Posted in interviews | music | tour dates on May 22, 2008

by Asa E

DOWNLOAD: Swervedriver - Mars (Tramps, 07.16.1997) (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Swervedriver - Cars Converge On Paris (Maxwells, 10.31.1998) (MP3)

Swervedriver @ Coachella 2008 (more by Ryan Muir)

As previously, previously, and previously noted, legendary shoegazers Swervedriver are back. Their recent performance at Coachella was an 'artistic triumph,' according to the LA Times, which makes their upcoming dates (see below) all the more enticing. In the following interview, singer/guitarist Adam Franklin relates his desert island pedals as well as his distaste for the MySpace "shoegaze" category.


RaiseWhen I listen to Raise, I hear a lot of Dinosaur Jr. worship going on. You guys really work the guitar effects (wah pedals especially) and your vocals are buried. Any accuracy to this perception? And why is your singing so low in the mix?

Adam Franklin: Dinosaur were a big influence around the time of You're Living All Over Me and Bug, for sure. I don't really know why the vocals were so low but I certainly wasn't that confident with the vocals at the time plus it was also perhaps a prevailing stylistic trend at the time.

Did you receive any vocal training between Raise and Mezcal Head? The your voice is mixed much better and it carries a lot of melody as well.

Actually, I did have one singing lesson that may have been around that time. She was an opera singer and she had a picture of her with Pavarotti on her piano and she had at one time given lessons to Johnny Rotten. At the start of the lesson she got me to reach for my lowest and highest notes and then said "right. I guarantee that in an hour you will be singing 2 notes higher and 3 lower - and she was right.

More interview, as well as tour dates, below...

What role did effects play in songwriting? Were any riffs written with a given effect in mind, or were they added as an afterthought?

I think it's true to say that sometimes you find a sound and base a song around that sound but you of course have to find a killer melody to use it with.

For that matter, let's say you're exiled to a desert isle with just your Jazzmaster, your amp and your choice of ONE effect. Which do you choose and why?

Vox Cry Baby wah wah pedal to express my blues at being exiled on a desert island.

Do you consider Swervedriver a shoegaze band? You guys hailed from the same area as many bands from the genre, if I recall, and were on Creation and had a lot of influences different from that of, say, Curve or Slowdive.

No. There are certainly some stylistic similarities with those bands, no denying, and particularly on that first album, with the vocals down in the mix etc as you mentioned before, but really Swervedriver has always been more of a rock band.

Most shoegaze music is often characterized as 'druggy.' Would you say Swervedriver's music qualifies as such? Did drugs play any role in songwriting?

I always say that you probably ought to 'road test' your music to see if it sounds cool on drugs (always better if it does!) and Jimmy was always on 'headphone duty' making sure that the stoners' minds would be blown the requisite amount by some apocalyptic panning.

What do you think of the influx of new, younger bands labeling themselves shoegaze?

To be honest it puts me off if a MySpace band has 'shogaze' listed as its genre but I suppose it's a valid description at this stage. I think there are cool bands from all ends of the spectrum that take elements of said genre, whether it's Lali Puna or Dead Meadow. The band Film School seem to be doing the right kind of thing - taking the influence and leading it somewhere new.

What was your lyrical approach? Many of the tunes seem to be about relationships. Any truth to this, or am I completely off-base?

They possibly are - even some of the songs that sound like they're about driving are about pining for something else, like a new place to live or a new person to hang out with. "She's Beside Herself" and "Out" are undeniably about relationships and "For Seeking Heat" is probably the only song purely about speed on the road.

WhatÕs your favorite song you wrote for Swervedriver, and what is one you have an affinity for that no fan ever gushes over?

"Maelstrom" is a song that I love but no-one else in the band is crazy about ...but that's okay because I guess I can play it with my Bolts of Melody [Franklin's solo album] band! I also like "93 Million Miles From The Sun," which is a re-write of "Harry & Maggie."

Whatever happened to the studio you guys won after the Geffen lawsuit fiasco?

You mean the studio that we built from Geffen advance money? I wish we really had won it! The band Ash nearly bought it, but in the end we closed it down.

What inspired the band's reunion?

The time was simply right.

What are the top 5 records you're listening to right now?

Serge Gainsborg - Les Annee Psychedeliques
Dennis Wilson - Pacific Ocean Blue
Scott Walker - Boy Child 67-70
The Still Out - Crystallised
The Darjeeling Limited - OST

Anything you'd like to say in closing?

Support your local indie record store!


