Monday, 25 June 2018

Snag / Swallows Nest SPLIT PREMIERE

Alright, I've got another premiere for ya, and this one I'm especially pumped about. I'm happy to share the new split between Milwaukee's Snag and New Zealand's Swallows Nest. I'm lucky to have an exclusive stream of this incredible split here for you to check out. This release is as collaborative as they come, with Sam from Snag putting together the amazing artwork, and Dave of Swallows Nest putting out the tapes through the as-you-already-know fantastic label Zegema Beach Records. Those tapes will be available worldwide through the label, as well as through the bands in their respective countries.

This one I'm especially excited about because not only do we get three new tracks of screamy goodness and my useless ramblings, but also interviews with a member of each band to get the background on how these songs and recordings came to be. Check all of that out, in addition to the artwork, the full stream and more beeeeelow.


Snag come firing out of the woodwork on this split with some of the heaviest, most neck-snapping riffs I have ever heard. Within the first minute, they've entered a bone-chilling build-up, based around the unsettling mantra "and we eat our young", which culminates in a swelling chaos of apocalyptic proportions. The bass hits as heavy as a steamroller, with dissonant guitars noisily chipping away at the foundation. This track offers an intense sonic journey, which recalls one of the all-time greats, City Of Caterpillar. This is the soundtrack to a world ending not with a bang or a whimper, but a full-fledged forest fire with no end in sight. I'm not sure what else needs to be said about this song, it absolutely floored me when I heard it, and am fully anticipating the same reaction from most of you. This is what I love so much about modern screamo, how "progressively familiar" it can be. It's a distinct genre that creative bands are still finding ways to set the bar in.

Swallows Nest are a band you might be familiar with from the split they did with Crowning earlier this year. "Dark Hamz" opens with an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind sample, which is just about the greatest way to start a song. The band wastes no time after that going full-throttle into blast beats and tremolo-picked guitars. They utilize two vocalists, which furiously weave in and out and on top of each other in a natural "harmony" (if such a word can be applied). Another thing I found of note here was the bass, which often times provides a subtle melodic backbone to the song. It's those little details that really change the feeling of a song, and that's expressed excellently here.

Their second song, "Apathy As An Infinite Manifestation" begins by burning slowly with a trebly, arpeggiated guitar before firing on all cylinders. The moments of full-band syncopation hit home, and the vocals really play well off each other. One is guttural and menacing, while the high and shrieked. When they alternate, it sounds like an inner conflict one might have, with two voices arguing at one volume: screaming. It's an incredible culmination to this split, one that truly blew me away. You can check out the video for that track below.


Peter (Snag): David from Swallow's Nest asked if we wanted to do a split and without hesitation we agreed. We discussed general ideas for what we wanted this to be, and Dave suggested the theme of violence, so we fixated on that a little bit. The Parkland, Florida school shooting happened right around the time we wrote this song, and so the concept seemed extremely fitting for what was on everyone's minds at the time. That having been said, the concept that violence is intersectional is one that weaves through a lot of our music. When we started this band our first songs focused on themes relating to climate change and environmental devastation. That's certainly still the case but we feel that a similar mindset informs all forms of oppressive violence. The same internal logic that allows a human to open fire on their peers in a school is the one that allows someone to abuse their partner, allows the state to round up and/or murder minorities, allows an economic order to extract resources at the expensive of life on the planet.

We used a sample from True Detective that connects these concepts to the idea of a self. And we borrow some lyrical content from the ideas Ursula LeGuin put in her novel The Dispossessed, which is about an actualized anarchist society on a resource-poor moon. In the context of extreme violence in the form of domination of one over others or systems over individuals at multiple levels, this song's message is about turning away from destructive notions of a hyper-individual self and turning instead towards mutualism.

We put together this song over the course of 2 days, and then recorded it with our friend Dante Fumo at his studio on the south side of Milwaukee in an afternoon. It's our favorite song that we've written and we've been itching to release it. We're absolutely thrilled to have worked with Dave and Swallow's Nest on this project.

Kevin (Sophie's Floorboard): What was the inspiration behind choosing violence as theme for this split, and how does that theme factor into your side of the split?

Dave (Swallows Nest): I'm not really sure what the catalyst was for that. I have noticed in the last 15 years that my lyrics have gone from being about heartbreak to focusing on purely social/political/environmental issues. It's not a concentrated effort, it just happens. I'm so fucking angry at most of the people on this planet for their greed, hate, intolerance, pollution, selfishness, arrogance and violence that lyrics don't usually come out of me in any other way nowadays. I told Snag that I wanted to do a very environmentally conscious release that was violent and about human violence.

Our side of the split is a little less based on violence and more toward apathy and selfishness. particularly on the second track "Apathy as an Infinite Manifestation". I wrote the lyrics for this as a retort to complete pacifism in the wake of corporate and government led terrorism abroad and within. It's also about being so self-centered that we are purposefully looking away from our collective species' suicide or, somehow, finding ridiculous justifications for it. The first of the two songs is called "Dark Hamz" and was just a joke title that I had as it sounded like Dark Hardcore Skramz to me, and then I just shortened it. Before that I referred to it as the Buried Inside intro song, thanks to Jörg's undeniably awesome bass riff. The song mirrors my relationship with my wife in New Zealand (she was suffering from intense morning sickness and the weather got her extremely depressed and negative) with humanity's connection with nature, urging both to reconcile their differences and live in harmony.

Kevin (Sophie's Floorboard): What was the background (writing/recording) for your material on this split?

Dave (Swallows Nest): We wrote 7 songs as a four-piece with myself on vocals, Matt on guitar, Jörg on bass and Gabe on drums, but upon the news of my departure back to Canada we decided to enlist Jörg's partner Lana (both played in Yung Nat$ together) and, as I'm a sucker for dual vocalists, we decided to record those songs as a five-piece. The band is back to a four-piece with Lana on vocals but Matt moved to the North island of New Zealand and the band is kind of a semi-internet based thing, although they/we are working on new material for next year.

These two songs on this Snag cassette follow "A Subtle Knife For New Doors" on the Crowning split 7" and then we've got four more that'll end up on a self-titled cassette that we'll release before 2018 concludes.

Kevin (Sophie's Floorboard): I've got to ask because of my deep-seated obsession with this film. Why/how did the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind sample on "Dark Hamz" come about?

Dave (Swallows Nest): I'm a big fan of putting movie audio clips into songs, mostly because I've been in love with Graf Orlock for over a decade and think choosing the right one can really give the song something extra. Plus I get to geek out with people when they get the quote or ask to know where it came from.

This one came into being because my wife and I were having issues, primarily due to her morning sickness from her second pregnancy. I was also trying to correlate our relationship (embellishing the problems bigger than they were) with our struggle within society, and to fight in both cases for love, truth, compassion and happiness..."or we'll wash away." (not unlike the sandcastles getting toppled in the music video for "Apathy as an Infinite Manifestation")

Also, I knew I wanted a quote from that movie to go into the song and when I got to that part where Jim Carrey's character begins erasing his memory of his partner in response to her erasing her memory of him, truly an eye for an eye situation which we as humans dish out all too often.


Swallows Nest

Zegema Beach Records

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