By Cathy Spaulding
— Editor's note: This story originally appeared in the winter 2012 edition of Slice Magazine, published by the Muskogee Phoenix.
Zach and Colton Swon never made it to Disney World.
Oh, they were on their way, Colton said, “But we wanted to stop in Nashville and get a record deal.”
Colton said he was 11 at the time; Zach was 14.
“We went to seven or eight studios, and every one we went to, the one thing I remember is getting kicked out,” Colton said.
That didn’t stop the young Swon Brothers as they pursued their dream to sing country music.
“That just gave us fuel for the fire,” Colton said.
Zach and Colton — now 27 and 24 — have been stoking that fire ever since.
“I don’t have a passion for anything else as much as I do music,” Zach said. “Nothing can hold my interest like a guitar or a piano. When you’re born to do it, you just do it. It’s in your bones.”
Music in the Swon family bones.
The Swon parents, Kelly and Tammy Swon, toured the area with a gospel group, Exodus, in the early 1980s. The Swons later had a family show in Wagoner.
“We used to travel all the time, and the boys were always around musicians when they grew up,” Tammy Swon said. “They were on the bus a lot, and they really wanted to play.”
Zach recalled starting on the drums when he was 7. He said his father taught him discipline.
“He gave me a metronome and he taught me how to do true time. He was tough on us and I’m glad he was,” Zach said.
“We were all born into it from the get-go,” Colton said. “We’d ride the bus and we were around it (music business) 24/7.”
Colton recalled participating in the family show, sometimes doing western music, sometimes doing Sinatra songs.
“It’s funny, looking back at videos and you see how young you were,” he said. “We’ve been after that dream for a long time.”
From the family show came the Swon Brothers duo. That’s when they started going to Nashville.
Colton said the family was on a trip to Disney World when they took that fateful trip to the country music capital. They’ve made return trips ever since, he said.
Of course, they also had their school duties. Zach graduated from Oktaha High School in 2003, and Colton graduated from Hilldale in 2007.
“We decided we wanted to write songs and become the next country duo,” Zach said. “And when we started writing songs, they just came out country.”
Zach said his musical roots are pure country with influences of the Eagles and Alabama.
The brothers have no formal writing style, he said.
“It might start with a phone call at 3 a.m., and we’ll send an audio out on the phone,” he said. “Sometimes we might write the melody first. Sometimes we might write the lyrics first.”
Not every song is a gem.
“We throw a lot of songs away, but every once in a while, you get that golden one that makes the effort worth it,” Zach said.
One such golden one is “Oklahoma Lovin’,” an easy-going ballad that demonstrates Colton’s smooth lead and Zach’s harmony.
“It kind of hits home for us,” Zach said. “It’s one of our most downloaded songs on the Internet.”
The Swon Brothers are getting a strong presence on such Internet video sites as YouTube. One “Oklahoma Lovin’” video, taken from a live show, has 717 views. Another, which features clips from a 2010 Swon Brothers show, has 411 views.
A Swon Brothers’ video of “American Girl” has 2,220 views.
The brothers also cut an album, “Another Day,” which is available through such outlets as iTunes.
“Our songs get local play,” Zach said. “But our live show is definitely our bread and butter and our claim to fame. Whether it’s five or 50, we really like to love on people a little bit.”
Zach said he and his brother spend about a week in Nashville each month. When they’re not in Nashville, the Swon Brothers perform at venues all around northeast Oklahoma. Zach described their annual December concert at Wagoner Civic Center, as “part Christmas and part regular country,” Zach said.
The Swons also have played at the Buffalo Run Casino near Miami.
“And we try to stay out of the bar scene as much as possible,” Zach said. “And we’ve played a bit at the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame. These are people who we know, who our familiar base is. We play a lot at high schools.”
Zach said his ambition is to keep the music going.
“I hope we’re still doing what we’re doing, but at a bigger level,” he said. “I want to touch more people, put out more records.”
Colton wants to keep seeking that dream.
“The closer we get to seeing our dream, it’s neat to see how we’ve progressed,” Colton said. “Then, you know all the gigs we’ve played and our trips to Nashville have been worth it.”