By Owen Maxwell
Keeping a band running is a hard enough business—managing personalities, time, and finances—but imagine trying to manage a band when one of your members doesn’t even live in the same city. That was the issue facing Ottawa hard-rockers King Swan whose guitarist Austin moved to Jasper, Alberta after their first album. This didn’t stop the band from creating new music together.
“Austin planned to come to Ottawa for a month, so we had a crazy idea,” says drummer and lead vocalist Chris Buttera. “Write new songs, play a show, and make a record all within a month.”
Set with an intimidating amount of work for such a short time there was a lot of planning to be had.
“We had three songs already done, a lot of rehearsals for the first couple weeks and a show booked for the third week as a warm up for the studio,” says Buttera. “I remember being on the couch at two in the morning while Austin was recording guitars and finishing lyrics, because we had to sing the next morning.”
Their hard work paid off and Rituals Of Fire was born without suffering any losses from its expedited production.
Before this Austin had been gone for a whole year but the band survived the gap with a little help from The Coach’s Corner.
“We got on Don Cherry’s Rock’em Sock’em last year which helped us stay as a band since it gave us some ground,” said Buttera. King Swan was featured on the hockey highlight series the year before as well thanks to a helpful friend.
“This time I went out on a limb and sent Tim Cherry “Wicked Witch” and he sent me the contract for round two,” he said.
Even with such a task on their hands the guys still wanted to bring something fresh to this next record after their humble first outing.
“None of those songs really go well together because we hadn’t found ourselves yet, but we have already evolved a lot,” said Buttera. “As we started writing new songs we found our sound a little bit, finding stuff that sonically worked together.”
Finding that sound gave the band the confidence and foundation they needed.
“I liked how organically the new songs came together both melodically and structurally,” said Buttera. “I believed in them and thought it was worth recording them.”
What made this recording so much different was the right mindset and the experiences they pulled from their first time around.
“You always learn something from recording, and the first record was fly by night,” said Buttera. “We recorded in Wolf Lake and the energy there just made it work, we didn’t overthink it, and as we were mixing it we peeled back layers for a raw and heavy rock sound.”
Looking for the best way to display their evolution, the band looked for artwork from Bill Cole.
“He used to do some amazing posters for us. Austin told him we wanted something spacey and huge,” said Buttera, who referred to Cole as an “old time moonshine.” The resulting sun explosion just stuck out to the band.
“It’s pixelated and doesn’t quite look like what it is, it isn’t immediately obvious.”
With Austin back in Jasper however, it will be some time before the band is playing again but they haven’t slowed down a bit.
“We started looking for bands that could fill the void while Swan was on Hiatus,” said Buttera. “I’m in a metal/punk crossover called Loose Für, Darren (bass) currently plays in folk outfit Doc Yates and the Kings Evil and Austin leads a weekly open jam at the Jasper Park Lodge.”
For now it’s just a matter of time before King Swan makes their next move.
“We plan on resuming the band by the end of 2017, if not early 2018, maybe even a mini-tour,” said Buttera. “If not, who knows maybe we’ll get another month and record another record.” •