Band Interview: Sway

Sway Logo

Sway are a Renfrewshire based Rock/Indie group made up of Craig Milroy on Bass, David Roberts on Drums, Matt Aitchison on Guitar and Jonjoe McGirr on Guitar. I’ve reviewed Sway’s music, and you can check that out here, here and here

So first of how did you all meet?
CM: I went through school with our drummer David (Div) and originally formed a band with him. While playing in another band I met Matt and thought the three of us would work well together so we formed SWAY and began playing as a three piece. After our first gig we realised to improve our sound we’d need another guitarist and came across Jonjoe after he had been liking all our stuff on social media. So that’s basically how Sway was formed.
MA: Myself (Matt) and Craig first met back in December 2014 where we formed a short lived mod band “The Eiffels”. A short while later I joined my friend Dillon’s band The Telermen but myself and Craig were still writing together and eventually formed Sway in August 2015 with our pal David on drums. As a three piece we played one show at The Bungalow in Paisley before deciding to bring in our own little pop starlet Jonjoe on rhythm guitar.

Where are you all from?
MA: We all live fairly locally to each other, with Craig staying in Johnstone, Jonjoe in Foxbar, David in Linwood and myself in Paisley.

How long have you been playing your respective instruments?
CM: I’ve only been playing bass for about a year and a half/ two years. I actually showed up to my first ever band practice having bought my bass a day earlier with not a clue how to play it, somehow I managed to bluff my way through that rehearsal.
MA: I started playing guitar at 8 and David’s been playing music since he was about 5/6, Craig’s fairly new to playing music having only played bass for 2 years but don’t let that make you think he’s no good, he could’ve been playing for twenty years and we’d have thought no different! Jonjoe’s been playing for a good 5 years now too.

What genre of music do you consider your work to be?
CM: I think we’ve been through that many genres that we’ve attempted to put ourselves under that we’ve given up with labelling ourselves.
MA: We dabble in all sorts. We try to keep our music as broad as our tastes are, but if we had to I’d slide us somewhere in the Alt Rock/Indie category.

What are your influences?
CM:I find myself very influenced by a lot of different artists when it comes to my songwriting and bass playing. I’m a big fan of everything from Joy Division, The Cure, The Smiths through to the Arctic Monkeys, Blossoms and The Courteeners
MA: We’re all influenced by different stuff which has proved to be useful in creating our sound. Craig’s mainly into his Arctic Monkeys, Peace, etc…, David’s into a lot of heavy stuff like Metallica, Whitechapel etc.. but is also a huge Oasis fan. I’d say myself and Jonjoe probably have the most similar taste, seeing as we first bonded after sharing a love for both Neutral Milk Hotel and My Bloody Valentine. However he also likes a lot of Math-y bands such as The Fall Of Troy. Myself, however, am a big fan of singer/songwriters and small indie/pop bands such as Chris Cohen, Julia Jacklin, The Goon Sax etc…

Do you do covers and if so what’s your go to?
CM: Back when we first started out we’d do your usual Oasis and Stone roses covers but we’ve found ourselves not doing any at recent gig. I think we just want to concentrate on doing our own songs to the best of our ability before concentrating on anyone else’s.
MA: We used to do a few covers at our early gigs just to fill up set time so we’d do stuff by bands we admired such as The Stone Roses, Ride, Jaws etc…

What if anything does your name mean/why are you called that?
CM: You’ll probably need to ask Matt that one haha. I think we went a good while throwing different names (some of them being god awful) about then Matt hits out with Sway and we just went with that
MA: Honestly I’ve no idea why we chose the name. I had the name since me and Craig formed The Eiffel’s and when we formed the new band (Sway) the name just fitted with the music I suppose.

Do you have a process for writing your songs? /Which of you writes the songs?
CM: I think with any of the songs I write or lyrics I come up with it either starts with Matt showing me some riff and chord progression he has came up with and I’ll put words to that or it can be just some tune I’ve had floating about my head over the past few days and I attempt to make a song out of that.
MA: We’ve never really had a proper writing process with the band in all honesty. Myself and Craig wrote the majority of the material but we very rarely write songs fully together. Of course we’ll help each other out with a lyric here and there or a melody but I think in terms of songwriting we’re both sole entities and really prefer working alone.

