Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Shane Chaney from SWEAR JAR (Interview)

Swear Jar are on the cusp of a new release, a split record with fellow Cincinnati Noise terrorist KNIFE THE SYMPHONY from PHRATRY RECORDS...

Questions by Shawn Abnoxious for ...Thwart!

Answers by Shane Chaney of SWEAR JAR.

Read a Review of The Knife The Symphony /Swear Jar split 12" on ...Thwart! HERE

Shane, why should anyone care that Swear Jar has anything new out?

On the most basic level, because it's way past due. We are constantly writing new songs and trying to find new ideas and new ways to express them, but our first record came out in 2010, and we haven't put anything out since then, so the songs have been piling up, and still are. It's been a while since we've let a few slip out, so you know there's been plenty of time for good stuff to build up. I think this record is an obvious next step in the right direction for us. People seemed to like "Cuss" a lot, and this record is clearly a progression from it. It comes from a lot of the same places, but expands and improves on it all, while introducing new elements also. If "Cuss" was Star Wars, then this new one would be Empire Strikes Back, and I can't think of a better way than that to express why anyone should care than that.

With all the available outlets, and I’m specifically thinking of BANDCAMP or SOUNDCLOUD why has it taken so long? Bands can proliferate any corner of Facebook with their sounds? Why even do a record? Is it a waste of resources?

Hell no. It's a gloriously awesome use of resources. Look at it this way: if we hadn't done it, someone else would have come along and used that same vinyl and shiny non-microwavable CD material to make some other record that might really suck. Now THAT would be a real waste of resources, so we were kind of obligated from a risk-management standpoint. Seriously, though, I'm not really sure why it took us so long. Our level of pickiness and our tendency to self-edit and let the songs mature and develop naturally were probably strong contributing factors. It's a wonder Cuss ever got finished. It was recorded as a demo, but we just kept slaving over it and it became the record. This time around, we just eventually realized we had a nicely matured batch of songs and set about putting them on tape in a flattering manner. We very strongly wanted the next thing people heard from us to be a step up to the next level, so we were far more afraid of rushing things than we were of taking too long. As far as Bandcamp and Soundcloud are concerned, we think they are awesome and we use them, but we kind of see them as less of a record and more of a flier. The web stuff is a convenient way for people to check music out. Hopefully, it entices them to pick up the actual record we worked so hard on, or come out to a show. Both, ideally. In that sense, I see Facebook, Bandcamp, and all that stuff more as a flier and less as a substitute for a record. Besides, we love the physical/visual art/packaging aspects, and we put a lot of thought and effort into that stuff to make the records special. I feel like James and Rob would probably agree with me.

It was said that your side of the record was done in houses while people were gone on vacation. Is this ethically moral? A betrayal of trust?

Well, we pretty much waited for James's parents to go on vacation, and then packed up the van and converted their house into a surprisingly nice studio while they were gone, being careful not to track dirt on the rugs or scuff the floors in the process. I think we left no trace. Later, we were looking for a place to track vocals, and James's sister was about to leave town for a week also. Since her basement had some cool acoustical properties, we pulled the same trick down there to lay down all the rants and chants. James's folks live out in the country so the noise was no issue, but I'm sure his sister's neighbors wondered what was up with all the screaming coming from her basement late at night.

Didn’t know such 'occupy' aspects were so prevalent in the band... Shane, you come off to some as 'opinionated' to others just plain 'asshole' ((not really tome man, but lets get 'real)) is it YOU or THEM?

Them, but that's just my firmly held asshole-ish opinion.

What’s WRONG with the current scene Shane? Where did it all go wrong? Are you optimistic about the scenes future? What the fuck is this 'the scene' business anyway?

