Breaking Up Is Hard to Do 

The frontman for SWYL squeezes off some parting shots

In many respects, the members of SWYL have lived the archetypal Missoula band experience: a couple of friends with hometown ties (guitarist Dan Fouts and bassist Matt Schumacher) who found themselves relocating to Missoula to after one of them decided to go to school, another member (guitarist Dave Grimm) borrowed from an affiliated band, and a drummer (Christian Gutierez) found through the classifieds. With their last show coming up this weekend (Schumacher has opted to pursue “opportunities” in California), we caught up with Fouts—who will also be taking a little time off from Missoula—for a little exit interview.

How does your experience in SWYL reflect the expectations you had going into it? What would you have done differently or not at all? If anything, I’d say that SWYL has surpassed the expectations I had going in. In just over a year we’ve written enough material to play full shows with only a few cover songs, we’ve played well over 20 dates, put out a five-song demo CD that has been getting a good response, and we’re starting to see familiar faces in the crowd. We always have a great time when we play, and the crowd seems to have a good time, too. I didn’t expect it all to end so soon, but that’s the way things work out sometimes. It’s hard to have four guys that want to do the same thing at the same time.

What are your impressions of the Missoula music scene in general? Where do you feel like you fit in? Do you feel like you fit in at all? I grew up in Butte and I’ve never lived outside of Montana, so to me Missoula is a musical mecca. There are a lot of places in the state where it’s tough to get a gig if you don’t play “Jesse’s Girl” and 50 other jukebox gems. At a SWYL show, you’ll hear heavy power chord rock, funky bass-driven dance music, extended hippie jams, some Latin vibe, progressive oddments in weird time signatures (7/8 is always a favorite), and more ... and that’s just in one song. We fit in well here, but I think we have a sound that would fit in almost anywhere.

Why do you think so many Missoulians balk at even the smallest cover charge? This has always been a mystery to me. People will pay, what, $8 to see a movie featuring two Arnold Schwarzeneggers, but they won’t fork over a couple of dollars for live music? If you don’t have two extra dollars, what are you doing at a bar? Support local music, please.

What do you predict for Missoula’s musical future without SWYL? Two of us aren’t going anywhere any time soon, and I’ll be back next fall. The SWYL breakup definitely isn’t going to stop any of us from playing music, so I predict that in the not too distant future, you will see one or two or three new bands emerging that have a little taste of SWYL in them.

SWYL plays their final show this Friday at the Ritz at 10 PM. Cover $2.

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