Published on June 18th, 2015 | by Craig Silliphant0
Hot on the heels of the release of their latest album, ‘I Wasn’t Born to Lose You,’ we sit down with Adam Franklin from Swervedriver.
It’s not much of a secret that we at The Feedback Society are huge fans of Oxford, England band Swervedriver. So we jumped at the chance to interview frontman Adam Franklin again for a Planet S Magazine article. The first time we interviewed him was more of a general set of questions, but now that Swervedriver have released their new record ‘I Wasn’t Born to Lose You,’ I had a whole new set of questions. I caught up with Adam Franklin over Skype, and he was a super nice, down to Earth guy, so we chatted about the new record, the Americanized imagery of some of their work, and how the technology has changed since the last Swervedriver album.
THE FEEDBACK SOCIETY: How are you doing today?
ADAM FRANKLIN: I’m pleased to say hello.
TFS: Thanks for taking the time.
AF: No worries.
TFS: So, Swervedriver has a new record, but you’ve actually been back together since 2008. How did you guys decide it was time for another album?
AF: Well, I think, in all that time, I’ve put out quite a few sort of solo releases. Bolts of Melody stuff as well as a Magnetic Morning album. I think in total it was like four records. So for me, I was kind of scratching that itch by putting out records. I think Jimmy and Steve 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.
TFS: What did waiting awhile after getting back together do for a new Swervedriver album?
AF: Difficult to say, I suppose. That’s what people always say about bands that get back together — ‘the time seemed right,’ and all that kind of stuff. There’s no way of knowing what kind of songs there’d have been if we’d tried to write an album in 2010 or something. But for me, I was quite happy with the fact that we were playing out live and then when it was suggested that we write some new songs, I was really happy with that as well. In the end I think it came out as possibly the best album we could have done, you know? All things considered.
TFS: Obviously, you’ve been recording all these years since Swervedriver broke up, so you’ve moved along with the technology. But was recording a different experience, in terms of technology, with the band.
AF: Like you say, I’ve been recording things, and so it changed gradually over that time. [In terms of the band], the first idea that kind of coalesced was when I was in New York and emailed this song idea to Jimmy and Steve. I’d forgot that I’d sent it to them and the next day they emailed back saying, this sounds great. That was a new thing. Previously it would have been sending everybody a cassette or something. [He chuckles].
TFS: The reaction to the new album has largely been positive. A lot of people, myself included, have said that upon listening, you’re like, ‘yup, that’s a Swervedriver album alright.’ In a good way. Like, no time has passed and your sound didn’t date. Do you feel like this too? Does the album sound like classic Swervdriver to you? Was that intentional or is that just how it comes out?
AF: I think it’s a bit of both, really. For example, we put out ‘The Wound,’ then some of ‘Setting Sun,’ but then ‘Autodidact’ was when people really went crazy. ‘Oh my god, it’s like the years have peeled away,’ or whatever. That song was quite different in its initial form. Alternate tuning, that sort of thing. I was like, this could be a Swervedriver tune, you know? Then we figured out how to play it in regular tuning and got the big sort of power chords there and stuff. Then it was like, oh yeah, this is shaping up quite nicely to be a Swervedriver song. We didn’t want to do an album that didn’t sound like Swervedriver, 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.
At the same time I think there are certain things that do push out a bit. I think ‘Setting Sun,’ ‘Arms Race,’ and possibly ‘I Wonder’ are all a little bit different for Swervedriver as well.
TFS: In terms of the sound and imagery of Swervedriver album, there’s obviously some English influence in there, but it has a much more American thing going on than the rest of the UK bands from the era. Do you agree with that assessment? Do you know why that is?
AF: (Laughs) Yeah. I’m singing about a gas station in ‘Autodidact’ rather than a petrol station.
TFS: Right! Exactly!
AF: I think it’s just the language. Language is there for everybody to play around with as they like, really. It’s like, there are certain things on a guitar; in North America they’re called tuning pegs, but in the UK they’re called machineheads. Machinehead actually sounds like it would be more the American sort of version somehow. But 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 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 in the UK.
TFS: You’re touring now. Are you playing a mix of old and new material at the shows?
AF: Yeah. There’s a lot of the new album we want to play. 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.
TFS: You should have some great shows on the prairie. For some odd reason, it’s a real Swervedriver-loving pocket of the world.
AF: That’s amazing.