One of Brooklyn’s finest is set to snap Indianapolis music lovers out of hibernation this Friday. Swear and Shake—an indie folk band that gained national attention with their 2012 debut album Maple Ridge and recently released a music video for “Fire,” a new single off their upcoming album Ain’t That Lovin’—will perform at Radio Radio on Jan. 31 at 9 p.m. The Fountain Square sanctum represents the penultimate stop on the group’s tour and is a long way from their modest start at SUNY Purchase College in Westchester County, New York.
Nestled in the suburbs, SUNY was a creative incubator for undergraduates Adam McHeffey (vocals, guitar, and banjo) and Kari Spieler (vocals and guitar), who—by fate or something like it—came together their senior year and recorded “Johnnie,” a song that Swear and Shake still play to this day.
“By the end of the day, we had been together for so long, we had gone through the song together so many times, that it was very clear that there was a natural chemistry there and that musically, we were just very compatible,” McHeffey tells IM.
“I think it was that night that she asked me if I would play with her for a show that she had coming, be an extra guitarist and singer,” says McHeffey, “and we started thinking of band names that day or the next.”
It all snowballed from there. McHeffey recruited Thomas Elefante (former drummer) and Shaun Savage (bass), childhood friends from his nook of Long Island. The quartet gelled immediately and was inseparable until the winter of 2012, when the first brutal frost brought with it a flurry of change.
“We were scheduled to do this big tour, and Tom had just become a father, and, you know, that was when we realized that our dreams had different trajectories,” McHeffey says.
Shortly thereafter, Ben Goldstein became the band’s drummer.
“Tom did his last show with us in December of 2012, and it was an amazing show with The Lumineers,” McHeffey says. “That was it, and then our next show was the New Year’s Eve show in Manhattan, and that was Ben’s first show with us. Since then, Ben has been playing with us every night that we’ve played.”
“You know, we all feel like it’s either this or nothing,” says McHeffey.
Swear and Shake spent the majority of 2013 touring as a supporting act, playing The Governors Ball Music Festival in New York, South by Southwest in Austin, and the Shaky Knees Music Festival in Atlanta. This year represents the first time the band will mostly headline and finally show what they’re made of.
McHeffey adds that he and the band were particularly looking forward to playing in Indianapolis. “We’re just going to lay it down,” he says. “There will be lots of new songs since the last time we were there, and T-shirts—everything.”