“I listen back to our new record and it sounds like a band, a team, and that’s something I always wanted.”
The combination of having just a handful of songs and being praised on both sides of the Atlantic can be troublesome. It’s a position New Jersey’s Can’t Swim found themselves at the back end of 2016. “With the amount of touring and time we have spent together, only having five songs released is starting to wear thin,” explains Chris LoPorto as we spoke to the frontman two weeks before the release of his band’s debut full-length – ‘Fail You Again’.
For LoPorto and company, it has been a hectic few months. Having been the brainchild of the project in the spring of 2015, Can’t Swim didn’t play their first show until the following March, and even then its members were still getting to know each other. LoPorto picks up the story, “we all knew of each other before this band, but we weren’t very close. I just knew they were very talented musicians and shared the same goals that I wanted to accomplish with music. But in this time spent, we have become a family. Something we started as a goof, has turned into our full-time jobs.”
On its release last February, ‘Death Deserves A Name’, the band’s debut EP, received praise for its consistency and intense delivery with hints of hardcore, alt-rock and pop-punk throughout. Its follow-up comes in the form of ‘Fail You Again’. The twelve songs that make up the record benefit from their time together on the road. It is a more collective effort with a more varied and expansive sound.
“Writing the first release by myself seems now like a foreign language, I couldn’t imagine making music without Can’t Swim. I wouldn’t want to,” states LoPorto. “Everyone’s personalities and opinions really shape what our songs sound like, and it’s very special to be a part of. I listen back to our new record and it sounds like a band, a team, and that’s something I always wanted.”
‘Fail You Again’ is a well-balanced mix of fiery, impassioned moments such as ‘What’s Your Big Idea?’, ‘Stranger’ and ‘One Shot’, being countered by stirring reflective cuts ‘Quitting’ and ‘Molly’s Desk’. The songs released before the record drops, ‘Stranger’, ‘We Won’t Sleep’ and ‘Quitting’, represent the album’s assorted tones.
“I’d like to think we spread ourselves more across the spectrum this time around. We didn’t shy away from certain ideas if they had a different vibe, we elaborated on them and tried to write and cater to what was best for that particular song,” says Chris on the varied nature of the record. “Having the guys be a part of it this time, the possibilities seemed so endless to me. We were flooded with options and ideas when writing, I think we were bound to explore different soundscapes and feels. I’d like to think we spread ourselves more across the spectrum this time around.”
Undoubtedly, ‘Fail You Again’ is a team effort. Like its predecessor, the band’s very own Danny Rico produced and engineered the record. “I love the fact we do it all ourselves because when I listen back I can say ‘we made this’ compared to ‘we made this with someone’s help’” proclaims LoPorto.
In regards to his bandmate handling the record, Chris says “Danny is a pleasure to work with and really pushes Can’t Swim to write what feels natural to us, and not get sidetracked. I think once you start putting other cooks in the kitchen you are destined to have a very different product than you originally started with.”
Although LoPorto and Rico, along with bassist Greg McDevitt and guitarist Mike Sanchez, were more than satisfied with the record, they soon realised that its wide, layered approach proved difficult to replicate on stage. Cue a line-up reshuffle, with Rico becoming their third guitarist, and the arrival of a new drummer – Andrea Morgan. “It was the missing ingredient we needed since the beginning. Other than being a tight, hard hitting drummer,” explains Chris. “She really brings a lot of presence and power on the stage. She plays with a lot of heart and seeing that five feet away from you, effects your performance drastically. She’s also a total goofball and touring has been a blast.”
For any band, touring is a major part of life in a band, and having been so beneficial for the members of Can’t Swim in 2016, they’re eager to get out back out on the road. First up is a US tour supporting Pure Noise labelmates Four Year Strong followed by a UK tour opening for Real Friends alongside Microwave. It will be their second visit to these shores in just six months. “We didn’t think we would get a chance to go over there in our first year of touring, and going back so soon is a real blessing”, says an excited LoPorto. “It’s a home away from home in a sense because it was the first time we realised that people around the world knew our music. It made it clear [to us] that our job was to travel and play it for them.”
As they prepare to embark on another UK trip, and with a set of new songs, Chris closes our interview in a buoyant mood by stating “we are excited to play longer sets with different songs and dynamics. We hope to get to Australia and Japan as soon as possible.”
With an accomplished debut in ‘Fail You Again’ now in their arsenal, it’s likely those opportunities to visit other territories beyond the UK and Europe is certain for Can’t Swim.
‘Fail You Again’ by Can’t Swim is released on 10th March on Pure Noise Records.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)