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Mad Child, who formed Swollen Members with Prevail in Vancouver in 1996

Saturday, 17 March 2012

 

Mad Child, who formed Swollen Members with Prevail in Vancouver in 1996, was in the throes of addiction to painkillers and also was prevented from touring the States; the duo's self-run label, Battle Axe Records, was sputtering. They had been smeared by an association with the Hells Angels that subsequently got them dropped from the Nettwerk management roster. They generally seemed to be in disarray. Then, Mad Child got clean. The group - now a trio, with the addition of producer Rob the Viking - signed to large American hip-hop label Suburban Noize, and Swollen Members found its groove again with the album Dagger Mouth. While its current tour was a pronouncement that Swollen Members is back, validation came in the form of its fifth Juno nomination for rap recording of the year. Dagger Mouth is unlikely to win, however, as its two main rivals are recordings by Drake and Classified. But Swollen Members wasn't expected to last as long or become as successful as it has, either. So who knows? "Dagger Mouth actually did more than we had hoped," says Prevail. "We took a brush to it, erased every-thing that went before and started at ground zero. 'Let's take it back.' That's when we realized we never should have changed in the first place. "Dagger Mouth was a piece of art that came from our heart." Dagger Mouth isn't exactly a "back-to-the-roots" type of album. Too much has changed both within the group as well as in rap. But it is more basic and thus seems to be a sign that the crew shares a closeness that hasn't been apparent in the last few years. From Vancouver (Shane Bunting, a.k.a. Mad Child) and Victoria (Ki-ley Hendriks, a.k.a. Prevail), Swollen Members were the punks of Canadian rap - sporting tattoos, leather jackets and a D-I-Y ethic. Canadian rap was still finding its feet, so an upstart such as Swollen Members had room to stand on its own. "I feel like we're part of history, to be honest with you," Prevail says. "When you put out your first record," he says, "you rely on feed-back because you don't know. For an underground group at that time, feedback was hugely important. We wanted to tour and create a lineage. The sound has changed and progressed as it has matured." With change came success and with success came confusion, not the least of which was Mad Child's addiction, now in the past. "The chronology of Swollen Members has been interesting," Prevail says. "People suspected it was an unlikely pairing of Mad Child and Prevail when we started. "I'm really proud of Mad Child," he says. "That brought us to the other end. I don't think we could have got to that if we didn't go through what we did. Through that journey we found so much enthusiasm. "Dagger Mouth allowed us to be ourselves again. I feel that nothing can stop us now."

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A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty

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