On March 10th, Can’t Swim will release their debut full-length album, Fail You Again, on Pure Noise Records. I caught up with the band’s frontman Chris LoPorto about the band’s slightly unusual origins (how many bands sign a record deal before they even play a show?), what fans can expect from the new record and how his ex-girlfriend feels about being on the cover!
Hi Chris! Thanks for chatting to me. I wanted to start off by talking about your band’s origins. You started your musical career playing drums, then swapped to songwriting. Why the change, and was it an easy transition?
I was playing drums in a band called Trash Talk and there was a little bit of a lull in touring with them. I was teaching kids how to play music at the time and songwriting was just something I would do when I got home from work. One of my buddies left his guitar at my apartment and I started trying to learn a few chords on YouTube and immediately started to write songs. I really just thought of it as a hobby and I didn’t think anything would come of it. When the music came together, I tried to find someone to sing on them but then I quickly realised that would probably never happen! So I just tried to sing on them and it finally came together so I sent it to a few friends… and then we got a record deal! I was never a guitar player or a singer so it was a little bit daunting in the beginning but I’m stepping into it now.
Going back to the record deal… You guys signed to Pure Noise Records before even playing your first show. How does that happen?
That’s true! I didn’t send the songs around labels but one friend sent it to another friend, who sent it to another friend… Our booking agent actually heard it first and then he played it to Pure Noise because they share an office. They both called me in the same week and said they wanted to work with the band, and I had to tell them ‘I have no band!’. They signed it and we put out a song or two before even playing a show. The first time we ever played as a band – the first time I ever sang in front of anyone – was a sold out show with Four Year Strong in Maine, which is very far from where we’re from. So there was no hometown show, no friends rooting you on – it was just immediately being in a room with 600 strangers critiquing me, so it wasn’t the most pleasant experience!
It’s clear that your band’s origin story and rise to success is a little bit unconventional. I spoke to Alan and Dan of Four Year Strong recently about the challenge new musicians face when it comes to starting a band and they said it was easier for new bands to start up and succeed, but also harder because everyone can [form a band]. With the experiences you’ve had as a someone in a new band, what’s your opinion?
We were just talking about this in the van earlier today! With the advancements in audio recording with things like autotune and different plugins that can develop drum beats and chord progressions… Anybody with a laptop, within 2-3 hours, could completely write a song. And as you’ve said, it has its pros and its cons. I think it’s a lot harder now because you have to really stand out amongst the competition, whereas in the 80s you had to be lucky to be wealthy enough to buy a guitar and have a place to practice. Now kids can create like a beautiful symphony of music in a Walmart, you know? So I think it’s great, it makes artists have to think more outside the box rather than sticking to generic songwriting. I think that’s why there’s been so many new, exciting genres emerging too, like that crazy dubstep stuff that sounds like the computer is shutting down! There’s a lot more drastic elements to new music now because people are forced to switch it up.
Moving onto the new album… Fail You Again, out March 10th. You guys decided to record it all yourselves – how come?
We had the mentality of ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it’. When we first started the band, I recorded the EP in an apartment with like one mic and one guitar amp. Then when it came to making a full-length, we all started talking and we realised that we all loved how the first release sounded. And we thought, why mess with the process when it worked so well for us the first time around?
What can fans expect from this record, in terms of underlying themes or inspirations behind some of the songs?
I definitely think it sounds like its coming from the same place as the first release. I think we were pretty adamant about spreading ourselves across the spectrum sonically. We just wanted to write what came to us – Can’t Swim writes songs, rather than writes records. With Quitting, it wasn’t like we wrote a slow song because we had written a load of fast songs. We write and record whatever we like the best. The next album might be full of slow songs!
Lyrically, I touch on a lot of subjects that I touched on in the first one. A good giveaway for that is that it’s the same female on the cover of the album, my ex-girlfriend. When the album art came around, I asked her if she wanted to do round 2 [after appearing on the EP’s cover] and it’s a very lovely thing because now we’ve kinda become friends again after 4 or 5 years. Can’t Swim was able to make amends, which is great! She loves the band, she comes to the shows which is always hysterical to me because there’s pictures of her face all over the internet! So yeah, a lot of the record is about the stuff we went through in our early 20s in our relationship but it branches off into topics like my family and society too. There’s a track called 50 Million Dollars, which talks about how selfish we all are in 2017! [Laughs]
You guys are touring with Real Friends in the UK. Have you toured over here before?
We were there about 2 months ago with Boston Manor, who are also on Pure Noise and are also the loveliest, nicest guys we’ve ever met. They took care of us so much! We loved it, we wanted to stay. We are hitting a lot of the same places with Real Friends which is cool – we’re excited to get back there!
Can’t Swim’s debut record Fail You Again is out March 10th. You can pre-order it here. Also, catch the band on tour with Real Friends across the UK:
06th April Club Academy Manchester
07th April Asylum Birmingham
09th April Riverside Newcastle
10th April St Lukes Glasgow
11th April Stylus Leeds
13th April Thelka Bristol
14th April Epic Studios Norwich
15th April Southampton Engine Rooms, UK
16th April London Electric Ballroom, UK