Interview

Swervedriver

Swervedriver

Thursday 9th June, 2016 12:31PM

English alt-rock outfit Swervedriver are heading to these shores next week for a three-date double bill tour with our very own Fur Patrol. The Oxford group, who were split at the end of the 90s and reformed in 2008, are coming to these shores off-the-back of releasing their first album in 17 years, I Wasn't Born To Lose You. Ahead of their New Zealand tour we dropped a line to frontman Adam Franklin to have a chat about the group's reformation and the new album...


UTR: It seems Swervedriver split amicably circa 1999, and you obviously all maintained your friendships. What was the mood surrounding the band when you went on prolonged hiatus? Did you feel a sense of loss packing it in?

AF: Well it was mostly amicable but we'd had enough of 'the scene' we were in at the time which had just become stale and it was time for something new. There were too many shitty drugs going on in and around our studio space, but we were tied to the place and so we tried to sell it. Then everyone that had rooms in that place was given a month to get out because some developer was stepping in to turn it into apartments or a car parking garage or something. So then we tried to sell the individual pieces of equipment such as the mixing desk and we had to have someone set that up in a dummy studio in order to sell it - so that people could test it out I guess. Then that guy was declared bankrupt and somehow our desk was included in his bankruptcy - I don't know how on earth that happened. This is how the story was sold to me at least. So then we were utterly disenchanted. I moved to the US and got as far away as possible. I do wish we could have risen above it all really, but it just wasn't possible at the time. Bands run their course. All of this made it even more of a thing of wonder when we finally got back together and played the songs again ten years later of course.


Are there any differences to your band dynamics now, as opposed to when you were playing together during the 90s?

Well, there are differences to the band line-up. When we got back together in 2008 it was with Steve and Jez from "line-up number two" who recorded Ejector Seat Reservation and 99th Dream but Jez was replaced by Graham Bonnar from the 1990/91 Raise line-up around 2011 and then Mikey Jones took over drums after that. The new album was recorded with Mikey and Steve but Steve hasn't been able to tour and so we have Mick Quinn from Supergrass on bass now, who myself and Jimmy have known since we were kids. In fact the first band I was ever in had Mick's brother Si on the other guitar and mine and Jimmy's band - as well as many other Wheatley bands - all used to rehearse in the Quinns' cellar. First time I ever played electric guitar plugged into an amp was at Mick Quinn's house in fact. So yes, there are different dynamics of course but it's still very much Swervedriver. There's a renewed energy which makes the band sound better than ever to us right now.


I read a comment on one of your YouTube videos, saying: “Well done Adam Franklin for decking Pete druggy doherty at a Hong Kong party. Franklin's got more talent in his little finger than that prick”. I thought it may have been something that happened in younger days, on further investigation it looks like it was less than a year ago! What’s the story there??

Oh, well I wouldn't spend too long reading YouTube comments if I were you! I ordered a drink in a bar only yesterday and the barman asked me about this and shook my hand but it's really not important.


Swervedriver have been slotted into the ‘shoegaze’ genre for many years now, but it’s also widely acknowledged that the music you conjure up is more heavy than your counterparts in that realm (My Bloody Valentine, Lush, et al). Do you accept the “shoegaze” branding? If you were to coin your own genre descriptor what would it be?

I suppose it is a branding isn't it? Makes you feel like cattle or slaves when you put it like that though. Honestly the only time we think about it is when it comes up in interviews. It's misleading certainly, I would say, but at the same time the word now has a positive connotation and people discover the band because of it, so that's no bad thing. I might use 'Genre Descriptor' as a song title actually, but there's really no need for us to be sitting around trying to invent our own terminology at this point - just consult the Great God Wikipedia or better still, listen to some tracks!


The new record bears such a strong 90s aesthetic, which of course is the sound early Swervedriver carved out, but that same sound has had a resurgence among upcoming bands. Was it an intentional decision to return to that aesthetic, or is that just how the songwriting evolved?

It's just the way the band sounds, I suppose. If 1960s/70s Fender and Gibson guitars played through 1960s/70s Vox and Marshall amps sound like the 90s then so be it! It has to be said though that we didn't want to come back with an experimental album that sounded nothing like how we sounded before so weren't gonna be messing around with synths or funky beats or going acoustic. It's fair to say we played to our strengths but there are influences in there that have come from things that have happened in the 21st century also. It's just that along with the shoegaze question, it's not something that we consciously think about and so whatever felt right was right, if you know what I mean.


What’s your favorite song from the new album?

Hmm.. For me personally it could be the last song 'I Wonder?' or maybe 'For A Day Like Tomorrow'. 'I Wonder?' goes to places that no Swervedriver songs have gone to before I think, and it has a cool freeform sprawl at the end. 'For A Day Like Tomorrow' also shoots off into the ether at the end and has really come into its own as a live tune and has been a lot of fun to play - people have been really digging those two tunes.


What’s in store for the future for Swervedriver once this tour is done?

We've been rolling ideas around for another album as well as thinking about a mini-LP/EP type thing, where the pressure is off a little bit and you can do something that explores some unexpected musical avenues, perhaps. We'll see how that develops but once again it will probably be somewhat subconscious in the making.



Swervedriver will be in New Zealand later this month for three shows with our very own 90s dreamboats Fur Patrol, head over here for more information and to buy tickets.


related gigs
Swervedriver with Fur Patrol
Fri 17th Jun, Churchills, Christchurch
Swervedriver with Fur Patrol
Sat 18th Jun, Bodega, Wellington
Swervedriver with Fur Patrol
Sun 19th Jun, Kings Arms Tavern, Auckland


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