You grow up in a place and it’s only natural that you want to change the scenery. It’s a pretty essential step in growing the fuck up, which I needed to do.
If you’re comfortable with your presence in the Denver music scene, you’ve probably seen Marshall Gallagher. He played guitar for Solar Bear, he played bass for My Body Sings Electric, and he tours with 3OH!3 on guitar. While on the road, he was inspired to create his own music, and Swing Hero was born. Combining his previous band experiences with some late night writing sessions, Gallagher created a simple sound of emotional rock music about past relationships, breakups, and a change in scenery.
Since Swing Hero’s debut in 2011, he’s relocated to L.A. for a little change in pace, but still calls Denver his home. Arriving just a few days before his release show at the Hi-Dive tomorrow, 303 sat down with Gallagher along with My Body Sings Electric’s Ben Scarboro to get a little dirt on what Denver is about to experience.
303 Magazine: How did Swing Hero come about?
Marshall Gallagher: I play guitar for 3OH!3, and I got that gig in March or February 2011. I would say probably about a couple of months after that I started developing [Swing Hero]. I used to play in a band called Solar Bear – it’s like a post-hardcore band. But Solar Bear called it quits. After that, I kind of needed something else to do besides playing someone else’s music. I just wrote a lot of the songs on the road while hanging out, and I’d bring my computer with me and stuff. The first probably six songs or so were pretty rough. They all got trashed. Nothing to be said about those. But eventually I got five songs that I really wanted to do and tracked them all in winter 2011.
303: You’ve been in a lot of different bands. What style were you going for with this solo project?
MG: At first, I didn’t know. So I just played a lot of ideas and random riffs and stuff like that. I’d never written vocals or anything before. At first it was kind of sounding like Solar Bear with singing, but I realized that I couldn’t play any of that and sing at the same time. I showed some stuff to Adam [Halferty]. He’s the one that got me the [3OH!3] gig, so I kind of confided in him. And he said it was awesome but it should be a lot simpler. So I took that to heart, not dumbing it down, but just started making it easier to sing and having more structures and easy melodies. I sent him a song off the first EP and it was like two chords. He said, “This is the best. You have to go with this.” So that was the first thing. It was a little 90’s alternative and I decided well, maybe this is my thing and it’s kind of working out that way. And now I’m kind of good at it.
303: When was your first EP released?
MG: The last one came out in December of 2011. I didn’t really do much with that. I think we played 10 shows or something in 2012.
303: How is Nothing Real is Left different than your previous EP?
MG: It’s a lot more developed. The first one was kind of just an experiment to see if I could do it. So this one I knew exactly what I was doing. Everything had already been pre-produced and all that so I had everything done that I wanted to do. And when we played live shows, I finally figured out how I wanted to sing – make it sound natural and not weird or forced. The first EP was like I had no idea what I was doing and it comes off that way I think. It’s a lot more cohesive I guess. The sound is a little more crispier. It’s less grungy and more shimmery and emo I guess. I wouldn’t say it’s more produced by any means, but it’s less muddy.
303: My Body Sings Electric is your backing band for tomorrow’s show. Did any musicians record with you?
MG: Swing Hero is kind of a solo project. I went to school with guy called Patrick Kline. He’s on both of the records. I wrote a lot of the drum parts, but I can’t really play drums as well as I want to. So I brought him on for both of them and he just killed it. I do everything else on the record though.
303: Where was this EP recorded?
MG: At Black in Bluhm with Chris Fogal. He’s done The Gamits and a lot of awesome recordings out here. I went into his studio, wasn’t really sure what to expect, but he’s an incredibly talented engineer. We worked really well together. It’s super easy being there with him. I told him to produce the shit out of it because I wanted his impact, and he did. It all turned out really well. I was in and out of there in three days.
303: Tell me about the songs. “Obsidian Seas” is my favorite.
MG: These guys [My Body Sings Electric] just learned it today, so we’re going to try to play that at the show.
303: You have to play it.
MG: We will. These guys are fucking monsters. I don’t think they’ve even heard the song before. But anyway, all my songs are about relationship bullshit for a lack of a better eloquent way to describe them. Most of them are about the same girl. All of them on the first EP are. There was just one relationship that I was heavily involved in and touring just kind of fucked it all up. Both of us made mistakes and all that. We broke up and got back together and broke up again. It was an endless stream of nonsense. I think about three songs on this new one are about that as it progressed. It’s all kind of sad melancholy, whiny music, but it’s all about girls, really. There’s one on there – “Beachwood” – about moving to LA, but it’s also about leaving that person.
303: Let’s talk about “Dead White Girls.” How did you come up with that?
MG: I’m kind of sentimental. I was kind of just born like a sad emo kid. I’m a positive person, but I’m also very nostalgic. There was just a box of shit in my room full of concert tickets and pictures of girls that I dated, so that was the thing that I was looking through. I was like man, these girls fucking might as well be dead…kind of thing. It’s totally not about killing white people or something. It’s not about anything besides dead relationships.
303: Do you have a favorite song on this EP?
MG: The last one. Title track, “Nothing Left is Real.” I guess I just like the hook. I try to write in odd time as much as I can. But make it flow, not make it sound like odd time necessarily. The two-chord thing with the hook over it, I think is really cool. A lot of the tones in that, I’m really excited about. And we jammed it today for the first time and it just sounded massive. That’s definitely my favorite.
