Introducing: Swing Hero

By Lais

If you listened to Swing Hero without any prior knowledge, you probably wouldn’t believe that it was conceived by a man who tours with 3OH!3. Although Marshall Gallagher is indeed a touring guitarist for the band, his solo project could not be further away. Marshall cites Basement, Superheaven and Nothing as bands with a similar sound, so as you can imagine, it’s not what you’d expect. We had a great chat with Marshall about how he formed Swing Hero and what’s coming next for him.

Hey Marshall! Firstly, tell us how and when you decided to start Swing Hero.

Hi, thanks for talking to me! So, Swing Hero is essentially my “solo” project. It started as some crappy demos with programmed drums back in 2011, when I had never really completed a song on my own and I could barely figure out how to get sound from a mic to a computer. I started messing around with different arrangements on my first world tour with 3OH!3, on the bus and at home when we had a few days off. Up until then I had always just been a guitar player, and when I started touring full time I had to let go of all my other creative outlets. So the real early stuff was very erratic and confusing. Lots of screaming and post-hardcore style riffs, without much substance in the lyrics. But over the next few months of touring, my love life started to crumble and I sank into this strange quarter life existential crisis, which sounds pretty cliche but it gave me something to write about. At home one day I wrote this four chord hook with the lyrics “I don’t make anyone happy anymore” just repeated, picked my balls up and showed it to a friend. His response was something along the lines of, “Dude, this is fantastic. I think you found something”. So I started writing simple songs about how shitty my relationship at the time was shaping up to be, and that eventually evolved into my first and second attempts at EPs. My self confidence had plummeted pretty hard, but I was able to scrounge up a bit when people told me they liked the material. And I ended up liking it too, so the whole process just became therapeutic. I didn’t think I’d ever be pressing it on vinyl and trying to sell it, but here we are! Haha.

You released your new EP, ‘You’ve Never Been So Alone’, recently. How would you describe it to someone who hasn’t heard it yet?

I’m still kinda trying to figure that one out. Sometimes I just want to say “the 90s”. It’s big, fuzzy, sad and layered to the brim with guitars. I started writing songs for it after a messy breakup and a spur of the moment move to Los Angeles, so all the lyrics are pretty much just me being a self-loathing dick. In my own head, it sounds like Third Eye Blind swapped a few members with Deftones and Park.

How would you describe your sound overall?

I just tell people it’s heavy and pretty. People keep saying my records are big and polished… I guess I can see why, but I still hear all the mistakes, haha. It’s all pretty nostalgic, whether it’s reminiscent of emo (for lack of a better term, third or fourth wave, who really cares) or 90s alt rock. The songs are all straightforward and sentimental, but sometimes a little Guitar Hero comes out and I can’t help it.

You used to be a touring member of 3OH!3. Swing Hero really couldn’t be much
more different! What made you decide to change direction so drastically? Is this
something you always wanted to do?

I actually still tour with those guys, they’ve become some of my best friends and I’ve learned so much from just hanging around them for the last few years. I was never a creative contributor to the actual band, so saying I changed direction wouldn’t really apply. Before they hired me I was in a Botch-y post hardcore band, so the transition wasn’t really that drastic. Anyway the 3OH!3 dudes just bring me to crazy places around the world, feed me booze and let me play metal riffs over their songs. They’re huge supporters of Swing Hero too, Sean actually plays bass sometimes in the live band. I’ll tour with them until they fire me.

Who would you say are your main musical influences?

Well my dad plays music, and I grew up hearing his songs before any other music really connected with me, so he’s probably my biggest influence whether or not I actually write or play like him at all. Outside of that, inspiration comes from so many places it’s hard to put a finger on just a few main ones. Like, while I was writing this last record I was listening to a lot of Washed Out and The National. I’m a huge fan of a lot of 70s rock; Rush, Humble Pie, Boston, Alice Cooper…. all that guitar wankery and weird structure makes its way into a lot of my stuff. But, in my formative years it was all 90s alt rock and early 2000s emo/hardcore. I think I had ‘Siamese Dream’ on repeat on my walkman for the entirety of middle school and high school, and it shows. Then somewhere along the line my friends started showing me stuff like Thrice, Converge and Gatsby’s American Dream, and my mind went to nothing but screaming and odd time for awhile. I studied some jazz in college and that had a huge impact on me as well. All that stuff is equally responsible for how I work musically, I think.

What are your plans for 2015?

My number one goal for 2015 is to conquer Los Angeles. I just moved there and the band started playing out not even a year ago. From what I can tell, there aren’t too many bands there doing what we do, so that will either make us stand way out, or no one will give a shit because the music we play isn’t exactly “cool”. We might be better off in a place like Pennsylvania or Illinois, but I figure if we can attract some attention in a place where it’s hard to meet someone who’s NOT a musician, the rest will follow. I just want to play a ton of good shows, have a good time and unload as many records as I can. I also would love to make it back out to SXSW, wrangle someone into booking us and maybe even write a new record. I also have a brand new project on the horizon with my friend Kamtin (The Chain Gang Of 1974) called Teenage Wrist. Our first record should be out in the spring. All that plus a little 3OH!3 action should keep me plenty busy.

Do you have many touring plans in support of the new EP?

We did a mini-tour as kind of a “soft release” for the EP, and it went pretty damn well. We hit Los Angeles, Carmel, Denver and Salt Lake City, all of our friends came out and we partied hard (with the exception of our guitar player’s entire family, who all showed up to the wrong venue in SLC). For the moment, we’re going to stick to working the West Coast and move out slowly when the timing is right. All of us in the band have done our fair share of DIY tours, playing to empty rooms in the middle of nowhere and begging for gas money. We’re such a new band that a full US, self booked tour just doesn’t make sense yet. Once we establish ourselves regionally we can start thinking about heavy touring further East.

Do you have any plans to come over to the UK? It’d be great to see you play over here!

I wish I could say yes with any certainty. We’re getting a great response in the UK, so I’m sure if we got the funds together for airfare we could make it happen, but not without a lot of help from a particularly benevolent UK band. It’s definitely a more realistic goal now than it ever was, so I’m starting to look into it. That would be a dream come true.

And lastly, where do you see Swing Hero in five years?

It’ll either just be me making songs in my room just like it started, or on the road constantly or hopefully sustaining itself. The project itself won’t ever really go away, it’s become one of the most important things in my life, but if we ever do catch a break it’ll probably be in the next five years or not at all. It’d be nice not to be pouring all of my savings into it, and I think that’s a very attainable goal. I think a lot of music fans are starting to get a little sick of dance, pop and modern “rock” (folk with big toms and some yelling), and there’s a very exciting movement happening already where new, heavy rock bands are coming into the limelight again. Bands like Basement, Superheaven and Nothing are kinda paving the way, and I can’t wait to see that sound explode. If it does, I’ll be in a good spot. If not, fuck it. I always set my sights low, and while that pisses some people off and gets me in trouble sometimes, it keeps me grounded and if something cool happens, it’s always extra satisfying. I have no fucking clue where Swing Hero will be, but it will always exist.


Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

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