Sunburnt celtic rock sealed by punk energy and desert heat
Rock ‘n’ roll should be able to resound anywhere.
No matter the setting, its rhythms, riffs, and roar should encourage you to raise your hands or preferably a glass in celebration. Swainn maintain this tradition every time they hit the stage or enter the studio.
The Phoenix, AZ based celtic folk rock group—Neil Ward [vocals, acoustic and electric guitars], Mandy Lubking [fiddle, backing vocals], Brian Daily [drums], Wake Lubking [banjo, mandolin, and backing vocals], and Rob MacIntosh [bass] — bottle uplifting and spirited messages within sun-burnt Celtic rock sealed by punk energy and desert heat. This approach quietly transformed the group from a local Arizona favorite at countless watering holes to a national Irish festival standout and touring force with gigs alongside everyone from The Rumjacks and Skinny Lister to The Young Dubliners under their collective belt.
However, they elevate this signature style to a new level on their recently released third album “Under a Willow Tree”.
“We wanted to place a message in the heart of what we’re now doing,” explains Neil. “We’ve been really inspired by singer-songwriter traditions, and we’ve added another element into the new music. There are thought-provoking songs. It’s what we’ve been working towards.”
Quite appropriately, Swainn came to life on St. Patrick’s Day 2012 after its members logged time in other notable acts. Stints in the New Romantics and the Impossible ones saw Neil garner experience opening for everyone from Dropkick Murphys and Buzzcocks to No Doubt. Meanwhile, Wake played bass for The Shadowcasters. Brian joined on drums in 2018. “After Brian joined, suddenly people started coming up to us on a regular basis after shows saying ‘you guys sound really tight’. His style, timing, and steadiness immediately took us to another level”, says Wake.
“Seamus”, “For the Whiskey”, and Festivals
Swainn got their sea legs for three years before unleashing the independent debut, “Seamus”, in 2015. Building their profile, they unveiled the follow-up “For the Whiskey” two years later. Along the way, they cemented themselves in the local scene with marathon three-hour gigs at packed pubs throughout the greater Phoenix area, mixing staples and covers with original material and inciting crowd applause in the process. Simultaneously, the Celtic and Irish Festivals came calling as they performed three years at Tucson Celtic Festival and Scottish Highland Games, two years at Southern Nevada Sons & Daughters of Erin St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and gigs at Woodland Celtic Games & Festival in Woodland, CA, Vista Viking Festival in Vista, CA, and Seaside Highland Games in Ventura, CA during 2019.
“Under a Willow Tree”
Along the way, they set their sights on record number three, titled “Under a Willow Tree”. Among the material, “Bag o’ Bones” proves delightfully intoxicating and irresistible as the hard-charging “In The Morning” lives up to its title with a propulsive beat, raucous fiddle, and hook. Elsewhere, “Sink or Float” details the journeys of “outcasts” as “Up on the Mountain” weaves a tale inspired by simulation theory over a seesawing groove.
“There’s definitely an evolution,” says Wake. “The band really hit its stride. It feels like we’re just beginning.”
With more music and shows on the horizon, Swainn stand primed to resonate far and wide in everything they do.
“I hope people have a good time when they listen to us or see us live,” Mandy leaves off. “That’s always the goal for us.”
And it’s one they undoubtedly accomplish time and time again.
Lead Vocals, Guitar
Fiddle, Backing Vocals
Banjo, Backing Vocals