Artist Spotlight - Swervedriver
(Photo Credit - Swervedriver)
How did you come to pursue music and how long have you been at it?
"I first became fascinated with music around 1972 - so that’s a very long time. I was listening to records my mum and dad bought and then ones that me and my brother and some of our mates were allowed to spend our pocket money on. So ‘School’s Out’ by Alice Cooper, ‘Heart of Gold’ by Neil Young, plenty of T.Rex, Slade and Sweet singles, Mott the Hoople and 'The Jean Genie' all sping to mind. That’s the cooler end of things of course - there was lots of weirder stuff also like ‘Mouldy Old Dough’ by Lieutenant Pigeon which had even weirder b-sides - you have to google ’The Villain’ by that band - or things like The Wombles. I lost interest in music a bit around 1974/75 as the charts became more and more crappy and I discovered football but then got back into it again with a vengeance when punk happened. I didn’t really start playing guitar until probably 1979 though."
Could you walk us through your process of writing music?
"Music before words, almost always. It usually comes from actually playing on an instrument but sometimes a tune comes to you in your sleep or something might pop into your head when you’re travelling somewhere and you have to sing into your phone. Or you might hear a little melody on a TV advert or something and think “hmm, that would sound great played on a noisy guitar!”
"Very rarely the words come first - a great title or phrase - and again these might be something you read in a paper or overheard on the street. Sometimes you even discover you’re a poet and you didn’t know it."
What artists have inspired you in your career?
"T.Rex, The Stooges, Sonic Youth, Husker Du all influenced Swervedriver when the band started. Really I could be sat here all day naming artists who have inspired me so let’s be concise and keep it to those four."
Do you have any favorite music gear (guitars, amps, effects pedals, keyboards, etc.) that you love to use? If so, what’s the story on them?
"I do like a Fender Jazzmaster played through a Vox AC30. That’s as close to my ‘signature sound’ as you can get."
Can you describe the vibe at your live shows? Also, what do you enjoy most about a venue when you do a show?
"I don’t know what the vibe is really.. good vibrations would be a good thing right? But bad vibrations can work too mind you - have you ever been to a show where there’s an underlying sense of danger? I don’t think it should all be about “Hi everybody, how ya doin’? It’s great to be back here, we have merch for sale at the back..” etc. Sometimes you wanna see mysterious people scowling onstage, not addressing the audience with anything other than their awesome music. We’ve probably done a bit of both of these approaches over the years!"
"As far as venues are concerned a high ceiling is preferable in my opinion, since you ask. Not necessarily a large room but somewhere the music can breathe and float up into the rafters and everyone can see the stage. Then again a low-ceilinged tiny club can work wonders too. There are definitely some venues we avoid playing and some we always push to play."
What is one thing that you want the public to know about your music?
"The only thing anyone needs is to hear the music. I don’t think they have to know anything about it - who it is, where it's come from. The less you know about a piece of music when you hear it the better really. I had no idea who all those people were lurking in the grooves of all those great 45s in 1972, I just was enthralled."
Can you tell us about the writing and recording process of Future Ruins?
"We had accumulated a ton of ideas since the last record and it was time to get some of them down and fleshed out so we decided to record at the end of a US tour in 2017. We then got an offer from some lovely people in LA to work in their studio (MAKE Records) and they did us a great deal which meant we had more time than usual."
"When I say more time, what I mean is two weeks but that is plenty of time to record basic tracks in 2019 because after that you can spend a lot of time ruminating over it, jumping back and forth between songs, adding sounds at home and all that stuff. Sort of demoing over the basic tracks or getting vocal ideas in your head when you’re walking home at night listening on your phone, before eventually going back in the studio again to finish it off."
"In the end we had thirty songs so culling it down to just the ten was kinda like compiling a mixtape - or ‘playlist’ in the modern parlance. That’s how we did it and we were very happy with the results - it’s always fun creating something from nothing. Thanks for the questions!"