Migration Pattern: And the World Still Spins launches The Swallowtails into orbit
This June, Kansas City trio The Swallowtails will release And the World Still Spins, the follow-up to the group’s 2020 debut full-length, Right Where We Are.
While The Swallowtails’ trademark blend of rock, pop, folk, classical, and jazz still defies generic labels, this album—recorded by Joel Nanos at Element Recording—is a louder and more rocking collection of songs. Those expecting a repeat of Right Where We Are will still thrill to the trio’s baroque instrumentation and tripartite vocal harmonies, of course, but the way in which guitarist and singer Miki P takes to the drum kit makes And the World Still Spins something that hits a little harder.
We sat down one Sunday afternoon to speak with Miki P (guitar/vocals), Adee Dancy (cello/vocals), and Rachel Lovelace (bassoon/vocals) to discuss the new album and where the Swallowtails go from here.
The Pitch: And the World Still Spins sounds bigger than Right Where We Are. Did you go into recording with that in mind, or was it something that happened as you were putting it together?
Rachel Lovelace: I think it kind of just happened with the songs, really. The process of writing involved Miki bringing up songs and then Adee and I arranging, but we listened back to things and were just like, “Oh, this can be very rock and roll.”
Miki P: Yeah, the last song that we wrote for Right Where We Are was “Like The Spider.” I think I wrote it two weeks before we got into the studio, and Adee was like, “That has to be on the album,” and I was like, “Are you sure? We’re cutting it close,” but it was the direction we wanted to go in. I wrote “Take It Slow,” probably not long after, and we were like, “That has to be big—lots of electric guitar.”
I didn’t play drums on Right Where We Are, but I played drums on this album. That might have had something to do with the foundation of it just already being really extra and having to add all the layers on top of it to fill it out.
Adee Dancy: It’s really cool because Miki creates from so many instruments, but I feel like this album really is so creative with the drumming. It’s almost drum-centric in that way. That’s the first thing that was recorded, too. It’s cool to hear not just what a drummer does on our songs but what Miki’s drum brain does to her own songs.
Right Where We Are has this baroque aspect to it, whereas this is something very different. Are you excited for folks to hear the changes?
Rachel: I think it’ll still be a little shocking just ‘cause we primarily perform right now as the trio, so we don’t have bass and drums with us all the time.
Miki: We hadn’t heard the songs like that before. The response to “Who’s Gonna Be There” is pretty awesome. People seem to like it. They have been hearing these songs for three years now. I honestly think our audience is really eager to hear these because we’ve been talking about finishing our album for a year and a half.
What’s the process of bringing songs to life in the studio versus the ones you’d been playing, in some cases, for the last three years?
Adee: Miki brought “The Spider” in, and Rachel and I were like, “We have to have this; it’s not an option.” At that time, we were still kind of ironing out our sound and figuring out how we can make a bassoon and cello do things together that are not orchestral but also have a little bit of an orchestral flare.
Rachel: —and in ways that we don’t cover up each other too, ‘cause we have a very similar range, as far as both of our voices.
Adee: There are a lot of really cute videos of us sitting at the piano and figuring out what we wanna play together. It’s a creative process when you bring in a new song, and you have only a little bit of time in the studio to get it done. It’s definitely a different kind of songwriting and arranging, and it’s special. We don’t do it very often ‘cause we’re all big planners around here.
Rachel: I think that process is sometimes good for us, though. Adee and I get very, very into the creative brain, and then it is almost too much, so the fact that we’ve had this little chunk of time to create something—we’re like, “Okay, this, this, and this. All right. That’s it.”
It sounds like it’s flexing different creative muscles. If you only have a couple of weeks to work on a song as opposed to three years, the decisions have to be made much more quickly.
Rachel: Yeah, and I think this time, recording And the World Still Spins, was different for us because we wanted to be more efficient with our time in the studio. With Right Where We Are, we were arranging while we were in the studio. We laid down drums and guitar and bass, and while that was happening, Adee and I were also arranging.
Miki: We worked on demos for a couple of years. We walked in more prepared than ever.
We understand that, along with putting out this album, Miki is also moving.
Miki: Yeah. I don’t really know what I’m doing with my life, but I am actually gonna go back and forth between here and Connecticut and just try to network out there and become a person that plays music on the East Coast, similar to how it’s been in Kansas City. I’ll be coming back pretty often, every six or seven weeks, to play and write and do all that. I’m hoping that we get on the road more this next year.
Adee: It was a little scary at first just ‘cause we’re like, “What are we gonna do?” But we had a lot of Zoom meetings during COVID. We have a lot of experience recording in our own homes, and we just kind of realized that for the times that Miki’s here, we’re gonna be on it. When Miki is not here, we’re gonna be on it, you know? We’re just going about it in different ways. When Miki’s in Connecticut, we’ll have weekly meetings. We’ll get a lot of business stuff done. And then when Miki’s here, we’re gonna play.
Rachel: It’s definitely changed the dynamic a little bit. But I think it’s made us way more productive than we’ve ever been.
Miki: Oh my God, we’re so productive right now.
Rachel: We’re getting so much more done because we know that the time that we have together is so limited. I do miss the hangouts, though.
Miki: We only have a little hang time. But we’ll get it on the road. It’s coming.
Rachel: We’re hopeful that Adee and I can make it out to Connecticut and potentially just have time away from playing and gigging and we can just sit in a room together and just write music. That’s kind of what we’re planning for the next album—the three of us collaborating and writing songs together.
Find The Swallowtails’ music on Bandcamp along with performances at Casual Animal Brewing on Thursday, June 15, and Replay Lounge on Thursday, June 29.