Although you’ve been seeing their name on bills since last March, The Great Dismal Swamis just released their first album on the first of February.
I’ve seen these guys play a handful of times, but being able to access the fun and energy of their shows in an actual mp3 is something to be stoked on. I got with Jason Rowland to pick his brain about The Great Dismal Swamis’s style, what has led them to this point and what we have to look forward to.
Sarah: How did you guys decide to come together to form a band?
Jason: Steve, Doug, and I started jamming and writing material together around the beginning of 2012. The band ultimately was completed once Jeff joined the band on the drums. Certainly, Jeff is the glue that shapes the song structure and sound of the Great Dismal Swamis. Although this is Jeff's first band that he has ever played the drums in, he is a central part of the songwriting and recording of the Great Dismal Swamis.
Sarah: I know you describe yourselves as just a rock n' roll band, but how else would you describe your style? Punk? Hardcore?
Jason: The Great Dismal Swamis are a garage punk band from the swampy lowlands of southeast Virginia. I think our songs are straight forward rock n roll with a twist of garage, and a sprinkle of punk rock. I think we try to play music that is interesting and entertaining to both the listener and the performer. It has raw elements, mixed with catchy musical or lyrical hooks, and has appeal to listeners that enjoy a variety of musical genres associated with rock n roll music.
Sarah: Who are your main influences?
Jason: Radio Birdman, The Spits, Hex Dispensers, Teengenerate, The Mummies, Dead Moon, No Bunny, The Zeros, Marked Men, Back from the Grave comps, The Urges, Sons of Hercules, Love, M-80s, Candy Snatchers, Mark Sultan, Black Lips and tons of other current and past garage punk bands.
Sarah: You've been a band for almost a year now. Why just now releasing an album?
Jason: A tremendous amount of effort went into recording the debut album by the Great Dismal Swamis. We recorded the entire album ourselves in Jeff's garage, and then each track was mixed and mastered by Matt Katherman. So, we spent a considerable amount of time recording each track, and the mixing/mastering and production process can take a while to reach completion. Importantly, the swamis originally had planned to put out a 7 inch, but we just kept writing more material, and came to a consensus to complete a full length album. Plus, Doug, the swamis' bass player, commutes from Fredericksburg, VA to rehearse, record, and perform in the Great Dismal Swamis. In addition, Doug has a real job, that limits his participation for about 1/3 of the year. Most of the album was recorded without Doug's presence in the studio; he dubbed his bass tracks after everything else was completed. Anyways, the swamis album was always a work in progress, now it is complete, and the swamis are preparing to record a second full length that hopefully will be released around X-mas of 2013!
Sarah: That's a pretty damn good band name. Where did it come from?
Jason: Actually, The Great Dismal Swamis name did not originate from its internal members! Andrea Rizzo, owner of our record label RZO Records, came up with our band's name. So, I give Andrea enormous credit for appropriately naming our rock n roll outfit, taking our band photos in the swamp, design and layout of our album, and creating a record label to release the swamis' album. The group's members could never come to any kind of agreement regarding the name of our band, until Andrea presented this name to us. Otherwise, we could be named the Ghento Blasters, The Norfolk Nightmares, the Dongs, or worse... Although, I still like the Ghento Blasters.
Sarah: What other bands have your members been involved with?
Doug Duncan-Bass (Candy Snatchers, Phantom Creeps, River City Rapists, Dirty Fingers)
Jeff Lomanno- Drums (Hydeouts, the Rats, Electric Chairmen)
Stephen Marsh- Guitar (Big Bobby & the Nightcaps, The Lookers)
Jason Rowland (Hydeouts)
Sarah: What can we look forward to from you guys? What kind of stuff do you have coming up?
Jason: We should be releasing another full length record on vinyl in 2013. We have scheduled some out of town performances for the spring/summer of 2013. We are confirmed to play in New York in early summer! And we hope to gain more exposure in more regional performances in Richmond, Raleigh, and Baltimore. Hopefully, we connect with more garage punk bands, so we can start bringing a more diverse selection of quality groups to Norfolk/Virginia Beach shows.
The Great Dismal Swamis’s whole album is available to listen to for free on their Bandcamp. (http://thegreatdismalswamis.bandcamp.com/). Also be sure to come check them out this Friday at Belmont House of Smoke (https://www.facebook.com/events/400784526674195/?fref=ts) with The Larchmont Trash (https://www.facebook.com/thelarchmonttrash?ref=ts&fref=ts) and The Milkstains (http://themilkstains.bandcamp.com/) from Richmond this Friday.
Video: Sarah catches the Swamis last summer at a warehouse show in Norfolk, VA: