We chatted to the wonderfully extravagant DR SCHWAMP about their album TUNES, TALL TALES and TINCTURES

This 5 piece band really don’t stick to the traditional, playing all sorts of music and not being held back by any one genre. We had a chat with the main man, Dr Schwamp about Tunes, Tall Tales and Tinctures.

Can you tell us a bit about the band? Where are you from and how did you all meet?

Dr Schwamp grew out of its first incarnation, Ta Mere, back in 2008, more of a swing jazz
vibe with a legendary take on Summertime, playing a lot of festivals, corporate gigs and
becoming a most sought after private party/wedding party band. Had various residencies including the Pigalle Club, Piccadilly and the Brickhouse on Brick Lane. Dr Schwamp was a progression into writing our own material, finding our own sound…

We came together in London, between us there’s a melting pot of influences, Irish, Cuban, Venezuelan, English, St Lucian, Greek, Italian, Columbian…..

The Band of Merrymen:

My goodself Dr Schwamp

The front man carpetbagging, peripatetic vendor of all ailments. A growling, high-octane
entertainer, and virtuoso bagpiper. He also plays the violin, harmonica and guitar. And he
just happens to be a phenomenally successful businessman and lawyer.

The band has two guitarists:
Paul Sirett, the Undertaker/Playwright, who is also a multi-award winning playwright
produced in the West End and all over the globe.
Christos Chatzispyrou, the Gambler, and the greatest guitarist ever to descend from Mount Olympus.

The bass player is Nixon Rosembert, the Rebel: the best six-string bassist and coolest, most dissenting dude on planet earth.

The drummer is John McCarthy, the Rouge: the most handsome and awesome stick-wielder you’ll ever meet, and a damn good volcanologist to boot.

Where does the name Dr Schwamp come from, and why did you decide on it?

Tale (pull back the curtain, what do you get)
A Picaresque epic musical tale narrated by the central character, Doctor Schwamp, a larger than life web weaving multi-instrumentalist, “Inca snake hell-oil” vending peripatetic confidence man and his band of rapscallions. The Doctor and his agents of ribaldry ingeniously and aimlessly wander the globe, threading song and adventure, in search of self and meaning, returning whence they came savvier, smarter and more sophisticated.

The tale is recounted by the good Doctor and his band of merrymen. It all begins when our central character, the then Albert Wiggins, (London October 1879) disillusioned with the misery of life and routine, comes across a ramshackle shop selling antiques and all kinds of weird paraphernalia and stumbles upon a bottle, a very old bottle labeled Dr Schwamp’s Cure-All Tonic boasting the claim, amongst others, that this elixir “will change your life”. He decides to purchase and from here the adventures of Doctor Schwamp unfurl.

You recently released your latest album, Tunes, Tall Tales & Tinctures. What does this album mean to you as a band?

It was always intended as a musical odyssey, to throw the familiar in the air, whirl the
audience into the unexpected, to leave them wondering if what just happened was real or a figment of their imagination….

The album allowed us to draw on a plethora of musical strains jazz, blues, rock funk ‘grass…”

Which tracks stand out of your personal favorites?

Always need a Whetsone, MMM are my daughter’s initials, the Box is a favourite too..

Where did the inspiration for these tracks come from?

Having a narrative enables us to weave together a mix of styles….
Condemned to Swing (Big Band Swing) – Follows the story of a common labourer in the South seduced by the music of Satan, as a result, could not stop dancing. Includes a courtroom scene wherein he is condemned to “swing” due to demonic possession.

One Foot in the Groove (Blues funk) – Highly hypnotic, danceable piece where the devil tempts one to leave their disciplined ways the “treasures of the earth”. Twist ending.

Whetstone (hip hop w/ bagpipes) – Charts the development of a vengeful attitude to right wrongs. Bagpipe solo with distortion and wah-wah pedal!

Come with me to Heaven (Gypsy swing) – A survey of 6 forms of heaven, and their respective rewards. Ends with an infections unbridled gypsy style dance.

Kinda Blew (Blues w/ bagpipes) – Straight ahead blues track, with a nod towards Miles Davis’ album (Kind of Blue) in a biographical format, with the colour blue as the thematic thread.

Bonnie & Clyde (Anthemic “stadium” ballad) – A study of the hustler in various settings, fit for soundtracking.

The Box (Ska backed, Greek folk) – A frank, candid and hard look at the manner choose to ignore the philosophical underpinnings in life. Absolutely original, incorporates virtuosic danceable sections.

MMM (Reggaeton, Latino-funk based) – An exaltation of the multi-national in 4 languages, with an outro of Amazing Grace in epic, bagpiping style.

Dr Schwamp’s Brand New Cure-All Tonic (energetic uplifting funk) – Thematic track

Who produced your latest album? Have you worked with them before? How was it working with them?

Recorded at Konk Studios produced by Sam Dougal and Boz Boorer (Morrissey’s guitarist) great Boz and I go back a long way

Pre-lockdown, did you get the chance to play many live shows? What are some of your favorite memories from these shows? 

All over Glastonbury Avalon, Boomtown, Electric Picnic, A New Day….Regular London
venues Hootananny, Half Moon Putney, Troubadour, Borderline, Blues Kitchen out of town, Con Clube Lewes, Voodoo Rooms Edinburgh…

Too many good memories, Live is what we do best….

What advice would you give to those looking to make music?

Play!

What is next for Dr Schwamp?

Be the first on the post lockdown stages! We have material for a couple more albums,
looking at Elektro Schwamp more tour friendly same energy but smaller line up more of a dance vibe.

Where can we find out more about you?

Guess just watch this space and give us a holler….

Anything else you would like to tell us?

We’ll be inviting you along to our next gig….

And that is an invitation I will gladly accept! I would like to thank Dr Schwamp for taking the time to answer our questions and we hope to see the band out on the road when it is safe to do so!

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