Localized: Swans of Never

Localized

Close out the summer and transition into the new season with the infectious and head-bopping sounds of Somebody/Anybody, Swans of Never and Burning Avenues at this month’s SLUG Localized. You can catch them on September 15 at Kilby Court for only $5! Doors open at 7:00 p.m. and music begins at 8:00 p.m. SLUG Localized is sponsored by Riso-Geist.


The solo project Swans of Never was created by Matthew Nanes as a teenager, originally conceived out of his love for both Americana and emo music. But, Nanes has never been confined to any specific genre: In retrospect, Swans of Never was born from an admiration for all kinds of music. As he tackles the wavering motions of life through music, the project has grown with him.

“Sometimes, songs happen within a minute, and sometimes, they happen over 10 years,” Nanes says.
Photo: Chay Mosqueda

Prior to forming Swans of Never, Nanes had played with bands in the hardcore and metalcore scenes. At the time, he was also recording lo-fi, indie-rock songs on the side. “As I’d gone on and did more high-fidelity stuff with recording studios, it’s taken a lot of turns along the way,” says Nanes. With over a decade of writing and recording under his belt, Swans of Never has incorporated folk, hardcore and everything in between. In addition to his eclectic sound, he’s also found himself unapologetically channeling authenticity and originality the more he creates. He says, “I’ve grown into myself. I’m going to create how I create when I create. How I present it is me.”

“I’ve grown into myself. I’m going to create how I create when I create. How I present it is me.”

In the past, Swans of Never has collaborated with a handful of other musicians when recording, but the project has remained Nanes’ own. Oftentimes, he is on the stage alone and enjoys the physicality live performances provide him in this space. “When I play by myself, I still try to give it everything I’ve got. Some music calls for it. Even if I’m [playing] by myself, it’s still loud and still passionate. I used to think about it like going into battle,” says Nanes.

“Work (Baptize Me When I’m Dead),” a recent Swans of Never’s single, is one that’s been marinating since the project’s early stages. Nanes had just graduated college and was quickly exposed to the world of adulthood. He first conceptualized the track while working a strenuous job. “I was running on empty. As time went on, I was struggling with religion and spirituality [and] I was finding a lot of commonalities between my views on the good and bad of work and [my] belief,” says Nanes. The single demonstrates an all-too-familiar dread and epiphany recalling the things that have overwhelming control over our lives. “Sometimes, songs happen within a minute, and sometimes, they happen over 10 years,” Nanes says.

“When I play by myself, I still try to give it everything I’ve got. Some music calls for it …”

Raised on punk music, Nanes has been able to channel his beliefs and bring attention to the downsides of capitalism and religion through his songwriting. One of the tracks he considers representative of these themes is “The Lashes.” He says, “I wrote that during one of the last Bush years, I think. Being able to see that play out in real time was crazy. It was very much in the vein of songs I’m writing now. It was a throughline of where my head’s [always been] at.”

Nanes often incorporates existential themes, even when writing about more laid-back concepts, such as love. The song “Reservations (For The End of The World)” discusses a love affair with an apocalyptic backdrop. He says, “Sometimes, I tell these stories that are very accessible—where people can feel the sentiment—but it’s also dense.” It’s apparent that Nanes’ creative process is intricate and meaningful, portraying over a decade’s worth of his beliefs and experiences.

“Sometimes, I tell these stories that are very accessible—where people can feel the sentiment—but it’s also dense.”

As an English major during his collegiate career, Nanes has always been fascinated by concept albums. After a few years of planning and dreaming about making one himself, he has created a Kickstarter to get the process rolling. In the meantime, a new Swans of Never single, “The Beehive State,” will be hitting streaming platforms this month.

Stay up to date with Swans of Never on Instagram @swansofnevermusic and catch him at this month’s SLUG Localized on September 15 at Kilby Court.

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