The Movement is an alternative reggae band that has changed lineups numerous times since 2004, evolving from a two-piece to today’s four-piece group. The Movement features Joshua Swain (guitar, vocals), Jason “Smiles” Schmidt (bass), Gary Jackson (drums), and Matt Goodwin (keyboard).
Despite Southern roots, or perhaps because of it, the band was motivated to prove that musicians don’t have to be from Jamaica to create a style of reggae. Swain and his bandmates found the genre through Bob Marley and a lot of “herbal indulgences.”
The group also incorporates jam music into their brand of reggae. Drawing inspiration from Sublime, 311, Slightly Stoopid and John Brown’s Body. The Movement has come to be known as musical shapeshifters with a foundation of heavy drum and bass. Their sixth studio album, Ways of The World debuted at #1 on Billboard’s reggae chart.
The Movement was originally scheduled to appear at KBXtreme this month and make their Hawaii debut, but the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted their 2020 tour schedule. I had the opportunity to interview founding member Joshua Swain in February before the chaos kicked in, so my “future plans” question is irrelevant, but it does show the band’s desire to record new material.
Let’s talk about your new album, Ways of the World. It’s been on the Billboard Top 10 for 30 plus consecutive weeks and has more than 13 million streams on Spotify. What’s your reaction to that success?
I’m stunned. I didn’t even know that actually, until you just told me. We’re pretty low key. I try not to look at the numbers and stuff, but we have seen bigger crowds at our concerts. It shows we’re growing, we’re definitely excited about that, but we’re just doing the same thing we always have done – making music, playing shows, touring and having a good time! We’ve also got another new member, keyboardist, Matt Goodwin, who’s stepped up our game. We have a decent light show now and have become a little more professional over the past few years.
Your 2015 single “Rescue” received lots of radio play here in Hawaii. Would you ever consider collaborating with any Hawaiian musicians for a future recording?
Absolutely. You know, we’ve been friends with The Green for a long time. Those are the first guys that come to mind. We’ve wanted to get out to the islands for a while with them, but it just hasn’t happened yet. We actually played a show with them in California at Boom Shaka with Iration. But yeah, man, I’d love to get Caleb [Keolanui] on a tune, or any one of those guys, they’re all so good. But yeah, there’s definitely a Hawaiian collab in the works, for sure.
What was the first album you fell in love with? What started it all for you?
I’ve always listened to music since I was younger, but when it comes to this kind of style of music, it’s obviously Bob Marley that got me into reggae. But when Sublime came around, I know it is semi cliché to talk about Sublime, but they were really the kind of the guys that showed me that you don’t have to be from Jamaica to do reggae. You don’t have to have dreadlocks or even do roots reggae music. You can kind of make it your own. And that was kind of the first hint at what I would consider as American reggae and that I could actually maybe do that. When their album 40oz. to Freedom came out I was back in high school just jamming to it all the time. That record and maybe Babylon by Bus by Bob Marley, were the two records that got me to thinking I could do this.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
We would love to go to the studio again, but our manager is kind of against it. [laughs]He’s trying to get us to “sit” on this record for a little while, but we’ve already got a couple of tunes in the works, but now it’s mainly just touring. I try to not look further ahead than just a few months, or I get a little overwhelmed. We might drop a single or something like that and see how that goes. But right now, we’re kind of just riding on the popularity of Wave of the World and enjoying playing the new songs on the road. We’re gonna go out this weekend and rehearse a little bit and add a little strength to our set.
Is there anywhere you’d like to play, that you haven’t played before?
Hawaii! That has been the big one for us because we have so many of our buddies that are in bands that go out there and play shows in Hawaii. We’ve been a little jealous over the past few years. We just haven’t had an opportunity to get out there. And man, when this came through, we were ecstatic! It’s kind of been a dream for us for many years. When we first started the band, I never thought in a million years we’d be playing a show out there. I’d love to get out to Tahiti and stuff, where I know other bands have played, and South America too. But Hawaii is a big one for us!
What can fans expect at your shows?
We’ve put together a new set. I know that a lot of fans have seen us play familiar material over the past years, so we’ve thrown in a few new covers and then we’ll do little snippets of covers in between songs. We’re trying to pull some old songs out of the vault that we haven’t done in many years, you know, trying to build a stronger set when the vibe is right, not a whole lot of pauses in between songs and just keep the energy high throughout the entire show, which isn’t too easy to do on a 90-minute set, but we will try to pack as much energy as we can and not have anybody fall asleep. [laughs]
Well, is there anything else you’d like to add before we go?
I really appreciate the call. As I said, we’re so excited to finally be able to make our way over there. It’s really is like a dream come true for us. And we appreciate the radio stations or the bars that are playing our music out there. It’s insane that this Big Island show is actually happening, and we just can be more grateful.
Editor’s Note: Since the time I conducted this interview, The Movement has released a new single titled “Alien,” and you can stream/purchase it here. Updates on their 2020 tour schedule can be found here.
This interview was edited for continuity, clarity, and space.
Photos: Ashley Kidwell, Phil Emerson, and Bulldog Media.