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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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The Swellers - Crowd Pleasing Punk
Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Depending on who you ask, Flint, Michigan punk rockers The Swellers are either a gateway band, or a nostalgia band. Lead singer Nick Diener, who started The Swellers with his brother Jonathan, explains “people in their 20s and 30s will come up to us and say ‘you remind us of that fast skate punk that I listened to in 1994’,” while on the other hand, “on that Paramore tour we were on kids came up to us and said ‘you’re the first alternative band I’ve ever seen.”

While Diener doesn’t think of the band as anything alternative, he notes The Swellers’ ability to be both a gateway band for younger audiences, and a nostalgia band for older music fans, has paid great dividends when it comes to touring as it’s given them the ability to tour with the likes of Paramore, as well as the punks bands they grew up with.

It’s while on tour that Diener connects most with the fans. He remembers after one show in Austria a young man approached him, and after the usual “great show” compliment Diener says “he stops me, he grabs me by the arms and says ‘you’re different. You’re different than the other punk bands.’ That got me really intrigued. I’m like, how so? And he said ‘my favorite punk bands in the world, I see them on stage and I hear what they say between the songs, I don’t believe them, but you, when you played that show, I believed everything you said.’”

The Swellers’ honesty is something that Diener’s focused on since he and his brother formed the band in 2002, when they were still in high school. “To me, a lot of punk bands, they call themselves punk bands, you can call them whatever you want, they pretty much talk about having these petty little girl problems, or the bully beats them up at their locker in school. I never wanted to be a band like that, even when I was 15 years old. I was like, let’s write about real life, let’s write about what’s going on.”

Real life has reared its head in ugly ways at times, as Diener notes “we’ve had some friends pass away, we’ve seen some terrible things on the road, and that’s the kind of stuff that actually makes you really value life and see how fragile it is.”

The band’s favorite venue back home, Flint Local 432, also proved to be fragile. “We learned everything we know about being a band from that venue,” Diener explains, “it’s since closed down, but that’s where I spent the best times of my life growing up.”

Currently on their ninth tour in the past year-plus, The Swellers are also hard at work on new music. The inspirations for the music, however, are ever changing, which is why Diener says the band tries hard not to limit themselves. “Since the last record I have fallen in love with a girl. Who knows how that’s gonna affect the next record. Since the last record there’s been a serial killer in my neighborhood. Who knows how that’s gonna affect the next record.”

Regardless of how those, and other, things affect their next record, with The Swellers history it’s a safe bet the finished product will affect listeners.

Story originally ran in the HartfordAdvocate.

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