Swift Science frontman JD Rust talks music, band history

Ryan Morris

The Boone-based foursome Swift Science has performed at venues ranging from bar shows to a spot at area music festivals.

The Appalachian recently caught up with guitarist and lead vocalist JD Rust to discuss the band’s music and development.

The Appalachian: Your Facebook page says that the band is from Boone. Do you think that the area’s history and music scene affected the band’s development?

JD Rust: “The area’s history and scene definitely affected our development, but not in a way you would think. Ignoring the fascinating origin of bluegrass in Appalachia, we came to town almost six years ago into a scene dominated by jam bands. Though I loved going to see those bands, it was that density of jam music that drove our group toward something a little different. It also has to do with our love of old blues that kept us wanting to write more material with that base influence.”

TA: How exactly did you guys get started?

JR: “I used to play with a local band in town that was popular at the time, and after they graduated and left town, I found myself itching to get back on stage. I created a Facebook group – back when those existed – called ‘I play an instrument and I live in Boone.’ It was staged as a way to connect local musicians for whatever they were looking for, but I only made it to look for members for a new musical project of mine. Through that, I found our drummer Ben Mercer, and we immediately clicked. We tried out several bass players and finally heard from some local musicians that a guy named Everett Thomas was a great bassist, so we tried him out and he fit perfectly. Three years later we decided that we wanted to add a new variable to our sound and settled on finding a banjo player. I posted a status, again on Facebook, saying we were looking for a banjo player, and after a few offers we had Patty Finnen audition. He was already a fan of ours, and not only did he sound great, but he was a guy we all liked. So after writing some new material with Patty, here we all sit.”

TA: What does Swift Science’s songwriting process look like? Is there one person in particular responsible for it, or is it more of a collaborative process?

JR: “I almost always come up with a melody and guitar line for the songs. I get a rough version with some scratch lyrics and present it to the band. If they don’t tell me that it’s awful, I tell them the ideas I had for their parts, and they make them better. That’s pretty much how it’s always been, though a few songs have surfaced from jams.”

TA: How often do you play in the Boone area? Have you played at Legends before?

JR: “We try to only play once a month in Boone, but it becomes difficult because we have made some great friends at a lot of local venues and want to play at them all. Sometimes, outside of paying venues we will do a few house shows in order to gain some younger fans that may not yet be able to come to our bar shows. We have played at Legends once before and are very excited to be back there.”

TA: You released an album in April of last year. What can you tell us about it?

JR: “We are very proud of our album we released. It has poor sound quality, and I still think our song writing at that point wasn’t strong enough, but we worked extremely hard to make it. We recorded it on Garage Band with only one microphone, track-by-track. Considering that, it sounds incredible. We had zero abilities to correct mistakes other than trying to play or sing it perfectly, so when we finally had a finished product with no outside help, it made us very proud.”

TA: Are there any further albums planned so far? What do you see in the band’s future?

JR: “We are currently working on a new album with a friend of ours who is a producer in Los Angeles. He is from Charlotte, and flies back periodically to record us. Needless to say, the sound quality is much better. We are recording it as we write the songs, so we honestly have no idea when we will be able to release it, but we have released one song as a teaser on our Facebook page called ‘Calm Down,’ and you can find it at www.facebook.com/swiftscience.”

Doors open at 9 p.m. Tickets are $4 in advance and $6 at the door.

Story: R. SCOTT MORRIS, A&E Editor