FAULT Caught up with Richard Swift in the Summer issue of FAULT:
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FAULT: How would you describe your sound now?
Richard: It seems like it’s always evolving, maybe not evolving but it’s always changing, I’ve been referring to it as Plastic Ono band with like prince on top, so it’s really like minimal rock n’ roll really basic rock n’ roll.
FAULT: Who or what inspires you?
Richard: Music, obviously I listen to a lot of music during the day and I do a lot of waking clearing my mind feels really inspiring, and typical things, friends and family whatever turns everyone else on.
FAULT: Do you write a lot of stuff down when you’re walking?
Richard: It’s almost like the opposite, it’s nice just to go for a walk and not have anything in my hands and just be free thinking and clear you head. I work on music every day and I listen to music every day so it’s nice to get out of the cave every once in a while.
FAULT: What are you working on at the moment?
Richard: Just new songs, I’ve recorded a full record after the Atlantic Ocean that I’m finished with as well so I’m kind of working on the record after that and I’ve been working on a lot of electronic stuff, like I normally do like in my free time, I’ve been recording some friends of mine here and there, different bands. I’ve recorded with KC who’s my guitar player, he actually plays drums with me some times he’s a really talented multi instrumentalist so we did some work together on his solo project, and recorded a band from Sweden called Dag for Dag, really cool band. So yeah, just staying busy with all that sort of stuff, I’ve got a radio show, I live in a very small town in Oregon, I live in the middle of nowhere and there’s a little radio station that I have a show on every Sunday night which has like a two or three mile radius.
FAULT: Did they approach you?
Richard: No they didn’t, it was funny because I wouldn’t normally go into a situation in my small town and be oh like yeah I play music blah de blah…so I just came to them and asked if I could get on the radio, and from there they kind of heard my music.
FAULT: Do you play your own music on the show?
Richard: Yeah I do because it’s a really fun way to test mixes and test sounds and see how they cut in contrast to other records, that’s pretty typical but it’s nice that I have my own show just to do that. Sometimes I’ve just played new stuff form top to bottom, like this new record that I’ve been working on, I’ll just play it from top to bottom and no one’s going to hear it outside of this small town which makes it a little bit more like gold like the value and it’s rarity.
FAULT: What pisses you off?
Richard: I don’t know I’ve been trying not to get pissed off, trying to be very Zen lately…
most television pisses me off, I’m not going to be like I don’t watch television, but I don’t watch that much television, my guilty pleasure is watching Lost once a week.
FAULT: What is your proudest moment?
Richard: I can’t really say one specific moment necessarily, but the last couple of years I’ve felt really fortunate to tour with some bands that I really like such as Wilco and Stereo Lab that I really admire, for them to invite me on the road, like with Wilco we got to record in their studio, that’s where I started this record that to me really justified all the hard work that goes in, it’s more important to me than selling a shit load of records.
FAULT: Who or what inspired you to take a career in music?
Richard: I don’t think it was one thing. Since I was about seven or eight I just always love singing and always liked getting lost in songs and songs, and my mother and my step father didn’t listen to a lot of music and they didn’t have specific records, they we’re never like check out this Bowie record and so I felt like I was locked in my own head, but then when I was fifteen or so my friend Greg he just kind of sat me down and was like you need to listen to this Lenard Cohen record, listen to Blonde on blonde or high way 61 revisited by Dylan or this Kinks record, My Bloody Valentine or whatever it might have been.
FAULT: Was he educating you?
Richard: Yeah, like literally like educating me, I’d go over to his house and he’d be like today go listen to Swordfish trombones and come back in a week and tell me what you’ve learned. We’d sit down and listen to Sly and the Family Stone and the first McCartney record, he turned me on to just stuff that has really stuck with me through the years, especially that McCartney record and Theirs a Riot going on by Sly and the Family Stone it’s still stuff that I listen to weekly.
FAULT: Who is you favourite artist both past and present?
Richard: I really appreciate Ray Johnson’s work, he did a lot of collage and was kind of around during Andy Warhol’s peak but wasn’t necessarily included in that group but he was doing his own thing, and john Waters did a documentary on him called how to draw a bunny, which I recommend. So yeah I find Ray Johnson’s work really inspiring. Mia Darren who was a film maker in the 30’s 40’s and 50’s her stuff really turns me on I guess that’s the more obscure stuff but you know I love The Beatles just typical shit, but I think I’ve always liked the creative but the outsiders like theirs Andy Warhol and then theirs Ray Johnson guy who’s just as good as Andy Warhol but was more of a private person, I relate more to how they were like this is what I do, I’m completely unemployable and I have no choice, I guess sometimes you chose a career in music and sometimes music chooses you so I’ve always been inspired by people like that.
