SXSW Music Interview: Swervedriver

British shoegaze icons tune out doom and gloom with latest music

Photo by Steve Gullick

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.

“Artists singing or performing about the bad things in life is one of the things that make life better and more bearable.”

"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."

Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at Sign up for our South By-specific newsletter at for news, reviews, and previews delivered to your inbox every day of the Fest. And for the latest tweets, follow @ChronSXSW.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

Faster Than Sound: What Sparked Joy at SXSW Music
Faster Than Sound: What Sparked Joy at SXSW Music
Marie Kondo-ing my Festival experience, with scooters and shooters in the giveaway pile

Rachel Rascoe, March 22, 2019

SXSW Music Review: From the Hills With Love
SXSW Music Review: From the Hills With Love
Israel Nash’s answer to Luck Reunion and Revival Experience

Doug Freeman, March 18, 2019

More by Michael Toland
Texas Platters
Jon Lundbom & Big Five Chord
Harder On the Outside (Record Review)

March 22, 2019

SXSW Music Review: Swervedriver
SXSW Music Review: Swervedriver
Pulling the plug on the sweetest of crunches

March 16, 2019


SXSW Music 2019, Swervedriver

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle