The band goes by the name of Silent Theory, but in theory that is really quite the opposite of what the band excels at. In fact, the Moscow, Idaho based modern hard rock quintet consisting of brothers Mitch Swanger (drums), Scott Swanger (guitar), George Swanger (bass), along with Nick Osborn (vocals) and Bob James (guitar) would rather you turn it up to 11 and scream your lungs out to the ten songs found on its Turkey Vulture Records debut Black Tie Affair.
Rock Revolt™ caught up with Mitch after the band’s smokin’ hot set in Harrisburg, South Dakota; one of the stops on their Eastern US tour this summer alongside fellow rockers Twicebroken.
INTERVIEW WITH MITCH SWANGER OF SILENT THEORY
Rick/RR: Silent Theory was originally formed in 2008. Provide us with somes detail on how the band first came together and how you got to where you are today.
MITCH/ST: Nick (vox) and I had come from a previous project called Faded. Having graduated from the same high school, he and I had been together since early 2006. We added Bob (guitar) in the spring of 2007 and my brother Scott in the fall of that year. We ended up releasing an album and scoring some awesome shows, but after a couple of years we wanted to take the writing in a new direction and decided to drop Faded altogether. Deciding on Silent Theory, we immediately began writing all new material. With a new focus and some gigs under our belt, things really picked up for us. Some of the crowning achievements that followed included playing SXSW in 2009 with iconic bands like Metallica, Shiny Toy Guns and Divide The Day, headlining the Whisky A Go-Goin Los Angeles and making an appearance on MTV Cribs performing “Livin’ The Dream.” We then welcomed the addition of my youngest brother, George, to the band in the spring of 2010. Since then, we’ve signed with Turkey Vulture Records, released our album Black Tie Affair and recently went on a tour in promotion of the album.
Rick/RR: How did your signing with Turkey Vulture Records come about?
MITCH/ST: In the summer of 2010, Bob and I were spending every day trying to get our five song demo out to as many labels as we could. Feeling down after countless hours and no response from any of them, I finally received a call from Erik Virgen of Turkey Vulture Records (TVR). He said they had reviewed our press kit and liked what they heard. As a label dealing predominantly with metal bands, they were looking to expand their market and were interested in our mainstream sound. Erik and I spoke for hours on the phone, talking about everything from the industry to personal music interests and aspirations. By the end of those talks Jason Zarnowski, the label president, sent me a contract to review. After collaborating with the band, we felt it was the right choice for us and signed with them in October 2010.
Rick/RR: You released Black Tie Affair for the label on Halloween 2011. Was the plan all along to release on that day or how did that come together?
MITCH/ST: You know, you’ll have to ask Jason Z about that one. Originally it was supposed to be released January 2012, but he worked his magic and got it done earlier.
Rick/RR: There was some fanfare with the day of release with a sold out show in nearby Pullman, WA. Talk about that experience.
MITCH/ST: The BellTower show was a very special one for us; it’s a really cool venue. It is an old, converted church with the stained glass windows and everything still intact. With the release of Black Tie Affair, we wanted to do something very special for our fans so we decided that November 5, 2011 was going to be our CD release show. As a part of that show, everyone who bought a ticket received a copy of the album. When we originally set out to do the show we didn’t expect it to be as big as it was. We ended up selling out the place a few weeks before the show and to date we are the first and only band to have ever sold the place out. I remember sitting outside before the show and there was a line down the street to get in an hour before doors were supposed to open. Talk about adrenaline!
Rick/RR: The album is full of big rock, feel-good anthems that should make the hardest of rock critics smile while involuntarily moving their heads to the music.
MITCH/ST: That’s exactly what we were going for. The goal of the album was to help people forget about life for a while by listening to some old-fashioned rock n’ roll. Also while writing it, we wanted to make sure that not only was the material going to be fun to listen to on the CD but that it was also fun to watch live. Our music allows for a lot of energy on stage and I think people really respond to it well.
Rick/RR: Your first single, “Livin The Dream” is an inspiring song about the love of music and the enjoyment an artist gets from playing their art live. This song became reality for the band this summer as you embarked on your first national tour.
