“Radical as with nature bubbling, into the solum pastural plains of sight, mind, and the art of seeing and hearing. The light of the past, lingers in the shadows for the future. Dignifying the lustful tangence of purple clad, guards, halting your feet, but never halting your destiny. It’s that remedial eccentricities, multiplying the will, the stance, and the gallantry of personal and emotional wealth. It is surely a magnificent sight – of your mind and heart’s blooming and growth.” – CHF
There are times in life where you say: “Right. I’m going to just do it.” Over thinking, when the time is right – under acting, when the time is certainly upon you…it shrinks confidence, and it shrinks the chance that you will ever get a chance to explore in the near future.
Artists decide on this fundamental theme – whether on a project, or a career – all of the time.
THE BIG SWIM consists of Andrew Merclean, John Simon, Eleanor Grace (Beckwith), and Chris Stadler. Recently the’d released their first ever single together, named ‘Red Ink’. The single stuck in our minds and was part of our feature a couple of weeks ago, to critical acclaim (via CHF, of course).
We’d stated about the new single ‘Red Ink’: “The cast of colors the band projects, is mellow and sumptuous..” and that “the single has caught us in a tizzy, for the song is a fabulous display (and example) of what an indie-rock-pop New Jersey band can accomplish.”
Our first experience with the band and their performance was their debut group show at Petshop in Jersey City. We’d listened to their set that night, and was quite impressed with the kind of writing of lyrics that was presented for public consumption. “…strummed chords, but not too hard, countrified lead guitar playing in counterpoint with the melody, but not too busily, forthright, personal lyrics, but never grotesquely confessional.”
From that night, we at CHF kept one eye on the band, for we believed The Big Swim had “made an impression.”
We’d been hungry for a new band from the Garden State that had the makings of the kind of garage-rock / shoe-gaze band that had the talent and song writing chemistry that could establish a good and strong path to such home-grown glory. We wanted to see a fabulous new and exciting band that had a shoe-gaze sparkling, and brought some innovative song writing aspects to the fore. In fact, the complete band lineup only took place in November of 2017, and they had been working feverishly and had been dramatically inspired by the new spark within the band.
From their outputs, all the hard work, seems to be bearing fruit for them.
In any case, our goal was to hear more about the individuals making up this fab quartet. So, in our minds, an interview was an appropriate logical step. We were dang curious, to be literal. So, after a little bit of correspondence, we agreed to a meeting during one of their practice sessions at Smacktone Studios (Woodland Park, NJ).
At the meeting we are treated to a pleasant discussion, and as a bonus got to see several songs played.
For the interview, 3-of-4 members of THE BIG SWIM were available. Chris Stadler, the band’s drummer, was at the time on a trip across the continent of Africa. But in the meantime, Andrew (Founder and Guitars), John (Bassist), and Eleanor (Lead Vocals, Guitars) made some time for a quick interview. We met at a music studio space in Woodland Park, New Jersey. When we’d met the trio, they were very much what we expected from our initial impressions: happy, kind, and generous. The grounded gentlemen and gentlewoman, smiled a lot, and laughed a lot.
And that made US laugh, too.
It was fabulous way of spending couple of hours, on a lazy weekend afternoon, to be sure.
“I met John and Andrew, in November. They’d already been collaborating…then we started collaborating on lyric ideas. I’d been writing lyrics for a really long time. So it was really refreshing to get other people’s ideas and music. And to share that experience. It was great…it was exciting. I played in a band in high-school and we were really bad. You know when somethings good. We all get along really well, like hanging out.”
It’s been a quick rise to recognition locally for the new band. And the reason is the output of the first single ‘Red Ink’.
“I realized when the song was working, was when everyone else put their part on it. [I said] this is good; we got something here. And it wasn’t until I hear that final mix…”This is going to work! And then the feedback we got from people, once we actually released it..I would plug it to co-workers and everyone was very impressed with it. It helps when you like the people that you’re working with. This is fun, but we’re getting a good product out of it…some good art out of it.”
“I was trying to start a band and wasn’t working. So I tried a couple of singers, and came across Eleanor. We then met briefly, and either that exact night, or the next night..she sent me an entire vocal track..lyrics, vocal melodies…this is next the next level (I thought to myself)..it was kind of shocking.”
“I like to do stupid goals for myself, like I’ll write this song in 24 hours.”
“Very productive goals!”
“Yesterday I said I’m going to do a back-flip today…” (FYI, she’s a practicing gymnast)
JOHN & ANDREW
“So, did you do it??”
“I did it! I didn’t break anything! Anyways, I love writing lyrics…that’s my favorite part, of composing. Andrew had the title already [to ‘Red Ink’], and I loved it.”
‘Love’ and ‘Communication’, or the lack there of – is the central role of Eleanor’s reason for the lyrics in the new single. The frustrations and the lack of ‘control’ might be a part of the curiosity she thought about when developing the words for it.
“To me I interpreted that, as ‘Two people looking at something, and seeing Two different things’. It is mostly from my perspective, and [at the same time] project how other person or the protagonist…who’s looking at this item…describing also, what they would feel.”
“We have been going gang-busters (since the laying down of the first songs)…we have a lot of material, and been very productive.”
So does that mean there are already made singles, ready for release this year?
“Well, we’re doing a few things this summer. We’re releasing an ‘acoustic version’ of a song, in a couple of weeks. And also [we’ll] try to release one other single by the end of summer. From there we will see. We definitely have material for an LP. But it sort of depends on how we feel.”
“A lot of them are in the workshop too. We have a bunch of different songs but they’re still being kind of honed..we have to see where [the songs] go, and how many [final cut songs] we have [at the end] of that process.”
“The acoustic song is named ‘Sunrise'(exclusive scoop) …and the other one hasn’t been finalized yet [with a name].”
