We're excited to premiere "Stuck in a Circle," a new song off Poorly Formed, the forthcoming album from S.F. punks Swingin' Utters, out Feb. 19 on Fat Wreck Chords. Written by vocalist/guitarist Darius Koski, "Stuck in a Circle" is a wistful, reflective tune that leaps from acoustic choruses into bristling, racing verses. Its mood is a striking contrast with "The Librarians Are Hiding Something," the soaring first single off Poorly Formed, which was co-written by the vocalists and guitarists Johnny Bonnel and Jack Dalrymple. We recently got in touch with Bonnel and Koski to talk about the new album and the run of Northern California shows Swingin' Utters will be playing in celebration of the new record, which includes a stop at Slim's on Feb. 24. Check out our conversation -- and hear "Stuck in a Circle" -- right here:
What was the inspiration for the title of the new album, Poorly Formed?
Johnny Bonnel: Jack came up with the title and music for this song. It sounded so science fiction and it made me feel so small in this world. It's amazing how just music can make me feel this way, so I wrote lyrics.
Darius Koski: It's the title of one of the songs that Johnny and Jack wrote. I just really loved that for the title of a record. You can read so much into a couple of words like that.
How was it bringing Jack into the songwriting fold? Did having another songwriter help the writing process go faster?
JB: For me, anytime I can collaborate on a song, I get crazy emotional and want to keep doing it. I love writing songs with everyone in the band. Working together to create something unique should be the world's motto! Having Jack write songs with me is a no brainer, I just wish he would send me more. I was a fan before he joined Swingin' Utters. When the process is enjoyable, songs come quick!
DK: We never really have problems writing material. Me and Johnny have always got something going in that department, so I'm not sure it made the process quicker, necessarily. That being said, I think Jack's contribution was totally inspiring to all of us, as it was a total change of direction. It wasn't like we've started sounding like a different band or anything, but bringing somebody like Jack, who's songwriting we've always loved, into a band with a sound we've established over the last 20+ years can't be a bad thing. I've been trying to get him to write for us since he joined almost 10 years ago!
How would you describe the new songs and sound?
JB: I think it sounds like looking at dysfunction through a microscope. Wait for it, wait for it and NOW you may call me a weirdo.
DK: Kind of a different twist on our sound, which is really exciting to all of us. We always strive to make records that sound a little different every time, and this one's all over the map stylistically. Jack and Johnny writing together has really pumped us up, I think. It's just a totally new dynamic and we're all really excited about it.
What can we expect at the record release shows in S.F. and Santa Cruz?
JB: We're trying to play some different songs that people haven't heard live before. Hopefully, that will happen!
DK: We'll play several songs off the new record, as well as lots of the old stuff people want to hear -- a little something from every release, pretty much. We're going to give away some free stuff, too!
You've hit your 25th anniversary as a band, and you're coming up on the 20th anniversary of your full-length debut, The Streets of San Francisco. What's it like still playing fast, loud punk music after so many years? What keeps you guys excited to play and record together?
JB: It's the funnest music, that I know, to play, write and perform. Speaking for me, we've been doing this so long that it is super easy to get along with everyone in the band and their families. Great people!
DK: It's just what we've done for so long now that it'd be really strange to stop. I know it's a cliche, but we really are like a family. We're all still obsessed with music -- listening to it, criticizing it, arguing about it, writing, recording and performing it. We're all into a huge variety of genres, and always have been -- we can cover hundreds of miles on the road without listening to one punk rock song, but I don't see any of us ever getting sick of it. At this point, it's just in our blood.