The Swon Brothers aka Zach and Colton Swon landed themselves a record deal after appearing on The Voice US in 2013.
The duo were mentored by country legend Blake Shelton and finished third place in the competition. They are the first duo to ever make the Top 12 live finals of the show. Now just short of 18 months later, The Swon Brothers have released their critically-acclaimed debut self-titled album which recently reached UK shores.
We caught up with Zach and Colton to talk about the album, find out more about their rise to stardom, and to discuss their plans to come over to the UK.
You released your debut self-titled album recently. What’s the story behind the album?
Zach: The album is something that’s been a long-time coming for us. We’ve dreamed about it since we were kids. We wrote songs and we picked out songs. For this record we had no rhyme or reason. We picked the songs that we felt were best for us. We did have goal; we wanted to make an album that a listener could listen to front to back and never get bored. We didn’t want any song to sound alike or talk about the same thing. I think we’ve accomplished that. There are lots of different production ideas and different lyrical content; some songs are fun and some songs are on the more serious side of things. That brother harmony ties in every song so I think you know it’s The Swon Brothers no matter what the music is like. I think every song has its own story, which was our goal.
How does it feel to have an album go into the Top 10 on the US country chart?
Colton: To have an album do that well is just something you always dream about but you never think is going to happen. It seems out of reach but when you start meeting some of these goals and reaching some of your dreams it just makes you dream bigger. It sounds corny but it’s just so surreal. We’re getting to do things that we never thought would happen. Every day we wake up it’s just a new adventure.
You were nominated for your first CMA award this year. How did it feel to be recognised by the industry in that way?
C: That was so humbling. We signed a record deal about a year ago and so much has happened in one year. To be recognised and be in a category with guys who have been doing it longer than us is just an honour. Just to be part of that elite group…these are guys we’ve learned from and taken notes from. We went from last year not being able to get into the building to this year being nominated (laughs). It’s pretty awesome.
Tell us a bit about your rise to stardom. We know you were on The Voice US but you were working hard and recording as duo long before that weren’t you?
Z: We’ve been chasing this since we were little kids. The Voice happened to be the stepping stone to open the doors we needed but for 16 years we drove back and forth to Nashville. Our parents drove us and we’ve done everything from playing open mic nights to playing clubs and anywhere people would listen. We’ve knocked on label’s doors just making contact, following up and coming back every year. We were writing and recording in our bedroom. It’s been a really long journey but this is what we want to do. We never had a back-up plan. We randomly decided to audition for The Voice – it was a last minute thing – and it just happened to be the thing that worked. We had some great fans and support develop out of that show and they’re sticking with us. Blake Shelton has been a key part in everything. He’s a coach on the show but he’s also a good mentor to have off the show too.
It’s pretty incredible to have a huge country star like Blake Shelton in your corner. What advice has he given you along the way?
Z: More than anything, we had a talk with him when we first were on his team and we were like ‘dude we’re going to do this win or lose The Voice, this is what we want to do and we want to know how to do it!’ He told us to be authentic and that if we wanted to be successful in country music we had to have country music fans. That’s what we did on the show, we kept it pretty mainstream as far as what we do whether it was classic rock or country, which can be thrown into the same category today. We just stayed true to who we are and luckily a lot of fans latched on and we’re very blessed to have that.
C: He also said ‘let Colton sing more and you’ll be ok’ (laughs)
How do you decide which one of you sings which parts on your songs?
Z: We actually have different scenarios, especially in a love show where we’ll switch back and forth who sings lead or harmony. On the record we were trying to develop a sound and I think the thing that sets us apart from other country music acts is that brother harmony. I can tell you with confidence that I cannot sing the high harmony like my brother can. That’s our sound and that’s our signature. I don’t think either of us would stand out very much as a solo artist. That sound is what we want people to know us for. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll change things up but right now we’ve found our niche and that’s our comfort zone. It’s not so much who wants to sing more, he’s just good at what he does and he makes me sound better than I am.
Pray For You is your latest single and it’s gone to radio in the US. Tell us the story behind that track…
C: When we heard that song, it was one song we wished we’d written. It came to us on an iPhone recording. The audio was real messed up and you couldn’t hear it very well but we could definitely hear the words. We both listened to it in a truck together and we knew we had to be a part of the song. You can tell just by listening to a song that the writers on the song were sincere and it came from a real place. When we play it live, it just hits people in the heart just like it hit us in the heart. We knew we wanted to be a part of it and it does something different to us, especially now when all the news is negative it’s kind of refreshing to hear a song of hope or with a different kind of message these days.
Do you have any plans to visit us in the UK?
C: I would love to! I don’t think it’s on the books yet but it’s been talked about here and there. It hasn’t been written down in stone yet but you tell us how to get there and we’ll get there. We start our tour with Brad Paisley in January. It’s definitely on my bucket list.
What message do you have for your UK fans?
Z: I want to meet you, shake your hand and thank you for the support. We’re only going to go as far as our fans will let us, whether that’s a UK fan or a US fan or someone in China. It doesn’t work without you guys. Keep tweeting us @theswonbrothers and keep messaging us on Facebook. We really enjoy it and we enjoy talking to the fans. It keeps us going when we don’t think we can.
C: We’ll see y’all soon!
The Swon Brothers’ debut album is available now. Listen to the audio for their new single Pray For You: