After more than a quarter century as a band, there's really only one thing you can count on being the same with each new record from the Swingin' Utters, and that is that they're going to make it a little different. "From the first record, I wanted to mix it up as much as we could," says co-founder Darius Koski. "Playing with different genres and instrumentation makes it more interesting. As long as it's a cohesive record, it works for us."
That dedication to not replicating any standard "Swingin' Utters sound" has resulted in what may be their most cohesive (and paradoxically, one of their most diverse) records yet: the brand new long-player Fistful of Hollow, which explores the Utters' interests in far afield sounds including Britpop, mod, Celtic, country, folk, and—of course—a solid foundation of West Coast punk rock.
Helping lend to the album-to-album multiformity is the fact that for the second album in a row, a member made his first forays into tunesmithing for the band. Devotees will remember that last time around (on 2013's Poorly Formed), guitarist Jack Dalrymple stepped up to the plate, and this time around bassist Miles Peck got his first at-bat, co-writing four of the album's fifteen tracks with vocalist Johnny Bonnel.
"It wasn't weird when Miles brought these songs, 'cause they're not punk songs," says Koski. On working with Peck, Bonnel says, "Collaborating on art has got to be one of the most gratifying things for me. I'm surrounded by truly unique and interesting brains in the Swingin' Utters." Acknowledging that punk bands get easily pigeonholed sonically, Koski adds "We're not that type of band anymore. I think people expect we'll have some weird stuff on the record."
Weird might not be a proper description for the head-bobbing title track (penned by Darius himself), but extraordinary definitely is, in both senses of the word: it is quite excellent, but also quite out of the ordinary, with a jangle reminiscent of many mainstays of late '80s/early '90s college radio. The title and cover art are also a tip of the hat to a heralded album from one of the greatest bands of that era, The Smiths and their classic Hatful of Hollow.
Since returning from an eight year recording hiatus in 2011, Swingin' Utters have been downright prodigious, releasing three albums in four years. And with so many influences, and so many band members pitching songs into the mix, it won't be long before there's a whole new batch of songs for you to suckle from the sonic teat of the Utters. "If it was up to me, we would've had a record every year from the time we started," exclaims Darius, "but we're just glad to get back on the map again an go on a real tour and see what happens."
Pick up Fistful of Hollow on November 11, and look for the band to swing through a town near you this winter supporting old pals Lagwagon before heading out on their own headliner in the spring.