Interview with John Collett of S.W.W.A.A.T.S.

by Jack Diablo
The brutality continues this summer as the Conquer & Curse Tour visits Jacksonville. EU spoke with James Collett Jr. of the Tampa-based Death Metal outfit, Success Will Write Apocalypse Across the Sky (S.W.W.A.A.T.S. for short), about touring Europe, working with a living legend, and the challenges of doing what they do in the Death Metal capitol of the world.

EU: S.W.W.A.A.T.S. are currently on the road with the Conquer & Curse tour. Tell us a little bit about the tour and some of the bands you’re playing with.
JC: Well it’s a pretty heavy, brutal tour. We’re on tour with a band called Abysmal Dawn on Relapse Records and the headliner is Abigail Williams of Candlelight. Great dudes, man. These guys are definitely bringing it every night. It’s a lot of fun to be jamming with these dudes. They’re cool people and awesome bands. So far so good, it’s been killer man.

EU: You guys just got off the Thrash & Burn European Tour. What are some of the differences you see between these big tours in America versus Europe?
JC: Oh man [laughs]. Don’t make me ruin my career, dude. I’m just kidding. You know what? The Europeans, it seems like they really, really, really appreciate the American bands. They understand how far we travel to come and play their venues. The amount of respect and the amount of hospitality we receive over there is unmatched. It’s unbelievable. They take this stuff very seriously. In America, it’s a little different. It’s tougher. Sometimes it seems like these promoters are like “Oh well, it’s okay because we have another band coming tomorrow so we don’t really have to do much for these dudes.” But at the same time, there’s really no place like home. It’s always awesome to travel the country and make new friends because you know you are going to be able to see them again at some point, you know? And that’s how you build up a fan base, especially as American bands. Keep steady rolling man, keep pumping it out and eventually, if all goes well, that name gets out there and you start packing these houses. And that’s what we’re looking forward to. We’re out here just making a name for ourselves right now and it’s been killer, it really has. It’s been cool. Honestly, it’s been awesome. We’re stoked, man. America obviously, is incredible in its own right, without a doubt.

EU: And that name that you are making for yourself is an interesting one. Can you tell us how you came up with it?
JC: Well, pretty much, it’s a line out of a William Burroughs short story. He did some writings like Naked Lunch and Junkie, those are pretty noteworthy. But our name actually comes from a short story entitled, Apocalypse. And within the story he actually states “Success will write apocalypse across the sky.” And what that has to do with is, art itself actually jumping off of its canvas and taking on a living breathing life-form and actually overthrowing society in a sense. It’s rather interesting. The guy was on a lot of drugs while he was writing this, there’s no question about it. But it kinda struck a chord with us, you know? It kinda hit home as far as where we wanted to take this band lyrically and conceptually. It just fit and with Aaron [Haines], his previous band being Bodies In the Gears of the Apparatus, it just seemed like the next step.

EU: You released a new album pretty recently. Who all did you work with production-wise?
JC: Production-wise was the master-fold, James Murphy. That was just an incredible, incredible process working with a dude who’s been in this business 25 years. He’s been in Death, Testament, Obituary and he’s done all his solo projects like Disincarnate and just different stuff on different albums. The guy knows what’s up in other words. It was a great learning experience working with a dude who’s really just been in the business for years. And he knows what a good Death Metal record and a good Grind-Core record sounds like. We’re thrilled to death with the way the album turned out. He did an amazing job. An amazing job. And I like to think we did okay too [laughs].

EU: So what are you most proud about with the new album in terms of sound or the direction the band is going?
JC: Well, I mean the clarity of the whole thing in general is fantastic. It’s a very natural sounding record as opposed to a lot of these bands that are just Pro-Tooling the hell out of their albums. It sounds like MIDI keyboards and that’s totally not what we’re about at all. Everything is crystal clear and that’s what we were going for. That’s why we wound up with him, it’s fantastic. There’s really no two ways about it. Like I said, conceptually, lyrically, the message that we have behind the band is something that we feel has to be heard worldwide. It’s very important that people start to really open their eyes to what’s happening in their own backyard and everyone else’s backyard. We’re being lied to in a lot of ways by our higher-ups and we kinda need to call ’em out on it a little bit now, you know? Things are starting to get really, really hectic. These wars are just popping up left and right and it’s not going to stop until we actually stand up and say, “Okay, let’s try and come to a conclusion here,” or else we’re just going to kill ourselves. We’re just going to butcher ourselves to death. It’s starting to get ridiculous and there needs to be a change and we’re just trying to be messengers for change. Just wake up, that’s pretty much it.

EU: So, you guys are based out of Tampa and Tampa is often referred to as the birthplace of Death Metal. Do you find that it makes it easier being in that kind of band or is it harder to stand out in the crowd?
JC: Definitely. Especially in Tampa there seems to be a lot of bands trying to emulate the old classics. When something like us comes around, it takes the a little while, especially with our name. Like, “What the hell is this crap? Who the hell are these dudes? What’s going on here?” It was tough at first, it definitely was. But as we started playing, as we started developing a following, people started to really understand what we were going for and the direction the band was going in. It’s been really cool. Even some of the older dudes are digging it, which is amazing. It’s really cool. We actually rehearse in the same rehearsal studio as Cannibal Corpse. It’s awesome man. Those guys will knock on the door and say, “Hey, what’s going on?” or “Sounds good,” and that’s amazing. It’s awesome down there right now for us. And slowly, we’re developing a really cool fan base down there, it’s killer man, it’s excellent.
Be sure to catch S.W.W.A.A.T.S. at Jack Rabbits on June 25th. They’ll be playing alongside Abigail Williams, Goatwhore, Death and Abysmal Dawn. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 the day of. Doors open at 7 pm.