Interview: Swollen Members Find Themselves with “Brand New Day”
Some bands get torn apart by drug abuse, while others pull together in a time of need, support a partner as he gets clean, and come out the other side with a re-invigorated passion for music: you can count Canadian hip-hop trio Swollen Members as one of the latter.
During a hiatus that lasted from 2005 to part of 2009, Madchild was a full-blown drug addict. In previous interviews he’s admitted to becoming a physical shell of his former self and for spending upwards of $3 million on dope. But instead of going all the way down a black hole towards what could’ve resulted in an unglamorous death, he chose to live and jump right back into music.
That jump has included a handful of new releases for Mad – and his counterparts Prevail and Rob The Viking – including the very fresh-feeling full-length, Brand New Day, which emerged last month through the band’s re-launched Battleaxe Records.
“What I think is really awesome about Brand New Day is that we went through trials and tribulations – and certainly Mad bore the brunt of the drug addiction – but we fought through it and stayed together as a band of brothers, and we came through the other side,” says Prevail in an interview with Riffyou.com
He continues: “We’re better musicians and better friends for it. We have better business acumen and a clearer picture of the potential of Swollen Members and Battleaxe Records.”
When discussing the hard times, Prevail can’t help but credit Mad’s “stringent, focused, and determined” nature for getting Swollen Members back off the mat in order to continue building a legacy that’s so genuinely important to them.
“We want to keep building on the heritage of being a Canadian underground [hip-hop] name,” notes Prevail. “We really said this is important to us. The momentum hasn’t stopped and I look forward to seeing what happens in the future.”
That said, there was a time where Prevail really didn’t know if there’d be a Swollen Members ever again. He recalls wondering what if? on plenty of occasions, to the point where he’d try really hard to determine plan B, C, and D, if all else failed.
But, he couldn’t come up with a backup plan that would’ve made sense.
“I couldn’t accept the fact that we wouldn’t continue to be brothers, and hangout, and make music together. It wasn’t an option,” he explains.
What’s helped the band’s life continue – in addition to the resolution of the aforementioned issues – is that the band is at a place where they’ve come to accept who they are as individuals. There’s a new comfort level.
When a photo shoot for Brand New Day commenced, reflects Prevail, he recalls showing up in a buttoned-up shirt, a dotted tie, and wide-brimmed fedora. Not sure if this would fly with his fellas, he also brought with him a duffle bag of further wardrobe options.
Prevail remembers saying to Mad and Rob that if this look didn’t jive with the group’s image, he’d gladly go and change. He says that it was at this point where they all looked at each other and agreed that it was time for everyone to truly be themselves.
“We really are allowing each other to become the individuals that we want to be. I look at all of those other things added into the mix (other creative outlets and business endeavours), and it’s fantastic,” offers Prevail. “It’s awesome that everyone is celebrating life and everyone is happy.
“When things are that way – and it’s not like we’ve had any struggles like that with the group internally as far as not understanding somebody’s personal space – it really does register and solidify the fact that we do allow each other to be the people we want to be and encourage each other to be the kind of people we think we have within us.”