Vale: What do you think of the wild dancing being revived?
SCOTTY MORRIS: A lot of times, in certain settings, the dancers are the stars, not whoever’s playing. I think it’s great when the audience aren’t just spectators. But I didn’t even know that swing dancing and our music went together until about a year-and-a-half into the band’s life. We were playing, and a couple (Lee and Terri Moore from Ventura’s Flyin’ Lindy Hoppers) came in and just started swing-dancing as crazy as we were playing it. We started a relationship with them, and built up this giant swing movement in the Ventura area.
When we started playing the Derby in Los Angeles, that already attracted a more swing-oriented crowd. Royal Crown Revue had played there weekly and staked a claim; they were much more hip to the right dance tempos. They’d been doing it longer and had figured it all out, whereas we hadn’t put the two together yet. At the Derby we learned how to work our craziness into the right tempos. That meant bigger crowds, and bigger crowds meant we could continue doing what we wanted. We really developed as a band.
R/S: Compared to the old swing band recordings, the contemporary bass and drums seem a lot heavier in the mix—
SM: I think that’s really my punk rock influence! On the new recording I’m going for a much more in-your-face bass and drums style. I don’t try to sing like a crooner; my voice is another instrument that makes up the sound that gives you the “vibe.” I try to be more of a character than a “nice vocalist.” I torch my throat every night of the week, but I really like the way it all works together.
R/S: Part of why people like swing is in reaction to “digital” sound—
SM: More than that, it may be a direct reaction to the “grunge” thing. Those people spoke very openly about sadness, depression and hard times, and people could relate to that. But then everybody got on the bandwagon. For people who have had enough of depression and angst, our music is providing the opposite: feelings that are positive and up-and-up.