New Band Of The Week: Can't Swim

“I’m trying not to think about it. There’s parts of my day where it’s nerve-wracking and parts of my day where I’m excited. Then there’s the majority of my day where I think, ‘Man, I am in way over my head…’”

The reason Can’t Swim frontman, Chris ‘Krier’ LoPorto, is feeling a little on edge is because the quartet have their very first gig coming up this month. “But, uh,” LoPorto adds with a laugh, “we’ve practiced twice. So I think it’s gonna be good?”

To say that the career of Can’t Swim so far hasn’t followed a normal trajectory would be an understatement. Not only did the band sign a record deal before they’d even played a show, they got that record deal before the complete line-up had even been formed. And if that wasn’t enough, the New Jersey foursome’s excellent debut EP, Death Deserves A Name (out now), contains the first five songs that LoPorto ever wrote. Ever.

How in the hell did Can’t Swim happen then? Well, until recently, the 26-year-old LoPorto was a drummer by trade – a session musician, who bounced between a variety of punk and hardcore bands, as and when he was needed. For the last year, he has been touring with Californian hardcore lunatics Trash Talk. “It’s always been the drums,” LoPorto says. “Since I was 12 or 13, I’ve always played the drums – or at least tried to.”

LoPorto was prompted to pick up a guitar and start writing lyrics for the first time last year, when he found himself unable to shake off a dysfunctional relationship that had ended “years and years ago” but continued to haunt him.

“I read all these things that said if you write about it, it will help,” the frontman explains. “If you knew me, I’m not a very deep guy. I’m not a very emotional dude. But there was just this one thing with this one girl where I was just kind of stuck – she’s actually the girl that’s on the cover [of Death Deserves A Name] – and once I started writing, it all came together pretty quickly, in about two or three months.”

Despite LoPorto’s assertion that he’s not particularly sensitive, the five songs on Can’t Swim’s debut EP are raw, emotive and framed by a solid edge of anxiety and longing – think the passion and drama of Taking Back Sunday, combined with the energy of The Movielife. The songs were immediate enough, even in demo form with LoPorto playing entirely on his own, to get Can’t Swim signed with Pure Noise. Now the 22-year-old sound engineer that helped LoPorto make that demo, Danny Rico, plays drums for the band. Guitarist Michael Sanchez and bassist Greg McDermott came on board thanks to their long time friendships with LoPorto, as well as their solid musical reputations in the New Jersey scene.

When asked why New Jersey is such a fertile breeding ground for great post-hardcore bands, LoPorto plays down the influence his home state has on the rest of the world. “It’s just because there is nothing else to do!” he laughs. He goes on to describe his hometown of Keansburg, a seaside resort, as “very small”, “pretty run down” and “terrible”. “Hurricane Sandy pretty much took everything,” he notes, “but my family has always been here and I’m very close to my mom, so Keansburg has always felt like home on some level.”

As LoPorto figures out how to juggle his new band with the job he still has with Trash Talk, he says simply that he’ll figure it out somehow. “Everything is happening fast,” he says. “Honestly, when this started, I’d never done anything like this at all. And I will say, that it’s apples and oranges from playing the drums. It feels a little bit like being a baseball player,” LoPorto concludes in a soft drawl, “then waking up one day and becoming a professional swimmer. Insane…”

For more info on Can’t Swim, visit their Facebook page.