Thursday, August 15, 2013

"Love is Nice" : The Schwervon! Interview

We've been excited to interview KC-via-Brooklyn rock duo Schwervon! ever since they blew us away at Lawrence Field Day Fest last month (they truly earn that exclamation point in their band name).  They'll be back in Lawrence this weekend along with The Gleaners and our LFK friends in Sona (reread our Sona interview here).  And Schwervon! promises there will be more tap-dancing than other rock show in Lawrence this weekend.

Give them a like on FB here, check their website here,  and listen up via Bandcamp so you'll be fully prepared to sing along with songs like "Truth Teller" and "Daydream Ration" (you scenesters better get that title's reference!) and, our favorite, "Cougar Pride." 

Now enjoy this chat with Schwervon!'s Matt and Nan in which we talk about their legendary cat Gummo, the best Memphis garage-rock bands, and the likelihood that Saturday's Replay show will culminate in a little old-fashioned 70s-style partner-swapping. 

Chip:  So the “Schwervon! story” is pretty well documented already: an internationally known New York band relocates to…Kansas City.  An appropriate first reaction is “What. The. Fuck??”  But how is it working out so far?  Are the audiences receptive?  Are the bars hip enough?

Nan: We like to do the unexpected thing! Matt grew up here and, though we love NYC, we wanted to live cheap and do music more full-time. So far it's workin' out!  The audiences ARE receptive here. We've played with a lot of different bands here and so far no one has thrown things at us.  Hip bars are overrated, unless there is a really good band playing in one. I do like the Bourgeois Pig in lawrence though. It reminds me of Brooklyn. I think writers hang out there.

Matt: Everything is the same these days with the Internet. (kidding...sort of)

Richard:  I saw you play for the first time last month at Lawrence Field Day fest, and I dug your sound from the first notes.  Can you describe your sound and your process for us, making sure to use one of those "_______ meets _______" descriptions that music critics love so well?
Matt: I'm very much a child of the late eighties/early nineties. Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, The Pixies, REM, even U2. We both have some background in theater so I think there's an influence there somewhere. "Sonic Youth meets Oklahoma!" Despite the tap dancing and cat references, I think we take what we do pretty seriously. Though we are a couple, Nan and I are very different. I think in a weird way our relationship is a muse for our music. That's not always as romantic as it sounds. It's not so easy to work together sometimes. But I think that's what makes us interesting. If you decide to really dig into some of our lyrics or if you pay close attention to our live shows I think you can see the process of us working shit out right there in front of you. Sometimes we have to work really really hard to do the most basic thing and other times shit just squirts out like butter. Mmm, yummy! The music we make together is very much a product of us. The way I play guitar is directly influenced by the way Nan plays drums and vice versa. I think we are unique in the sense that we are a band that's willing to tackle a male and female perspective equally, warts and all. We've been together for a while. We have 5 full length albums and some of that stuff is pretty varied. One thing is for sure: we don't come at this from any academic perspective. This is not to say we don't spend time trying to get it right. But what we do comes from our guts. It's rock and roll.

Chip:   I enjoy your music, but I’m primarily interested in your cat, Gummo.  And I have several questions:   Is he named after the Harmony Korine film and why?  What is the absolute most hilarious/terrifying Gummo the cat story?  And will Gummo be at the Replay show on Saturday, because I’d like to party with him?

Matt: The name has a dual meaning. I acquired Gummo soon after seeing that film in the theater in NYC. I know a friend of a friend who made the cat-doubles for that film. Gummo was a stray kitten, basically, hanging around in the hallway of my building along with the odd junkie. No one in my building claimed him so I got him by default. The movie Gummo is a pretty morbid film, from a cat's perspective, but it must have been good luck because he's around 17 years old and still kicking. He also had a bad case of gingivitis when  found him. Sorry to say, Gummo will not be at the show. He spent most of his life in our apartment in New York so he's a bit of a homebody. But we have a yard now and it's fun to watch him go outside and freak out about walking on grass.

Richard:  As a southerner by birth (small-town Arkansas), I’m interested in the Memphis pilgrimage you made a few years back.  Want to tell us a few tales of your Southern adventures? I know you went down as huge Grifters fans, but did you discover any other musical Memphis treasures while you were there (new or old)?

Matt: Memphis was really cool. To be honest, outside of Elvis, I didn't really know a lot about its musical history before we went. We tried to soak it up as much as we could but most of our time there was in the studio. Hanging out with Doug (Easley) was a lot of fun. He had some good stories. He showed us Elvis' first house (before Graceland) which was near the studio we recorded in. We went to Graceland too. We went to Goner and Shangri La records but we were pretty broke so I don't think I bought anything. We've played Memphis a couple of times since. There's a pretty gnarly garage band scene there. The Vignettes are a fun local band we played a crazy house show with once. Bombay Alleys is another one worth mentioning that we shared a bill with at The Buccaneer. While we were there recording the record we were able to play a show with The New Mary Jane (Dave and Scotty from the Grifters latest band) at the now defunct Hi Tone, which we later learned was originally the dojo of Elvis. We got Dave Shouse to do a guest vocal on our song "Daydream Ration" and learned a little about his new experimental sound project called: mancontrol. It has something to do with using light to trigger sounds. Pretty cool. I had some of the best ribs in my life. I think Memphis is the second best town in the world for barbecue (wink, wink). I've since educated myself about the whole Stax Records thing and I look forward to going back to check out the museum there. I feel like I'm on the verge of becoming a very big Otis Redding fan.

Chip:   You’ll be playing with our friends Sona at the Replay this Saturday.  They’re also a very talented “married couple band” and they are ridiculously attractive people to boot.  What do you think are the odds that the evening will evolve into some kind of swinging-70’s style partner-swap right out of the Ice Storm?

Nan: The odds are high. Sona are very attractive and talented! We'll see where the night takes us. Maybe a shot of tequila, maybe some talk about our favorite bands. Once in Germany a handsome fellow in another band declared his love for me and I got so flustered I had to leave. But I said "thank you" first. Because that's nice, isn't it? Love is nice.

Richard:  Also, what do you think are the odds of some tap-dancing, which we’ve heard is known to happen at Schwervon! shows.  I’ve seen clogging on the Replay patio during bluegrass shows, but I can’t say that I’ve ever seen anyone tap dancing in the main room at 1:00 am (well, not performers anyway).

Nan: Oh you'll see something all right! I've been watching White Nights a lot so get ready!  i'm a beginner hoofer...but I have a lot of enthusiasm for dance improvisations and this mixes nicely with an indie rock show it turns out.

Great flyers!



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