Can’t Swim has always wanted to put an acoustic spin on some of their classic songs. The coronavirus quarantine provided them with the opportunity to do just that. On May 6th, the New Jersey-based punk project released a four-track EP, When The Dust Settles (merch), which puts a stripped-down spin on “My Queen,” “Stranger,” “Death Deserves a Name,” and “Sometimes You Meet the Right Person at the Wrong Time.”
The band’s previous EP, Foreign Language, was more aggressive, fast-paced rock, so it was only natural that something more light-hearted would be its successor. According to frontman Chris LoPorto, the decision to go a little softer this time around fit right in line with the band’s long-term vision. “I always said in the very beginning that I want to be like a chameleon and keep switching it up and keep people on their toes,” he explains. And fans, he says, are completely on board. “I think Can’t Swim right out the gate was always pretty scatterbrained and A.D.D. so I think the people who are into our band are, at this point, kind of expecting us to keep switching it up,” LoPorto explains, deeming the new EP a solid representation of that mindset.
Choosing the songs for this release took a bit of exploration. LoPorto says he put his “feet in the water” with a few of them and then realized that some tracks, like the more aggressive songs, immediately didn’t work. “I think they could have sounded a little bit goofy,” he admits. The idea was to highlight different periods of the band and to rework songs across the spectrum of the releases that they’ve put out over the years. “Death Deserves A Name,” for instance, is off Can’t Swim’s debut EP from 2016. And “Stranger” is from their first full-length album. “My Queen” was a unanimous decision amongst the bandmates as something they absolutely wanted to revisit, and “Sometimes You Meet the Right People at the Wrong Times” was one that LoPorto had been hoping to rework for a while now. “These are our most played on platforms like Spotify. So I thought it would be interesting to put out different versions of songs that people were familiar with,” LoPorto says.
The band found it refreshing to be able to focus on putting their effort into the structure of these tunes without having to start from scratch, like they would with a typical release. “It definitely was a different experience than in writing a new song,” LoPorto says, noting that after having “suffered lyrically and over the structure of these songs in the past, it was nice to have the work done.” Thus, he was able to focus on the presentation of the EP, rather than worry about the message of its songs. He had fun experimenting with novel arrangements, including adding strings and piano to some of the previously released tunes. “I already was confident in these songs themselves, it was just how I wanted to paint them and dress them up this time around,” explains LoPorto. He’s particularly proud of the band’s idea to have guitarist, Danny Rico, sing the bridge on “Death Deserves a Name.” “It’s such a cool contrast to have him set this moody vibe. And I’m basically singing what he’s singing but an octave up as the bridge kicks in, which is probably my favorite part of the new four songs,” he adds.
LoPorto and his bandmates started the project at the end of March. “It was a lot of FaceTime and sending sessions around,” he notes. And once he got going, the songs went fast; LoPorto sang about a song a day and the band was able to rework all four within six days of starting. Having now mastered the process of putting acoustic spins on existing Can’t Swim tunes, this is definitely something that LoPorto would love to explore again in the future. “I’ve never done anything like this before, but it was very enjoyable,” he reveals. And the idea of putting the band’s unique spin on some cover tunes is equally as appealing to him.
Prior to the lockdown, Can’t Swim was in Los Angeles working on a new EP. The new music, per LoPorto, is coming off in the vein of “electronic drum kind of freaky stuff.” Those tracks are currently in the mixing stage and will hopefully be released when the world eventually opens back up. They were also planning on recording with a new producer in July and getting to work on their third album. “That probably won’t be out till 2021 but expect a lot of new music to come,” LoPorto adds.
Revisiting the songs on the new EP helped LoPorto to realize that he’s just as excited about the band nowadays as he was in its beginning. “I still feel proud of these songs and the fact that I wanted to rework them and put them out again, five years later, is definitely an accomplishment to me,” he says. And this EP, he reveals, is perfect for the listener in lockdown. “You can’t really open up the mosh pit while you’re sitting in your living room. So I thought it would be nice to have some soothing music.”
Photo credit: Nick Karp