Swamp Photo Essay, Part Three: Hustle and Grind

From Sep. 18–Nov. 6, Flagpole photo intern Randy Schafer shadowed the members of local band Swamp, in an attempt to document what it’s like to be in a band in Athens while simultaneously attending college at UGA.  

Previously: Life on the Stage | Halloween

The members of Swamp wear many hats. Students by day, employees and band members by night, songwriters on the weekends and recording artists every other week or month.

“It’s really hard to figure out when we can practice,” says Owen Hunt, bassist and vocalist. “And enough time to dedicating learning new material and also recording. Our schedules are always conflicting.”


Tommy Weigle (right), a 20-year-old junior comparative literature major, works on a group project with his classmate and friend Sydney Tyson (left), sitting in Weigle’s living room with Weigle’s dog Scooby, in October.


Meeting on the University of Georgia’s east campus, in early November, Weigle (left), walks with Hunt (center) and Charlie Bond (right), moving to ride in Hunt’s car to Bond’s house to practice. Because Bond’s science classes are located on south campus, Weigle and Hunt rarely see Bond during class hours.


Attempting to write new songs, Weigle (left), and Hunt (right), meet at Hunt’s house for a brainstorming session, but soon get distracted by television and watch the movie Lawless before heading to band practice.


Working at Raising Cane’s in order to make money for bills and side cash, Hunt, a 21-year-old junior international affairs major, takes the orders of customers waiting in line.

When the members of Swamp are able to meet for band practice, they usually play for roughly two hours. And they often play as hard as they do live, exerting the same amount of energy. “I feel really comfortable playing in a space I’m really familiar with,” Hunt says. “We spend a lot of our time their anyway, so it feels a lot more relaxed.” 


Extending the end of a song so each member of the band can enjoy a solo, Hunt drops to the floor on both knees, playing a bass solo for an extended period of time.


The floor of Bond’s practice space is littered with packages of guitar and bass strings.


Weigle almost makes it through an entire practice with only five strings on his guitar, but breaks a second string before practice is officially over.


Weigle holds his hands on the sides of his head in momentary frustration.


Charlie Bond (right), plays a didgeridoo in the direction of Weigle (left) toward the end of a practice. Bond has multiple accessories for his drums and additional instruments.


At the end of a practice, Weigle is left by himself in the practice space while he replaces the strings on his guitar.

“When we’re recording, we’re doing it with another bandmate that’s a student,” Bond says. “So we have to match our class schedules, our work schedules and everything, so we end up recording once a month.” 


On a November afternoon, Bond begins unloading the instruments into the house of musician friend and recording engineer Sam Kempe (not pictured), guitarist for local band Wieuca.


The members of Swamp begin tuning their instruments, after setting up their recording space and equipment in the TV room of Kempe’s home.


Weigle looks over at Bond (not pictured), while listening to a song recording.

“We’ve been very lucky not having to pay for our recordings so far,” Weigle says. “And that also means we can release our music for free, so that’s something that I like.” 


While recording in Kempe’s home, the wires for the microphones, amps and guitars stretch along his floor.


Hunt pops a bass string, ending the session for the day.


After almost two hours of recording, Weigle (left), stands while listening to the last song-recording of the day with Hunt (center), while Hunt sits on the bed as Kempe (right) plays back the song.

Despite the lengthy process, Hunt and the rest of the band have high hopes for their full-length album release. 

“Hopefully before winter break we can all get together a couple times,” Hunt said. “And knock out the rest of everything. But that’s going to be contingent on how open people are toward the end of the semester.”