Knoxville, Tennessee is no stranger to metal alumni. With bands like Straight Line Stitch, Whitechapel and 10 Years leading the way, Knoxville’s music scene is starting to get noticed. One of the band’s entering that spotlight is Swingshot, who has shared the stage with all three of the aforementioned, and found themselves on the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival stage.
Swingshot formed in 2005 and immediately began making headlines with their aggressive and diverse metal sound. Within a few months they grabbed a sponsorship from 420 Magazine who helped them produce a benefit concert in an effort to get cannabis legalized in Tennessee. It hasn’t worked yet but, hey, keep working on it, guys! They released their debut album, There’s Nothing Like A Beating in 2007 raising more eyebrows with each performance. They offered fans a unique sound, experimenting with many different genres including pop, blues, swing, and even a little rap.
The name Swingshot references the swingy rhythm of the band’s music. The energy they bring to the stage ripples through the crowd like a lightning bolt, you feel the charge and then all hell breaks loose. Bodies hit each other, the floor, the walls and anything else around in a frenzying rage to release the explosive energy that possesses them.
Vocalist BJ Griffith throws out raw, harsh vocals in the form of deep growls and soul-piercing screams. His passion for music is evident with his signature move, one arm behind his back as he stomps around on stage destroying your mind with furious and angry lyrics. He plays to the crowd, getting them worked up and moving.
Guitarist Mike Collins will hypnotize you with his blistering fretwork, insane riffage, and face-ripping rhythms which will have you banging your head against the wall, stage, fellow headbangers or whatever (or whoever) is closest to you.
Loren Queener is absolutely crushing on the bass and he fills in on backing vocals.
Shane Reed handles the outstanding percussion work and backing vocals, adding an extra dynamic to the band’s sound.
Matt Bradley is a fucking volcanic explosion. Yeah, his drum work is like one nuclear blast after another. He also helps with the backing vocals.
Jagermeister took notice of the band’s talent and began sponsoring them in 2009, landing them a spot at the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival playing alongside metal giants such as Slayer, Marilyn Manson, Killswitch Engage, Bullet For My Valentine, Cannibal Corpse, Job For A Cowboy, The Black Dahlia Murder, Behemoth, Trivium, God Forbid, and All That Remains.
Enter 2011, four long years since their debut album, Swingshot has released Farewell The Season. It’s a fairly short album, an E.P. in fact, and at only six songs in length Swingshot had to make each track count, and they did. No more experimentation into other genres; Swingshot appear to have found their sound and it is brutal skull-crushing metal.
Vocalist Griffith throws down brutal growls along the style of Randy Blythe (Lamb of God) and Dez Fafara (DevilDriver). Guitarist Collins is absolutely savage with his fretwork. Queener holds up the back end well and helps on the backing vocals. Shane Reed adds percussion as well as backing vocals. Matt Bradley is thunderous on the skins and he also helps on the backing vocals.
The first track on the album, “To End All”, kicks off with heavy thrashing and never slows down. A catchy chorus and excellent backing vocals combined with heavy drums and blistering guitar work make this a punishing song which also happens to be my favorite on the EP. But just because they put the best at the start doesn’t mean you stop there. Oh hell no. Every song on this album is bad-fucking-ass.
“Drain the Pig,” a song which references hypocrites, brings you heavy rhythms, angry lyrics, deep growls and a killer breakdown. Definitely one of the standout tracks on the EP.
The finale, “Sticks and Stones,” is just brutally heavy, it absolutely rips you apart for the entire six minutes. The song is about drug abuse and it tears through you at breakneck speed. It comes at you hard and heavy and if you aren’t already breaking things and smashing through walls, you will during this song. Jump headfirst into the pit because this locomotive is angry, violent and destructive as hell.
Overall this entire EP is impressive. The talent is just insane and this album crushes you from start to finish. There is no middle ground, no resting point. Be prepared to mosh and mosh hard. This isn’t bounce off the wall music. This is destroy the fucking wall and anything else that gets in your way music! Caustic and skull-caving. Extremely fast tempo, heavy guitars, excellent breakdowns, earth-shaking drums and Griffith’s incredible growls are the groundwork for this masterpiece. I can’t wait to see what Swingshot have in store for us in the future and hopefully they won’t make us wait so long before their next album!
