Writer Mark Roberts / Photographer Maddie Cottam-Allan
As I walk into The Night Owl ready to meet Danny C from Swampmeat Family Band at a fundraising gig, the vibe can only be described as familiar. I’m early and yet people are already here, chatting away. Does everyone know each other or is it just brummies? I’m undecided.
I greet Dan and his thick brummie accent hits me first, it’s warm and inviting, somehow matching up with Dan’s bristly handlebar moustache and slicked back hair. A pedigree of Midlands and American rock fusing together.
We take a seat and begin by talking about the difficulties of the pandemic. Which could be old hat by now, but the impacts are far reaching.
“We made Muck in 2019 and it turned out really well and we were going to South By [South West / SXSW]. Then obviously the world went to sh*t.”
For those of you who don’t know, SXSW is a major Austin, Texas festival. As I cringe at the idea of missing out on such a prestigious gig, Dan was quick to reassure me: “We released Muck on 5 June 5 2020, and it did really well considering, so we rode it out.”
I ask Dan what the future holds for Swampmeat and he says: “We’re planning on making a new record in the summer with Mark Gittins, and we’re doing a bunch of shows to raise a bit of money for recording.
“We’ve got a label called PNK SLM, they’re based in Sweden, who are really excited about it.”
Dan continues: “Half of the album is going to be tracked how we normally do, which is us playing live and then doing the vocals and overdubs, but half the album is going to be layered up from acoustics and strings. Townes Van Zandt is a big influence on some of those songs.”
Our conversation goes deeper and we inevitably land on Swampeat’s connection with Third Man Records.
“I played Third Man in Nashville a couple of times with my old band, Low-Cut Connie. I know Ben Swank who runs Third Man for Jack [White] really well. In September of last year, we played the Third Man afterparty at The Social in London and it was just great, man.”
“Jason Spaceman was there from Spiritualized and Jack came down to see us after he was done at the shop. What Swampmeat do is fairly DIY, so to have that legitimacy and support from someone as high-profile as Jack… Well, I don’t know if you can get more high-profile than Jack White.”
Dan sips from what I assume must be a whisky and coke and we focus our talk locally, on Digbeth and the way the scene is developing.
“Because I lived in the states and came back, we’ve never really been part of a ‘scene’. Digbeth has turned a bit chaotic but I love Dead Wax [Digbeth] and I love The Night Owl.”
Dan finishes by saying, “My ears are always open to a good band, whether it’s rock n’ roll, whether it’s pop, whether it’s hip hop. I love God Damn, I love Table Scraps, I love Black Mekon. There are some good rock n’ roll bands out there, I just wish someone would say, ‘listen to this band they’re f*cking great.”
With that I bid Dan a farewell, with a spring in my step. I stay for the gig after and it Is classic rock and roll with the odd twist.
So, if that’s your thing, get down to The Kingsway in Kings Heath on Good Friday (15 April) and get your twist on. This has been a long pandemic, maybe a family band is just what we all need.
Swampmeat Family Band are composed of Danny C, T-Bird, Richard March, Tommy Hughes and Joni Coyne. To hear more news about Swampmeat Family Band you can catch them on Instagram www.instagram.com/swampmeatfamilyband
For more on The KIngsway visit www.facebook.com/atthekingsway
For more on The Night Owl (Birmingham) visit www.birmingham.thenightowl.club