As in any new enterprise or endeavor, ambition is a question of what’s really burning deep inside some individual, or the collection of individuals. And it’s not very different for the gang in The Big Swim.
“I would love to take this as far as it can go. I love albums, that’s my favorite format. I’m open to EPs. I love Fugazi, their first record. The first one is a compilation of the two EPs. Pushing that together. Just turns into an album.” LOL
“Kind of breaks up a full album into bite-sized pieces.. In 2018, we have short attention spans. And we have a very basic level of fanbase, so I think putting out an LP, is kind of [overkill].”
“Some bands I was in, started from Zero to, you know, ‘Magnum Opus’; and then nobody [bought the LP]! ‘Like we put a lot of time and effort and money into this. So now where do we go’. Personally, there are lot of things that gets me out of my comfort zone, [regarding] this project. For example, I’d been converted to the Singles Format, versus bludgeoning people with a full album. I think it’s better to get the momentum, and see where it goes.”
“Shows. Play a lot of shows, local shows, and just get people to know us, and network, and get [even more] comfortable on stage. Playing as a group, live.”
“And, getting that ‘band foundation’ together live. This band is kind of unique, because is the opposite of how it was done for me, in the past. Every other band has been…the structure keeps things fresh. I see bands coming in and out, every day and can see which ones are kind of excited and doing something new, they’d just been doing the same way they’d been doing things. It doesn’t have to be because of age, because there are some older bands [that I see] that are super excited.”
Artists don’t exist in a vacuum. They have influences, get influenced, get inspired, then make their own mark in their craft. Ambition, partly comes from past experiences, feeding energy into confidence. For these three (and we’re assuming the same for Chris), that tale is consistent.
“My influences are: Jimi Hendrix, Kevin Shields, Deer Hunter, Bradford Fox, Miles Davis. I’ve been playing for 11 years now, but ever since I heard the local punk band – my sister brought home a CD – I’d been obsessed ever since. I got into punk, then classic rock. Locally, I love bands like: Joy Cleaner, The Bleeders, CR & The Degenerates, Long Neck, Tru, Quality Living.”
“[Well] I grew up in Essex county. And in high school, there was a pretty vibrant local band scene, and you can really cut your teeth there for a lot of different bands..putting on lots of different shows. That’s what got me into playing music. Even though I am playing now with these ‘young-bucks’ here..I’d been doing this thing since the late 90’s, playing music since then. I’d been doing this a long time and I’d been fortunate in that the scene was competitive, but supportive..it was a lot of fun. When I was starting out in music, I realized I wasn’t going to be a baseball player…so [the music] channeled all that adolescent energy right away. I still have fun doing this. It’s been very enriching. Recently I’d been listening to each one of old music…music I haven’t listened to in years. So, I’m going back and finding out about yourSelf. Things that still speak to you. What you were into then. Why did I like this? I’m listening to Technicolor Paradise (50’s coined ‘exotica’ style of music via Numero Group)..it’s a boxed set of ‘not quite surf’ but with a lot of ‘Polynesian music’…I’m into surfer music, so this somewhat pre-dates…there’s a lot of jazz, but lot of tekkies, etc. They were trying to make ‘novelty songs’, so a lot of them have weird lyrics, or they would have a surfy melody then all of a sudden be a ‘B-Horror Movie’ scream in the middle of [the song]..there’s like a booklet that has 200 pages in it, and like I’m a big history guy, etc.”
“I’m from Columbus Ohio, and I’ve played guitar for a long time, and took piano lessons for a couple of months and realized I couldn’t really read music. It’s always been a dream of mine to play in a band, playing shows. My younger sister played in a punk band called ‘PMS’ and realized that you can just go ‘do it’…if you want to be in a band, just go do it..you don’t have to know everything, be the best…just try and things build. So, I moved to New Jersey for work, 3 years ago. I’d been a ‘closet musician’; I’d never played live [back home]. I’d keep writing, and played in a high school band briefly – covers and stuff. I’d been playing open mics for a while..for a few months..getting comfortable. And sometimes I’d go on Craigslist and see if someone’s looking for a guitarist or drummer, etc.”
“Arctic Monkeys’ new album (Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino)…I’m digging it. I love the Arctic Monkeys. And I’m a big Strokes fan too. Surfer Blood also…nostalgic, perfect for summer..”
The time for the interview was too short. We wanted more from the band. But we could feel that Andrew, Eleanor, and John were super excited, but was doing their best to keep it incognito, for now. They are a bunch of ambitious lot for their art and music. Andrew and John has been in many bands (and are in couple others now) and have seen the good and the bad, through the years; with Eleanor, she having a budding corporate career and a now a very promising musical career – the ingredients are surely there to be taken advantage of.
And we dig that.
In the meantime, however, we’ll wait patiently for the second and third singles by the end of this summer. Eleanor mentioned the upcoming 2nd release will be an acoustic based single ‘Sunrise’. The gang allowed us to listen to them playing the song, and we think it’s as beautiful and lyrically attractive as ‘Red Ink’. We can’t wait for the release, for sure.
Their next Official live event will take place at STOSH’s in Fairlawn, New Jersey (July 6th). The event is to be C.R. & The Degenerates’ new album release shin-dig, where friends and peers from LKFFCT, Rosey Bengal, Trim Tabs, and The Big Swim will celebrate and play some killer sets for the audience – we’re sure.
Lastly, but Andrew said that there might be a “secret but not secret” live gig party near July 28th (date unconfirmed, as well)
where the band Quality Living, will be hosting. Think “relaxed BBQ with live music and band excellence”. Well, at least that’s what we got out of it. Thanks Andrew =D
CHF PERSONALITIES is an area interview series where we sit down and get to know a bit more about the people, who we have come across, and were curious about.