Swear and Shake: Long Islanders with country and soul
Among haystacks in an upstate barn with 50-foot high ceilings, Swear and Shake recorded its first full-length album, “Maple Ridge,” nearly two years after the band came together.
“It gave this live feel, and we felt really connected,” said singer and songwriter Adam McHeffey, 24, of playing in the barn. “As soon as we got everything set up, we kind of played our hearts out.”
Swear and Shake, which is greatly influenced by the music of Motown, was started in 2010 by McHeffey, originally from Center Moriches, and Kari Spieler, 25, who’s from Poughkeepsie. The two met while attending SUNY Purchase and never thought of working together until McHeffey wrote “Johnnie,” a love song.
“I wrote it from a female perspective,” McHeffey said. “And I wanted a girl to sing it.”
McHeffey heard Spieler sing at an open mic show and said she was perfect for the song. After 45 minutes, “Johnnie” was born.
“The band was started because of that one song,” McHeffey said. “We always make sure to play that one,” he later added.
While the two musicians were just testing the waters, said Spieler, by the end of that session, both felt more was feasible.
“A few hours of working together, we realized we had something unique,” said Spieler, who was a solo artist at the time.
About a month later, McHeffey enlisted his childhood friends, bassist Shaun Savage and drummer Thomas Elefante, both 23, to join the band. The three grew up in Center Moriches and began playing together in middle school.
In the same year the group formed, it released “Extended Play,” a recording with five tracks.
With sounds of folk and with the inclusion of a banjo and a harmonica, the group’s music is full of mellow sounds.
The band went on to tour all over the country in 2011, including a stop at the Conway ArtsFest in Arkansas.
“You know you spend so much time working on a record and getting it to sound perfect,” McHeffey said. “There’s no feeling in the world as being on stage and having people singing along.”
While performing, Spieler and McHeffey interact with each other to tell a story and to engage their fans.
“There’s a lot of back and forth between us,” Spieler said. “Our performances are like an extension of us hanging out.”
Now the band is ready to get on stage again. This time to promote its latest album, which was released in April and was funded through a program called Kickstarter. Donations from more than 100 fans provided the group with over $5,000 to record the 10-song album.
Swear and Shake is hoping for a big break and McHeffey said he feels it’s just around the corner.
“We’ve put so much hard work into it,” he said. “And that’s how the universe seems to work.”