Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: Current Swell

(Photo: Courtesy of Lillie Louise Major)
(Photo: Courtesy of Lillie Louise Major)

Singer-guitarist Dave Lang and his band mate Scott Stanton, who formed Current Swell in 2005, tried something for their latest album, Ulysses, that they haven’t tried in a long time: writing songs together.

“Back in the day when there was  lot of carefree music playing and traveling, we used to write together a lot in that day….We used to live together with a bunch of roommates,” Lang said. “Then I moved in with my girlfriend, he moved in with his girlfriend, you know, there was much less collaboration. We had to be more intentional if we wanted to just jam with each other, so for Ulysses we took almost the whole summer and every day I would bike over to his house or he’d walk over to my place or we’d meet at a inspirational place and…we’d just bounce ideas off each other.”

Lang said that he and Stanton came up with about 50 ideas together for Ulysses, which was released in 2014. “It was a lot more rewarding to kind of go back to an old formula that worked well in the past that we kind of lost,” Lang said.

Although collaboration was its own reward for Lang, Stanton and their band mates Ghosty Boy and Chris Petersen, the accolades didn’t stop there. The album reached #1 on the iTunes Rock Chart, #10 on the Billboard Alternative Albums Chart and debuted in the Top 50 on the Top 200 chart in their native Canada.

Nathan Sabatino, who’s produced records by Dr. Dog, Neko Case and Giant Stand, produced Current Swell’s latest album. Lang said that it was “so great,” working with him on the record. “It was so neat. He’s a really nice guy and he had such a lack of ego,” Lang said. “Because I think the job of a producer sometimes can be a real boost for your ego and you’re like ‘This band’s paying me to come in and tell them what I think of their songs.’ And I think that can be problematic when you give someone the power to give their ideas and tell you what they think.”

“But he was just really good about it. Sometime he would listen to a song that we put together and just be like ‘Yeah, this is good. I don’t think I would change anything.’ And he would just find some cool tones for the drums or instruments and really make it shine and then other times he’d have a really great idea to try out.”

Lang his band will be mixing in old favorites with some of the new material from Ulysses for their show at Jammin’ Java next Monday, Feb. 16. He told the News-Press that he and his band mates, all in their late 20’s and early 30’s, weren’t sure how to celebrate their 10-year anniversary as a group, because when they started playing, they didn’t take their careers as seriously as they have in the past five of so years.

The music video for “Rollin,'” the lead single on Ulysses, is one example of the fun, laid-back vibe of the group. It features the the band playing at a elementary-age school boy’s birthday as the birthday boy rolls around town on a bicycle, robbing, stealing and extorting, as if he’s in a motorcycle gang.

What Lang told the News-Press about Jammin’ Java, which Current Swell has never played, is another example. “I think of it as a funny name, you know, Jammin’ Java! Like okay, is it a dance club? Is it a coffee dance club?,” Lang joked. “People there are like ‘This is awesome! I have to use the bathroom!”

• For more information about Current Swell, visit currentswell.com.