Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill in Syracuse has been a mecca for country music artists and fans to come together and have a chance to celebrate country music since it’s opening at Destiny USA. Bringing in national acts all year long, it was a thrill for NYS Music to be able to cover The Swon Brothers as they played on October 3, 2014. Best known for their third place finish on season four of The Voice as part of team Blake, this dynamic duo has set the country music world on it’s ear since that time with their new album, The Swon Brothers, which their single “Later On” shot up the charts right away.
Zach and Colton Swon, graciously agreed to speak with NYS Music prior to their show, to say hello to all our country music fans here in Central New York.
Kathy Stockbridge: Thank you for agreeing to doing an interview with NYS Music…..Our readers are huge country music fans.
Zach and Colton Swon – (SB): Thanks for having us.
KS: Music has been a major part of your life. Talk to us a little about growing up in a musical family.
SB: Growing up in a musical family was pretty fun. It was pretty fun, we really didn’t have any other choice. From day one, we both grew up on a tour bus. My parents had a southern gospel group and went from church to church on weekends. That’s really all we’ve ever known.
KS: So you’ve been on the stage since a young age.
SB: Yeah, we just thought that was part of life.
KS: That’s sounds like a fun childhood. Now I read that one of your major influences in your music were The Eagles. Talk to me a little about what stood out about The Eagles and their style of music that is carried through today in your work?
SB: Well a lot of things. First and foremost are their harmonies. Nobody did it like them. Their harmonies are spot on. I have watched multiple videos and documentaries and they focused more on that during rehearsal than any other part of their show. The other thing is their stylistic differences in songs. They can go from “Life In The Fast Lane” which is really rocking to “Peaceful Easy Feeling” which sounds like a classic country song. But no matter what they were doing, you knew it was The Eagles because of those harmonies they put on top. That’s kinda the approach we took to our record, that’s coming out on the 14th. The songs musically are all over the map, but I think they sound like they go together because our harmony sets on top.
KS: Do you have other musical influences in your life that stood out as you were growing up?
SB: Oh yeah, there are tons. Growing up we did everything from Merel Haggard and George Jones to Michael Jackson. There are so many that have influenced us over the years. Even gospels groups, like Kenny Hinson and some artists you’ve probably never even heard of. So it’s been a wide variety of people who have influenced us…ELVIS…loved Elvis.
KS: Who doesn’t love Elvis?
KS: Talk to me a little about your experience on The Voice.
SB: Tell ya what, Blake Shelton…well first of all The Voice in general and everyone involved with that production are amazing. From the guy driving the van, to the Executive Producer Mark Burnett, they are all amazing. They really want to see everyone succeed. It’s a great, great program they have for artists that want to get out there. We were lucky enough to have Blake Shelton as a coach.
KS: Yeah, talk to me a little about being on Blake’s team.
SB: Working with Blake was like working with a crazy uncle or big brother ya know. He always kept it lighthearted and left a lot of the stress out. Really it should have been a pretty stressful situation, but working with Blake made it a lot easier. I think one day he brought us in and was making fun of Usher and his coaching habits…all the physical activities that they did so Blake made us do some shake weights with him as a workout, as a new coaching method. You just never knew about him.
KS: He seems like a fun guy, a cut up.
SB: Oh, everything you think Blake Shelton would be like, he’s like.
KS: Whirlwind, ever since the end of The Voice you guys have been a huge whirlwind with a new album coming out this month. Talk to me a little about life after The Voice and this whirlwind you are on right now touring with your new album coming out.
SB: More than anything we are just really thankful for this opportunity. We’ve been trying this way before The Voice, and it’s been a great platform and opened doors. We’ve met a lot of great people along that way that have helped us, like Blake and Miranda, and Carrie Underwood has been in our corner as well.
KS: That’s right, she’s from your neck of the woods.
SB: We have been really, really blessed this year and we’ve put our heart and soul into the record, we picked the songs we thought fit us best and we were able to work with a great producer and put out our first single and support has been phenomenal.
KS: I love it BTW.
