By Allyson Bills
Swervedriver has always been an anomaly in the UK shoegaze scene in that they always have been more popular in the United States than their compatriots. Since their formation in 1989, Oxford, England’s Swervedriver has released four albums and toured with the likes of Monster Magnet and Soundgarden before initially disbanding in 1998. Ten years later, Swervedriver reunited in 2008 with their intent to solely tour, and played Coachella the same year.
Now it’s 2015, and the current Swervedriver lineup of Adam Franklin (vocals/guitar), Jimmy Hartridge (guitar), Steve Jones (bass) and Mikey Jones (drums) released their first album in seventeen years, I Wasn't Born To Lose You, and are currently touring the U.S. I caught up with Franklin at the beginning of Swervedriver’s second leg of the U.S. tour to discuss the new album, video games and UFOs.
ALLYSON: Earlier this year, you guys released your first album in seventeen years, I Wasn't Born To Lose You, despite reuniting back in 2008 for touring purposes only. Can you remember when you guys decided to work on new material? What was the driving force in this decision?
ADAM: I think it was when we were asked to perform the first album Raise in its entirety in Australia. Although I had released five albums since Swervedriver had got back together, the other guys hadn't worked on anything new and were itching to do something.
ALLYSON: How has the reception been thus far playing the songs from I Wasn't Born To Lose You on tour?
ADAM: It's been fantastic, I have to say. We've been mixing the new songs in with the old and they get equally as great a response as the older songs. This was the case even when we toured back in March just as the album was released, but now you can see that a few months later people know the songs even better and are singing along and digging it - at least I see people mouthing the words from time to time.
ALLYSON: Like many other bands reuniting, do you guys ever feel the pressure now to live up to past accomplishments?
ADAM: Well, we did when we first started trying to write songs for this album, for sure. There were a few earlier ideas that were cool, but not quite right and we wouldn't have wanted to put something out that didn't live up to the rest of the back catalog, of course. But once the good songs arrived, the ideas started to flow. And I think that as a live band we're better than ever right now.
ALLYSON: Nowadays, Coachella is the launching pad for a plethora of bands reuniting. Since you guys played Coachella in 2008, have you noticed a difference in the makeup of your fan base?
ADAM: Yeah, Coachella has become a rite of passage for bands reforming now, hasn't it? What we've seen is there are plenty of older folks who were the young kids when we first came out, and now there are young kids of today, too. There are a lot of loyal fans going back to day one but also we now get families coming out, too. I met a lovely family in Manchester when we played there. The dad was a fan back in the day, and the son and his girlfriend and younger brother were all there. I think possibly mom, too.
ALLYSON: Both "Duel" and "Last Train to Satansville" were featured on 3DO Road Rash in 1994. As well, "Duel" was later on the soundtrack for 2008's "Burnout Paradise." In the future, if it's the right opportunity, would you guys consider doing the same thing for any of the songs on I Wasn't Born To Lose You?
ADAM: Sure. Licensing things or allowing them to be used in ads used to be frowned upon somewhat, but no one can afford to frown that much any more. It's just a way for musicians to be able to continue what they do. The idea for the Road Rash game was mine in the first place, actually, and then A&M (Records) thought it was a cool idea and got a bunch of their rock bands involved. A couple of guys came up to me just last week and said that Road Rash was how they discovered the band, so it's an another outlet for people to hear your music.
ALLYSON: Swervedriver has been through Phoenix, both as a band and you solo. What should Phoenix fans who have never got the opportunity to see Swervedriver during the 90s expect when you guys hit the stage on September 23rd?
ADAM: It will be hot and heavy. I expect and conducive to the landscape, I'd like to think. I don't know why that is because we're from a place 5,000 miles away, but images of the desert and songs about UFOs always cropped up in our songs and artwork and videos. There's a certain mysticism attached to it, I think. It will be a great experience that will clear your head.
Swervedriver plays at 8 p.m. on September 23, 2015 with Gateway Drugs at Valley Bar. Tickets: $20-$22 (21 and over). valleybarphx.com