The Swayback brings seductive noise to Avon
They’ve been called seductive and sinister, as well as “Denver defenders of the faith.” Front Range rock ‘n’ roll band The Swayback has gotten plenty of ink. Music writers have likened lead singer and bassist, Eric Halborg, to a lion ready to take down a gazelle. His voice has been called a “vampiric” croon.
The band has been Denver’s next-big-thing for well, quite some time. They’ve been around for eight years, afterall. But in the past year things have started to pick up. They were voted Denver’s best rock band by The Westword last year (as well as in 2008). They played at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally this past summer where they camped in the woods with hardcore bikers, as well as shared the bill with Stone Temple Pilots. An Italian record label, Sherec Records, picked up the band’s song “What A Pity,” on a compilation record in December and the song “Die Finks” made the top 10 list for Denver’s KTCL 93.3 FM Hometown for the Holidays.
“Right now we’re just a litlte more interested in getting the music out there, and getting some more national attention,” Halborg said. “We’re putting more effort into that.”
That means flying to L.A. and New York City for quick tours as often as possible, and sending music out for review.
A ‘Burn’ing desire
During a short tour in L.A. Halborg met a guy who places songs on television shows. Earlier in his career, Halborg said he might have dismissed the opportunity to talk to him, but not this time.
“I was like ‘Eric, focus for two seconds and talk to this guy,'” Halborg remembered.
It was worth it. Three of the their songs have been on the USA Network show “Burn Notice” recently.
But just because they’re thinking nationally doesn’t mean the band members –William Murphy (guitar), Martijn Bolster (drums) and Andy Tymn (guitar) – aren’t showing Colorado the love, too. The band is heading west for a show at Loaded Joe’s in Avon tonight. They’ll perform on a stage that Halborg is pretty familiar with. Halborg and his wife lived in Avon three years ago and he used to perform at the bar’s open mic nights.
“We were there the season Beaver Creek had the most snow in history,” he said. “I’m a graphic designer and I would snowboard in the morning and design in the afternoon. My wife worked for Vail that winter. She’s a lawyer. I fought (moving to the mountains) at first, but it ended up being a rad season to be up there.”
Laura Wilkinson booked the band at Loaded Joe’s. She’s known Halborg for 10 years and has seen the band play many times, she said.
“I always felt that their live performance was unique and charismatic,” she said. “They’ve seemed to find their groove as a band playing together and it reflects through their music, both recorded and live.”
Work with legends, get attention
Indeed the quality of the band’s music has improved the past two years, another reason they might be garnering attention now, some eight years after they first started playing together, Halborg said.
“We’ve gotten into studios that have better fidelity. And we’re more conscious of our songwriting. Before we maybe weren’t spending that much time thinking about how it came out. Now we’re a little more into songwriting and we’re making sure to work with folks who are going to get the best songs.”
One of those “folks” is Andy Johns, a producer who has worked with Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones. Nearly a year ago the band released a limited-edition 7-inch vinyl record called “The Die Finks,” which Johns produced.
“We kind of just held off shooting our guns and refined the songs to where it ended up we were working with legendary people like that,” he said. “The quality of the songs is now garnering attention.”
And The Swayback is just one of many Denver band’s getting noticed. As long-standing bearers of Denver’s rock torch, the band has witnessed the Front Range’s music scene explode.
“It’s pretty amazing, especially now,” Halborg said. “It’s reached critical mass and it’s blowing up in many genres, on all fronts. From Pretty Lights selling out two nights at the Filmore, to the real underground Woodsman and Gauntlet Hair all over XMU and college radio and Pitchfork; to Nathaniel Rateliff doing folk all over the place, and the standbys like the Flobots.
“I remember seeing Pictureplane in the back of this art gallery, spraying himself with silly string and now he’s on MTV Russia,” Halborg continued. “For younger bands, it shows them there is a point to doing this. You can come out of the middle of nowhere and have a voice and be relevant worldwide.”
High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What: The Swayback.
When: 9 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Loaded Joe’s, Avon.
More information: Call 970-748-1480