Aw, Swell 

Jonathan Weiner

When Nick Diener and his brother formed punk act The Swellers as teenagers, they didn’t know what they were doing.

“When we were kids, we had these guitars and we wondered what it would be like to be rock stars. So we formed a band,” guitarist and singer Diener said. “I didn’t know if The Swellers would still be a band in 10 years, but I’m really glad it is.”

A decade later, things aren’t all that much clearer. At the same time, the four-piece finds itself in the midst of rebirth.

“It’s a return to form,” he said. “We are kind of getting to show everyone what we wanted this band to be in the first place.”

Starting young and clueless had its downsides. It had been a constant struggle for the Flint, Mich.-based outfit to figure out just exactly what it was, and was forced into making decisions without knowing the answer.

“We are not quite poppy enough for the pop kids and not quite punky enough for the punk kids. We’ve had to try and find our niche. We used to be able to tour with whoever we wanted to, and we did,” Diener said. “Not every one of those tours is going to be beneficial for us, no matter how much fun they were at the time. We learned our lesson: We want to play to kids who get us, not arenas full of nacho-eating, fat Americans. That’s not our demographic.”

More focused touring is just one move The Swellers have made to find themselves. The most dramatic step was ditching a deal with influential emo-pop label Fueled by Ramen after last year’s Good for Me album.

All these things see The Swellers enjoying their freedom and a wealth of experience to guide it. The band will release an EP later this year on
its own, but may look for a new home for a full album already in the
works for 2013. The material “doesn’t sound like anything [the band] has
ever done before,” Diener said: more measured, slower and, as clichéd
as it is, mature.

“We have room to grow,” he said.

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