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Swingin’ Utters Peace and Love Tour at Toronto’s Hard Luck Bar

By Phjoshua @thereviewsarein
Swingin’ Utters Peace Love Tour Toronto’s Hard Luck

Punk rock and I go way back, so when I was given the opportunity to interview Swingin' Utters I was pretty excited.

The California punk rock band celebrated their 30th anniversary last year, and that's a pretty big deal. There have been some lineup changes, and a hiatus, but with the release of their 9th studio album the band is back out on tour. And I can tell you from personal experience, they're sending out the best energy.

I caught up with Darius Koski and Johnny Bonnel before their Thursday night set at Toronto's Hard Luck Bar for a quick drink and some fun conversation.

Swingin’ Utters Peace Love Tour Toronto’s Hard Luck
Swingin’ Utters Peace and Love Tour at Toronto’s Hard Luck Bar
I did my best to stick to questions about the new album, Peace and Love, but I will admit, we did digress.

Peace and Love is the most politically charged album Swingin' Utters has ever created. Although they had been vaguely political, what punk band hasn't, they've stepped it up, and I wanted to ask why. The simple answer from Johnny was, " Trump is in office, and I have two daughters and a wife, so that's one of the reasons." Darius added " Our country's a mess and it's just spreading all over the world. It's scary. It's because our country is in a really horrible state right now and everybody hates each other. "

We talked about the process of Trump coming into office and how we were all surprised that he got elected. And now that he's in power, the people who don't stand on his side of the fence are feeling powerless. There was talk of protests but still feeling helpless. The music is what's left for bands, and Swingin' Utters message is clear. There's a lack of hope, people feel helpless, and faith in mankind is at an all-time low. They're not with this president, and they're doing what they can through their music.

Deranged Lyric Excerpt

The arrogant are leaders
The violence is rife
The fun is just beginning
And so we begin the fight
Don't vote in their election
Burn the face of change
Could we be the same
We are all deranged

We moved the conversation towards the creative aspects of the album, the writing, the rehearsing, and the recording process. Peace and Love was written in a couple of weeks, they rehearsed for about a couple of weeks, and then they headed into the studio, and recording was done in a little over two weeks. It was a little bit rushed, but it turned out great.

We have to talk a little bit about the two new band members, Luke Ray on drums and Tony Teixeira on bass. Darius was quick to say, the talent of these two was a big factor in how quickly they were able to get into the studio. Luke and Tony are best friends who've been playing together since they were teenagers. They work as a unit, they lock in and go. You can hear that Luke's drumming style is different from previous drummer Greg McEntee. There's a noticeable difference when you hear the older tunes. It's a good thing. (Sadly Luke was not in Toronto, he was attending an important family reunion.)

Swingin’ Utters Peace Love Tour Toronto’s Hard Luck
Swingin’ Utters Peace and Love Tour at Toronto’s Hard Luck Bar
Recorded at Nu-Tone Studios in Pittsburgh, CA in May of this year by Chris Dugan (Green Day, Iggy Pop), Peace and Love is 15 tracks and runs 39 minutes. The recorded the last album with Chris, and it went so well, they saw no reason to look anywhere else. Darius said " It was super easy. He's such a pro. He just gets it. He's musical, so he understands it. He's won two Grammys, people win those things for a reason. He's the best. "

The album is a great mix of straight up punk tracks, some mid-tempo songs and if I had to pick a favourite right now, I'd go with E.C.T. It pulled me in immediately, it's got a Ramone's feel, and I love its energy. I love the juxtaposition of the happy, upbeat tempo with the somewhat taboo subject matter.

The guys are at a point now where their kids are older, and it's possible to get back on the road and tour. However, things are not like they used to be. Tours are kept to about a three-week span, and Johnny was very clear that a big part of being able to tour came down to having an amazingly supportive wife and kids that understand what he does.

I could have hung out all night, Darius and Johnny were interesting, and a pleasure to talk to but they did have a show to perform.

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It was a great crowd at the Hard Luck Bar for a Thursday night. There was very little banter between songs but what we did get was witty and perfectly aimed. There was even a " This one's for the old people in the back ".

Yeah, that was me.

The songs were short, energetic, filled with driving guitar riffs, flailing arms and the crowd responded with fist-pumping, dancing and singing along. What more could you ask for?

The set contained 22 songs, including a few from the new album and it was just about perfect!

Swingin' Utters are on tour until October 28th. Check out their website for dates and places.

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