ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Jimmy Swift wants to live the dream
By Christopher Hodge
Gazette file photo
DO WE DETECT A WEE BIT OF INTRA-BAND CONFLICT? The Jimmy Swift Band enjoys
clowning around in random fields and strangling each other.
“Dead,” replies Craig Mercer, lead singer/guitarist for the Jimmy
Swift Band, when asked where he sees himself in 10 years. Is he serious?
You can never tell when dealing with a rock ’n’ roller. They’re
a strange, eccentric breed and Mercer is no exception. Although he sounds like
he’s joking, there’s some truth to what he says.
But enough talk about the future, he says with a laugh. As long as the band
has an audience to play for, he’s content.
The Jimmy Swift Band is originally from Cape Breton — and no, they will
not fiddle you a good tune. They are a rock band: a crowd-pleasing, knock-your-socks-off
rock extravaganza which Mercer describes as an “assault on the senses.” What
surprises even Mercer however, is that the band appeals to a much wider audience
than even he originally thought.
“We used to think that we would only really appeal to a college crowd,” Mercer
says. “Now, we’re starting to think it’s everyone. On tour,
at bars, we’d see 60-year-old dudes standing at the bar with a beer in
one hand rocking out. Our music seems to appeal to a broad range of people
of all ages.”
After the success of their recent tour — encouraged from the feedback
they have received — Mercer says the band’s sights are now set
on exporting their sound south, into the all-important American market.
“We’ve had some extremely good feedback,” Mercer says. “I
think people are really looking for something different.”
Their unique and rather wild attitude towards live gigs is also evident in
the approach to the recording of their latest CD, Onward Through the Fog. Instead
of cramming all their equipment into a dusty old recording studio, the band
sought an alternative space to capture their distinct sound, which, according
to Mercer, had some mixed results.
“When we recorded, we went to a mansion for three weeks where some of
our friends were caretakers. The mansion was built by Dr. Webster, who happened
to be a chief atom bomb scientist during WWII. So, these guys were in charge,
and of course they threw some parties, a few of which we played at. He thought
it would be a great idea to record there. It gave us a very special drum sound.
You can hear the room and the space of [the] mansion. I think in retrospect,
the album would have benefited from a tighter, bigger drum sound. But it does
capture the energy of our sound.”
The Jimmy Swift Band continue to set their sights on the horizon and onward
until they realize their dreams. “Besides,” Mercer jokes, “it
beats plan B, which would have been law school.”
The Jimmy Swift Band plays Stonehenge tonight.