Did it all go wrong? As with most things, I think you could make the case that a lot of it did somewhere along the way. I think the kind of problems you're eluding to are typically the results of people doing things for the wrong reasons, whether it's selfishness, whorish self-promotion, payola for reviews and mentions, vanity, pretentious posturing, or whatever. When I think back on my younger days, I seem to remember a lot more connection from the younger musicians to the older musicians, and sometimes when I feel like I'm not hearing many original sounds and I'm just seeing people getting onstage and mimicking David Yow or rehashing clich├ęs, or sounding like Green Day for Christ's sakes, it's got to be partially due to that disconnect and the gap in cultural and artistic evolution it inherently brings with it. Then again, it's quite possible my perspective is way off and I'm far too much of a recluse to comment on this type of thing. I really am optimistic about it all, though. I feel like things are on a nice upswing at the moment, and they'll continue that way. The loss of the old Southgate House was a pretty big blow to the community as a whole, but things are coming back now. It's like recovering from a house fire or a DUI. I'm probably not the right guy to comment on a "scene," other than the fact that it's usually more about being "seen". The only thing I know with much confidence about scenes is, shots are made up of frames, sequences are made up shots, and scenes are made up of sequences.

What’s the one thing you want people to know about Swear Jar? Don’t go on vacation?

I think the music has to speak for itself when it comes down to it. That's what I want people to know about Swear Jar, the music. Does that count as one thing? If I could have simply had us start playing, pressed play, or dropped the needle as an answer to that question, that's what I would have done. I think the music really tells people whatever they need to know about us, as little or as much as that may be. Everything else is just extraneous background noise, even if someone finds it interesting, which seems unlikely.

What’s some of the long-term goals for SWEAR JAR?

I think musically, all of our goals are long-term. If your musical goals aren't geared towards the long-term, that most likely means you're just following trends or pandering for immediate popularity.
As a band, though, we'd probably all three agree that we need to get out on the road a lot more. There are various reasons why we haven't toured much in the past, but we step it up a little every year. 2013 is likely to see us in a lot more cities. Personally, apart from touring more, I'd like for Swear Jar to continue doing what we're doing. We make the music that we make because it's something that we want to hear, but doesn't yet exist, and I think it's hard to find anything much more gratifying than that. If we keep writing the way we are, and stepping it up as we have, and keep recording the way we are, and stepping it up as we have, and hit the road more, that would keep me happy. According to the factors that I value personally, this band is a great success, and will be even more of one in the long term if we keep moving in the current direction.

It’s interesting how you value and define success... Even admirable. How did such an 'asshole' come to have such a humble opinion? What up wit ‘dat? Also... What is SWEAR JAR's weakness? What could destroy this band?

I guess, in order to find that answer, you'd have to look at those making the asshole-ism accusations and evaluate how they define "asshole". I'll bet there's an equal amount of variance from their definition of "asshole" to mine as there is from my definition of "success" to theirs. If someone is accused of being an asshole because they have principles and convictions, I'd say it probably says more about the accuser than the accused.

Our weakness? Hmmmm... Give me a minute to think on that one...

I'm not falling for your trick question, Shawn, if that IS your real name*. Assuming we had a weakness (which we clearly don't), and I admitted to it and revealed it (which I won't) that would only empower those who would use such knowledge against us. That would be a major breech of Swear Jar security. I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you and anyone who reads this.

You talk as if your confident your shoes ARENT going into the river... Can you remember the last time you were excited by a new local band?

Yes. It's rare and hard to remember, though. That's me taking your question to mean excited, like "Hey everyone, you gotta hear this!" excited.

How much does a cuss word get in the SWEAR JAR these days in this 'new economy'? Wow, I just now drew the comparison of CUSS and its ramifications as being titled as a SWEAR JAR release. Just now.

The going rate varies depending on the cusser and the quality of the execution of the cuss.

What’s your favorite cuss word?

John Mayer.

Haha... Shane, what inspires SWEAR JAR songs, the ones you write, which I also assume you sing on... What propels your lyrics?

