Q&A

The International Swingers: "The First Punk Bands . . . Were Just Bands"

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There's a meme that's been around the internet for a couple of years--a picture of Henry Rollins and Ian MacKaye of Fugazi, and it says, "Punk isn't dead, it just goes to bed at a more reasonable hour."

Glen: That depends who you're talking to. I don't go to bed at a more reasonable hour.

Clem: Punk is really a do-it-yourself attitude; it's not about a mohawk or a leather jacket, it's do-it-yourself. That's it.

Glen: You're absolutely right, Clem. There's no reason why you should have gotten in that van with us, or why any of us should get in a van and drive out here to Arizona. It's only because we want to -- because we want to play.

Clem: And it's cool that we can actually get gigs, you know. It's great.

I'm just going to do the fanboy moment -- not only do you guys comprise, you know, several hundred-thousand frequent-flier miles with all the travel you've done, but you guys combined comprise more than a century of rock and roll and punk rock history.

Glen: Two centuries.

Gary: Since you were born -- not since you started playing.

Clem: It's really interesting, because the things that Glen was doing back with the genesis of the Sex Pistols . . . for some reason or another it's relevant still. The popular culture kind of reflects what went on back then. And I think collectively, we've all had something to do with having some impact on popular culture. There is a lot of history there.

Do you consider the International Swingers a side project or a main project, or...?

Clem: It's a fun project . . .

Glen: Yeah.

Clem: With potential. We started out, basically, as Glen has said, as a cover band, but we'd play our own songs. So that's how it started. But obviously we're all creative people, and these three guys are great songwriters. And obviously the creative spark hit, and we're writing original songs.

So it's a combination of both things. If it was to evolve into where someone had a real interest in our original material, we would probably go forward. I always say, we try to have fun in the gigs. We're hoping we play weddings, funerals, bar mitzvahs, and we're also open to a multi-million-dollar record deal. All of the above. We're happy to be musicians and playing, as commonplace as that sounds. We're all journeyman musicians, and here we are today.

Glen: And it is moving forward. Nearly half of our set is original songs now.

Clem: We're going back to the studio when we go back to LA.

Glen: All the covers, pretty much, are from bands we've had a hand in doing something with.

After the jump: "We're in this kind of rock and roll movie now."

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.