SWIMM has been booked for the January residency at The Echo.
So Free Bike Valet and photographer Sheva Kafai caught up with the band at their warehouse residence (and recording studio) in Lincoln Heights to shoot some 120mm pics and ask frontman Chris Hess some questions.
What made you decide to do a residency?
“We have always looked at a residency as a rite of passage for an LA band. It wasn’t a conscious decision but we had started discussing the idea of trying to do one within the year and then quite serendipitously Liz [Garo] from The Echo asked us to lunch and offered the January residency. It was a nerve-wracking and exciting prospect.”
Why did you want to do it at The Echo?
“The first show I ever went to in LA was at The Echo. It was downstairs to see The Presets –and Crystal Castles opened up for them. From that point on that place held this mystique. Over the years when we would visit LA we would always go to shows there. We saw The Growlers play their residency there, and since we have moved here two years ago I’ve made it a point to try and get to a show there a few times a month if not a week. It is one of those places you can just trust. If a band is playing The Echo it usually means they will fit into the wheelhouse of good taste. That is why we wanted to play there so badly and it took a while to. It is famously difficult to get booked at The Echo which only added to the mystique for the first year and a half we lived here. My favorite shows [there] have been Chad Vangaalen and Ice Age –both were totally different but had a really memorable vibe.”
How did you choose the opening bands for your residency?
“We’ve been lucky enough to play with a lot of rad bands here over the last two years. That has been the coolest part about the residency: just getting to share a night with your friends and having everyone feed off each other has felt really cool every Monday. My favorite thing about my friends’ bands is that even if they are my best friends, our [opening] bands all sound totally different. It makes for a lot of things to draw inspiration from.”
What other Los Angeles-based bands do you respect?
“Our roommates and best buds are in Sego. I was in the van with [their drummer] Tom [Carroll] listening to their new single ‘Obscene Dream” on the way home from our show last Monday and I was telling him it was crazy cause I used to go and watch bands play in Florida that were touring through from LA and New York, and I would think that they were just these famous rock stars that were doing world tours and that they were mysterious untouchable creatures. And while listening to their song, I had this epiphany that Tom and Spencer [Petersen]’s band was even better and more magical than any of those bands. Not anything against those bands, but it is just that I think the world of some of my best friend’s bands. It is wild.”
Do you have a pre-show ritual?
“Just lots of hugging.”
What can we expect from your last set?
“We do have a special surprise song. All I’ll say is that I’ve been listening to the Dirty Dancing soundtrack a lot. That combined with our bassist Hany is an amazing pianist and it leads to me possibly making a fool of myself. But I’ll at least have a lot of fun doing it. That and my love and respect for Patrick Swayze should be portrayed somehow. Rest in peace. We will also be closing with a song that will be on our forthcoming first full length album. It is a song about Florida, sexuality, success, and empty nesters. Pretty much all the things I stare into the blank nothing and ruminate over.”
What do you hope to gain by doing a residency at The Echo?
“Fear in the eyes of fashionistas across all of Echo Park. That’s not all though. There is an artistic community on the Eastside of LA that we never really had access to when living in beach towns in Florida. The thought of being able to immerse ourselves in that is incredible to us. Sharing a night with three other rad bands and all drunkenly hugging at the end of the night and talking to people after the show that really want to read the SWIMM zines we make and then turn out to be crazy talented artists themselves is the best.”