Interview with Backswing vocalist Marissa Ward | By Natalee Coloman

For a band who formed around the jokey 20-something “midlife crisis” of wanting to cure everyday boredom, Backswing have skyrocketed into the scene and aren’t showing signs of coming down any time soon. The group came together in 2015 with the mindset that they would perform once a month for friends at their local Detroit bar—however, listeners and fans craved more. “It was never supposed to be anything serious,” vocalist Marissa Ward says. “After our first show, we had a lot of demand to play more shows, so we started hopping on random gigs.”

Within the band’s first four months, they performed with Expire, Knocked Loose, and Counterparts at their sold-out show at The Shelter in Detroit. From there, Backswing became more involved in the scene, recording around 15 songs and ultimately choosing five they felt best showcased their different music styles while creating a unique and unified concept. They smacked the umbrella term “Detroit Heavy” onto their name and left interpreting the term up to their fans.

Ward wanted to show the world that women have as much of a place in the scene as men. “There wasn’t a lot of female representation with a lot of bands, and if there was, it really played on more of a sexual nature,” Ward states. “If there was, it was more of a ploy, and they were more of a prop onstage and not someone who has something important to say.”

Ward was also tired of the negative feelings and hate expressed toward women through many bands’ aggressive lyrics. She hopes to push more musicians to use their platform for better things than hating people. “I just got sick of not feeling represented,” Ward admits. “I just said, ‘I’m going to try it out for myself. Why not?’”

The 23-year-old uses her platform as a way to talk about heavy issues that not only women, but also people of color and queer people in the scene face daily. “It’s not just the boys club anymore,” Ward adds. “Everyone can do it. Fair representation will make people feel more welcome—at least in my eyes.”

One of Backswing’s songs, “Corset,” harshly discusses the blatant sexism women deal with, with Ward challenging harmful stereotypes. Surprisingly, the band rarely perform the song live, because it receives mixed reactions ranging from the crowd going insane and climbing over one another to standing completely still in the back of the room. “I think it’s fantastic. I’m like, ‘Yes, please be uncomfortable,’” Ward states. “I think guys are uncomfortable because they are not used to any strong female presence yelling at them, saying, ‘This is how I feel, and you’re going to listen, because I’m the one with the microphone and you’re not.’”

The band’s five-song EP, SOS—which stands for Smash On Sight—was released on vinyl Aug. 25 through Demons Run Amok Records. They are also working on a full-length album, which Ward says will have a completely different sound from the EP due to their current drummer’s metal influence. “We are always going to stay true to what we want to write. We write what we would want to go pay to see,” Ward adds. “While the sound may change, the message will still be there.”

Bandcamp | Demons Run Amok 

Photo by Kyle Smutzki

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