SXSW Music Interview: Swervedriver
British shoegaze icons tune out doom and gloom with latest music
A decade into their reunion, British shoegaze icons Swervedriver dismiss Nineties alt-rock nostalgia completely with Future Ruins, likely the group's best album thus far. A nearly perfect balance of pop-savvy songcraft and overdriven guitar pedals, long-player No. 6 since 1989 addresses the tensions cultivated by living in today's sharply divided modern world. "Drone Lover," title cut "Future Ruins," and "The Lonely Crowd Fades in the Air" face the post-truth era with a skeptic's eye and a sardonic sense of humor.
"I don't think it's pessimistic," notes singer/guitarist Adam Franklin. "I think it's quite funny in places. We have to be realistic, but we have to laugh at the same time. In the end, I think it's quite optimistic. But it can be double-edged, like the line, 'We're all gonna get there in the end, eventually,' which you can read either way."
Any somber reflection on potential doom and gloom finds balance through the Oxford quartet's long-running themes of embracing travel. Franklin terms it "this sort of extroverted, fun, fast-driving, space travel, sci-fi thing." Ultimately, theirs is an inherent idealism of kicking against the pricks with loud, transportive guitars.
"Joy Division records are massively uplifting," asserts the singer. "'I Believe' by Buzzcocks is a whole fun ball of confusion. There's always been this 'Leonard Cohen makes you wanna slash your wrists' thing, but there's very little that makes me happier than listening to him. I just think that if an album or a song or a piece of art, whatever it is, reflects the pessimism of the times, then it can only be as pessimistic or depressing as the times themselves are.
"You have to tune in and out. Artists singing or performing about the bad things in life is one of the things that make life better and more bearable."