Andrew Swift on finding his way to country music

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Andrew Swift on finding his way to country music


Melbourne songwriter Andrew Swift is back with his second LP, Call Out For the Cavalry. Swift executes a major stylistic shift on this album, moving away from the pop-rock and power-pop that dominated 2015’s Andrew Swift to wholeheartedly embrace Americana and alt-country. While the melodic immediacy of his debut remains, pursuing these genres was an entirely new endeavour for Swift.

“I used to play in a band years ago called Race the Frey. We were a Melbourne indie band, before that we were a pop-punk band,” he says. “So coming out of that and doing some solo stuff where I hadn’t really been doing much singing previously, I had a lot of people say, ‘Oh it’s got a bit of a country vibe.’ And to me that was an insult. I was like, ‘Don’t use the C word with me.’”

It took a couple of trips to the Tamworth Country Music Festival for Swift to overcome his erstwhile disinclination towards country music.

“Even on the first trip to Tamworth I was like, ‘I don’t know if this is for me’,” he says. “And then the following year the right people took me under their wing. I was interviewing for a radio station, we interviewed so many artists over five days and the different sub genres and styles that I heard coming through that station in that week showed me that country [music] wasn’t what I thought it was.”

Gaining a fondness for the style is one thing, but given he was such a newcomer, Swift took time to immerse himself in alt-country and Americana before getting creative.

“It’s been a few years between releases because I had all these new influences that I was listening to,” he says. “Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton, Shane Nicholson and Kasey Chambers – all stuff that’s been around for a while but I just hadn’t listened to. I wanted to take all that in and really appreciate it before I released anything.

“I had a bit of writer’s block, but having all those new influences come through really helped. There are parts of a couple of songs where I can go, ‘Oh that’s definitely an Isbell influence there.’ The great thing about Chris Stapleton was hearing someone with a big voice like that and knowing that it’s OK to do country – I’ve always liked to belt it out.”

The album was recorded at Sydney’s Love Hz Studios alongside producer/engineer Matt Fell. Fell is a well-established producer and musician having frequently performed with Josh Pyke and produced everyone from Damien Leith and Tim Freedman to Shane Nicholson and John Williamson.

“I knew that I wanted to work with him. I loved his work, I loved his way of thinking. I’ve heard different people’s albums and he seems to find what page they’re on and joins in with writing the rest of the book.”

Along with Fell, the album features backing vocals from musician Gretta Ziller, Hammond organ from Adam Eckersley Band member Dan Biederman, and Catherine Britt duets with Swift on ‘Fire & Ice’. Swift’s played shows with Britt, Eckersley and Ziller in recent times, as well as the likes of Shane Nicholson and Lachlan Bryan. All of these connections are indicative of the warm welcome he’s received from the alt-country community.

“I felt like I was floundering around the Melbourne music scene; there’s so many artists and so many genres. But I’ve never felt more at home or felt like I was more on track with music than I have been in the Australian country music scene. Everyone’s been so welcoming, everyone’s happy to help and work with me. It’s been amazing, really.”