Back in 1997, Swirl 360 was signed to Mercury Records and by 1998, the band had a hit on their hands with “Hey Now Now.”

Compromised of twin brothers Denny and Kenny Scott, Swirl 360 is still going strong today, with some exciting projects on the horizon.

Dave O recently sat down with Denny Scott to discuss the ’90’s, today and everything in between!

Dave O: Thanks for hanging out Denny! I’ve got to start off by telling you that I think the video for “Hey Now Now” is one of the coolest of the entire 1990’s. Whose idea was the concept of that video and where was it filmed/how long did it take?

Denny: Thank you! Thanks for having me! Well, back then, the label was pumped about the song and wanted to get the video done right away. We sent the song out to many directors and had them write up a treatment of what they thought the video should be. The label really wanted a beach theme. Ken and I wanted to do a James Bond/Austin Powers theme. Have girls chase us around London in a 60’s Jaguar ala Beatles, Hard Day’s Night. In fact, Ben Stiller offered to direct it. We were so excited to say yes, but the label said, no. Anyway, we reluctantly agreed to the beach theme. Unfortunately, all the directors were sending in these goofy fluffy beach ball themes. Finally, Clark Eddy sent us a treatment saying; let’s make it like a classic surf video. The kind we watched as kids in the surf shop, like an adventure through the desert to find the good waves. Ken and I were sold. At first, Clark had originally had a VW Camper Van as the automobile, but we told him we wanted something cooler. It was complete when the blue 70’s Bronco appeared. They actually painted it blue for the video and we shot it in Mexico. It took about 4 days to shoot.

Dave O: Are you guys actually surfers? You look pretty bad ass on those boards!

Denny: Yeah, we grew up surfing in Florida. It took me 3 years to get my AA degree because I would cut class all the time to surf. Cut to the video, the label sent us to Mexico a week before the shoot so we could surf and hang out. We rented some RV’s and took some friends with us. It was a blast. We were shooting in a location called, Ship Wrecks. It was supposed to be a secret spot and the locals let us know that they did not want us filming there. It did not matter anyway, because it was flat the whole time. It only broke like 1-2 feet, so we were stuck riding long boards. That’s why the stock footage of surfing was added in the video later. Despite the small waves, we had a total blast. Racing that Bronco all over the desert was awesome. I did not hold back on pushing the gas pedal. It was killer fun!

Dave O: From what I understand, you guys are from Orange Park, Florida, which is basically Jacksonville. I lived there for a few years and was blown away by the local music scene and sheer number of successful acts that have come out of Jacksonville (though I didn’t know at that time you guys were from there!). You have you guys, Yellowcard, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, The Summer Obsession, Shinedown, Limp Bizkit, 69 Boyz and oh, some group called Lynyrd Skynyrd. What is it about Jacksonville that breeds all this talent?

Denny: Well, it’s a military town, so I think the melting pot of all the people is part of it. Plus, you had so many places that allowed live music and bands were able to build their chops. I am sure every band from Jacksonville has heard, Free Bird, shouted out during a set at some point. LOL! Crazy how many of those bands from Jax, were eventually signed. It’s funny, back then, Limp Bizkit came out of nowhere. We had been playing everywhere around Jacksonville and we had never heard of them. All of the sudden they were playing the Milk Bar and all these labels were coming to watch. Anyway, Ken and I knew to get signed, we had to go to Los Angeles. We were signed to Mercury/Polygram 8 months after we moved there. I remember our manager telling us it was going to take him 2 years to get us signed. Ken and I were like, no way man! We were super hungry and made it happen much sooner.

Dave O: What are you and Kenny’s musical background and at what age did you form a band?

Denny: We have been into music since we were very little. We just knew that this is what we wanted to do. It started with the Beatles. Then Kiss. As kids, I was taking guitar lessons. Ken was taking drums. In fact, he was a drummer first, and then moved to guitar. We were both in choir at church learning how to sing. The revelation came when we found the Police. Sting’s voice and songwriting were a huge influence. Later came the band, The Outfield. We won a contest to meet them backstage. John, the guitarist, told us, “You should work on your songwriting and get good in the studio. Playing live was the easy part”. So, that what’s we did. We learned how to make great demos and to write hooky songs. We had a few bands throughout high school, but it wasn’t until 1994, in our early 20’s, we started our first real pro band, Fools of Faith. We played all over town. We actually got popular pretty quick, and the next thing we knew, we were opening for huge local bands like, Spider Monkey. Fools really helped us to get our live chops going.

