Interview: Adam Franklin


Swervedriver first made their mark twenty-five years ago with the release of their debut “Son of Mustang Ford” EP, which had a heavy rockin’ sound that put them as much in the camp of American indie rock al a Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth as the British shoegaze box which they were put into. More acclaimed EPs and LPs in the same vein followed in the 90’s, but bad luck with personnel and record labels kept them from getting their full due, and the band didn’t survive the decade.

Original singer/guitarist Adam Franklin and guitarist Jimmy Hartridge revived the band in 2008, and earlier this year they released their first new album, I Wasn’t Born to Lose You, in 17 years.

This interview was for Swervedriver’s concert at Velvet Jones in Santa Barbara on 9/27/15. It was done by email, with responses received on 9/2/15. (Giles Borg photo)

Jeff Moehlis: What can people look forward to at the upcoming concert?

Adam Franklin: We’ve been mixing the old hits-that-never-were with the new hits-to-be. It’s all sounding fantastic!

JM: How did your new album – the band’s first in 17 years – come together?

AF: It came about because we were being offered money to play the first album from start to finish which we decided was cool but that we also wanted to have a new record to play. It came together pretty easily and quickly in studios in Melbourne and London after a year or so off going back and forth writing the songs.

JM: Going way back, what were the pros and cons about being on Creation Records in Swervedriver’s early days?

AF: The pros were pretty obvious – the label was one of the hippest in the UK and had an Anglophile following in the in the US also so there were plenty of people who would automatically check out every release.

JM: What are some of your memories of the band’s early tours of the U.S.?

AF: Driving around the Pacific Northwest listening to the Twin Peaks soundtrack album and Heaven or Las Vegas by the Cocteau Twins; trudging from vintage clothing stores in Chicago in the snow and playing games of pool with the punters in Toronto; entering a hotel bar in LA and seeing myself and Jimmy on MTV talking about The Stooges and then seeing the scene cut to Iggy Pop saying “that was the guys from Swervedriver talking about how my band The Stooges inspired them”!

JM: What was the good, the bad, and the ugly about being a musician in the 90’s?

AF: Well, the good compared to today was that bands starting out could actually make some money. Too much money was squandered though on such things as videos that could never be seen anywhere anyway.

JM: Back then, did you feel more of a camaraderie or a competition with other shoegaze bands?

AF: Well we didn’t really consider ourselves a shoegaze band, of course – two of our favourite bands on Creation were Silverfish and Teenage Fanclub neither of whom could be called shoegazer and both of whom we were mates with as much as everyone else. But yeah, there was definitely a camaraderie as well as a healthy competition between all the bands I think. All the bands we hung out with at least were ‘fighting the good cause’!

JM: What are your reflections now on the musically accomplished but ill-fated Ejector Seat Reservation album? And will it ever be re-released on CD and/or vinyl?

AF: You mentioned the pros and cons of Creation earlier and I suppose the con was the label dropping us the week after this was released but at least they released it I suppose. A&M paid for two thirds of it and then weren’t willing to let us take it elsewhere without someone paying a lot of money. Geffen wanted to put it out but we made the mistake of letting them know who it was that wanted to release it – we should have told them Dogbiscuit Records or something wanted to put it out. It has been re-issued in the UK on CD with extra tracks but still hasn’t appeared officially in the US – I forget why now and it bores me to be honest. Great album though and it will be re-issued on vinyl.

JM: What advice would you give to an aspiring musician?

AF: Make great music.

JM: What are your plans, musical or otherwise, for the near future?

AF: There are a few musical ideas taking shape for Swervedriver and other projects. I just composed some music for a short documentary and a friend wants me to come up with some visuals for some music he’s made, which is something I’ve been dabbling with a bit.

JM: Where are you responding from?

AF: The Hilton Hotel in Columbus, Ohio, which is rather nice!


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