Q&A: Sw/mm/ng to release debut album on Brooklyn-based label


Photo: Nellie Kay Rajabi

So many great bands disappear without leaving a record. That’s been one sad and frustrating part about watching our college town music scene over the years.

Fayetteville band Sw/mm/ng has existed for over three years now, which makes them veterans at this point. And they’re finally releasing their first full-length album Feel Not Bad on Aug. 29 on Old Flame Records (preorder here).

Their name – back-slashes included – is pronounced “swimming,” which was how they spelled it before receiving a cease-and-desist order in 2011 from a UK group with the same name.

It’s an apt name, too. They play a shimmery kind of indie-pop that gets people moving in sweaty summer basements, that sounds like it’s just surfaced, wet with reverb and rippling out across a shallow pool. The songs have an earnest kind of yearning to them, a thought interrupted in mid-sentence, “I have to leave home. I found a purpose a moment ago.”

Album artwork for Sw/mm/ng’s debut LP, Feel Not Bad

The band is anchored by two of its original members, guitarists Jared Hennessy and Brian Kupillas, but has also had help from some of Fayetteville’s best indie rock musicians. Members of Memphis Pencils, Niall, and Messy Sparkles have all played in the band at some point and they’ve recently been getting help from Little Rock musician Jack Lloyd.

Old Flame Records signed the band last year and has been releasing a series of digital singles in advance of the vinyl release of their album.

We asked guitarist/singer Brian Kupillas some questions.

How did you folks get involved with Old Flame Records?
We sent out demos to a group of labels, and actually heard word from a few of them, but Rob who started Old Flame was the only one who went out of his way to catch our set at SXSW and took the time to meet with us, so he seemed like the one we should work with.

What are some of your major influences as a band?
Musically I’d say George Harrison, Galaxie 500, and The Jesus and the Mary Chain are the biggest.

You toured a lot last year. Was there one show that stood out or was a dream come true for you?
Personally, my favorites are always playing house shows or DIY spaces. But I’d have to say that the best show of that last tour was at the Crux during Treefort Music Fest (in Boise, Idaho). Good-sized crowd and a lot of them had first heard us the year before in that same room and we had definitely come a long way since then. A few of them knew the words and sang along and it was complete fun.

Is there more touring in the future after Feel Not Bad comes out?
Right now the only planned tour we have for Feel Not Bad is just two weeks in August. But there will most likely be more to come later on in the year.

A lot of different folks have played in Sw/mm/ng since its inception. Do different members bring different things to the table? Has the band evolved because of them or is the band mostly your vision and sound?
Of course the band is influenced heavily by the different members. It’s definitely a group effort when it comes to putting these songs together. My mind doesn’t work like Jared’s and that’s probably why I’ll never understand how he comes up with his parts. Joe, Neil, Max, Travis, they’ve all had different ways of hearing the songs and playing with them.

Sw/mm/ng’s next show in Fayetteville is Friday, July 11 at Nightbird Books as part of the “Feed the Bird” benefit. They’ll also play Little Rock on Aug. 30 at Sticky Fingerz as the last date on their tour.

Sw/mm/ng – Some Dreams Come True



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