What are your rehearsals generally like?
CM: We’ll usually start by firing through the set list and then it just spirals into covers of raining blood or master of puppets and general carry on for the next half hour. Then it’s back to working on new songs and going through the set list again but it’s never a dull moment.
MA: Our rehearsals are pretty chaotic. We’ll normally run through the set once until we get to the last song “Pride” which ends in an insane feedback driven mess, which usually ends in a few broken strings and snapped sticks.

Do you have any interesting/funny stories about gigging or touring?
MA: We played a gig at Broadcast a few weeks ago and it was our friend Zach’s first time seeing us. He was so taken aback by how good we are, he messaged his tattoo artist after the gig and changed his original tattoo design he was going to get to simply a “Sway” tattoo.

What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?
CM: I think one of the biggest challenges as it is for any young band is money. I’ve found myself spending the last of my money to get me through the month on a rehearsal just so we can be ready for a gig but I’d happily throw all my money into the band because it means more to me than anything else.
MA: I think our biggest challenge was when we first started and were attempting to break into doing more Glasgow shows. However, all it took was using our initiative, booking our own shows and heckling our mates to come see us and before we knew it we had gigs coming out of our arses and a fairly loyal and large following in Glasgow.

How can fans-to-be gain access to your music? Do you have a website with sample songs or a demo CD?
CM: We’ll be releasing our debut single Michael Phelps of the ocean in the next few weeks and it will be available on iTunes, Spotify and YouTube etc. And we’ll also be releasing 100 CD’s along with that. Best way to see what we’re up to is by checking out our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for the latest gig news etc.

Have you released anything yet/if they have how has it gone down and are you planning anything for the near future?
CM: So far we only have a few rough demos out on Soundcloud but we have had a great response to them. But I think our new single that is being produced by Chris McCrory from Catholic Action is really going to make people take notice of us.

Where have you performed? What are your favourite and least favourite venues?
MA: We’ve performed in places such as Broadcast, O2ABC, Stereo, The Bungalow etc.. Personally I’d say Stereo and Broadcast are our two favourite venues to play mainly due to the sound quality of both venues and the fact they’re both fairly cheap to rent. Venues that are cheap enough to rent are fantastic for young bands like us because it means we don’t have to go through some spawn of Satan promoter who will demand 70% of our earnings for doing next to nothing.

What do you think about downloading music online?
CM: I’ve always been a fan of it as I think it’s made music more accessible to people and it’s made getting your music out there to people easier to do.
MA: As much as I love my iTunes library, I do wish more people would buy physical music. I get very little satisfaction from a download whereas buying a record is like a religious experience. As an avid collector myself, I would love nothing more than to be able to produce our music on record and to be able to physically show it to people and say “Hey, look what we made”. You don’t get the same satisfaction when showing someone your music on a phone or laptop.

What’s your outlook on the record industry today?
CM: It’s incredibly difficult to come across genuine people who are actually in it for the music and not to line their pockets off the back of some young band who don’t know any better, sadly we’ve been one of those bands. There is people out there though doing it for their love of music and we can’t thank them enough for doing things such as offering us our first gig, recording our first demos and singles and even doing an interview and review on us and those things help us a lot for which we are very grateful.
MA: The record industry today is an absolute shambles, and I’m sure that your good self and whoever’s reading this also hold strong opinions on the industry. With so many great young bands out there gigging relentlessly, A&R men and label bosses are rubbing their hands with glee and laughing all the way to the bank. The independent scene isn’t how it used to be. If you don’t make the music that’s going to make the most money you’ll be dropped like hot shit. In the industry now, you either do what your told, make what you’re told, and say what your told or you can wave goodbye to your “lengthy career”. Of course there are smaller labels which we as a band love and admire such as Heavenly Records, Captured Tracks, Chapter and Glasgow’s own Fuzzkill Records, but these labels don’t compare to the golden age of independent labels like Postcard or Rough Trade where each label had a small army of young bands churning out great records. The small labels are dying whilst bigger labels are cashing in on ripping off “indie” bands. These bands should wake up and remember the meaning of the word “Indie”.


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