Dave O: There are thousands of bands out there who are starving and doing anything they can to get the attention of record labels. You guys were lucky enough to do that back in 1997 when Mercury Records signed you. How did you get signed and what advice would you give to younger bands?

Denny: Basically, Ken and I went to Austin, Texas for SXSW. We just walked the streets and passed out demos. Eventually, one of our tapes ended up in the hands of Christopher Sabec. He was an attorney/manager for the Dave Matthews camp. Some weeks later he called us, and the next thing we knew, we were moving to Los Angeles. Funny, he kept talking about this band of brothers called, Hanson. We were like, whatever man. You know what happened to them. LOL!

We get asked advice all the time. We always say, THERE ARE NO RULES! Industry people think they know, and they don’t know shit. You have to do what you like and what you believe in. Follow the feedback from the fans, not the industry. Always keep working on your craft and keep moving forward. In 2002, Ken and I showcased for Warner Bros. Michael Rosenblatt. He signed Madonna back in the 80’s. He passed on us. He did not like our demo. Luckily, it got into the hands of his assistant. She loved our song, Okay. It was featured in the movie, Van Wilder. All of the sudden, we are sitting there in his office again, and he was telling us how great our demo was. The same exact one that he had passed on a few months before. You just have to keep trying. With today’s industry, artists can do so much on their own with the Internet, though the Internet has really hurt this industry as well. Just be original and don’t give up. I was hanging with Dean from STP one night. He said, “You know Denny, there is no luck involved”. I was like, what? He said, “Until your last dying breath, don’t give up”. Very inspiring. At the end of the day, for us, it was always about writing a great song. That is how we have managed to have a career with TV and film. That’s how we kept getting signed. Good songs always sustain. Though I understand, it’s harder today because labels lack vision. They want to hear a song with full production, like you would hear it on the radio. We were lucky, because Steve Greenberg could hear an acoustic version of our song and have the vision to see what it could be. Today, labels want you to sell 50,000 units on your own. Why would you need them if you could do that? The labels over the last several years, with their the fast food approach to sell hit songs and not records, it has made it almost completely impossible to have a career in this business now. Don’t get me started on American Idol. It seems to be much more about fame than art these days. Where is the next REM? Where is the next Guns N Roses? Where is the next Tom Petty? Where is the next Bruce Springsteen? Do you get what I am saying?

Dave O: Absolutely, and I think that’s a great point. Were you guys always Swirl 360, even before being signed? Is there a story of where that name came from?

Denny: Well, like I said before. We were called, Fools of Faith. We got that name from the song, Got No Shame, by the band, Brothercane. Our buddy was on the same management with them so we got to know them well. They were on Virgin and we loved their first album. Anyway, we changed it to Swirl right before we moved to LA. We wanted something that represented our surfing lifestyle. Right as our album was about to drop, an Australian band with the same name challenged us. In Sound Scan, they had only sold 4 units in the USA. They were working day jobs and pretty much broken up. We basically offered them 15, negotiating up to 50 grand to go away, but the singer would not give up the name, Swirl. His band mates begged him to take the cash. He refused. So, we added the 360 and told them to screw off.

Dave O: LOL love it! The first album was “Ask Anybody” and it came out in the summer of 1998. How long had those songs been in the works for – I’m assuming most of it was already a product before you were signed?

