When we heard that Brian Kupillas from Where’s Lawrence? had a new project called Swimming in the works several months ago, and that Neil Lord of Niall was involved, we were pretty excited to hear what a couple of our favorite local musicians from two very different-sounding bands would come up with together.
The band, which also includes guitarist Jared Hennessy and Joel Paul (Memphis Pencils/Niall) on bass, began freaking people out around town beginning with their first show. For whatever reason, it took us forever to get to see them in action.
The wait turned out to be well worth it, however, and once we were finally able to catch one of their shows recently, Swimming instantly became one of our favorite local bands.
Lord and Kupillas described their sound to us recently as surf-y, and while I certainly hear those elements in their music, the band is a little hard to classify.
Is “just good music” a genre?
Regardless, we got in touch with them recently, and they were nice enough to answer some questions for us.
FF: What have you been listening to lately?
Jared: Wild Nothing, The War on Drugs
Brian: The Anthology of American Folk Music, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Taifas and The Allman Brothers Band
Joel: Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Toro y Moi, AC, The Born Ruffians, Alvin Band, and Bibio
Neil: Gkfoes Vjgoaf, Quilt, White Fence, Chad Vangaalen, Women, Ducktails, & Julian Lynch
FF: Tell us about about Swimming. How did the band come about?
Brian: Jared contacted me about coming over and playing some music a while back. At the time I didn’t really know him at all, and wasn’t at all sure who he was at first. But I went over, and he and I started just playing some guitar together. We discovered we have similar tendencies on the instrument as well as similar taste in the music we both listened to and wanted to play.
Neil and Jared lived together at that time, so Neil wandered upstairs with a couple drums and asked quite politely if it was okay for him to play along. Max, who recorded bass for us and played with us for the better part of our existence, has now sadly moved away to put his academic interests to work, but was a perfect fit and picked up the sound with ease. Joel had recorded us and took over for Max after the departure. It was true love ever since.
FF: There seem to be a small group of people making a whole lot of music in Fayetteville right now. What are some of the other projects the folks in Swimming are currently involved in?
Brian: I’ve been with Where’s Lawrence? now for a couple of years, and have recently been recording a solo project called The Wandering Lake that I’ve had hidden away for a while. That album for that should be finished very soon. Joel is in Niall, the Skinny Quartet and The Memphis Pencils and was in Apartment 5. Neil is the brains behind Niall, and works on an ambient project called Future Museums and there’s talk of a new noise project with JD Paul (Messy Sparkles, Memphis Pencils) called Snow Den.
FF: How are you guys balancing all those projects?
Brian: Well it’s definitely nice having people in your band who work as hard or harder than you do because then it’s not you having to be the work horse while everybody else just sits around and waits for you to bring them something to do. So having proactive members is really the only reason all these projects can stay afloat for me.
Joel: I can be in so many projects because I believe the songs are very good. I like to prove to the rest of the country that a little Arkansas town can provide new intelligent music. It also helps you get free drinks.
Neil: The best thing i’ve learned is to just not have a schedule. be completely open to just working each day with the project that accommodates you, even if that means working with multiple project in one day. It’s a good practice on turning different parts of your brain on and off.
FF: You guys are working on some recordings, correct? How many songs are you planning to do?
Swimming: There are 8 songs. We recorded all them live in studio so it only took one day to do, but we’re going back through them now, mixing and editing, perhaps re-recording certain parts (maybe an entire song). But we’ve already got a few ideas floating around for another batch of songs.
FF: More importantly, when does America (and the world) get to hear these new tracks?
Swimming: Well we’re hoping we’ll be finished before the end of the month and then everybody can pay as they please on Bandcamp or something. We were on ArtAmiss’ last compilation with our song “Summer Turtleneck” so you can have a preview of what our record sounds like with that I suppose.
FF: How does Neil get such a full drum sound with just a floor tom, a snare drum, and a ride symbol. Voodoo? Some other type of magic?
Neil: It’s weird, because that sound just happens on its own. The first night we practiced as a band I used spatulas as drumsticks. So I guess, in order to answer that question, I should just agree with you and say “Yeah, some kind of magic. Definitely magic.”
FF: What’s next for you guys? Got any touring plans for the summer?
Swimming: We have shows scattered throughout the summer, and unfortunately Neil will be moving away in August so we’ll have to fill his shoes which will definitely be hard to do. I don’t much look forward to it, but it has to be done. We really would have liked to go on tour this summer but things just didn’t work out the way I would have liked them to, so we may save it for winter or spring break.
Click below to hear Summer Turtleneck, by Swimming