The Movement’s Josh Swain talks new album, ‘Ways Of The World’

The Movement’s Josh Swain talks new album, ‘Ways Of The World’

For those of you reading, completely unaware of who or maybe even what The Movement is, back in the day, some Columbia, South Carolina teenagers started up a band. They traveled and acquired more members, adding and changing up some bandmates, but ultimately settled on the current four-piece band we see today. The Movement was officially founded in 2004 and is made up of Joshua “Hook” Swain, Jay “Smiles” Schmidt, Gary “Dread” Jackson and Matt Goodwin. The music they create is complex and calming. Most fans would agree with me when I say they have become their own entity, with a style saturated heavily in reggae, hip hop, ska and trippy funk.  

‘WOTW’ is arranged in such a way the tracks that are more hardcore are backed by softer songs. The balance is entirely even.

So, in 15 years, a handful of albums, many adventures and a huge amount of growth later, we land at this ridiculously anticipated album, Ways Of The World. They don’t call him Johnny “Cosmic” for nothing; everything seems to align perfectly for this young musician/producer. John Grey, otherwise known as Johnny Cosmic, plays a seriously savage guitar for the band Stick Figure. When the two bands decided to collaborate on songs, the conversation organically landed on The Movement’s upcoming album. The decision to have Cosmic produce it was a no brainer. Cosmic took some time to talk to me about producing this album. For the record, ALL of what you hear was a unified effort, as WOTW is sitting pretty at #1 on Billboards Reggae Charts.

The album is paced out to perfection. It starts out relaxed, melodic and with island vibes. WOTW is arranged in such a way the tracks that are more hardcore are backed by softer songs. The balance is entirely even.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down for a phone interview with none other than Mr. Joshua Swain: founder, lyrical wizard and frontman of The Movement. Our topic of conversation was the band’s newest game-changer of an album Ways Of The World and the Coast to Coast Tour they have just embarked on. Here’s how it went down.

Top Shelf Music: I take it you’ve been eating your Wheaties?

  • Swain: [Laughing] What do you mean?

You sound stronger and maybe even tougher on this album. 

  • If I sound tough, it’s because I am tough. That’s never changed.

“Orange Sky” was the first track I played continuously. The relaxed mix of instruments, as well as players, makes this song a powerhouse. I am reminded with every aspect of this song that we only have a certain amount of time on this orbiting planet. Making the most out of every situation and living a life rooted in honesty, joy and genuine recovery is vital. Life isn’t meant to be lived just for the weekend or any day, for that matter. It’s meant for the moment you are in. For right now. 

I pegged the lyrics of this song wrong from the beginning. When I asked Swain if my interpretation was correct, a straight, “Nah” came from the phone line’s other end.

I was under the impression that “Orange Sky”, in particular, is about growing up and not just seeing a world full of partying.

  • Yeah.. That’s the cool thing about music, it can be interpreted differently. You know, don’t waste your whole life waiting for the weekend to come. Because, if you’re hating your job, life or your whole week, you waste so much more than time.
  • Also, that’s a lot of what inspired me on most of these songs. I see all these people around me and they fucking hate their jobs or lives. They are just waiting for Friday night.

So, it’s not about slowing it down, but rather, enjoying the time we have before it’s over?

  • Noo, it means you need to party all the time! With all that has transpired, there is so much that has led us to this point. Our time here is really short. So, I come from a place that is like, take a look at all there is around you. Family, society, politics, social media, TV… these are the ways of the world currently.

I feel like you are begging your listeners to get out of their comfort zone with this album.

  • That has never been my goal when writing. If that happens, then great!

When asked how he landed all the sick collaborations on this album and how they came about, he replied it was all organic. One of the first released tracks off of this album, “Siren”, collabs with Stick Figure. There is no question that political and systematic issues (and the repercussions of them) are completely honed in on and spoken about in this one. These bands keep collaborating with each other and the end result is a slap in the face you actually enjoy. West coast brothers Iya Terra laid some love down on this album, as well. Anything Iya is affiliated with is guaranteed to have a huge foundation in consciousness. Therefore, the track “Redwoodz” hits us in a way that is deeply rooted in nature and tranquility. It does so while also questioning money as a false form of happiness. “Diamond” features the amazing Jacob Hemphill (of SOJA). This track is the definition of a feel-good summer jam. I can already see myself capturing some shots of lovers swaying to this. 

Let’s definitely not forget to mention the samples used in this album! “The Great Discovery” is one of my top five off of this album. I love hearing a good sample; old-school Sublime style that The Movement has been doing since their first album 15 years ago. The track “Honey” is sticky, just like its title. You feel yourself about to get into some fun trouble listening to this one. As I have said, the high and low points are spaced out to a ‘T’. Next up, a song we have had access to for about six months now still thumps. Here is where I find my focus, with Smiles on bass and Dread on drums. The thickness that surrounds this song is powerful. All you can do is listen and agree with Swain’s lyrics. “Loud Enough” is about not being heard and anyone can relate to that. “Cool Me Down” is another sweet summer jam. Even if you aren’t at the beach, this songs teleports you to one. I just envision myself swimming with dolphins when I hear it… 

With Chali 2na featured on the next track “Break in the Glass”, the album has now shot you into another galaxy. Being ‘blown away’ is an understatement. All you old-school hip hip and Jurassic 5 fans know this man is legendary and so is this track. “Break in the Glass” is a fan favorite and shows you the band’s versatility. My favorite song on this album has to be the last, “Remember (The Return)”. If this song doesn’t strike a chord in your heart, check your pulse. Everyone knows the struggles and hardships life can aim directly at you. The struggle to find self love, respect, happiness and the list goes on and on. These lyrics are fucking incredible and so is watching a band of people you truly respect and love succeed and excel. It’s a beautiful thing. 

Catch the guys on tour this summer and fall season! A complete tour list is below. Here’s to The Movement and all the crazy Ways Of The World we experience daily.

Purchase or stream Ways Of The World album:

Track listing:

  1. Ways of the World
  2. Redwoodz, feat. Iya Terra
  3. Take Me To the Ocean
  4. Orange Sky
  5. Diamond, feat. SOJA
  6. Siren, feat. Stick Figure
  7. Life Is a Circle
  8. The Great Discovery
  9. Honey
  10. Loud Enough
  11. Cool Me Down
  12. Break in the Glass, feat. Chali 2na & Jurassic 5
  13. Remember (The Return)

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Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.

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Donald Ross
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Donald Ross

You forgot to mention “Take Me to the Ocean” and “Life is a Circle” these two songs hit my soul. I saw these guys at Sterling and for the first time in my life I felt a different kind of connection with this band. Their music and Josh’s voice penetrated my heart and soul with so much love, joy, and happiness I had tears in my eyes. I have never felt that before not even with Ziggy or Stephen Marley. I feel very blessed to have seen and experienced this band. And can’t wait till get to again.

Kristy Rose
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Kristy Rose

Aw, man, we totally understand. Hard to mention all of the great songs The Movement brings to the world! Stay up, brotha 🙌