Denny: Actually, Don’t Shake My World was the only older tune. They sent me to New York in November of 1997. I was there for 2 months to write for the album. Steve Greenberg told us we could not start recording until we had written half the album. That really scared us because we wanted it out for the summer. For those 2 months, I wrote my ass off and was able to get half the album done. We started recording in January 1998. The reason for the new songs was because we wanted to do a 60’s Brit Pop sound with a Beck production, and we wanted the songs to fit that style for the new album. To us, it was basically Jellyfish with drum loops. We were super excited to come up with those types of songs. We even brought in Roger from Jellyfish, Adam from Fountains of Wayne, and Ken from the Posies. It was good times working with some of our heroes. Plus, we were living in New York and that was really cool. The label put us up in killer apartment on the east side. We lived in the same building as Macaulay Culkin, and the rent was 6 grand a month. We were totally living the rock star lifestyle. It was great!

Dave O: “Hey Now Now” is your signature song and blew up radio in mid to late 1998. Did you know it was a hit when you wrote it? Sometimes you hear bands say, “Heck yes” and sometimes you hear, “No, we almost didn’t even put it on the album!”

Denny: To be honest, we hated it. We fought with our management and label over that song. We did not want that to be our staple hit. It was one of the first songs that we wrote when we started writing for the album. We knew it was a good song, we just wanted to come out a little more alternative than that, and we felt that it was just too pop. Looking back at those times and the video now, we are pretty proud of it. You have to admit, it was something new that was not on the radio at the time. It exploded overseas, especially in Canada and Australia. I always say, we wanted to be the Police and the label wanted us to be Wham. LOL!

Dave O: You were dealt some really bad luck shortly after your first album, as the parent company for Mercury Records merged with another and your label ultimately became Island Def Jam Records. As often happens when labels change, so do acts, and after many of the people you worked with were let go, you guys ultimately parted ways with the label. At that time, how frustrating was this, and even today, does it still bother you?

Denny: So sad! We were doing shows with N-Sync. We were both new and climbing the charts. Then, we hear, Universal is buying Polygram. They froze all the money for promotion. They had no idea what to do with us. We went back and forth from the US to Europe to Asia trying to keep it going. They laid off over 100 people from Mercury alone. It was crazy walking through the offices and not seeing all those smiling faces from before. We had it in our contract to make another record. However, the new head of A&R said there would be no one to work it, due to the lay offs. So, they paid us a huge chunk to leave. Ken and I thought we would get another deal no problem. Unfortunately, other labels considered us a failure and did not even acknowledge that it was the merger that caused the record to die. Though, Columbia had offered to buy the record when the merger was going down, but Polygram refused. Right after that, Columbia released the twins, Evan and Jaron. We still think about it today, but you just have to keep moving. It’s a waste of energy to think about what could have been. We have had a great career in music and we are lucky not to have had to get day jobs. Our music has supported us and we just keep moving. It’s all you can do.

Dave O: That’s really sound advice. I’m sure things were tough for awhile after that and you probably had moments where you weren’t sure you’d get back off the mat again. What kept you going and how much stronger did that experience make you?

Denny: After the first one, it definitely knocked the wind out of us. You just have to learn from it and move on. We just kept writing, recording, and shopping. Since then, Ken and I have had 6 record deals. Though, only 3 of those records actually came out. Plus, we released 2 EPs on our own. There was always something to keep us going, like a song in a movie or the Baha Men covering song of ours… We have been extremely fortunate with TV and film stuff.

Dave O: Yeah, and I want to talk about that. Swirl 360’s music has been featured on quite a few soundtracks, including but definitely not limited to I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, Never Been Kissed and National Lampoon’s Van Wilder. I’ve always wondered how that process comes about, and I’m sure it depends on the project, but how many of them are written/produced just for the movie, and how many of them are picked up after? I’m sure some of the time you randomly get called and told your song has been picked for a movie, which must be pretty sweet, huh?

Denny: Man like I said, we have been so lucky with that. Basically, you submit songs to a music supervisor and they place the songs throughout the film or TV show. It’s a great feeling to hear your song in a movie. For Van Wilder, the music supervisor had heard our music and wanted to know if we had any new songs to submit. They ended up using two of our songs. Radio Song and Okay. We got to do promotion with Ryan Reynolds and Kal Penn. We had a blast hanging with those guys. For Never Been Kissed, we got to make a video with Drew Barrymore! I got to kiss her! We have been very lucky. Good times! These days it’s a bit harder to get your music in a film, because the major labels take up all the slots by trying to break new artists. A good song always finds it’s way though.

