By Will Yannacoulias
Photos by Darkstrand Visuals
Last month Saskatoon's Driveway Legends released Get It Together, the seven song follow- up to their 2021 debut. Billing themselves as "40 year old divorced dad punk", guitarist Nic Swaok, bassist Jace Matlock and drummer Ryan Pegg have 'leveled up' creatively and collectively, sharpening and fine tuning a fast, infectious sound on their ambitious sophomore release. I was excited for the opportunity to speak with Nic Swaok recently about the album, the Saskatchewan tour to support Get It Together, and about finding the balance between family and fun.
Swaok is very much a family-first type person who is quick to downplay Driveway Legends as a weekend hobby, yet the band has released two albums in three years and played all over Saskatchewan and Alberta alongside an impressive list of indie punk acts. Swaok explained to me that balancing life and music is about prioritizing, time management and keeping it fun. "When I first got together with those guys we said 'no delusions of being rock stars, we’re not touring all over Canada, let’s keep it pretty casual'. But once we got started I just found that I was so excited by it, talking with promoters, other bands, venues, doing artwork for albums, singles, t-shirts. Everyone has a family, full time jobs, so we keep it part time but put in a lot of evenings and weekends. Our song 'Midlife Crisis' is exactly about that; being older, kids, bills, job, all that. Trying to live a little for yourself on the weekends and still be home before midnight."
Get It Together represents a big step forward for the band. The songs are fast and relentless, drawn from the same well as their first EP, that fast, tight, melodic skateboard pop punk sound. With dynamic arrangements, memorable melodies, complex harmonies and skilled playing, the new songs seem more composed and complete than previous releases. Swaok attributes the band's creative growth to collaboration and confidence. "I used to do most of the writing and bring songs to the guys," he shared, "but after jamming so many times, putting out an album, touring and playing together, there’s more comfort there and the confidence to bring ideas and write together. Confidence makes everything better, easier, more natural- confidence is at the middle of everything." The band returned to Dark Roast Recording to work again with longtime friend Jesse Bauer, who recorded their debut. As a listener I personally find it satisfying to see Driveway Legends and Dark Roast learning and growing in tandem ; the production has improved from the band's first release, with the new songs sounding bigger and deeper, retaining the raw energy while seeming cleaner and more polished. "Jesse put as much effort into this album as we did" Swaok shared. "He helped us work on the songs as well as recorded, mixed, and mastered all the tracks."
Driveway Legends is celebrating the release of Get It Together in style, with a Saskatchewan wide mini tour in the first week of April. Along with the expected appearances in Regina and Saskatoon the tour is winding through Prince Albert and Moose Jaw, two towns that are both working to rekindle once-vibrant punk scenes. Swaok, like many of us, cut his teeth at all-ages small town punk shows and is enthusiastic to play those dates. "I’m from Moose Jaw and that’s what it was like when I was younger" Swaok recalled. "We used to rent halls, we knew so many people in bands and there were so many shows. I like the idea of playing in smaller towns, it used to be like that in Prince Albert and my buddies in Tadoma, who we're playing with in PA, told me twenty years ago that’s what it was like in Humboldt as well." Along with Tadoma, Driveway Legends is sharing stages with other Sask punk mainstays such as Swayze, Me The Guts, Ripper & The Jesses and The Disconnect. For Swaok, making friends and connections and helping build a scene is as important on tour as performing or promotion. "Planning these tours is so easy in this community, it's amazing seeing how well these bands all treat each other and work together, sharing ideas, sharing work. Everyone is so excited to support each other."
Get It Together is available on all streaming services. Driveway Legends are touring Saskatchewan in the first week of April with Tadoma, Swayze, Me The Guys, Ripper & The Jesses and The Disconnect.