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August 18-31
VOL.14 ISSUE. 26

Still Gazin’

Craig Silliphant
Published Thursday June 11, 05:42 pm
Swervedriver is back with a brand new album in tow

Photo Credit: Giles Borg


Friday 19


Music geeks in Saskatoon who’ve been following live music for a while still talk about the epic Swervedriver show at Amigos in the mid-to-late-‘90s (as well as a solo show by frontman Adam Franklin in the early 2000s). Fans were bummed when The Oxford, England band went on an indefinite hiatus in ‘99, though Franklin went on to do solo records with projects like Toshack Highway and Bolts of Melody. Swervedriver got back together in 2008, but didn’t release an album until this year’s I Wasn’t Born to Lose You.

[For me], I was kind of scratching that itch by putting out records,” Franklin tells me over Skype. “I think Jimmy [Hartridge] and Steve [George] were getting a bit antsy about it. They were kind of like, you know, ‘If we’re gonna carry on doing this, let’s do some new material.’ And also we’d been asked to play Raise start-to-finish in Australia and in the UK, so I think that made everybody think, let’s write a new album and have a new album to play as well.”

Swervedriver was on the Creation label in the ‘90s, lumped in with amazing UK shoegaze bands like My Bloody Valentine and Ride. But while they had elements of psychedelia like those bands, their sound actually leaned more towards driving rock. In fact, while they had British influences, Swervedriver’s sound came off as more North American — with heavy guitars and recurring themes of automobile romanticism.

Yeah,” Franklin laughs. “I’m singing about a gas station in ‘Autodidact’ rather than a petrol station… I think that the original Swervedriver thing, back in 1989 when we were first coming out with songs, there was this kind of wanderlust going on in my head for some reason. Partly because of the band we were in, partly to do with things like the Love & Rockets comic book, a very American thing as well. It just became this sort of template, really. I’m not really sure exactly where it came from, but I guess it’s something that separated us from the crowd we were in the UK.”

Quite a few music writers (myself included) have made a point of mentioning that the new album sounds as if no time has passed for the band, in a good way. That is to say, time has been kind to their sound. It goes in a few new directions, but from the first note, you nod your head and say, “Yup, that’s a Swervedriver album, alright.”

We didn’t want to do an album that didn’t sound like Swervedriver,” says Franklin, “because that would have been self-defeating. To a degree, we wanted to come back with something that’s recognizably us. When ideas first occur, you don’t really know how it’s going to play out. But it’s inevitable — because of the people involved, it becomes Swervedriver. Because it’s got Jimmy Hartridge playing. It’s got Steve George on the bass. Me singing, and those kind of lyrics and everything.”

They’ll be back in town for MosoFest on June 19th, which will no doubt be another legendary show for the books. Franklin tells me that the great thing about their sound staying uniform over time is that they can play tunes from all eras of Swervedriver, and keep a certain consistency to the show.

There’s a lot of the new album we want to play,” he says, “but we’ve been mixing it up and slotting it in. It seems to work nicely, jumping from one era to the next. And like you say, I think there’s a sort of timeless quality, I’d like to think, to Swervedriver’s sound. So it all seems to make sense.”

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