January 30, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 67  

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Jimmy Swift wants to live the dream

By Christopher Hodge
Gazette Staff

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.



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