Dave O: So the trail kind of goes cold on you guys from the early 2000’s until the late 2000’s, when you had a side project called “Echo Jet” for a little awhile and a Hot AC hit. Was that kind of like a Linkin Park versus Fort Minor thing – simply a side project? Or was it just a rename and branding of Swirl 360?

Denny: Like I said, we had 6 record deals. Seems like we were always in the studio working on a new album. Our second record, “California Blur” came out in late 2004, but it was an overseas release only. Hardcore fans can find it on Ebay. In 2005, we were signed to label through Universal. They sent us up to work in Northern California with Sylvia Massy (Tool, Red Hot Chili Peppers), but that ended when the label ran out of money. It’s funny, we had just finished mixing the record with Sylvia and the head of the label’s son told me on the drive home that they had run out of money. Right after that, we were signed to a label through Koch. We went into the studio with Arnold Lanni (Our Lady Peace, Simple Plan). The label was going to put a big chunk of money into us, so we changed the name to Echo Jet to give it a fresh new start. Unfortunately, that label ran out of money as well, and it ended in 2008. It was sad, because our song, Wave, was in the top 10 call in count down on several radio stations throughout the country. On a radio station in Kansas, it was #2. They had called us to come on the air and announce the song. We did not have the heart to tell them that it was over.

Dave O: I’ve heard Adam Sandler has asked you guys to write and do a song for his next film. What’s the status of that?

Denny: Well, they used one of our songs in his movie, Bedtime Stories in 2009. I have a good friend who has worked for him for years. She brought us in to meet with the music supervisors a few weeks ago. They told us about the new movie and asked to write something. I have been reading the script to be inspired. In fact, I am in Florida now with my brother working on some songs for it. He lives in Florida now and has a really nice studio here. We both commute between Florida and Los Angeles for our music.

Dave O: And you got to hang out on the set of the movie with him and Katie Holmes? Is she as beautiful in person as she looks on TV?

Denny: Yes, she is very good-looking, but much smaller in person. It was cool because they were working on a giant green screen shot. It’s cool to see Adam Sandler work. He has had such a cool life being able to do what he wants to do. He is always busy with his movies and music. He is a very loyal and cool guy. That day we were bummed because we had just missed Al Pacino and Johnny Depp on the set just a couple days before.

Dave O: I hope you don’t go to the casinos much! LOL Tell me what else Swirl 360 is up to and when we can look for new music?

Denny: Like said, I am in Florida now working with Ken on some new material. We just put out a new EP this past September ourselves called, “4.” Currently, we are remixing a song from it called, Rise Over, with Rae Dileo (Filter, STP). We hope release that with a new video really soon. We also released the “Best & B-Sides” and “Echoes From The Past.” We have recorded all this music over that past several years and decided it was time to get it out. They are all available online on iTunes and Amazon… At this very moment, we are working on songs for the new Adam Sandler movie. Plus, writing for a 15 year old kid that Ken discovered, who is on his way to be a part of the Disney camp. While I am here, we are also planning our next record that will be out this summer. Not sure if it will be another EP or full-length record. We are trying to decide if we want to try and get a label involved on this one. We are excited because 2011 has been very busy so far. Next month, jumping back to the 80’s, the singer of the band, Glass Tiger, is flying into Florida to do some writing with us. He is a big songwriter in Canada now.

Dave O: Tell him I loved the song “Don’t Forget Me When I’m Gone!” Hey, can you give us your website, Facebook and ways to stay in touch?

Denny: Sure! It’s http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Swirl-360/125067074191439. That’s the best way to keep up with us. Come like us!

Dave O: Thanks so much for your time, Denny. Anything you’d like to add?

Denny: I just want to thank all the fans for hanging in there with us. When we launched all these songs this past year online, we were pleasantly surprised with all the people buying the songs that still remembered us. I hope that they will still stay with us with the new stuff as well. Thanks to you Dave O for a great interview. Stay in touch!

Until Next Time – Dave O