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Magnet Magazine

SWAG - Catchall

People keep thinking Swag, the name of this splendid little guilty-pleasure pop band, is an acronym.   Robert Reynolds, full-time bassist for the Mavericks and Swag's singer/songwriter, says someone suggested "Songs Written About Girls", and "that's as good as anything."

At the core of Swag is Reynolds, Jerry Dale McFadden (Sixpence None The Richer) and solo artist Doug Powell.   They enlisted Tom Petersson (Cheap Trick) and Ken Coomer (ex-Wilco) for Catch-all, the band's first album of rousing , cheery pop songs cut with the occasional heart-on-your-paisley-sleeve ballad.   From the moment Reynolds blurts out "Doodle-ee-de-do-dwee-doodle-ee-doo" and the guitars come crashing in on opener "Lone", you know you're in for a swell time.   Catchall never drags, through the smart wordplay of "I'll Get By", the heartbreak of "Near Perfect Smile" and the in-jokey rocker of "Ride".   If you like Golden Smog or, even closer in spirit, the offhanded brilliance of Steve Wynn's Gutterball, Catchall will be right in your power zone.   Swag doesn't stand for anything except great pop music, and that's more than enough.

Reynolds and McFadden took time from planning a Swag tour to answer a few questions about their living, breathing homage to the music they love best.

So how did this whole thing begin?
It started from Robert and I being out on the road with the Mavericks.   We were playing in this semi-country band, but we really would have liked to be playing that kind of pop/rock.
Late at night we'd pull out some groovy record or other to play.  We'd play this game where we wouldn't show each other what CD we were popping in.  Then we'd play a track.   It might be "Bus Stop" by the Hollies or something new by Fountains of Wayne or someone.   Being in the Mavericks was fulfilling a lot of what we liked about playing music.   We were traveling and performing and earning a living, but it wasn't necessarily the style of music we loved.

It sounds like the album was a ridiculous amount of fun to make.
It was fun.   We all had a lot of experience in other bands and with labels and the business.  This was our attempt to create our own little utopian band.   We succeeded for the most part.   Everyone has that love of this certain era in pop music, and it was fun to kid of push those buttons in one another.  I can't think of one moment where the recording seemed like a chore.

The cover of the album shows a drawer full of odds and ends that almost look like clues to what's going inside.
Reynolds:  We're proud of that.  We all brought a couple of personal things and arranged that into something we think stands as its own little work of art.
McFadden:  Everyone has a drawer like that, whether you call it a catch-all drawer or a junk drawer.   We always called it a junk drawer.
Reynolds:  A drunk drawer?
McFadden:  Yeah, I have a drunk drawer, too.    It's a different drawer, though.

Phil Sheridan
Magnet Magazine
April 2001

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