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Interview: Des and The Swagmatics


As much as Asbury Park is known as the home of original music, the Jersey Shore is known as the home of the cover bands. Rarely do the two ever cross paths, but on Halloween night, we find it’s completely acceptable. Tonight, at The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, our friends at Dark City Entertainment will be presenting the “Local Legends Halloween Bash” which features a slew of local bands performing at some of their all-time favorites.

One of the bands performing is Des and The Swagmatics, who’ll be channeling Prince, for their performance tonight. The thought of lead singer Deseree Spinks covering The Purple One is pretty awesome. I remember seeing her perform at The Saint as a solo performer on a crowded night in December. The show itself was a bit of a train wreck as it was this odd combination of poetry, art and musicians that just didn’t fit. The crowd was more into hanging out than the paying attention to the music. That is until Des stepped on stage. Armed with only an acoustic guitar, she blew everyone away the moment she began singing. Her voice stopped the entire room and everyone was laser-focused on her magnificent pipes. Recently, we caught up with Des to talk Prince and good music.

Des & The Swagmatics Are (Band Members & Instruments They Play): Greg Wilkens on bass, and Jimmy Farkas on guitar. “New blood” Craig Lawlor on drums, Raymond Saada on keys and of course Deseree Spinks on vocals (and keys).


We’re based out of: New Jersey. Asbury and beyond.

The Story of Our Name: Some names just happen. We were wracking our brains for weeks when this one came to us. We all knew when we heard it that this was the one.

Any new music coming out: We’re still working on our debut album! Hoping for a 2015 release date.

You’ve seen us before [in other bands]: Greg: Last Perfect Thing, Joe Harvard and Velveeta, The Barbaroi, Hollywod Swingin’; Jimmy: Borialis, deSoL, Dragster; Des: deSoL, Moodswing, Emancipation Congregation, Captain James and the P.A.I.N.

Our sound has been likened to: We’re pretty genre-bending. Think R&B funk-jam-rock if you can imagine that.

Love your sound – can you talk about the artists that have inspired you? Also, what people in your life have inspired you to create music?

A couple of us in the band are music educators and those of us that aren’t have been at this business for large portions of our lives. We like to consider ourselves musical people, so we get inspired by everything we can get our hands on.

Far as artists that specifically influence the band’s sound, obviously Prince, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Parliament, Kool and the Gang, Sharon Jones, Grace Potter, Isley Brothers, Lauryn Hill, the list goes on and on…

You guys will be performing this weekend as Prince for Dark City Entertainment’s Halloween Bash — now was this your choice or was this something you and Christine Feola from Dark City decided on? And why was this band you chose/was chosen for you?

Christine approached us with the idea for the show, but we chose Prince for ourselves. Deseree and Jimmy are huge Prince fans and had been trying incorporate Prince’s music since day one of Swagmatics.

What can except from your Prince set? Any lost classics?

Something completely unique, incredibly high energy and just plain fun! Far as specific songs, you’ll just have to show up and find out…

There are so many bands out there in the Jersey Shore scene to check out — what do you think separates you guys from everyone else?

Too many artists are taking themselves so seriously and we’re just not about that. We don’t at all take for granted or take lightly what we do, but if we’re not having fun, then what’s the point?

If someone read this interview and never heard you before, but decided to check you out, what song would you recommend they listen to in order to understand what Des & The Swagmatics are all about?


Check out our single “Set Me Free” on Soundcloud!

A bit of more broad, sweeping question — what is it that you love about being in The Swagmatics?

What’s not to love? Groovy music with people we don’t mind being around; I can’t think of many better ways to live life.

What can the people coming out to see you guys perform expect to see from you guys in terms of a live experience (outside of your upcoming Prince performance)?

You can expect to be humming our originals and to be surprised by our choices of covers. You can expect to dance yourself sweaty. You can expect to walk away having had a bangin’ time

What do you have planned for the rest of 2014?

Finishing up the album, a couple more gigs before the years out. Life, love and music!

Des & The Swagmatics perform as Prince tonight at Wonder Bar in Asbury Park. Tickets are $10. Other bands on the show include: Only Living Boy as Radiohead, Empire Escorts as The Doors, Battery Electric as The Misfits, Hot Blood as Minor Threat, Amy Malkoff & The Moonshines as Black Sabbath, Creeptones as The Beatles, and Pistol Chamber as The Rolling Stones.



Bill Bodkin
Bill Bodkinhttps://thepopbreak.com
Bill Bodkin is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break, and most importantly a husband, and father. Ol' Graybeard writes way too much about wrestling, jam bands, Asbury Park music, HBO shows, and can often be seen under his season DJ alias, DJ Father Christmas. He is the co-host of the Socially Distanced Podcast (w/Al Mannarino) which drops weekly on Apple, Google, Anchor & Spotify. He is the co-host of the monthly podcasts -- Anchored in Asbury, TV Break and Bill vs. The MCU.


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