Canadian hip-hip group Swollen Members are to play ANU Bar

"With the mischievous and (surely) tongue-in-cheek name – Swollen Members – this Canadian group from Vancouver have been releasing alternative hip-hop through 10  studio albums for nearly two decades.

Consisting mainly of the duo Madchild and Prevail, Swollen Members have good cut through with their audience as their rap anthems have meaning and deal with real-life situations as opposed to shiny cars and lustful endeavours.   

Madchild says that it would be fair to say that the group was the first to include medieval wordplay and dark poetry on a regular basis in their music with references to things like "warlock", "dungeons, dragons, wizards" and such mystical imagery associated with their lyrics.

"I always liked Conan movies etc and Prevail was very theatrical in general so it wasn't something we discussed," says Madchild. "It just happened with our music and I get a lot of words from movies. I love movies, dramas etc."

"Life is a beautiful struggle. And I've always thought it's good to talk about my mental state as many people deal with issues growing up: chemical imbalance, depression, being love sick, and being in pain. Pain is part of life too. And you have to know you're not alone and you can and will get past it."

"My listeners identify with my issues and there is a bond between us because of it. We know it's OKto be a little crazy. Life is not always drinking champagne in a hot tub and going to the club with pockets full of money. A lot of us stress out about money and life and I like to think I am one of those voices in hip-hop today." 


As a kid, Madchild skate-boarded a lot and belonged to "a little gang called The Gremlins", where he listened to a large portion of hard-core and punk rock and went to gigs all the time. 

As he recalls, at the age of 16 he met a graffiti artist that moved from New York to Vancouver and they " brought vinyl and cassette tapes with them, including Grand Master Flash, Whodinidi, etc."

"I immediately found the only record store that carried hip-hop and bought my first two records: Dougie Fresh and the Get Fresh Crew and Salt-n-Pepa."

From there Madchild bought more music and was immediately hooked on hip-hop and rap.  "There was no turning back," he says. "I had found my music. My identity."

Since then, Swollen Members have been carving out an identity for themselves in the hip-hop game.

Madchild has also begun a new career as a solo artist, but he doesn't take anything for granted given he's spent time recovering from addictions that could have cost him his life, his livelihood and passion for hip-hop.

He's now thankful for everything that has passed and all that is before him.

"We have had an amazing ride and journey and are one of the fortunate ones."

"I'm just getting started. The key is to live simple with the least amount of distractions possible. More friends, more drama etc. More things and people you allow in, more distractions."

"To be as sharp as I was when I was younger, I have to still live that way. That's why so many artists fall off, they grow up and get rich and get lazy and have kids and buy houses and get wives and mistresses and more bank loans etc, etc."

"They end up leaving what got them there – the art."

"Art is not like riding a bike. It takes commitment, focus and seclusion.  I have a dog and I feel like I'm 25 [he's 42]. I keep it simple." 

"My art comes first again." 


Where: ANU Bar
When: Friday, September 19
Tickets: $52.30. Available from ticketek.com.au
Meet and Greet $99.50