With a band name like The Swell Fellas you’d expect a barber choir, or an acoustic bluegrass group from a Coen Brothers movie. What you might not expect is the psychedelic riff monster these guys really are. No, bands like this are often called after something involving buffaloes, witches, or crows. As their hazy fuzz waves conjure up images of the old America, wind swept plains, stern mountains, and galloping horses…
On this 33 minute EP/mini album The Swell Fellas have clearly set their gears to “epic”, as they pull off big riff after big riff without breaking a sweat. However somewhere in the back of my mind I can hear that they have been under the spel of All Them Witches, as well as King Buffalo, as they subtly mix their epic riffery with more subdued vocals. Like their bigger brethren they do rock hard, but they never take it over the edge and become larger than life. They keep it real and believable, which is a rare thing in rock ’n roll, and especially in epic riff land.
I do hope they get picked up then, because we can all use some intelligent psych rocking in our lives. And whether they are called The Swell Fellas or King Mountain Witch Crow Buffalo, it really don’t matter to me. As long as the rock rocks, and the roll rolls as much as it does on Novaturia.
I was lucky enough to catch these guys in between touring and writing their new album so that they could answer all these questions that popped up in my brain when listening to Novaturia. Drummer Chris Poole was kind enough to answer.
Hey guys! How has Swell Fellas been doing the past period of pandemic weirdness?
We’ve been really good, as good as we can be. Stayed busy writing and doing a lot of skating while the world was locked down. We all live together so it makes it pretty easy to just hang and create on a whim. Seems like things are looking up for the most part as far as covid goes, so we’re excited to put some more miles behind us on the road and crank out more music.
Can you introduce the Weirdo Shrine readers to the band?
For sure, we’re a trio from Ocean City, Maryland interested in creating something unique together that we all enjoy and feel connected too. The band consists of Conner Poole (Guitar/Vox), Mark Rohrer (Bass/Vox), and Chris Poole (Drums/Vox).
How did you meet? And how did you determine your initial sound?
Well, Conner and I (Chris) are brothers so that sums that connection up haha. Mark and I met when we were 11 or 12 on a school bus during a field trip. We shared some headphones and next thing you know we were recording shitty demos in a bedroom on Audacity together. He was and is primarily a guitar player, so getting Mark to play bass naturally turned into basically having a sub-octave riff outlet. Finding our initial sound was tough at first, it took about two years before we really fell into a groove of writing songs that seemed universally agreed upon between the three of us. A lot of which made up our first record “The Big Grand Entrance”. The process of writing that record really opened a lot of doors for us as a collective consciousness, we’re big fans of conceptual records. Albums with a good flow. So feeling out how to intertwine songs and parts seamlessly was integral to our initial sound, and ultimately threw us into a world of writing longer explorative songs in our recent releases. Also, great pedal boards are essential.
Can you tell me your relationship with All Them Witches? (one of my favorite bands actually…)
One of our favorites too! They rip… hard. We got the opportunity to meet up and record with Ben while he was in the process of mixing our first record. We were on a diy tour that landed in Nashville for a few days in October of 2019 to cut “The Great Play of Extension”. He took us in, we tracked the EP, drank beers, cooked out, and chilled with his cats. It was sick. Later on met the rest of the guys. Really cool humans, a serious inspiration.
In what way did your geographical situation effect your music?
Growing up by the ocean is a beautiful thing. Life feels a bit slower there, it gives you more time to think and opens you to ponder the world a bit. There’s a feeling of being close to that force that’s overwhelming. Definitely have written lyrics about it… and I suppose that headspace could be a bit of where we pull some psychedelic aspects from? I’m not sure, I’ve never really thought about it until now.
What is your general aim when writing a song?
Make it our best and capture a feeling.
Who influenced you most musically and otherwise?
Family, friends, sick riffs
When you play music in the band van, what do you play? And what is an absolute no-go?
Some DO’s to name a few: Knocked Loose, ASG, MF DOOM/CZARFACE, Alice in Chains, The Psychotic Monks, OM, The Black Angels, Fuzz, Meatbodies, Oh Sees, Portayal of Guilt, Gangstarr, Queens of the Stone Age, Kikagaku Moyo, King Gizz, The Melvins, Meshuggah, Raekwon, TOOL, Betty Davis, Chamber, Harms Way, Wheeler Walker Jr.
DON’T: Bud light. Dirt roads.
What are your immediate and more distant future plans?
Right now we’re focusing on writing the next record and booking more shows! Releasing our new EP, Novaturia this Friday and just going to keep at it. It’s hard to plan a distant future, so we’ll take the opportunities as they come and see where it leads. We’re excited for it, that’s for sure.
What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after this interview?
Call your mother.