MITCH/ST: You’re exactly right. “Livin’ the Dream” is just what it sounds like. We have been given the opportunity to do what we love to do and not a lot of people can say that. As kids, all of us shared that same dream of being a rock star someday. At age two, I picked up my first pair of drumsticks and used to sit on my dad’s knee and just drum away. Growing up, I was that kid that when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, without hesitation, I’d answer “professional drummer.” I used to get yelled at and told that I needed a Plan B. The problem was I never had that Plan B; it wasn’t ever an option. I played the drums all the time. It would take everything I had to get through a day of school just so I could run home and play the drums. I’d play for hours and hours until my hands were bleeding but even then I didn’t stop. When my friends were out partying and drinking in high school, I was at home playing the drums. That’s the one common thing the five of us share – that desire, passion and drive to be rock stars has been there from day one.
We recently just got off our first national tour with TwiceBroken out of Texas and “Livin’ the Dream” couldn’t have been more relevant. If you listen to the lyrics of the song, that’s exactly word-for-word how we felt this tour. “Livin’ the Dream” was our thank you to everyone who came out and supported us on the road because they were the reason we were up on the stage playing. We got to see a lot of really cool places and meet so many great people.
Rick/RR: I can say first-hand from seeing a show at your tour stop at the Phoenix Lounge in Harrisburg, South Dakota that the band truly enjoys playing and being out with the fans. Also, the live show really exemplifies the high energy music on the album.
MITCH/ST: We play for two reasons and two reasons only: to write music we truly believe in and to put on the best show we possibly can. We love being on stage. Although we enjoy studio time, our home is on the road. We want to be on the stage every single night performing for people. When I look out into the crowd and I see people rockin’ out with us, there truly is no better feeling in the world. Our goal nightly is to have to crawl off stage because we gave everything we had during the show. We want the audience to feel every bit of energy we’re pouring through our instruments and music.
Rick/RR: With 3/5 of the band consisting of brothers, does this equation help keep things in check due to the family connection? Also, does that create any challenges of its’ own? (Laughs)
MITCH/ST: It’s truly a blessing to have family a part of this. I think one of the hardest parts of touring for most musicians is that separation they have from family. They are on the road constantly and away from those close to them. We don’t really have that problem because we are all on the road together. Not to mention, we don’t have to worry about the petty things like stealing from band members and bad attitudes. I will say I do occasionally feel bad for Bob and Nick because we base everything in the band on a majority vote and unfortunately for them, the three brothers tend to vote the same on subjects. (Laughs) I think it all works out though and that is why we are successful. Not only are we a band of brothers, so the trust and companionship is present, we are literally a band of brothers (laughs).
It can create challenges at times because we tend to be a lot harder on each other. I expect a lot out of them, as they do with me, and it can definitely lead to some heated conversations. Bob and Nick have learned it’s best to just stay out of it. (Laughs) We don’t fight as much as typical brothers though. We have always been very close, both in and out of the band.
Rick/RR: What did the band find was the best way to fill the down time on the road?
MITCH/ST: It just depended on the day. There were times where we’d all be together seeing the sights or doing fun things and then other days we’d go our separate ways. As much as I love everyone, there were definitely times where we all needed our space. One of our favorite stops was before our show in Kent, Ohio. We spent the day at the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. Being total rock nerds, we took in everything that place had to offer and spent an entire day there. On days we weren’t sightseeing, we did a lot of jamming acoustically on the bus. We started writing for album number two. Oh, and we played a lot of Family Feud too (laughs).
Rick/RR: Now that you are home from the tour in Moscow, Idaho, what are the plans for the band for the remainder of 2012?
MITCH/ST: We are hitting the road again now in October. There were talks of going into the studio to do the second album, but I think the consensus is we all want to get right back on the road for another tour first. Since the first tour was to the Midwest, we are looking to do a full Eastern US tour this go around. On the road, we are hoping to get a lot of writing done for the second album as well.
Rick/RR: Thank you so much for hanging out and taking the time to talk with us. Any final thoughts?
MITCH/ST: I’d just like to tell everyone to make sure they are checking our website for the latest news, videos, and tour dates, as well as giving us a “like” on Facebook and following us on Twitter. Make sure you have your friends check us out too! Black Tie Affair can be purchased on iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, as well as 101Distribution where hard copies of the album are available. Also, we recently received some cool news that “Livin’ the Dream” can now be downloaded on the video game Rockband, so make sure you check that out as well! We have some really exciting things in the works that I can’t go into detail about quite yet but everyone needs to brace themselves for some huge things that lie ahead. Stay tuned…
Story and Interview by Rick Lindner
~ Picture of band provided by PR/Live picture of Mitch (Facebook)