2023 is looking to be a busy time for American rock band Can’t Swim (but then again, when aren’t they busy?) with new album Thanks But No Thanks dropping on 3rd March and a host of tour dates on the horizon. Vocalist and guitarist Chris LoPorto and Danny Rico (lead guitar/backing vocals) took time out their busy schedules to give Midlands Rocks an exclusive low down.
Hailing from Keansburg, New Jersey. How does that environment influence/impact your sound?
Danny: Keansburg’s most notable attraction is a sad, old water park where one reviewer writes, “This park has one roller coaster!! It sucks like my butt just exploded!!”. I would say this town impacts our sound in the best way possible.
Chris: Keansburg is right in between Philadelphia and New York City making it very easy to go to shows and be a part of a lot of different music scenes growing up. I suppose Can’t Swim’s sound is a melting pot of all those influences.
Talking of your sound, Can’t Swim are a band in constant evolution. On your last few releases, you adopted a heavier sound, then veered in an electronic direction while third album Change Of Plans married the two. What’s the reason for these sonic shifts?
Chris: It excites us as a band to try new sounds and vibes throughout our career. We try and bring something fresh to each song we record.
Danny: You know, we’ve always liked to keep things interesting for ourselves. Every time we went into the studio we just wrote without worrying too much about what genres were showing up in the process. Chris is such an avid songwriter, there’s always plenty of material to choose from. We sort of take it as a compliment when people tell us all our records sound so different. We’re not really sure if it’s a good or bad thing, but we’ve had fun doing it that way so far, so why not?
Do you think you’ve hit on a signature sound, or will you continue exploring new
Danny: It’s hard to say, but after all the different avenues we’ve explored so far, and seeing what translates live, seeing what music represents us as who we really are, maybe, just maybe we’re starting to write songs that inherently sound like a Can’t Swim song, whatever that means ha!
Chris: I think changing it up has become the blueprint of the band. I hope we continue searching for our “sound” (whatever that means) for a long time to come.
New album Thanks But No Thanks drops March 3rd. How does it fit into Can’t Swim’s discography? Part of the curve or a new tangent?
Danny: I’d say it’s a tangential curve of sincerity. With the progress of our band, and how we’re all feeling in life in general, we wanted to re-explore how this whole thing started and go back to pulling from our pop punk and emo roots. I guess that’s the curve, a sort of return to our first sound. And while we cherry picked some influences from our discography, a lot of Thanks But No Thanks came to be a bit more light-hearted, which is definitely different for us.
Chris: There’s elements of all the different ingredients that make up the band’s sound of the last 7 years. This one felt very natural and easy to finish. We didn’t suffer and critique each song to death (like other releases ha ha!)
Can you tell me about the recording process. What studio and staff did you use? Did you try anything new this time around to keep things fresh?
Chris: We went back to the basics and did it all in house. Danny Rico our guitar player, mixed/produced/mastered the album and has been shooting and editing all the music videos. This new album is 100% the most “Can’t Swim” sounding album due to the fact we did everything ourselves.
Danny: Maybe this is also another part of the curve. I produced, mixed, and mastered our first release (Death Deserves A Name), which a decent part of it was mostly just Chris and I working out of my former studio in Brooklyn. It was a pretty isolated experience. Since then we’ve collaborated with other producers, engineers, studios, etc. We’ve loved every moment that came from that, but again we wanted to go back to how it all started. So the four of us isolated together, working out of a makeshift studio in the basement of a flooring store in New Jersey for a month, and that’s where we wrote the entire record.
What music is currently on your playlist and what influences did you draw upon this time around?
Danny: Currently? I go from Gojira to Richard Cheese to Aaliyah to Korn in 30 mins. Influences for the record? I’d say we’ve all had moments pulling from legends like Jimmy Eat World, The Replacements, Blink 182, The Lemonheads, The Cure, Saves The Day…
Chris: Drake. Dean Summerwind. 21 Savage.
Lyrically, you delve deep into personal experiences for inspiration and judging by new record, you have lots more material. What’s it like bearing you soul through your lyrics? Strikes me as a brave move, do you hope it’ll inspire other men to share their emotions?
Chris: This album is mostly about the effects the last 7 years of touring has had on me. I would like for people to understand what it’s like to be in a band. I hope it inspires men AND women to start their own band or creative endeavours.
Danny: Some say it’s catharsis, some say if it weren’t for these experiences there wouldn’t be good songs. Not sure which is better or worse, or which is the case for us. At the end of the day it’s always amazing to see people reach out and let us know that our band has gotten them through a tough time because they were able to relate to our songs. It’s definitely part of what keeps us going, especially as we’ve all been on the other end too. I hope it inspires anyone and everyone to feel able to express themselves and find good support however they can when they need it.
Likewise, what’s it like inhabiting these songs on stage every night, especially reliving emotions from songs you wrote years ago? Does it ever bum you out, or is cathartic?
Chris: It can become emotional at times but it has mostly been very therapeutic for me and I always suggest it to someone who is struggling in some way to make their negative into a positive by using it creatively. That’s what Can’t Swim’s has always been for me.
Danny: Even if it feels like reliving it, we’re always so energized and unbelievably thankful for the people who come to see us play. The amazement we feel never gets old when we hear a crowd sing the words back to us. It definitely feels like we’re connecting with people in such a cool way.
Last year found you back on the road (including some UK dates). How did it feel touring after the pandemic? Did you notice any changes pre- and post-Covid?
Danny: I’m one of those rare people who still hasn’t had Covid. I have no idea what to make of it, but if I don’t get it soon I might have to submit myself to the CDC for research.
Chris: I was happy to be safe and be with my band again. I didn’t notice much of a change, people were excited to be around live music and so was i.
With the new album dropping, 2023 is looking a busy time for Can’t Swim. What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Danny: We have a full US tour this Spring with Free Throw, and perhaps we’ll have to hop on over to the UK maybe this Summer…
Chris: A full US tour. Record release show. England shows. Music video. Hanging out with my best friends and playing our songs.