The Swingin’ Utters are a punk rock band from San Francisco. They have been playing their brand of raw, emotional punk together since the early ’90s. This interview with Darius Koski (guitar, vocals) and Max Huber (guitar, vocals) was conducted Friday, Oct. 20, before their show with No Use For a Name, One Man Army, and Big Wig at the Trocadero Theatre.
Temple News: How long are you guys on tour?
Max Huber: Like three weeks altogether.
TN: What are you going to do after that?
MH: We’re going to take a break until January 4, and then we’re going to go to Australia with the Warped Tour.
TN: Have you guys played the Troc before?
MH: No, this is our first time.
TN: So, can you guys introduce yourselves?
MH: I’m Max, uh, I play guitar.
Darius Koski: I’m Darius and I play guitar.
MH: Two guitar players. (laughs)
TN: So, you guys aren’t from San Francisco anymore.
DK: Yeah we are.
MH: Most of the band is. Everybody else but me.
DK: He lives in New York, I live in Berkeley. Most of the other guys live in the San Francisco area.
TN: Is it hard keeping the band together living so far apart?
MH: So far it’s been totally easy.
DK: There have been little things that have been kind of annoying. We don’t really get together and jam for hours in the studio, so…
MH: We never wrote together.
DK: All we do is, “this is my song,” and we only practice when a tour is coming or when we’re doing a record.
MH: Even then we don’t really practice.
DK: We’ve practiced twice without him.
MH: See, that’s the thing. Because the rest of them are there, and because we’re a two-guitar band, they can practice without me easily. And I can just learn the songs on my own and come down and play them.
TN: You guys have been together for quite a long time and you really haven’t had many changes in your line up.
MH: Since we’ve been with the Swingin’ Utters and touring with the records and stuff we’ve only had one line up change the whole time.
DK: Half the time was with Kevin (the Utters’ old bassist) and half the time has been with Spike (their current bassist).
MH: Though I once did do a tour as a bassist. We were a four-piece for one tour. We opened up for Social Distortion in New York and we did this European tour with Social D and we sucked.
DK: But whenever anybody asks us how long we’ve been around it’s really hard to say because we started so long ago that we didn’t really play any shows. We played some little shows locally, and we didn’t really start touring for real until like ’94 and really playing out of town until like ’93. We were releasing little singles.
MH: You couldn’t even call what we were doing in ’94 much touring. It was already ’95 when we started to do national tours.
DK: We haven’t been actually like a working band for more than five years.
TN: Is the glass half empty or half full?
MH: Half empty.
DK: Oh, full.
DK: Yeah. We’re pretty much opposites in that department anyway.
MH: I’m the pessimist in the band and he’s the optimist. It’s a good balance. Everything turns out mediocre. (laughs)
TN: What do you guys think of Napster?
MH: Um, I think that dubbing music and getting it however you can, generally I always thought it was pretty cool. But that was usually because it was poor kids who didn’t have access to be able to purchase records, didn’t have the money to buy albums and were taping it from their friends or whatever. But anybody that can afford a computer, can afford a CD burner and all the other stuff that’s required to download off of Napster and make CDs, can afford to buy the album. So, I’m not really sympathetic towards Napster. I think that it’s stealing music from musicians. Really, it’s coming straight out of their pockets. If it were eventually to become really successful and easily accessible it would kill music because people wouldn’t be able to afford to continue to make it. They’d have to get real jobs to do on the side because they wouldn’t be able to sell any records.
DK: It’s obviously not going to affect people like Metallica. It will affect anybody who’s on it, but they’ve already sold millions and millions of records.
MH: If you want to check out new bands, it’s already accessible (through their label, Fat Wreck Chords’ Web site) and I encourage it. But, when people start downloading records and artwork it’s too much.
DK: I would do it myself, but if I really liked the record I’d go out and buy it. I like to have the actual product.
MH: If you want to give your CDs away, it’s your choice. But, I don’t think that bands that want to sell them should have the music taken from them.
TN: Who are you going to vote for in the presidential election?
MH: I’m voting for Gore. I don’t really like him, though.
DK: I thought of voting for Nader, but it’s just too dangerous.
MH: Nader’s a lot cooler, but I’m just really afraid that if I vote for Nader, Bush is going to get elected.
The Swingin’ Utters have a ne, self-titled album out on Fat Wreck Chords. Check it out for some rock ‘n’ roll fun.