A Red Deer drummer is setting the beat for one of the “must-watch” indie bands in Ireland.
Jordan Swanson left Alberta for Dublin in 2017 and was welcomed into Ireland’s fabled music scene.
“There are a lot of tourists that come through Dublin, so you see a lot of buskers, and cover music in the bars,” said Swanson.
“There’s also a lot of traditional Irish music being played. One of my favourites to attend is a traditional session, where musicians show up with all types of native instruments…”
Although Swanson got his journeyman electrician credentials at Red Deer College, he had hoped to work as a musician in Ireland. Yet it wasn’t music that motivated him to cross the Atlantic Ocean.
“You could say I moved for love,” said Swanson, whose girlfriend (now wife) decided to complete her PhD in Ireland.
The native of Red Deer and Lacombe has been drumming since age 12. Swanson was previously in the Red Deer hip-hop Midwest Mindset, which was selected into the Top 25 in the CBC 2016 Searchlight talent contest from 2,000 entrants.
After arriving in Dublin, Swanson was introduced to the alternative post-punk band Late Night Pharmacy through social media. He met guitarist Fionn Murray through Facebook, and joined the group in 2018.
Along with lead singer Robert Maguire and bassist Michael Spence, the indie band is heavily influenced by Joy Division, Interpol, Bauhaus and My Bloody Valentine.
While COVID-stricken 2020 proved to be a major downer in terms of performing, Late Night Pharmacy has been charting an upwards trajectory.
The band got great buzz for its 2019 EP Flamingo, and was put on Ireland’s Babylon Radio’s “ones-to-watch list” for 2021.
Last fall, Late Night Pharmacy was one of four bands selected to participate in a professional development offered by an Irish radio station, music venue and college.
And in November, the group was awarded a recording grant worth almost 4,000 Euros (about $6,000) as part of the Music Industry Stimulus Package rolled out by the Irish government to support the music sector in a Covid-stricken economy.
Late Night Pharmacy is using this grant and other prize money to produce and release five singles, to be released every other month starting on April 20.
The first tune, Too Late for the Rickshaws, has been described as a “jangly dream song” with an exuberant chorus.
“Our new music is really high quality, I’m actually blown away how good these sound,” said Swanson. “It’s amazing what help with money can do…”
Red Deer and the rest of the world will be able to watch the music video for Too Late for the Rickshaws after its release by Hot Press magazine in Ireland, “which has followed the likes of U2 and Sinead O’Connor,” said Swanson.
While he longs to play live gigs after the pandemic, he believes the bright side is having extra time now to work on songs.
Swanson said he and his wife miss friends and family, and a lot else about Alberta — “the natural forests, the mountains, camping, camp fires…” — but plan to stay on in Europe.
“Ireland is booming at the minute and they have a great sense of work life balance,” he explained.
“The people and the culture are laid back here…People also have a great sense of humour. I enjoy the ability to travel non-pandemic, you’re so close to so many great spots for a dirt cheap flight.”
Swanson looks forward to touring around Ireland and the U.K.
Whether Late Night Pharmacy ever makes it to Red Deer will probably depend on how many Albertans become fans, Swanson added.
“I think it would come down to if we can get the support to back up the tour.”
Swanson added he will always be grateful to Red Deer “for having such an incredible music scene… I’ve played in a handful of bands through the years, and Red Deer has always been at the core of everything.”