Well, generally, the way we write is a big three-way musical collaboration, and then someone starts spouting a rant or a chant along to a section, and that usually develops into the vocals for that part, if there are any. So, there's pretty much never a song written by an individual, but we almost always write whatever lyrics we're personally spitting out. The actual words are usually the last thing I think about. There are always exceptions, of course, and there's never really one common approach for me. I try to keep it minimal, usually. For me to try and write songs with long, descriptive, symbolic prose would pretty much be a joke. Sometimes it's a specific topic, but typically my lyrics focus on broader notions or basic, simple statements. The most important thing to me, lyrically, is just that the emotion behind the words matches the emotion of the music. As long as that's the case, I know I can't phone it in. The inspiration could be something from a nightmare or a dream, a basic ideological rant, an observation about myself or my life, anything as long as it makes me want to shout. The new record has a song about blatant cuckoldry. There's a rare instance of lyrical specificity for you

Would you like to write a couple sentences on each of your songs from the split with KNIFE THE SYMPHONY to give ...Thwart! readers a little bit of insight behind the songs or maybe a 'fun fact' or two?

I took your question to Swear Jar practice tonight and passed it around. Here are the democratically elected answers. FIGHT SONG: It's not about Mike Tyson. Down the road, not across the street. SWEAT STINGS: A song that started off as one song, morphed into another, but kept its title. James got art-thritis, I'm trying to keep my particles charged, and Rob sicka-sicka-bop. 
TAKE CARE: A song about an extra-confusing adventure into Canada and back, getting lost in Detroit amid the giant crowd of camped-out American Idol hopefuls. All we wanted was to get home, and our friend Kube finally got us there. Picture LOCKET: Fuck this, titty that. Pure Kodak gold. COTTON GIN: I wanna cuckold your hand.

"Sweat Stings" is a fucking rager man but "Take Care" is my jam.

Glad you like "Sweat Stings." That's the one you said had to grow on you, right?

Yeah, Initially I told you at the Northside Record Fair that I didn’t like that guitar frenzy part but I quickly got over it. You won me over quickly.

"Take Care" is a super jam and so much fun to play. James had been carrying that guitar riff around for ten years or more by the time we pieced that one together.

Shane, I threatened you with the possibilities of throwing your shoes in the Ohio River if your next release wasn’t up to par... Do YOU think your shoes are going into the river with this offering or will you bring some back up shoes so you don’t walk home barefooted? What’s your confidence level?

My shoes are safe. It's a good record. If I'm wrong, well, I tend to wear cheap shoes, so...

Keeping Wal-Mart 'Silver Series' Velcro wonders in business?

Ha. They wish! Unfortunately for them, I finally learned how to tie my laces.

The slave labor of the third, maybe fourth world, depends on your purchases and ability to wear-down footwear. Why are so hard on your shoes? Kicking trendsters in the ass at Northside tavern all night or what?

You said "hard-on". Honestly, I wouldn't grant them the amount of attention required for a kick.

Where does Shane "Pussy-Bush" Chaney hang out? Where can your fans find you?

I hang out at home. I'm old. All my stuff's there. I get to pick what's on the stereo.

Stereo? What the fuck is that?

A stereo is this thing with big speakers in boxes. It's like a big iPod.

Who do you want …THWART! to interview next? Your choice...

I think you should interview those boys from MALA IN SE. They're stand-up fellas, pretty funny nerds, and a killer band. I'd like to read an interview with them.

Now you get to ask me an offensive question and/or call me a name. The tide turns, Shane Chaney attacks. Go.

Shawn, you have a huge bucket of putrid, festering elephant vomit in your hands, and your life depends upon emptying that bucket NOW! You're blocked in on all four sides by John Mayer, that guy from Maroon 5, Rush Limbaugh, and the entire Dave Matthews Band. Who's getting the pachyderm puke? Please give some explanation of your choice.

John Mayer is safe... he was funny in that Dave Chapelle skit about music. That made me laugh... Maroon 5 guy might share his dope so no puke for him... Same with all those Dave Matthew fucks. Rush would definitely get the vomit. That man is one of the biggest sacks of shit I have ever heard talk. A greedy man that believes in nothing except his own pleasures. Hands down, that guy gets the fucking bucket for sure... Writing that felt therapeutic. Thanks...

I'm here to serve. I probably would have made the same decision in the end, but I would've been a lot more torn about it.

*My real name is 'Pussy-Bush'