Am I the only one out here that loves to be blindsided by a band or album that you simply were just not expecting? That happened to me a few months back when Pirates Press Records sent us the latest by LA’s Sweat titled “Gotta Give It Up”. I had never heard of them before this. Their bio stated that they formed in 2019 with the intention to create a distinct take on rock ‘ n roll and hardcore listing Cro-Mags, Rival Mob, Motorhead, Thin Lizzy and a “sprinkling of disco cadence” as influences. After listening to the album straight through I found myself doing it again a short time later and then again with this cycle repeating itself over the next week until Sweat was dominating my music world. I kept thinking how original of a sound they had while being able to appeal to not only hardcore fans but just rock ‘n rollers of all stripes. Lead singer Tuna Tardugno was raised in NY and “traffics” in the underground wrestling scene while Justin (guitar) is a history professor by day while also running Vitriol Records. He and Anthony (drums) have also toured the globe for years in their previous project. With all this going on (and of course a great album as the backdrop) I reached out to Tuna (yes, her given name) for an interview and she was kind enough to give us more insight into a band I strongly urge people to give a listen to. Lead photo by: Joshua Sharp with graphics by: Paul Turano.
IE: Hey Tuna. For those just finding out about Sweat and your new album can you tell us more about the band and specifically the making of “Gotta Give It Up”?
Tuna: Sweat (which we affectionately refer to as Sweh) is made up of me, Anthony and Justin. All three of us have been making music or involved in the punk/hardcore scene for a MINUTE, and we’ve finally joined forces to rock together. Anthony and I have previously played together in Dogteeth, Anthony and Justin are in Dangers together, I’ve filled in on vocals for Justin’s other band, Graf Orlock… and in all three permutations, we’ve clicked musically. We wanted to start a band that wasn’t so “in the box”, and essentially give Anthony freedom to shine (he really is one of the best drummers in the world, a real force to witness) and Justin the keys to the riff kingdom. That, paired with having a genuine love, admiration and respect for each other and exploration of music lent itself to forming Sweh. “Gotta Give It Up” was recorded with Jack Shirley at Atomic Garden East, and he always offers welcome input and ideas, so I would be a prick to not give Jack plenty of credit in really bringing this record to life.
IE: The new album is almost 30 minutes long which for punk rock standards... especially in 2022... is pretty epic as much of the new music we get sent in to us is in the 10 to 15 minute range. Am I right to guess that this was a direct result of pandemic and quarantine situations where you had more time to work on it?
Tuna: In terms of length… it just happened. We didn’t set out to intentionally make a 30 minute record. We did spend a lot of time during quarantine working songs out, and were part of each other’s small bubble. It kept us sane, to say the least. We just wrote songs and edited them or added to them to make them feel good. Timing just sort of happened.
CLICK BELOW TO STREAM OR DOWNLOAD SWEAT'S "GOTTA GIVE IT UP" ALBUM
IE: How did the cover to “Gotta Give It Up” come about? Was it just a photo you saw somewhere or did you have this idea and have someone come in to take the shot that was used?
Tuna: It’s a found photo of a really great body builder whose name is Deborah. Much of my brain finds happiness though feeling good physically, which I find has a domino effect to also feeling mentally good. In the last 10 or so years, I’ve found a deep love and appreciation for the power of lifting weights. Mostly, I love this photo. I wanted the cover to be simple, but interesting enough for someone to pick it up if they weren't familiar (which, at this point they probably weren't), and create the complexity through the texture of the sleeve.
IE: How did the name Sweat come about?
Tuna: After many violent suggestions via the brain of Justin, we almost went with Handgun. But then we decided on Sweat… which was a shortened version of the Thin Lizzy song “Cold Sweat”, and suitable for our pro-flex mentality.
IE: When I listen to “Gotta Give It Up” it is pretty hard to slap a label on your sound… something I think any band would take as a compliment. Can you tell us what ingredients go into the Sweat style and if things jelled right away or if there was some trial and error as far as all agreeing on what Sweat was going to sound like?
