Exclusive Special Interview: Andrew Swift & The Rattlesnake Choir

theaussieword.com catches up with Andrew Swift & The Rattlesnake Choir for this special blog interview!

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What can you tell our readers about you? How and where did it all begin?
 It’s the most cliché story, my first gigs were in the dark corner of a small Italian restaurant, I got paid with a free large pizza and whatever tips got thrown my way. From there I got into a band (Race The Fray) with some guys from school and we gigged around for 5 years or so before I started to branch out into writing my own songs. Since then I’ve released a couple of EP’s and an album, which I was fortunate enough to make in El Paso, Texas. More recently I’ve got myself a fantastic band behind me in ‘The Rattlesnake Choir’ and we’ve just released our latest EP ‘Up With The Anchor’.

What had you first interested in music?
I didn’t start playing music till a later age, but when I did, it was drums that caught my attention. I never played in a band but I’d have the music blasting in my little bungalow and I’d be playing along to Van Morrison and Smash Mouth. I’d really only listened to pop growing up. I remember mum only having two cassettes in the car, Kate Ceberano and Jenny Morris. So when I picked up a guitar and joined a band with some friends in high school they introduced me to bands like Millencolin, Blink-182, Klinger, Rhubarb, Blueline Medic and Jimmy Eat World, that’s when I truly started to love music.

Who motivates or influences your quest to make great music?
I like to think I’m an honest songwriter and I feel that comes across in my music. I’m inspired by life events, however I do often exaggerate the truth or add a twist of fiction to make the story a little more interesting. In the past I’ve written about the loss and illness of family members, the ever-changing face of the small town I grew up in, my desires to move away to a new beginning and the re-connection of a long lost friend and the different paths we’ve lived.

Do you have any planned tours coming up?
I have a small run of shows coming up before I duck off to the states for a few weeks. I’ll be playing solo at the Palmy Café & Bar on the Gold Coast on June 23rd, our EP launch at the Bendigo Hotel in Collingwood on June 29th, an instore at Fist2Face records in Ringwood on June 30th and the John Curtin in Carlton on August 4th.

What are some of your biggest goals you hope to accomplish as an artist?
I’ve always said I’d love to do a long US tour, I truly love the idea of being in a van and traveling from city to city in another country, exploring the smaller towns and what not. I guess the ideal dream would be to have the privilege of making a living by doing what you love, if I could get by on writing, recording and performing, I’d be a very happy man.

What can fans expect from you in the coming months?
Over the next few months we will be doing a few shows along the east coast to promote our latest release, before I head over to the states for a small run of solo shows.

Success, what is the secret to it and what has been your biggest career highlight so far?
If there was a secret I knew of I’d share it for sure, I think the biggest thing is hard work, sticking it out through the downs, not taking advantage of the highs and keeping a level of modesty. The musicians I’ve had the pleasure to work with that have been in the industry for 30+ years are always the most humble. That’s something I can truly appreciate.

Which stars of the music industry do you find inspiring?
The people in the industry that inspire me are song writers like Brian Fallon of the Gaslight Anthem, Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat World, Chuck Ragan of Hot Water Music, Jim Ward of Sparta, guys who write honest music that deliver their songs with passion and feeling. You know those songs where they leave some of the imperfections in there that really help capture the feeling of the song, they may not be stars in the commercial music scene but they’re legends in their own rights.

How would you best describe you and your music to your fans?
I’ve always found it hard to describe our music, I think it’s a blend of genres that influence us including rock, alternative country, soul, blues and pop. The end result is something that we are proud of, if people can appreciate it then that’s great, if it’s not their thing, we understand that too. If nothing else, it’s an honest, genuine sound with rich tones.
What can you tell us about your latest album?

Our latest release is a five track EP, ‘Up With The Anchor’. We recorded in 4 different studios with 3 different producers in 2 different countries. The first three tracks were knocked out at Sing Sing studios on Chapel St with Matt Voigt (King Cannons, Cat Power, The Living End) before heading back to Abercorn studios to do vocal overdubs with Matt. For ‘Restless Hearts’ I headed back to Clap Of Thunder Studios in El Paso, Texas to record with Gabriel Gonzalez (Frank Turner, Sparta, The Lusitania). I worked with Gabe & Jim Ward (At The Drive-In, Sparta, Sleepercar) on my previous record ‘The Way We Were Raised’ and really wanted to keep Gabe as a part of our recording process, that’s also why he mixed the majority of this release. To record the final track I headed into Andrew Kitchen’s (Antiskeptic) new studio as a bit of a guinea pig for him. We lay down a cover of Blueline Medic’s ‘Making The Nouveau Riche’ in a short evening session to round out the EP.

Are there any new exciting projects in the works?
We’re always writing, slowly but surely, but the current focus is to get this release to as many ears as we can and to get a few more shows on the go.

The music industry is huge, where do you see yourself a few years from now?
I always like to think that we’re moving forward, whether it’s in song writing or live performances, in a few years I have no doubt we’ll still be at it, doing our thing with a few more releases under our belt.

Name a few of your favourite Aussie artists.
There are so many great Aussie artists, but some of my personal favourites at the moment would be King Cannons, Jamie Hay, Jen Buxton, Ribbons Patterns, Linc Le Fevre… the list could just go on!

The shape of the music industry has changed significantly over the years, including the use of social media, how do you feel about the industry as a whole and what does it mean to you in getting your records out into the public eye?
It’s amazing how quickly the industry has changed. I hate to say I remember it before social media, I’m showing my age, but honestly it wasn’t that long ago. I think the industry was a better place before it, more people went to shows to check out a band their friends were talking about instead of just searching online. People bought CDs instead of downloading the slightly worse quality MP3s. We use to do letterbox drops with fliers to our shows, poster runs late and night so you wouldn’t get caught and SMS all your friends in the limited character space you had on a Nokia 5110. I do miss those days, but we have to evolve with the times, and now music is so much more accessible without leaving your home. We can all set up band camps and online stores with ease, there are pros and cons to the industry these days, just as there was in the days before social media. Even though I’m about to include our social media sites I’ll always have a soft spot for the old days.

Thank you for the interview! What can you leave fans of theaussieword.com with here today?
Thank you for interviewing me, I guess this is where I say something witty, cliché or inspiring, I’ll leave you with this… Support local musicians and record stores, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Thanks Andrew! 😉

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