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After four years apart, Swift reunites for recording, performances

by Ryan Snyder

Swift (www.myspace.com/swiftband) had a sound in 1998 that was undoubtedly ahead of its time. Gary Forsyth’s seamless marriage of affectingly melodic wails and fierce death-metal snarling to the tune of impossibly heavy rhythm and guitars was like a blueprint for metal in the first half of the following decade. They might have laid the groundwork for a wave of more contemptible, MTV-bound would-be’s, but few managed to achieve the kind sincerity that such a seemingly dysfunctional pairing of vocal directions would attain. By the release of their 1999 debut album Thoughts Are Thought, Swift had already grown an intensely loyal following in what seemed like the blink of an eye.

Six years, three releases and some major label interest later, the band announced an indefinite hiatus in October 2005 and splintered to opposite sides of the Mason-Dixon Line in order to pursue other projects. Drummer Jamie King stayed in the Triad to focus on his production work. Recent addition Taylor Mabe played guitar for other area bands. Forsyth, bassist Billy Deal and guitarist Mikey Gentle headed north for Brooklyn, NY to indulge in other musical fixation, most notably an indie-rock project called Robot Revolt with a soon-to-be-released EP. Call it a quest for inspiration or a need to explore songwriting that didn’t fit the Swift mold, but Forsyth says he saw the time off as a necessity to gain exposure to a broader range of music.

“In Winston-Salem, we had built such a strong foundation, but it became difficult for us to push outward from that,” Forsyth said. “So we just decided that we wanted to go up to New York and live the city life for a while.”

Forsyth took interest in a country band by the name the Dixons and an up-and-coming experimental act called Bear in Heaven, even seeing Chairlift in a tiny room before their Apple commercial success. Though never performing as Swift during the time off, the five began to be in near-constant contact, sending each other home-recorded tracks via e-mail and engaging in intense creative sessions the few times they were together in North Carolina. King would occasionally visit the trio in New York to help with tracking before Gentle returned to his hometown after tiring of the New York lifestyle. It was at that time that the pieces fell into place for the first Swift show in more than four years.

“We started talking again and wanted things to happen, so pretty much immediately after Mikey went back home, it was like we started a fire,” Forsyth said. “The music we’re writing now is basically a continuation of where we were going before.”

With a new song entitled “Forest of Death” already laid down, the band is picking up from the no-holdsbarred approach taken on The Absolute Uncontrollable, the work that represents the complete rejection of outside influence that began to creep in as time passed. With that, they’ve also announced two shows this weekend for what Forsyth calls simply “for the sake of doing a show.” They’ll shake the rust off at the Somewhere Else Tavern in Greensboro on Friday before their official reunion gig at the Millennium Center in Winston-Salem the following Saturday. So will there be a new Swift album in the near future? That’s still up in the air right now.

“I think a lot of it depends on a lot of things. There’s five personalities here who like to make music and it’s just a matter of whether we can make that happen or not,” said Forsyth. “Once we get done with this show, who knows what’s going to happen.”

Swift will perform at the Somewhere Else Tavern on Friday and the Millennium Center on Saturday.

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