SB: Thank you …and we just got nominated for a CMA Award.
KS: Yes, I saw that. congratulations.
SB: Yeah, it’s crazy. This whole year seems like ..
KS: Surreall isn’t it?
SB: Every week something happens and we’re like, man how did we get here. We’re very grateful.
KS: Well we love ya, and we’re right behind ya cheering you on!!. I do something I call a social speed round…random questions that are fun and give our readers an insight into you on a personal level. Mind playing along?
SB: Let’s do it!
KS: One word that you would describe yourself?
SB: (Colton) Awkward (Zach) Confident
KS: Okay Zach, one word you would use to describe Colton
SB: (Zach) Mom. He’s the “Mom, the worrier”.
KS: Okay, Colton one word to describe Zach.
SB: (Colton) One word to describe Zach Swon…hairy.
KS: What’s your guilty pleasure:
SB: (Colton) Miley Cyrus’s “Party In the USA”
KS: Haha, I love it! And Zach…
SB: (Zach) Well, it’s not on anymore but I hated the fact that I loved watching “Jersey Shore”. I don’t know why, I got mad at myself every time it came on..
KS: Deer in the headlights huh?
SB: (Zach) Yep, but I watched every episode.
KS: You’re on the road, you see this, you have to pull off. No if, ands, or buts. You must detour!!
KS: What’s on your iPod right now? What ya listening to?
SB: (Colton) I just downloaded the Blake Shelton CD, Bringing Back The Sunshine, Miranda Lambert’s new album, and there are Kings of Leon..
KS: I love Kings of Leon..
SB: (Colton) And there’s even a little Daft Punk. (Zach) I’ve actually been listening to the new Tim McGraw album, I love it.
KS: Great choices you guys! Okay now..favorite movie?
SB: (Colton) I’m gonna go, Dumb and Dumber (Zach) I have a tie between Jerry McGuire and That Thing You Do.
KS: Thank you guys so much.
As I left the dressing room, I had just witnessed a taste of what these two brothers share night after night on stage with their fans. Their playful, energetic personalities come across as they converse with their audience. Each and every night they share pieces of themselves to those they play for. This quality of bearing it all on stage is what makes them so appealing.
Opening for The Swon Brothers this evening were local favorites, The Fulton Chain Gang. Together now for years, these five men continue to entertain audiences all over the state with their modern country and southern rock style. With Nick Bontempo (lead vocals, guitars), Mark Werchowski (lead guitar, vocals), Dennis Buczek (pedal steel guitar), Dave Montany (bass, vocals)and Brian Spoor on (Drums), they played both classic traditional country and modern country hits and warmed up this crowd for the awaiting brothers.
As the two brothers and their band took the stage, they came out like gang busters playing some of their original songs mixed with an array of covers of all genres. You could tell the musical influences that played a part in finding their sound. With a mix of The Temptations, “My Girl”, George Jone’s “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes”, and throw in a little Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Fishin’ In The Dark” (in which the entire crowd sang along to) they demonstrated their musical range and adaptability as true musicians. I must duly note as well, that their ability to harmonize is astounding. As unique as each brother is singly, together they have a harmonic chemistry that is untouchable.
They wore the stage like a pair of comfortable jeans. This stage presence comes from being on stage for their entire lives I’m sure. As they bantered back and forth with each other, band mates, and even audience members, they demonstrated how to them, the stage is their home away from home. They sang a happy birthday to an audience member, put their bass player on the spot to sing (in which he hit it out of the park, great job Seth), and had the audience eating out of the palms of their hands in no time.
As a child of the 80’s I have to say my personal favorites, and they nailed them, were The Eagles, “Life In The Fast Lane,” Boston’s “Long Time” and Tom Petty’s, “American Girl”. Excellent choices to close out this show. By the time they came to their current hit, “Later On,” these gentlemen had the audience transfixed. How could you not love these two? With the looks that garnered them a spot in People’s Sexiest Men issue, the smiles that melt your grandma’s heart, and voices that can croon and rock, it’s apparent why they are one of country music’s favorite duo’s on the rise.