Q&A: Swervedriver Are Back to Be Gazed Upon


In an era where many adored bands from an era gone by seemingly reunite every month, it’s fair Swervedriverto be skeptical whenever such announcements are made. Unfortunately, many of these reunions appear rushed and an obvious cash grab for bands who expect their once loyal followings to re-convene and share in past glories.

With Swervedriver, however, the opposite feeling is felt.

The renowned British shoegaze collective had a solid run from 1989-1998, before   ultimately disbanding. By late 2007, members Adam Franklin, Jimmy Hartridge and Steve George slowly began to put the pieces of Swervedriver back together via select tours and the creation of new music – the guys took their time.

As we sit here in 2015, Swervedriver is back with I Wasn’t Born to Lose You (available through Dine Alone Records), its first new album in 17 years. And guess what? It’s awesome – it’s an example of a band still capable of sticking with its roots, all the while demonstrating comfort in new territory.

Recently, Riffyou.com dialed up Franklin to discuss how the album came together; appeasing fans; and how he feels about the genre of shoegaze.

RY: With I Wasn’t Born to Lose You being your band’s first album in 17 years, were you guys more meticulous during the recording sessions? 

Adam: “We were always pretty meticulous. [Earlier in our career] it was the next album following the one that came out two or three years before – obviously we couldn’t help but be aware this time that it was 17 years following the previous one. Initially, the discussion was ‘what kind of album should we be making?’ But in the end, the discussions don’t account for anything unless you have the raw material. I was prepared for whatever, even if things didn’t work out so well.

“Everyone says that we’re the shoegaze band that stood out because we rocked more, so we agreed that we should rock, but at times, we wanted to express the other sides of the band’s sound as well.

“Near the end of recording, we had to sit down and figure out which 10 songs we’d use and we actually all agreed on the same 10, which was a good stepping stone to start with. We’re really happy with the album.”

RY: You’ve done a bunch of albums yourself since the last Swervedriver one. So when you shifted back to this, did you have to re-adjust back to the Swervedriver way of doing things?

Adam: “Yeah, to a degree. The big difference is that it wasn’t just me [anymore] – there was me, Jimmy and Steve writing the songs. Their tastes and influences and what they wanted to hear was a big part of the album. Sometimes I’d get an idea and think, ‘Oh, this could be a great Swervedriver song,’ but then I’d come up with one that I’d say, ‘This is not really Swevedriver.’ But at the same time, Jimmy might hear that one and think it was great if something was added to it. That was an important part of the process, but in the end, it was mostly instinct as opposed to thought.”

RY: When going through that process, did you think a lot about trying to maintain the Swervedriver sound that appeased old fans, versus trying to satisfy your need to create something fresh?

Adam: “We couldn’t have come back and made an album that didn’t sound like Swervedriver – that would’ve been self-defeating. But at the same time, we didn’t want it to sound like an album we would’ve made in 1999 or 2000. In the end, it couldn’t have possibly been like that anyways, because so much time has gone by and new music has inspired us – [but] you’re not dipping into the music that didn’t influence you back in the day. In the end, it felt like a natural process.”

RY: Did you put much thought into fans or critics listening to and viewing this album a little more because of how long it’s been since your last?

Adam: “I suppose. Historically, albums aren’t that great from bands who come back after year apart. We definitely had confidence in the material. Once I came up with ‘Deep Wound,’ I emailed Steve and Jimmy the song. I got a response from Steve, and it said ‘beautiful.’ Then Jimmy’s response was one word as well, ‘nasty.’ That was a great starting point and the other ideas flowed from there – which is the way it used to be. Songs seemed to come along like buses: where three arrive at the same time. {laughs} Once we got over that hump, suddenly everything made sense. We were also aware that we were touching on different sides of the band’s sound.”

RY: You mentioned the term ‘shoegaze’ earlier and that’s been a term that’s been loved and bemoaned over the years. Where do you stand on it?

Adam: “At this stage, we don’t really care. The style of music has proved to have longevity and it’s been much revered over the years, even though many of the bands who [first] played it broke up in the late ‘90s. By the 2000s, some of these little bands openly began calling themselves shoegaze – the biggest thing was on MySpace when you had the band pages where you could choose your genre and shoegaze would appear as a genre – but not Brit-Pop. Now of course, you have these blogs with their ‘Top 10 Shoegaze Albums of All-Time’ articles and if one of our albums is featured in that, then it’s fine, because people might investigate it. They might not like it, but they might love it. In the end, it’s a marketing tool.”

RY: With all the time it took to make this album a reality, have you thought about how much it means to you to have it out there and be able to play as Swervedriver front of people again?

Adam: “It’s great. We re-emerged a few years ago and then we got on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. People were like, ‘This is really cool, because here’s this weird little pop song, but it has this discorded thing going on.’ A lot of people loved it, but others weren’t quite sure where it was headed. Then when we released ‘Autodidact’ and a lot of people were happy to hear that Swervedriver sound – it was quite overwhelming.”

-Adam Grant

Tour Dates:

May 5 – Ottawa, ON @ Zaphod Beeblebrox
May 6 – Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe Tavern
May 7 – London, ON @ Call the Office
May 8 – Hamilton, ON @ This Ain’t Hollywood

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