FAULT: What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Richard: I think it was my buddy Greg. But recently my friend Ryan who also puts out music was like Swift don’t read your press, don’t read about what people write about you, don’t fucking do any of that stuff because it’s a total head fuck and I probably agree with him. I’ve never looked for your name on every blog, but I have had people send me links to stuff, most of it’s always been really good but some are like hilariously bad, but they didn’t get it, one in particular, I put out this record in between this record one and dressed up for the let down and I put it out under a different name called Onasis and its blues/rock its mainly all instrumental it’s in the vain of Link Ray, surf rock, Buddy Holly do wop stuff and the cover is me with a black eye and a split lip and somebody wrote when I heard this record that’s exactly what I wanted to do to Richard Swift’s face, and I was like sweet it’s a solicited and violent response that’s perfect, you should listen to this and want to get in a fight. It’s cool FAULT doesn’t do that because I find more and more that when you read reviews on like pitch fork or something most of the time the writers just talk about how cool their record collection and how this record doesn’t match up. A lot of time it’s just throwing out obscure references just to show off it’s pretty pretentious and like the drums sound like water over rocks what the fuck does that mean.
FAULT: What are you currently listening to?
Richard: Umm, shit what am I listening to? Right now I’m really on a Sun Rock kick and Captain Beefheart… it’s kind of typical but I really like that MIA record, my kids listen to it more than me, but I tend to hear it around the house a lot. Recently I’ve been going more towards listening to a whole record or one specific artist for a month rather than always hitting shuffle on my iPod.
FAULT: Who do you think is overrated?
Richard: I’m not going to say I don’t, but I try to be less critical. Let’s say like Nickleback but if those guys were my friends I would just think hears some of my dumb buddies that got lucky. I guess what I don’t like is when people are really hyped up and then there just fucking arseholes about it on top of it like I finally get what I deserve and that kind of shit I don’t really care for.
FAULT: Who do you think is underrated?
Richard: Well it’s really cool to see over the last five or six years people like Andrew Bird and M Ward, like M Ward I don’t have all of his records but he’s a musician he’s writing really nice songs. He doesn’t look like a poster child or a model and it all hangs on the music and his music is strong enough to carry him through.
If I were to mention any of my friends, their so under the radar, like my friend who I was talking about earlier KC he’s records not out Sophia and Stevens is putting it out on his label and nobodies heard that yet, all the guys in my band have these fucking amazing projects that nobodies heard yet but they’ll be out next year.
FAULT: What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you?
Richard: Let’s say recently in the context of this record it’s pretty strange to work on a track with Mark Ronson who’s a friend of mine but in the last couple of years he’s taken over the world or something but it’s just Marky, and then to have Pat from Wilco and Sean Lennon and Ryan Adams and then myself, it’s like all these worlds don’t seem like they should fit but that song they did, I went home after that New York trip where we recorded that song thinking Jesus this is generally strange.
I met Tom Waits once that was really strange and unexpected.
I had a conversation with George Clooney outside of a men’s bathroom once, very handsome man in person as well, kind of taller than I thought he would be.
FAULT: What are you looking forward to?
Richard: I’m excited for the tours coming up with a band called Vet to Ver which I really like, constantly recording stuff so I’m just looking forward to that.
FAULT: Where do you see yourself this time next year?
Richard: still continuing to make what I preserve to be decent music and just stay busy and creative and hopefully by this time next year we’ve done some good touring and I’ll have a couple more records under my belt.
FAULT: Do you have any heroes?
Richard: Definitely, like some of the people I’ve mentioned before like Ray Johnson and Mia Darren, Bob Dylan and Neil Young, especially those two guys I’ve really admired for a number of years. It’s probably cliché but I really respect my mother and my grandfather who’s past on and their my personal heroes, even the guys in my band who I really admire and look up to I have my personal heroes and then I have my musical heroes an artistic heroes.
FAULT: What is your FAULT?
Richard: Oh man, probably confusion about me, I put out a lot of
confusing records and things…yeah I think that’s my FAULT.