Swamp Radio talk to Inverness Gigs prior to their Summer Showcase gig on the 2nd of August.
My first memory of Swamp Radio was of an article early in the bands life where they had bravely posed in a local swamp, I hoped that they were not expecting the same again…
I met with 3 of the band, Neil Pirritt, Martin Tarr and Sean Flemming, who formed the band in 2008. However it has been in its current form since 2009 when lead singer Neil took over from Rory Hutcheson. This transition had an impact on the band moving away from a more mainstream rock feel to a more psychedelic prog-rock with a heavier edge, a turbulent combination of Motorhead and Pink Floyd (there was another description they used but even I am not brave enough to print it) put simply “It’s definitely got heavier”.
Whilst the band recognises that each individual has their own style they describe it as a “mish-mash” which by all accounts works well. Currently the band credit Scott for the current sound “he’s a very talented guy. Adversity and obscurity, that’s his driving force”.
The result is a growing reputation for a band, they describe themselves as a “slowburner” in part due to personal circumstances. The gigs subsequently have been sparse (this being only the third following the penultimate slot at the Winter Showcase and supporting Nazareth). They are however clearly relishing the success and consistency of the gigs that they have played this year.
With a fairly innocuous question, “How would you encourage people to come along to see you for the first time?” came a rather deep and insightful answer. “Come and enjoy listening to the stuff you don’t like listening to”. Indeed by all accounts the band relish the opportunity to convert people to Swamp Radio, recalling the amount of positive feedback that they have received “it’s good to get a good response from people”. However they do admit that they do not do enough to promote themselves and that this is something that they may consider, despite Neil’s obvious dislike for social media “Tarr can do that!”.
On talking about their material, they aim to keep things fresh both for the audience and for themselves “to get material that we enjoy playing and is received well”. The result is that there is only one song that they consistently retain, “The Deviant” as it’s “a brilliant finisher”. There does not seem to be a loyalty or preciousness to songs staying in set list “we are quite flexible and songs are not rigid, it’s not regimented”. This brings the challenge of how to sell or make available songs that they no longer play live. Having said that, sufficient material for 1 or indeed 2 EPs has been recorded though release plans are still in their infancy.
Just spending an hour with the band, it is clear that that Swamp Radio stand for more than just gigging or recording. A real bond, respect and banter is evident between them, along with the genuine attitude that they do it “for the love of it”.
Moving on to the showcase, they first hailed Messaine, with whom they shared billing at the Easter showcase, particularly in reference to the stage presence of Finn Creaney. They are also sharing the billing with Toecutter, a band that they have seen before and are keen to see again. ROADWAY ,The Whisky River Band and Little Mill of Happiness all get mentions as bands they are looking forward to seeing at forthcoming showcases.
For the band there is an air of anticipation for the headline slot at the Summer showcase and “knuckling down” to get the set as tight as possible is the clear motivation. “It’s coming along quite well”. It is potentially a difficult slot given that it is the first night of Belladrum, however the Swamp boys have come up with a cunning strategy to deal with the clash “we try to avoid telling people that (it’s on).. it’s sold out now anyway, we’ll be better”. They were, however, keen to leave me with a tease of a big surprise at the gig and with no hint to what this could be, “You’ll have to come along”.
So without a dip in a swamp we were done, confident that a bigger audience awaits Swamp Radio, just not sure when…
Thanks to Swamp Radio and to Jim Kennedy for editing.