This week’s featured Meet The Band artist is the UK sludge/doom trio Swamp Coffin. Their full-length debut is Noose Almighty. Vocalist/guitarist Jon Rhodes introduces us to his band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Swamp Coffin.
Jon Rhodes: Me and Dave (Wistow, drums) formed the band in 2016. We’ve been mates since school and had been in a band for a few years as teenagers. It originally only started out as a bit of a laugh for a few hours a week, just wanting write and play music again. It snowballed pretty quickly after we recorded our 2017 demo and started playing shows.
Describe the songwriting process for Noose Almighty.
Me and Dave write everything collaboratively, like a Yorkshire Hetfield and Ulrich. I’ll come in to our practice space with a main riff and sometimes a bridge section and then we’ll jam until Dave has found the direction he wants the drums to go. We tend to figure out verse sections whilst we’re jamming, then it’s just a case of working out structures so everything flows nicely. Martyn (White) then comes in and fills in the gaps with his bass. With Noose Almighty we’d already got two and a half songs ready but none that really felt like an album opener or closer. We like to structure our records in the same way we’d structure a live set, there has to be ebb and flow so we consciously wrote “Your Problem” and “Welcome To Rot” to fill those roles to nastily bookend the album.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
For me, definitely the title track. That one is particularly special to me as it’s just so emotional. There’s 40-something layers on there, loads of guitar textures, harmonies, vocal layers. Standing in the mixing room at the studio, watching Dave and Martyn’s reactions as we played it back will always stick with me.
How did the pandemic affect the process?
It was particularly tricky for us because we had a lineup change right at the start of it, meaning when Martyn came in not only did we have to complete writing the new record we had to teach him the old songs so we were prepped for when gigs started to become a thing again. I was able to record riffs at home and at least give the other two sight of ideas I was working on which helped massively so when we did finally get back together again in person we could hit the ground running.
How would you characterize its style/sound?
What lyrical topics do you cover?
My lyrics are always really personal, they’re about as close to therapy as I get. The sudden death of my brother-in-law in 2017 the day we were due to go to the studio to record our demo and the house fire that left us out of our home were two huge influences on the previous record and some of that feeling has spilled over to Noose Almighty. We cover grief, betrayal, suicide, depression – it’s not a gentle record lyrically. Recording these songs and playing them live is a massive catharsis.
How did you come to sign with APF Records?
We were already fans of the label and a bunch of APF bands so we were pretty excited when Fieldy messaged us shortly after Shawn had left the band and we’d put up a post online saying we were continuing writing and planning a new record. We then spent the best part of a year flirting online until he finally said “fuck it” and we signed on the dotted line. Fieldy never signs bands without him hearing the music he’ll be releasing first so it was a real confidence boost when he took a shot on us without hearing Noose Almighty. Fieldy is the best dude and we couldn’t be happier to be on APF.
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
I honestly think this is the best stuff we’ve ever written and we’re incredibly proud of the album, so the main goal is for people to hear it and love it as much as we do. The feedback we’ve had already has been great. Obviously we’d love to hit the doom charts and make it in to end of year lists, but personally even if just one person listens to Noose Almighty, connects with it and use it as a way of dealing with their own problems then it’s mission accomplished.
What has been your most memorable Swamp Coffin live show?
There’s been two. Our recent show at Fell Foot Wood near Lake Windemere was pretty special, to play in the woods and to look out and see people headbanging silhouetted against a roaring fire pit was about as cool as it gets. Then Dave got baptized in the moon pool by a bloke in robes with a rubber toad on his head whilst me and Martyn held flaming torches. Fairly standard stuff. The other was less weird but it was supporting Raging Speedhorn. They were a band we always looked up to as teenagers so to be able to share a stage with them and then go out on the piss after with them will take some beating.
What are your upcoming show/tour plans?
We’ve got a few shows scattered around in to the middle of next year including the APF showcase in January which will be our first time in Manchester. By the time this interview comes out we’ll have played with Conan in Sheffield which I’m sure was a fantastic show and we didn’t get too shitfaced. We’re hoping to tick more bands off the bucket list to play with in 2022, play some weekenders and we’re knocking on the door of the likes of Damnation and Bloodstock.
How did you get started in music?
I got my first guitar at the age of 8 but just couldn’t figure it out. It wasn’t until I was 13 and me and my brother found an electric guitar in a skip that I started wanting to learn. I played that thing every day for hours at a time over the summer holidays. I was in my first band and gigging at 16.
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
Brian May was the reason I wanted to play guitar in the first place, but it was hearing Korn for the first time that made me really want to learn the instrument properly and to be in bands. It was meeting my good friend Jonny at college in 2002 that really opened my mind to the sort of music we play now, though. Without him introducing me to Iron Monkey, Mistress, Raging Speedhorn and Labrat, Swamp Coffin simply wouldn’t exist.
What was the first metal concert you attended?
Other than local gigs the first metal gig I went to with big bands was Lostprophets on the NME Awards tour 2002. It went uphill after that, thank fuck.
What are some of your non-musical interests and hobbies?
I’m a big movie nerd so most of my spare time I’m watching films. I’m on a big folk horror kick at the moment so I’m binging everything I can get hold of in terms of films and books. I’m in to my Stephen King and Pratchett books too, I’ve got big collections by both. I tend to get roped in to my kids hobbies which I’m more than happy with. They’re currently into skateboarding and scootering so at 36 years old I’m going to skateparks with them and falling on my arse.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
I’m currently obsessed with Elder, they’ve gradually crept in as one of my current favorite bands so I’m finding that whenever I’m stuck for something to listen to I’m listening to them. Converge’s All We Love We Leave Behind, Black Sabbath’s Dehumanizer and LLNN’s Unmaker albums have all been getting repeated plays recently.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
We want more members to join the Bastard Club. We’ve got ideas for it for the future but for now, pick up one of the new shirts or the bundles that feature the Bastard Club logo patch, sew it on your jacket and rep us in the pit.
(interview published November 27, 2021)
Watch Swamp Coffin – “Welcome To Rot” Video