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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, July 25, 2014

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In Music

The Swon Brothers, Colton (left) and Zach, perform at The Rave on Saturday, May 10.

The Swon Brothers taking flight after "The Voice"


NBC's "The Voice" has provided Milwaukee with a good amount of music so far in 2014. First, there was Cassadee Pope back in March, and this summer, "The Voice" tour will make its way to The Riverside. Before then, however, Colton and Zach Swon – better known as The Swon Brothers – will bring their coach-honed talents to Milwaukee Saturday night at The Rave.

The sibling duo reached the finale of NBC's hit singing show back in 2013, placing third while fellow Blake Shelton teammate Danielle Bradbery came away with the title. Third place still certainly has its benefits, however, as since then, The Swon Brothers signed a record deal, released a hit single and are now on the road, living the dream.

Before they take the stage at The Rave on Saturday, however, OnMilwaukee got a chance to catch up with the brothers and chat about their experience on "The Voice," their musical inspirations and their upcoming album.

OnMilwaukee.com: What was the experience like being on "The Voice"?

Colton Swon: Man, it was a really, really crazy trip for us. We never expected to make it that far, but working with Blake, we couldn't have asked for a better coach, and we couldn't have asked for better fans and friends to get behind us. But you talk about a 180. Our lives went from having three or four gigs a month to being busy everyday on that show, sun up to sun down. We learned what hard work is in this business, really.

OMC: What was the best advice that Blake taught you while you were on the show?

Zach Swon: As far as advice goes, Blake is a really good coach, but he's not the kind of coach that's going to come in and tell you what notes to sing or tell you what you're doing wrong. His biggest advice I think was be yourself and be authentic, especially if you're a country singer. Country fans can see right through you if you're being fake.

So that's kind of why we picked the songs we picked. He told us if we were fans of George Jones and Merle Haggard, then don't be afraid to sing George Jones and Merle Haggard because it's a TV show. That's when we got to do "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes," "Okie from Muskogee" and "Fishin' in the Dark," and people really responded to that. That's good because that's who we are.

OMC: Now Colton, you also auditioned for "American Idol" and even got into the Top 48. What was the difference between those two shows? Compare the two experiences.

CS: Well, the main difference was that I had my brother with me on "The Voice." They're two great shows, but they're two totally different beats. "The Voice," the heart of that show is that everybody wants to see you succeed and do well. I'm sure it's the same way on "Idol," but from my personal experience, I really felt like it was a family over at NBC. Just how much they cared. I don't know, I wouldn't trade it for anything. But the main difference is that I had my partner in crime with me.

OMC: What is it like performing with your brother and now being in show business with family?

CS: You know, sometimes we can get on each other's nerves pretty bad, just like any normal brothers would. But for the most part, we get along really well and we really love what we do, so we're two pretty happy guys. To get to work with your brother, your best friend, on a daily basis is a pretty big blessing. A lot of people don't get to do that.

OMC: How's it like being on the road with each other?

ZS: Anytime that it gets a little overbearing, it's still a blast. We're living our dreams right now, but I can't imagine doing it alone. Being on the road, you're away from family enough as it is, so having your brother there to lean on is really cool, and it's cool that we get to reflect and experience this all together. I can't imagine being on the bus without him; it'd just be weird. So I think it works out for our benefit.

OMC: Who are your biggest musical inspirations? Who really got you into music?

ZS: We sang gospel music when we were younger. That's kind of what really opened the door for us. But growing up, we were drawn to almost anything with harmonies. The Eagles, Diamond Rio, Little Texas, Restless Heart. That stuff just really stuck out to us, so that's probably where it started. I know growing up, some of the first songs we learned were Everly Brothers, so we got a grasp on the brother harmony.

OMC: Do you guys have an album in the works right now? Where are you guys at on that?

ZS: We do! We're actually on the back half of it. We're getting really close to getting done. We got a few more to sing. We don't have an exact release date determined yet, but it'll probably be summer or early fall.

OMC: What can you tell me about it so far?

ZS: The biggest thing is that we were really picky about the songs. We picked stuff that, even if we didn't write it, it was stuff that we could own up and just really put our stamp on it. There's not one song on the album that sounds like another. We did that thinking of our favorite band, The Eagles. They've got "Life in the Fast Lane" over here and then "Lyin' Eyes" over there, which is a rock song versus a classic country song.

So that's kid of the approach we took; we just didn't want the album to get boring. We've got a great producer. Every song says something different. We get some issue songs, fun songs, heartbreak, love songs. It's a wide spectrum, but no matter which one it is, if you hear it on the radio, you're going to know it's us.

OMC: You guys had two previous albums – "Another Day" and "Set List" – before "The Voice."

ZS: Yeah, that's stuff we've written growing up. It kind of shows where we've come from. We were working musicians before "The Voice," and we did what we had to do to pay the bills. Those albums were recorded in our house, so this new one is definitely going to be a different vibe. It's cool for us because we can listen to that stuff and compare then to now and how much we've grown and what Blake and "The Voice" did for us and what we've learned in the past three or four years.

OMC: What's the biggest thing that you feel you've grown from those first two albums to now – other than obviously upgrading to a studio from recording in your house?

ZS: You know, I think more than anything we prepared ourselves for the business. Musically, we've crafted our sound a bit more, and we know who we want to be as artists and the sound that is hopefully our stamp. Hopefully, people are going to recognize it and latch onto it.


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