Swingin' Utters delivered their honest and varied style of punk rock to a packed Burt's Tiki Lounge. Photo: Alexander Ortega
When a band like Swingin’ Utters comes to town, it’s interesting to see how it turns out for a band that has been around for 20 plus years and has played numerous shows over those years in our fair city. The Utters have had great momentum lately, releasing two full-length records in less than three years, touring regularly and generally putting themselves back on the map after an extended period of rest.
I had a chance to speak with guitarist Darius Koski briefly before the show. We went over the past few years of the band and what he’d like to see come out of the future for them. “We never broke up or anything. I knew we needed some time off, but I always knew we’d get going again,” Koski says. “We never wanted to release a record and not tour on it, because that’s never been the type of band we were, and Johnny was over touring for awhile, so I was just waiting for him to want to go out again. We had songs saved up and that’s what Here Under Protest is mostly made up of. So, now with Poorly Formed we have Jack [Dalrymple] writing for us and he and Johnny wrote most of the record. So this record is the band now with all our different styles and input.”
Ironically, the Utters, who have been around for so long, are still trying different ways to write songs and work together. The addition of Jack Dalrymple on guitar puts the band in an auspicious position of having multiple songwriters, and they have changed the work process of the band to fit the new dynamic.
“We did things totally different this time,” says Koski. “Jack gave Johnny music and he wrote lyrics to that and Johnny gave me lyrics for two songs and I wrote music for that, and we’ve never done it that way. Johnny usually comes to me with a melody and we work it out together or I write alone, but this was cool because it ended up sounding like nothing we’ve ever done before.”
As the Swingin’ Utters have gotten older and families and kids have attached themselves to these punk rocking die-hards, it’s become harder to commit to touring, but now, especially with the band back in full-time action, they’ve been able to carve out the time to reach places they haven’t been in awhile and places they’ve never been at all.
“We don’t go out for more than three weeks at a time—that’s the deal we’ve made. With kids and stuff it hard, but we have those commitments and that’s the facts. At most we’d do month if it was Europe, but that’s the longest I could see us doing,” Koski says. “We’re headed to Australia with the Dropkick Murphy’s, so we’re excited because we’ve never been able to tour there before, but that’s what keeps us going finding new places and reaching people we’ve never got to before.”
We talked for awhile longer, as local band Utah Country Swillers began their set for the evening, and although I’ve been a fan of this guy’s band for years, it struck me how easy it was to talk to him without pretension—not surprising coming from this band, but assuring to me as fan all the same.
After a rollicking set from new comers Wild Roses (fronted be ex-Dropkick Murphy Marc Orrell)—Who are the perfect mix of punk, country and Springsteen style rock n’ roll—the Utters began their set. I’ve seen these guys before, and it is amazing to me how they can keep things fresh every time out. New songs mix with old songs and I swear their bag of songs runs deeper than any other band I can think of. Whether it be “Next in Line” or “Teenage Genocide,” these songs—especially played live—still have the same effect on me as they did when I first heard them.
The Utters began as a bunch of friends playing punk rock, and the best part about the band today is that you can still say the same thing.