PREMIERE: The Swellers sign off in a rage with the eight-minute “Not Safe To Drink”

The Swellers
photo: Jonathan Wiener

Pop-punk quartet the Swellers signed off last year after a 13-year run. But neither frontman Nick Diener or drummer Jonathan Diener could have predicted what would happen to their band’s home base of Flint, Michigan over the past few months. The city’s entire water supply became compromised due in part to poor decision making from elected officials, potentially affecting the health of thousands of residents who trusted their local and state government to protect them from such dangers.

It’s out of this anger, confusion and desire to help that Jonathan Diener co-created Not Safe To Drink with Substream contributor James Shotwell. The digital benefit compilation features a whopping 72 bands, many of whom recorded something exclusively for this release—including the Swellers. “Not Safe To Drink,” the compilation’s ad hoc title track, is the first new Swellers song since 2013 and will very likely be the last Swellers song ever.

“The last song on our last record felt like it was the bookend on our 13-year history,” says Nick Diener. “We’ve all written songs since then for other projects, but in the midst of all these new Flint Water Crisis developments, I played things that I haven’t played in a long time. It sounded like a Swellers song. An eight-minute posthumous Swellers song, because we don’t care that we aren’t a band anymore and have all gone our separate ways.”

“Since this is happening to our hometown, it only made sense to resurrect the band for one more song,” Jonathan Diener explains. “I’ve been reading a ton, talking to our friends in Flint and all of it leaked into the lyrics. It’s the right time to be angry again.”

Not Safe To Drink—featuring music from Taking Back Sunday, Anti-Flag, We Came As Romans, Craig Owens, Aaron West And The Roaring Twenties, Real Friends, Jeff Rosenstock and many more—will be released February 20 and can be pre-ordered here for a minimum donation of $5, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to

“Not Safe To Drink” lyrics

We’ve had our ups and downs but it feels like a terrible new low
Bricks in the road downtown, they fall apart like this place I know
Bottles of water count as currency in this worthless town
The arches used to glow, but it’s looking like we are hopeless now
..and again and again and again..

So open wide, we’ll feed it to you
Always remember Flint ’cause it remembers too
They say “how much more can a city take before it destroys itself?”
So open wide, we’ll feed it to you

Enter the camera crews, the new bodies in abandoned lots
Let’s talk percentages, instead of lead we’ll talk haves and have nots
It’s in their blood, but not for long cause, now it’s in our heads, it’s all damage done
It’s in the air, the world is listening, they’ve left us for dead, there’s nowhere left to run
…and again and again and again…
Flint Lives, denied the basic human right
Reset the net worth, stuck here to die

I’ve been singing
Of a place that was my home
I’ve been stealing
We’re not evil we’re just broke
I’ve been reading
It’s another world outside
When the cameras go away I hope you stay…
I’ve been hearing
All the voices of the press
I’ve been seeing
Raised fists and the protests
I’ve been feeling
The world might soon forget
When the cameras go away I hope you stay…
It’s not safe to drink

We need help right now
There’s just something that we want you to know
What we have right now
Is irreversible

You’ve been exposed like we’ve been exposed but it stays the same
We need a filter, but there’s no filter, the world is hearing what we have to say
Waiting for this to boil over, you can’t boil shit
We need a filter, but there’s no filter, Flint Lives, our time, this is it