An interview with guitarist/vocalist Dallas Thomas | By Morgan Y. Evans
Chicago post hardcore unit The Swan King, featuring members of Pelican and Planes Mistaken For Stars, have released one of the better records of 2014 with Last So Long. A band that plays music that sounds far simpler than it is, they are part of the lengthy tradition of Middle American bands upholding the best values in indie, punk and metal.
Love the sound. Real energizing and can listen to it over and over. “Explore The Void” reminds me of the band Seaweed a bit. Kinda harsh and gritty and still melodic. How fun is this stuff to write/play?
Hey Morgan Thanks! It is funny sometimes the hard stuff is a pain in the ass to play live sometimes depending on how tired we are or how many drinks we have had. The easier stuff is usually more fun to play in the long run. So it is a constant balance of having fun and yet still pushing ourselves musically.
How was it working with Sanford Parker at Electrical Audio, Steve Albini’s studio? The songs have a chemistry like a live band just killing it. You can’t fake that.
Great! It was a long time goal for all of us to record at Electrical. It is a special place. I have worked on numerous records with Sanford. Circle of Animals, The High Confessions, Chris Connelly’s Artificial Madness, and this is third thing that The Swan King have recorded with him, so it was super quick and easy. We came in super rehearsed and tracked the whole thing live in two days except some guitar vocal overdubs.
How did the band members in TKS meet and start this project in the first place? Through your other bands?
In early 2009, Zafar and I met over craiglist actually, then I met Jamie through tons of mutual friends surrounded by our old bands Planes Mistaken for Stars and Asschapel, and it clicked from there.
Chicago seems to be seeing a real resurgence of great stuff lately, from you guys and Wolvserpent to The Atlas Moth. The last few years have been pretty fertile for that city. What does it feel like on the ground? Is there excitement in the scene or do people kind of just take it or leave it?
Chicago has a great scene. Too many bands to list, but here are some fine examples: Anatomy of Habit, Electric Hawk, Jar’d Loose, Bloodiest, Oxblood, Sweet Cobra. Yeah also we are friends with those Atlas Moth dudes. Andrew Ragin recorded our Pay To Pray EP. The two things that I think greatly influence the Chicago music scene are the brutal winters and expensive rehearsal spaces, they force you to be pretty dedicated and focused if you are going to survive…
Can you talk about the guitar set up? I really love the tone. Especially on “Closer To The Source,” it is just so easy to get swallowed in it.
Pretty Simple Really. Throughout “Last So Long” I used a Soldano Supercharger Pedal into a 100w Plexi through a Vintage 30 4×12 Cab, and I double tracked that same setup but used two different guitars tuned to C,G,D,A,E,G (low to high). One was a 80s Charvel Model 6 (Right Channel) and a custom SG (Left Channel) that my friend Dave at Scale Model Guitars made me.
“Built to Break” is a great song title and kind of what is wrong in society. Things are manufacture so you have to buy another one sooner than later, a non- sustainable way of life. We used to take a lot more pride in crafted things and be less desperate, perhaps. Agree?
For sure, it is seems that our society, culture and commerce is becoming more and more disposable as if it is in our very DNA, it seems out of control, and no one is immune to it… Yet nothing lasts forever, so the underlying moral of the song is to make the most of your time, because the clock is ticking for all of us.
So what’s up with all the awesome, almost proggy guitar runs that erupt in the middle of many of the songs? The trickier, riffout sections? It is so great to hear that shit instead of breakdowns!
Hey Thanks! Most of that would naturally come from the fifth interval tuning I use, just banging away until something grabs our attention then trying to remember it and then see if I can shout some vocals to it.