Swollen Members' Prevail Talks Addiction, Cryptic Lyrics, and the Brutal Music Industry
Promotional Swollen Members will be performing at Pub Rock in Scottsdale on Sunday, May 25
It's not in the mainstream that a listener can hear the true heart and soul of rap music. Underground hip-hop musicians are the lifeblood of the genre -- they are the internal organs incumbent on keeping the system alive. It's unfortunate that the genius and devotion of these individuals goes overlooked while someone like Kanye West gets to be the face of the genre, but that's a conversation for another time.
Proud members of the DIY underground movement, the Swollen Members have taken the notion of hip-hop brilliance to a new level. The dynamic group -- consisting of two MCs, Prevail and Madchild, along with DJ/producer Rob the Viking -- redefines what a lyricist and a writer are capable of conveying on track. Madchild's in-your-face vocal bounce can release the demons within, while Prevail puppeteers the entire scene with imagery and layers of subtext as if it were his own magnum opus.
"Mad is very good at speaking from his heart," says Prevail about the Swollen Members writing technique. "I'm a little more cryptic. I like when people have to work to find the message, but because of that yin and yang, we have this really unique balance of music and lyrics."
Labeling Swollen Members as strictly underground nowadays may not entirely hold true (the group did just place their 2013 album, Beautiful Death Machine, at No. 3 on both the Canadian and U.S. Heatseekers charts), but what does hold true is the fact that they carry their devotion to the mad and the macabre, after a career spanning 15 years.
Next month, Swollen Members will be releasing their newest album, Brand New Day, on June 17. Before the album is available for purchase, the hip-hop trio will be stopping off at Pub Rock Live in Scottsdale this Sunday, May 25. Up on the Sun spoke with Prevail before their performance to ask about literary influences, what hip-hop means to him, and why he never listens to his albums until the day it is released in stores.
Up on the Sun: Tell me about your upcoming album, Brand New Day, and what fans can expect?
Prevail, of Swollen Members: I'm proud to say the Brand New Day is definitely a step in a very creative direction for Swollen. We've always had a signature sound and we've expounded upon that, but we've also made an album where we have all gotten comfortable being the people that we wanted to become.
When you have the individuals in a group all in a healthy mind state with a positive outlook, it makes the strength of the group just that much more defined. So, of course Mad and I have that unified, unilateral envision that Swollen Members has always had, but we really allowed each other to become the characters and talk about the things on track that we really wanted to. It's been nice, and it's been eye-opening. And of course, over Rob the Viking's beats you can't lose.