Swank – Gutless Crap for Drunk Teens – Interview


Gutless Crap for Drunk Teens (Curve of the Earth)
An interview with singer/guitarist Janet Egan
by Scott Hefflon

From the rubble of the now-defunct Malachite comes a new power trio: Swank. Consisting of roommates Gay Hathaway, Janet Egan, and Justine Covault, the chemistry of this new band is as volatile as it ever was. Like a three-ring circus, each is a show in and of themselves, but the combined performance is amazing. Now more of a power rock band that a metalish thing, singer/guitarist Janet Egan explained the progression in a phone interview late one Sunday night.

So what was the progression of Malachite to Swank?
Linnea, the first singer of Malachite, quit the band in the summer of ’93. That came as a real surprise to us. We immediately replaced her with Nancy (Fanara) and Jhen (Kobran) on vocals and bass respectively. We chose those people pretty fast because we wanted to keep the momentum going. There was label interest in the band and we wanted to keep playing the size shows that we were doing at that time.

For a while, everything worked out great. We recorded a bunch of cool songs, but in the end, after spending a year with that line-up, it just wasn’t working out. It’s too bad that it had to end, but we broke that band up in August of ’94.

What was it like after that?
Gay, Justine and I live together, and we weren’t sure what we were going to do. We all love being in a band. We realized that we all got along really well, both musically and personally, and have since the beginning. It was just a matter of saying, ‘Well, let’s just try the three-piece and see if it works out.’ Justine had fronted a band before, singing and playing guitar. She’d also played bass in other bands. So we decided, “Well, Justine’s the good bassist so she should play bass and sing. I’ll try to sing and be the only guitarist.”

You’ve always had a second guitarist?
In most of Malachite, there was always a second guitar. I wasn’t sure if I could do it. Especially the singing part ’cause I had never sung in a band before. I never could have done it except with Gay and Justine because I just feel so comfortable working with them. We each do lead vocals on half the set, and then do back up on the others songs. It’s pretty much 50/50. Gay doesn’t sing. On the tape, I sing “Superfly,” “Slackass” and “Suck me Dry.” And Justine sings “Where I Live” and “Corrosive.” She also sings “You Piss Down,” the B-side song on the single.

Everyone’s pulling out that song title as a quotable. How do you feel about that song representing you?
We understand it’s just shock value. That’s fine. It’s not sexual, I just really want to make that clear. I don’t really want to put my lips on anyone’s ass and suck, thank you, no. It’s just a figure of speech.

Any regrets on the end of Malachite and the rebirth as Swank?
While this is flowing so smoothly and comfortably, I often think “This is what we should have been doing all along…” No, I don’t regret any of the Malachite stuff. Live and learn.

Swank has a very different feel.
Definitely. It’s still rock. It’s all just rock, anyway. But if you had to nitpick, Swank’s definitely a trio sound. It’s also not nearly as metal as Malachite was. It’s kinda hard to do metal in a three piece.

Was that a conscious decision, to steer clear of the metal?
I don’t think either Justine or I have the voices of either Linnea or Nancy. They both had very unique and powerful voices. Our voices are just more suited toward the type of music that we’re playing now. None of us really set out to be in a death metal band, we just liked to play rock.

Why the name Swank?
Well, there was one night at Foxwoods, seeing Frank Sinatra… No, really, we just like that lifestyle: The martini-drinking, easy-listening, old rocker lifestyle. It’s just a great word. And y’know, I didn’t even know there was a porno magazine called Swank until later.

Weren’t you in the Tulips?
Yeah, I was with them for about a year. I recorded their most recent album, Night of the Hunter (Sonic Bubblegum), with them. I joined the band when Linnea quit Malachite, and I really wanted to be in a band. I’d always loved the Tulips a lot, anyway. We had a great time together. They knew about six months before I left that I wanted to go do my own band…

What about other, shall we say, personas that you have? I never really see that in print. Is there any reason?
There was in the beginning, when Malachite wasn’t ready for any kind of large exposure. I knew that if people attached the Juanita the Scene Queen (on WFNX) thing, first of all it would be cheesy, secondly, it might attract exposure that the band wasn’t ready for. People would see us in our first few shows and say, “Whew! These guys stink!” Which we did. I just wanted to keep the two things separate. I didn’t want it to turn into “Oh, this is Juanita the Scene Queen’s band.” It’s not my band. I’m in this band.