Published Jun 24, 2008At the turn of the 1990s, there was a surplus of bands in Britain aping a sound the UK press coined as "shoegazing" and "the scene that celebrates itself." Though many of the bands failed to survive past their first single, let alone a full album, Oxford's Swervedriver lasted a decade with a sound that blew many bands reliant on delay pedals out of the water. One of the more consistent acts to earn the "shoegazer" tag - though ask any fan and they'll argue they were more noise-driven psychedelic rock than anything - the Swervies, as devotees called them, released four rather brilliant and diverse albums in their time, the best of which was their 1993 masterpiece, Mezcal Head. After ten years of inactivity, the Swervies have resurrected for a North American tour (that includes Toronto's Lee's Palace on June 13). Front-man Adam Franklin was kind enough to sit down and tell Exclaim! what led to the reunion, what we can expect in the future and the other projects he has keeping him busy.
What led you to reunite Swervedriver?
It was out of the blue - a couple of the guys had spoken about it, they approached me and then we wanted to find out if the fourth guy was into it, he was and here we are!
What line-up are you working with?
Jimmy, Steve, Jez and myself.
What kind of set list are you touring with?
We rehearsed 30 or so songs - we've been mixing it up a bit. There's always gonna be someone saying "you didn't play my favourite song!" but in a way that's a good thing as it shows there are a lot of good songs and a lot of good people that know those songs. There are a couple of songs we'd hardly ever or never performed live before.
Is this a one-off tour or are you thinking of making another record? What are you hoping to come from the reunion?
Zero plans to do anything studio-wise right now. The only expectation from the tour seems to be to go out and rock everybody's worlds!
Castle assembled Juggernaut Rides and reissued the Slowdive albums, among other Creation artists. What about Swervedriver reissues? Is there much left in the vault that you could reissue?
We have been badgering Universal for some time now about re-issuing a couple of the albums and adding the b-sides/EP tracks as bonus cuts. There isn't much in the vault that hasn't ever been issued, just a few odds and ends.
The band had some major difficulties with labels in the past. What was the most disappointing moment in Swervedriver, amongst the label switches, album cancellations and band members leaving?
Why dwell on the negative points? Who cares? I can give you some really positive points though, such as this tour and the fans, journalists and other bands and even promoters and stage crews showing a great love for the band which has been awesome.
How have the label problems affected your work over the years, be it as Toshack Highway, Magnetic Morning or your own name?
To be brutally honest about it, I'm sick of talking about "label problems." Swervedriver as a band was on a few labels, like a ton of other bands. It could have been better, could have been far worse. Sure, it's a bummer that people can't go into their record stores and buy a Swervedriver album because they're cool records, and hopefully that will be rectified. Interesting thing is the albums have been out of print for a while and yet new people are still discovering it, so the music is still "out there" just like the truth!
Tell me about Magnetic Morning. How did you get working with Sam Fogarino?
A mutual friend introduced us and we got on and discussed doing something together, without knowing what form that would take. We initially did some music for a photographic exhibition and it worked out well, with Sam providing initial melodies, and me adding chord changes and top line melodies/words etc. - quite democratic; I might arrange a tune and Sam does some production stuff. Sounds really great so far and has been a fun collaboration.
What do you guys have planned for the project?
We played a show in New York with Jimmy from the Album Leaf playing keyboards, Josh from my band on bass and Blasco who has played with Interpol and Secret Machines on guitar and keys and it was a lot of fun. One EP is already out and in August we all go down to Athens, GA to record another EP and see how far along we get with an album.
What can you tell me about the discography book you're working on? I hear a super fan from Guelph came up with the idea...
Well that's about it really, it's not something we are working on ourselves but it was suggested that this book could be sold on tour and we were sent a draft. It was decided it would need to be more than just a discography to make it really interesting and it hasn't gone much further than that.