Sworn Enemy – Just Like Switzerland

Sunday, 25th May 2014

The realities of the music business hit Long Island’s Sworn Enemy square in the kisser in 2009. While the release of their fourth album, Total World Domination, was met with the usual appreciation from both the hardcore and metal scenes, behind the curtain, the band was unraveling. After getting sucked into the album/tour album/tour cycle for virtually the entire decade, Sworn Enemy had little to show for themselves in the bank account department, which led to the departure of more than half of the band’s lineup, most notably founding guitarist/songwriter Lorenzo Antonucci. Understandably out of order after so much turnover, the band would take five years to regroup, and right the ship…

Invigorated with a new lineup, label, and album, Sworn Enemy has returned with their fifth foray, the aptly-titled Living on Borrowed Time. Rife with the band’s patented brutish metallic hardcore sound, the album is the embodiment of everything Sworn Enemy does well. No-frills, savage, and pissed, Living on Borrowed Time doesn’t reflect a band that underwent massive turnover, but according to vocalist Sal Lococo, the process to getting to this point took some serious work, overcoming the singer’s initial doubts about the band being able to continue. Phoning in between shifts at his day job, the blunt and polite Lococo was all too kind to give the DR the scoop…

Dead Rhetoric: This is the longest break you had in between albums. You had some lineup changes, but you personally, what have you been up to?

Sal Lococo: Trying to get the band back together, dealing with life…doing all that fun stuff, and a lot of shit in between.

Dead Rhetoric: After Total World Domination was released, were you burnt out?

Lococo: You could say a.) All of the above. With everybody leaving, it just compounded the issue even further. Is it time to hang it up? Is it time to call it a day? After not playing for a while, our last show was in 2009 on the Hell on Earth tour, I didn’t play another show with Sworn Enemy until August of the next year. I didn’t know what was going on with the band. It was just a mess. We were close to calling it a day. My drummer didn’t want to call it a day. He got some players: “These guys are my friends. They’re good dudes. I can’t tell you if they’re going for playing with Sworn Enemy or if they’re into the whole hardcore thing or not.” I found out real quick that everybody that is playing in the band right now is really into metal, really into hardcore, and are good, solid players. Things fell into place; kinda fell into my lap. What do I do? Keep it going? These guys were hungry and lit a fire under my ass. It took a while, but the fire is back. I can feel it. Everybody has the same amount of drive to what to do it again.

Dead Rhetoric: If you look at it this way, you got caught in the album/tour, album/tour cycle. Did that have a lot to do with some of the guys leaving?

Lococo: I’m sure that had a lot to do with it. You know this – in this style of music, you don’t make a lot of money. People get older, they get lives, and lives mean you have to support yourself; you have to pay for things. Cars don’t come for free, houses don’t come for free, rent, cable, groceries – none of that comes for free. If it did, then hey, I’d tour every day for the rest of my life. [laughs] It doesn’t work like that. I totally understand why people have to leave or want to leave. It’s just the natural progression of things – you do what you have to do to take care of yourself. Sworn Enemy wasn’t really paying the bills, so it makes sense someone doesn’t want to be a part of it.

Dead Rhetoric: Out of all the member departures, Lorenzo was the biggest. How big of an impact was it?

Lococo: Lorenzo was, or is, one of my best friends for a really long time. His last show was in 2009, and when he left, I knew it was going to leave a hole in the band. He was a big part of it, the music he writes. On the other hand, I was almost relieved in a sense that I don’t have to babysit him anymore. With all good, there comes bad. Every band has their troubled children…he can make life on the road difficult sometimes. I was sad to see him go, but the other side of me was like, “Wow, I don’t have to babysit him anymore. What a load off my shoulders.”

Dead Rhetoric: That’s interesting to think. He was one of the founding members of the band.

Lococo: I know – I don’t get me wrong, I was scared to think when he left. Like, who the hell is going to write the songs that he writes? I don’t think there was anybody that could come along and write music like him for Sworn Enemy. Come 2014, I was proven wrong. Matt [Garzilli] and Jeff [Cummings] did some solid work on Living on Borrowed Time. But in 2009, I was scared when he said he was leaving.

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