303: You recently moved to L.A. from Colorado. Why was that?
MG: A lot of factors. A lot of ins, a lot of outs. Everything kind of came together in a week. The breakup happened, and the EPs were a product of all that. But when my relationship ended, I guess I just decided that there was nothing left here for me, except for My Body Sings Electric. But their old bass player kind of jumped back in, and I had to get out. Anyway, I’ve just been trying to get out there for awhile. You grow up in a place and it’s only natural that you want to change the scenery. It’s a pretty essential step in growing the fuck up, which I needed to do. And it’s helped in every possible way. And now when I come back here, it’s even more awesome. I had to light a fire under my own ass I guess.
303: So why have your release show in Denver?
MG: Mainly because this is where I’m from. If I were to do any kind of release show, it would just have to be here. People would show up ad I want to be here when it comes out. It’s only going to be a bunch of friends, I’m sure. What better way to party with my friends and have an excuse to put out a record? I would feel weird having this show anywhere else. And plus I don’t have a live band put together in LA quite yet. I got spoiled with these assholes [MBSE]. They learned everything in two days. Out there it’s a little more of a process because everyone’s so busy. Everyone’s in other projects and has real jobs and all that.
303: How long did you play with MBSE?
MG: Not even a year. It wasn’t a sure thing for a while. They were trying to find a bass player and I said I’d fill in until they got one, and eventually became their bass player. I was super into that. It was the first time I played bass for a band, so it definitely got up my bass chops with those guys. But as much as I regret leaving these dudes, the move I made was the right one.
303: Why have MBSE as your backing band? Because you’re best friends?
MG: We’re best friends, man. We got really tight when we played in a band together. That happens. But like these guys said it’s one of the most significant relationships you could have. We spent way too much time together and it’s comfortable to play in band with your best friends, and they just happen to be incredible musicians as well. I’ve known Nick since my freshman year at college. And us in particular, we just gel together so well. It was a natural thing. I didn’t even have to ask them. They were like, “So do we get to be your backing band? Can we be in your live band when you put this out and start playing shows?” And I was like, I was just about to ask that. So yes. And Ben [Scarboro] didn’t jump on for a while, but it just made sense.
303: So Ben, you play live shows with Swing Hero, but what’s your outside perspective?
Ben Scarboro [My Body Sings Electric]: It’s awesome. I see it more of like Smashing Pumpkins-esque. And I love Smashing Pumpkins a lot.
MG: Glad to hear that, by the way. It’s either you love them or you hate them.
BS: It’s really fun to play drums to his music.
MG: I feel bad. I feel like I’m holding you back. I program all this shit, and then Patrick plays it, and then you play after that. It’s like third-hand drums.
BS: There’s some stuff that I do on my own, but the stuff that he writes is just really fun.
MG: You bring your own style to it. It’s so much different than Patrick’s, and it’s just really cool for the live show. And actually, I have some new songs and I want to talk to you about recording them.
BS: Yeah, of course.
MG: This is going to be the guy on the next record – if he has time and if he’s not touring with whoever.
BS: I would love to.
MG: He’ll be out there with fucking 30 Seconds to Mars or something.
303: There’s such a bromance happening right now.
MG: We’re bros. We’re best friends.
303: It seems like everyone’s connected in the Denver music scene.
MG: I used to talk a lot of shit on the Denver music scene, because honestly, there’s not a lot of bands that I love. But the few that I do love, are part of something really cool. Everyone’s friends. It seems like everyone has each other’s back and yeah, they might be talking shit on each other, but they’ll always support each other.
303: So what are we going to experience tomorrow at the Hi-Dive?
MG: All the bands are just awesome. Anchorage is a bunch of really solid dudes. I’ve known them for a while. If you’ve never seen Orphans, they’re a sight to be seen. Monroe Monroe is one of my favorite locals. It’s just going to be a great show. There’s no glamorous gimmick or whatever in store. There’s not going to be confetti canons shooting dollar bills out or anything. We don’t even have a light show. But it’s just going to be a night of super heartfelt, heavy music. Heavy in one way or another. Also, we’re being presented. MileHImusic.com is going to give away some tickets. They hit me up to see if there was a concert coming up to give away tickets to support our show. It’s kind of a no-brainer: Band of Horses. But it’ll be awesome. It’ll be a night that I probably won’t remember, I’m sure.
303: It’ll be a big party for sure. A giant bromance.
MG: There will be a lot of bro love for sure. Get ready to be a part of the bro love.
To experience Swing hero first hand, check out the show tomorrow night at the Hi-Dive with Anchorage, Orphans, and Monroe Monroe – not forgetting that My Body Sings Electric will be lending their musical talents as well.
Lindsay is 303 Magazine’s Lifestyle Editor. She’s a California native who loves leather bags, killer heels and a bright shade of long-lasting lipstick. She’s always on the lookout for a great guy in skinny jeans, but puts her independence and writing first, traveling to some of the best hotspots in Denver and all over the world looking for a good lede.
Know of a cool local band I should feature in Neighborhood Noise? Email me: [email protected]