Swervedriver - 2008 Tour Dates
05/22 - The Waiting Room Lounge, Omaha, Nebraska +
05/23 - The Marquis Theater, Denver, Colorado
05/24 - The Paladium, Salt Lake City, Utah
05/26 - Mon Seattle, WA Neumo's Crystal Ball Reading Room *
05/27 - Tue Portland, OR Wonder Ballroom *
05/29 - Thu San Francisco, CA The Fillmore *
05/30 - Fri San Diego, CA Casbah *
05/31 - Sat Los Angeles, CA Henry Fonda Theatre *, Xu Xu Fang
06/03 - Tue Austin, TX Emo's Alternative Lounging !
06/04 - One Eyed Jacks, New Orleans, Louisiana !
06/05 - Thu Atlanta, GA The Masquerade !
06/06 - Fri Carrboro, NC Cat's Cradle !, The Nein
06/07 - Sat Philadelphia, PA Theatre of Living Arts ! #
06/08 - Sun Washington, DC 930 Club ! #
06/10 - Tue Boston, MA Paradise ! #
06/11 - Wed New York, NY Bowery Ballroom !, Dirty on Purpose
06/12 - Thu Brooklyn, NY Music Hall of Williamsburg w/ Longwave, The Still Out
06/13 - Fri Toronto, ON, Canada Lees Palace w/ Besnard Lakes
06/14 - Sat Chicago, IL Metro w/ The Life and Times

* w/ Film School
+ w/ Mr. Gnome, The Life and Times
! w/ Terra Diablo
# w/ Longwave



Comments (14)

Quite possibly the worst interview I've ever read. Dinosaur Jr? Why do interviewers only give back what the rock media creates? Snake eating its own tail? What self-respecting artist would respond, "yeah, we totally are a shoegazer band!"

Posted by Anonymous | May 22, 2008 10:40 AM

I have to respectfully disagree with anonymous. Although the questioning was very direct it elicited some opinions and stories unavailable to a more flattering interviewer.

Tour starts today!

Posted by Brad | May 22, 2008 11:40 AM

Yeah I think that was a fine interview. For a british band they sounded absurdly like Dinosaur. I have my Bowery tickets. So pumped for this show.

Oh and Bolts of Melody is a sick record too! Just a lot more downtempo and depressing than Swervedriver.

Posted by Anonymous | May 22, 2008 11:54 AM

This was a good interview. I don't understand why the first guy was so upset about it. And Dinosaur Jr is a relevant comparison. Only someone unfamiliar with 'You're Living All Over Me' would think otherwise.

Seeing them tonight in Omaha!!

Posted by Dave Splash | May 22, 2008 5:28 PM

"Many of the tunes seem to be about relationships. Any truth to this, or am I completely off-base?" This is like asking, "Many of the tunes seem to be about human emotion. Any truth to this?"

Posted by Anonymous | May 22, 2008 5:46 PM

thought the interview was decent...
glad to know jimmy was on headphone duty.

can't wait for the nyc shows!

Posted by Anonymous | May 22, 2008 6:53 PM

The LA Times dude is right about Coachella, although the tent was about half-full(sad). Seeing them at a decent venue with better sound, and a longer setlist, will be fucking awesome.

Posted by scott | May 22, 2008 8:46 PM

I can't wait for the Philly show! Does anyone know if both NYC dates are sold out? Also has anyone heard The Still Out?

Posted by random | May 23, 2008 10:28 AM

there are still tix for the show in brooklyn on the 12th

Posted by Anonymous | May 23, 2008 11:12 AM

I'm seeing them in Boston and I am so excited. I know they'll be good.

Posted by Baby81 | May 23, 2008 2:16 PM

I listen to both Swervedriver and Dino Jr. These bands don't really sound anything alike. How can you compare the two? Swervedriver uses a lot of different tunings and their sound is much more intricate than Dino. Anyone interested in very intricate and layered guitar work, with a pounding rhythm section, should listen and check out SWD. Bless their hearts for reintroducing their music to the populace. It's well needed since most modern music in general is garbage.


Posted by Frankie | May 23, 2008 7:01 PM

holy shit Swervedriver ruled last night. We said ruled in the 90' so....

Posted by Anonymous | June 12, 2008 4:45 PM

"I listen to both Swervedriver and Dino Jr. These bands don't really sound anything alike. How can you compare the two?"

Um, is that a joke? I mean really, I can understand if you're making some sort of attempt at straight faced irony, but otherwise you're out of your mind. I'll grant you that if you asked DJ and Swervedriver to swap songs there'd be a noticeable awkwardness and difference between the bands, but they're from the same family of effects laden guitar rock. It's not insulting to suggest that Swervedriver might have been influenced by DJ, especially since during the time period that You're Living All Over Me and Bug came out Adam was probably 18 or 19 and just getting Swervedriver together. The paths diverge greatly as you get further along the Swervedrive catalog, but that first record, and elements of the second even, has a definite sonic influence from DJ. Hell, Adam said himself that he was influenced by them. what else do you need?

The Bowery Ballroom show was mind blowing good. I was smiling from ear to ear all night. I felt so good for those guys to get the response they did from the crowd. You know it meant a lot to them, especially as I've heard that the attendance at some of the other dates around the country wasn't exactly at capacity.

Did anyone else notice that it was a total dude fest at the show wednesday? there are more women at a Chelsea gay bar any night of the week.

Posted by duderson | June 14, 2008 2:28 PM

Thank you for this post!

Posted by ahmet maranki | April 7, 2010 7:47 AM

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