Tuna: Ultimately, we want to keep the chains off and just make music we like to play and that rips. We are all music nerds, but the obvious bands we were driven by include Thin Lizzy, Motorhead, Masshysteri, Rival Mob, Tear It Up, etc. We're also always heavily inspired by disco, hip hop and soul. I can't give you all the secrets to the sauce though.
IE: While setting this interview up you told me that you wrestle and participate in a bar fight series called No Ring No Rules which has a bit of a punk rock vibe about them. Can you tell us A: How you got into this and B: More about what these events are like especially from being put on like a punk show.
Tuna: I've always wanted to wrestle, so I began training at Knokx Pro. A friend runs shows under the name Suburban Fight, and decided to begin to run wrestling shows. They're ran under punk ethics, and it's generally more accessible without a ring.
IE: Since there is a punk rock element involved can you ever see Sweat playing at one of these events?
Tuna: Would be super down! We haven't played yet, but we are playing another wrestling event this coming weekend- Knokx Pro's PowerBomb and F'N Warriors wrestling debut. Very excited to merge the two.
IE: Any crazy or funny stories related to these events?
Tuna: A funny thing that happened was I missed my entrance and the crowd heard my entire entrance song. The promoter frantically ran back to see if I was ok and was like “ok…you’re good? GET THE FUCK OUT THERE!” So they sent me out and replayed my song again.
IE: Who are the rest of the band members of Sweat and can you tell us an interesting fact about each of them?
Tuna: Justin and Anthony are perfect angels. Justin waves at every dog he sees. He also has an impressive resume, being a history professor, running a label (Vitriol Records), and being in 500 bands at any given time. Anthony can out dance most anyone that steps to him. He too has an impressive resume… but likes his privacy. He shines as bright in life as he does behind the drums, I'll say that for sure!
IE: You mention Justin and Anthony as the other band members but in live photos I have seen more than just the three of you. What’s the deal there?
Tuna: The record was done as a three piece. Sweat’s primary members are Justin on guitars and vocals, Anthony on drums and me, Tuna on vocals. Justin recorded bass for the record as well. The three of us are the band/songwriters, and we have a few friends that fill in on bass or second guitar based on where we’re playing. Usually, our friend Kevin plays bass for us. He’s such a great musician! Occasionally our friend Alex (from Negative Blast) or our friends Jack and Neal will play with us. We wanted to opt for the rotating member option to be able to increase flexibility for playing shows.
IE: From a far LA seems similar to NY in regards to your underground music scene with bands that range from the more macho hardcore style to street punk bands and many "other" types of punk, and almost scenes within scenes Where do you think Sweat fits in within the LA punk/hardcore scene?
Tuna: We all just like playing. Obviously we feel like we fit best with punk/hardcore shows (Tuff guy, XXX, Crust, whatever). But we do like playing weird stuff and events. We've got a list of bands we would love to play with, and try to jump on as many shows as possible. Bands we have already played with and want to play with more, include Enemy, Hot Load, Torso, Scowl and Career Suicide. Would love to play with No Fucker, Nine Shocks Terror, Zulu, Amyl and The Sniffers, Boston Strangler, Toxic Narcotic, Isterismo, The Flex, The Vicious. Would LOVE to play with Childish Gambino and Beyonce as well. We'll see how this works out.
IE: What are Sweat's plans going forward for the summer and the rest of 2022?
Tuna: We just recorded our second LP, again with Jack Shirley at Atomic Garden East in Oakland. We plan on playing a bunch this summer. Plans include the Northwest and East Coast for sure. I would really love to play both Chicago and NOLA as well, so that's more of a schedule/planning thing. Justin and Anthony are both vets to touring, so I'll trust their judgement on the best routes and plan of action. Would love to get more visuals going, and I plan to start to organize that soon, when my schedule calms down a little. Basically, we want to rock and we want backup dancers.
CLICK BELOW TO WATCH SWEAT PERFORM "HIT AND RUN" LIVE IN STUDIO
THE CORE OF THE SWEAT ROCKERS... TUNA TARDUGNO, JUSTIN SMITH & ANTHONY RIVERA