’t have that, you won’t even get to first base.