I have had the fortune of seeing them perform live before and the energy and passion they bring to the stage is frenetic to the third degree! To say I’m impressed is a huge understatement. As it would be to say that your neck is sore the morning after. Your ENTIRE BODY will be sore and bruised after seeing them live, but it’s so totally worth it. You will be in the pit, you will be sore, you might be bleeding and covered in other metalhead’s sweat (hopefully no puke ha!) but you will have such a fucking kick ass time you won’t realize it! Til the next morning, anyway.
They do an outstanding cover of “Black Label” by Lamb of God, who the band hails as one of their major influences. You can hear a resemblance in their musical style as well as Griffith’s vocals. Don’t let that lead you to believe they are just some cover band. They have their own very unique style and it is brutally destructive.
I had a chance to talk to the guys from Swingshot and got a little info in their own words:
First of all, what made you pick the name Swingshot, is there a meaning to it?
There’s no meaning to it, just a made-up word that sounded cool, sort of a play on words, like a reference to the swingy rhythm of our songs.
Tell me about your most recent album, Farewell The Season.
It was released in May 2011. It was recorded, mixed, and mastered at The Sound Lair studios in Knoxville, TN by MiAH. You can buy it on cdbaby.com/swingshot2, Napster, Rhapsody, Amazon, iTunes, greatindie.com, last.fm.
I notice there’s not as much experimentation into other genres on this album as there was on your debut; it’s pretty much straight up hardcore smash you in the mouth heavy fucking metal. What can you tell me about that?
At the end of 2007, early 2008 we lost our former guitarist Jason, who left the band for personal reasons. With the addition of our new guitarist Mike, our music took a much heavier turn, which we feel reflects the current situation we, as a planet, are facing today.
Why did you only record six songs for the album?
Because we are fucking poor, man.
Is there a personal meaning to the title, Farewell The Season?
In a way it’s a reference to the state of the world today.
What’s your favorite song on the album?
“Sticks & Stones”
Can you describe what these three songs are about?
* To End All – The Black Plague (and Zombies)
* Drain the Pig – Hypocrites
* Sticks and Stones – Drug Abuse
What’s been the fan reaction to the album so far?
Crowd reactions have been great, most people at our shows seem to dig it a lot.
What’s the main difference you see in your debut album and the newest one?
We cut out the rapping, and adopted a more cohesive style.
What was it like to be on stage at the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival?
Playing to a crowd of 11,000 people was definitely a dream come true. To share the stage with bands like All That Remains, God Forbid, and Trivium was a rush that can not be explained if you haven’t done it.
Were you nervous or did you just go out there and do your thing… blow the roof off the place?
We were nervous in the days leading up to it, but once you step out on the stage it all melts away, and there’s just you, the crowd, and the music.
Anything crazy go on while you were there?
It was Adam D. from Killswitch Engage‘s birthday and the party backstage was insane.
Did you party hard with other bands or pretty much stay to yourselves?
We partied, of course!
Did you meet/hang out with any of the big name bands?
We hung out and partied with members of The Black Dahlia Murder, All That Remains, God Forbid, Killswitch Engage, and Cannibal Corpse way into the wee hours of the morning.
What bands have the most influence on your music?
Lamb Of God, All Shall Perish, and Machine Head.
You did a badass cover of Lamb of God’s “Black Label”, tell me about that.
It’s a fun song to play, and a real crowd pleaser.
How do you see the Knoxville metal scene these days?
When it comes to supporting national/known bands in Knoxville the metal scene is amazing. As for local shows and local band support…not so much. These bands give up their time and their lives to come out and do what they love to do and when it comes down to it, it’s all about the fans and for the fans. The majority of the bands we share the stage with sound awesome and put on one hell of a show. A lot of people should take time now and then to go out and support these guys for their sacrifices. Having said that, we love and appreciate our fans with all of our hearts and it means the world to us when they come and hang out with us for a night. It makes it all well worth it.