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Matt Jacobson interviews The Sway

Explore Liverpool Music Writer , Matt Jacobson interviews The Sway.

Five-piece band The Sway, have supported the likes of The Lathums, The Reytons and Jamie Webster. Band members Ryan McNee (guitar/vocal), Ciaran Smith (guitar/vocal), Harry Robertson (drums), Aidan McLean (keyboard/vocal) and Sean Knibb (bass), are performing one week after the release of the release of their latest single Dreamer – a wonderful stomper of a single that lifts and carries you all the way into the world of The Sway. The single is another gem in a sparkling catalogue. 

I met with Ryan and Aidan to talk all things, gigs, recording and supporting established artists.

The earlier years with The Sway – when the band formed was it a connection over learning and playing music or was it a connection over influences?

Ryan  – Well we were mates before music had anything to do with it to be honest Matt, I’ve known Aidan since we were 3, as our dads were also mates. Cairan went to our primary school and we met Harry when we were about 11 or 12 and we then became mates with Sean through school as well – so ,we were all mates before anything. But me and Aidan have always had an interest in music.

Aidan  – It was just a mutual love of music really, all 5 of us came together at the lads house in Anfield.

Ryan – I think we’re lucky in that we are doing this with our mates and you can have that honesty with each other. When things go well, they go well together and when they don’t. we manage it together .. it’s always good to have that.

The recording process . do you work separately at home then bring it together to the studio or do you get together at the studio and say ‘it’s time to write a song’? 

Aidan – The three of us write our own songs and sing them. About 90% of the time we come in and have chords or lyrics and always play along to it together. Also a lot of our songs are quite rhythm guitar driven because of that. We all just like to jump in. Some of us might drop out a bit and write it in the practice room.

Ryan – There’s nothing stopping the bassist Sean and the Drummer Harry writing as well! (laughs). 

Shall I put that bit in the interview? (laughs)

Ryan – Somebody needs to tell them! I’ll tell them myself! (laughs) no we’re all a team really.. we’ll write the melody and rhythm at home and the words – then we’ll come together and it becomes a band song. The other day we had a new one going and Sean had an idea how to take it with the music towards the end, and Harry the drummer might take it a different way to what we were expecting – that’s how we do it together.

Matt Jacobson interviews The Sway
Sean, Aidan and Ryan – The Sway, photograph, Michelle Marshall

Are the lyrics all individual? Some bands work on the lyrics together..

Ryan- A lot of the time my songs start from a personal place and they become either less personal or more personal – your words are your words aren’t they? We’ll obviously have loads of conversations, I’ll talk to Aidan about words in my song and he’ll talk to me about words in his song. It becomes a team effort but it usually starts off with your own thing.

Sunshine Seeker, for me that was the one that put a stamp on Liverpool music. It’s one of those songs that’s special in the gigs and people get really into it. Was it like that for yourselves?

Ryan – We’re bringing a song out soon called Dreamer – it’s one of Aidans – I imagine to other people it will seem like it’s just the next thing we’re doing. To us, it’s a long time coming, in terms of us and the label having had that song for a while. And then there’s three songs before that where we’ve played to quiet rooms before, you put your dues in, play your gigs and get people into it. But that’s the last song on the EP and there’s three songs prior to it that set up us where people will be listening to the next one .. The same way you’re into that one, Dreamer will be the next one. I think we’re getting better..

Aidan – I would add to that though, I think there’s been a nice change in direction since we did Sunshine Seeker and you’ll hear it in the next four that come out

Ryan – Obviously it’s different for every band, but we just play what we like – the ones that we enjoy playing are the ones that break through and we end up recording.

Matt Jacobson interviews The Sway
The Sway – Photograph, Michelle Marshall

Playing live, how would you describe the first ten yards of walking on the stage?

Ryan– it’s boss! It’s the best thing in the world. When we played Mountford Hall I couldn’t stop smiling .. you just see people and think, that’s what it’s all about.

Aidan – I was setting up the keyboards and I thought to myself, I haven’t looked up yet. When I did, there were just two thousand faces – it was surreal for me and I just thought wow! It was one of my favourite gigs..

That was the first ten .. what about the last ten when you walk off at the end of the gig?

Ryan – The same feeling, you know what I mean….

Do you want the gig to carry on?

Ryan – To be honest, no!. The way we do our set, the last song we play is a bit of a full stop – a see you later and have a good night and then we walk off. It’s a bit different if it’s your own gig, but a lot of the time we’re supporting. We’ve done our bit and shown who we are .. I hope you have a good time and see you later.

Aidan – It depends on the gig of course. As Ryan was saying, the song we finish on is like the last word. We want to show what we’ve got, especially to someone who’s never seen us before..

You supported the Reytons, Louis Berry and Jamie Webster, in terms of supporting those artists, what does that bring to you?

Ryan – Experience foremost I think.

Is it experience of the venue or crowd or experience of being with those artists?

Aidan – all I think, especially the gig at Mountford Hall, we wanted to see how we’d fare on the big stage with big crowds. We felt comfortable and I’m glad we were. We just felt good on the big stage as any other.

Ryan – There’s that side and there’s the platform. They’ve worked hard to generate a following. People will see your name next to theirs and they’ll have a listen and if you’re good they’ll like you and if you’re not they’ll move on!

The new single, Dreamer, can you tell me more about it?

Aidan – It was the first song I wrote where I was really happy in just getting the message across. It’s a cracker to be honest, once we got the music it came together really quick. I wrote it in the first lockdown and it’s about being isolated by yourself and confusing dreams with reality. Like confusing last night’s lucid dream with a familiar face you see .. you think you know someone well. We can’t wait to put it out. We have a lot coming out in the next few months.

Is that leading to an album?

Ryan – There’s a bit of time yet – we’re only young!

Aidan – There’ll be a second EP. This is just a little taster of the new music we’ve got. We’ve got loads of gigs coming up and loads of support shows. We’ve got our show at the O2 Academy coming up in November.

That very gig at the Academy on the 19th – how do you feel about this as it gets closer?

Ryan – Can’t wait for it Matt! Our mates Cassidy are supporting us, and we’ve got The Kendos. We’ve known Cassidy from school, they’re nice lads and good musicians so we’re happy to have support from them. It’s going to be a room full of happy people and good music – and that’s what music’s about! We’re looking forward to it very much and will make sure everyone has a good time.

And I’m sure we will !,I’m looking forward to it ! From myself and Explore Liverpool, thank you and I wish you the very best

Cheers Matt, cheers Michelle!

READ MORE: MATTHEW JACOBSON

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