Written by Carly Shields
ShwizZ started out like many bands do, with high school dreams of playing arenas that turned into college tries at local shows, and eventually developed into a band of committed players hitting the road. Now, nine years into the gig, ShwizZ has activated their fanbase in their hometown of Nyack, NY and well beyond, making regular stops at venues and festivals up and down the east coast. The road team is comprised of Ryan Liatsis on guitar, Frankie Coda on bass, Andrew Boxer on drums, and William Schmidt on guitar, and joining them in the studio are Matty Carl on sax and Paul Hollands on percussion.
How did you all get together initially?
Ryan and Frank met back in high school jazz band and kicked around the area in cover groups. ShwizZ was established as a band in 2008 with another founding member Gershon Rosen (trumpet), initially to go play at a battle of the bands where Ryan went to college for a cash prize and some free radio time. Andy and Billy met in college in Oneonta. Andy eventually joined the group and jumped right into a busy gig schedule, kickin’ all over the north east while Billy had been on the scene in a prog group called Forman, as well as playing regularly with Frank. Billy sat in for years, played a bunch of shows with the band, and before we knew it he became an official member of the group by 2012.
Where does the name come from?
It was actually Ryan’s nickname in high school. ‘Schwizz’ is onomatopoeia for the sound that shrapnel makes as it ‘schwizzes’ by your head in combat. It was given to him by an upper classman because he wore a coat that said “Hyrdo” across the front, fashioned after a sports logo, and he said, “You don’t smoke Hydro…you smoke schwagg. Actually you smoke schwizz, worse than schwagg. That’s what we are going to call you from now on.” It stuck…forever. So at the battle of the bands where we got together, to advertise to his friends at school, Ryan jotted down the name ‘ShwizZ’ for the band’s name.
Can you describe your ascent so far?
The band has been at it for 8 years now, but ShwizZ as it stands today has really only been established for about 2 or 3 years. The group started as a straight ahead funk group, with a touch of progressiveness here and there. Once the group shed a horn section, it went down the path of progressive rock and fusion. The group is never stagnant and there is never a shortage of ideas. We give our fans our best every night out and it’s been nothing but awesome getting to meet them throughout our travels. Our fans at home, our good friends, are family to us. They really have supported us since the get go and have not stopped. It’s great to go on the road and then come home to that kind of a base. They are our, and we are their ‘trolls’…it’s a thing, come to a show and figure it out 😉
Tell us about your relationship with the Catskill Chill Family and other festivals where you feel that same bond.
We have played 5 of the 6 Chillfests, it’s truly our favorite weekend of the year. We met the founders of the festival and six years later, we feel like it’s our pilgrimage, family reunion, and World Series all at the same time. We really let it all hang out when it comes to Chill, and Chillfam is forever. All Love, All the Time! We have very similar feelings towards Domefest and Hulavom Music Festival. We strongly urge you to check out all of these festivals.
How many studio releases have you done? What’s the story behind them?
We have 3. First one came out in 2009, self-titled. We haven’t played any of that material in a looooong time, though we probably should. Our ‘sophomore release’ came in May of 2015 with our double album, My Good Side/My Bad Side. This was a venture. A year in the making, ShwizZ was a 5 piece on the road at that time, with keyboardist Gianluca Trombetta. It was time to deliver something epic to our fans, so we went as epic as possible on that record. We wove our favorite tunes we had written from over time into a flowing continuous record, with two sides. After that release, we immediately returned to the studio to record our latest album …And Then There Were Trollz. We hit the studio with our touring 4 piece with completely unheard and newly written material. It was kind of our way of re-establishing our sound after we had lost our keyboard player.
Who are some of your favorite bands to play with?
We have met a ton of great bands, and made a ton of great friends in our time as a group. Consider The Source, brothers from other mothers. Playing Ping Pong. Another group of amazing souls that we can really be ourselves around. Kung Fu, Dopapod, Mr. F, Cousin Earth, LeSpecial… the list goes on. It’s really hard to not be friends with all of our contemporaries. Obviously our homies in FiKus. We have an entity with them called ShwiKus, where we tribute and pay homage together. If we forgot to mention anyone, it’s not intentional. We could sit down for hours and talk about all of the comprador that’s gone on.
What’s coming up for you guys in 2017?
2017 is going to be exciting. We are now working with Ever Upward Entertainment in building a lengthy tour schedule for next spring and summer. We will be releasing a music video in the not so distant future, and maybe even another record. Ultimately, we just want to be playing music and seeing the world, naturally. We also want to continue pushing the envelope and evolving with our music. We’re perfecting our show, and we aim to make our audience feel things at a ShwizZ show. We hope to see you and your friends at one of our shows in the future.