Band Profile: Foul Swoops, don’t call it garage rock, but that’s what it is
While Washington D.C. is home to many to many of the East Coast’s best alternative rock bands, one in particular, Foul Swoops, has been steadily building a reputation as one of the most exciting. The garage rock trio has its first East Coast tour planned for April and plans on releasing a new EP soon.
Foul Swoops started performing over three years ago, when musically-inclined brothers Sean and Devin Connell played a show with Sean’s then-girlfriend on keyboard. From this very first show, Sean and Devin knew Foul Swoops would be successful.
Sean and Devin answered Vox‘s questions together. “At our first show we decided to do a Half Japanese cover. At that point, we knew we had an edge over every other band in the city,” they said.
Foul Swoops went through several lineup changes, leaving Sean and Devin to swap places on guitar and drums a few times, but eventually found a reliable drummer in Laurie Spector.
From their inception to the present, Foul Swoops have released only a few original songs. Their eponymous EP was released in October, 2010, and the group has occasionally put out a few more songs along the way. Most recently, they released “Good Looks.”
Foul Swoops has made live performances their principal focus. Despite their intentions to record significantly more music and their planned East Coast tour, Sean and Devin claim that Foul Swoops always will be a part of the D.C. scene. “Regardless of whatever is going on, local shows are always a priority. that’s how we got good,” they said. “We almost always play at least one D.C. show a month. We think of being a D.C. band as a badge of honor. You’ll never hear about Foul Swoops moving to Brooklyn.”
“We play rock ‘n’ roll. Everyone has a different definition of what that is. We think that definition is us,” said Sean and Devin, when asked how they would best describe the style of the Foul Swoops. The brothers try to steer clear of the alt rock genre labeling game and prefer to think that Foul Swoops can adapt to whatever show they perform. “We’re not interested in being associated with labels like garage or indie or whatever, but people are gonna say what they’re gonna say and we don’t even really think about it. We just call it rock ‘n’ roll,” Sean and Devin said.
Nevertheless, Foul Swoops clearly are a garage rock band. Every Foul Swoops song drips with an undeniable rawness and energy. Devin, the guitarist and singer, lets the guitar do most of the work and utilizes his sullen singing tone to support the music, rather than lead it along. Catching the actual words is difficult among the noise, but Devin’s voice comes through engaging and distinct.
While all the songs share a choppy, energetic style, the Foul Swoops distinguish each one with its own catchy hook and groovy bassline. “Colossal Sized Picassos,” for example, builds in complexity over its entire course and ends with a powerful, guitar-led outro.
Drummer Laurie fits in well with the Connell brothers. Back when Laurie was a new member, Devin expressed the optimism he had about the direction the band was heading. “She can play bass and she can play drums. Really fucking well,” Devin said. “Sean and me already switch off and if she can hold down that stuff it will be really cool what we can do as a three piece.”
Now, Devin and Sean feel that Laurie is an equal part of their song-writing. “Sometimes we will write a song on our own and then present it to the band at rehearsal, but, once everything is fleshed out, it’s always a collaborative effort,” they told Vox. “Every song is credited Connell/Connell/Spector. Laurie is every bit as much a part of the creative process as we are.”
Foul Swoops have a fittingly haphazard set of ways to come up with new music. Often, the band will find inspiration from jamming together during practices or messing around with their instruments in general. It’s easy to see this in their songs and live performances. Foul Swoops songs sound like very organized rock jams, and, in live performances, Devin and Sean appear comfortable and confident.
With 2013 likely to be their busiest year yet, Foul Swoops are excited to go on tour in just another month. “We’re going to liberate the feet of the teens in towns all along the East Coast,” Devin and Sean said.
Photo: Nestor Diaz via Flickr