By theajaysharma

In the past eight years, Swervedriver have been dropped by 3 different record labels and have lost two band members. Why haven't they broken up? Adam Franklin sat down with me in the lobby of the Sunset Hyatt on April 7, 1998 to talk about it.

Several years ago, Alan Mcgee was driving in Los Angeles with Guy Chadwick [ex-House of Love] when someone popped in a tape with Swervedriver's demo "Son of Mustang Ford." He instantly signed them to the Creation label and the first "car-band" was born. The initial line up was Adam (guitars and vocals), Adrian "Adi" Vynes (bass), Jimmy Hartridge (guitars), and Graham Bonner (drums), but that would soon change.

"Dropping Swervedriver was probably a sound commercial business decision but a disastrous artistic one." -- Adam on Creation

With several singles to follow and the release of their first LP, "Raise" Swervedriver embarked on a world tour. They played the US three times, supporting Ned's Atomic Dustbin and Soundgarden, then on their own headlining tour with Poster Children as support. During this tour their drummer, Graham, decided to leave the band.

They were on their way to a Vancouver gig when Graham decided to step out and grab a sandwich. He apparently had a breakdown of some kind and made a run for the border. He was able to get into Canada before the border officials took him back to the Swervedriver bus. He went inside and refused to talk to anyone but Jimmy . After a discussion that lasted a couple of hours, Swervedriver were left without a drummer. They ended up with a tour drummer, Danny Ingram, who had played with several punk bands in the Washington DC area. He played with them for the rest of the North American tour and also the Japanese leg.

When the tour was finished, Adam and Jimmy were planning on adding Danny on as a permanant member of the band. He was just about to get his green card when Adi decided to leave the band. Adam and Jimmy didn't feel the need to fly a dummer out from the US, so they decided to rebuild the band in London.

Adam and Steve went back into the studio and recorded a demo version of "Duress", with a drum machine. "Well, "Duress" saved our bacon I guess when those guys left," says Adam. "That was the one thing we did pretty much did as a duo really. Adi actually heard it and said, 'that's fuckin' brilliant, you guys gotta carry on.'" On the strength of that song, they slowly put together the band and recorded their second album, "Mescal Head".

"Jimmy and me weren't really happy with the sound on Raise really. So 'Mezcal Head' was an attempt to get the sound really good. On 'Mezcal Head' there were songs that definitely couldn't have been on 'Raise,' like 'A Change is Gonna Come.' [Other than that] 'Mezcal Head' has pretty much the similar style of songs."

With a new drummer, known only as "Jez", and a new bass player, Steve George, they toured America a few more times. This time supporting Smashing Pumpkins and then on their own headlining tour with Medicine as support. They went back in the studio in 1994 to record their third album.

"Ejector Seat Reservation" was never released in America because the US label, A&M, dropped Swervedriver. In fact, the album was only released in England for a few weeks before Creation dropped them as well.


When A&M pulled out, Creation didn't really have a choice. The licensing deal stated that Creation would get 75% of the money that A&M gave to Swervedriver, which was supposed to go to promoting the band. Without the cash flow coming from A&M, Creation had no use for Swervedriver. They remained without a label for quite a while and the future of the band was again in jeopardy. Geffen stepped in to signed them and attempted to get "Ejector Seat Reservation" released in America.

"Well at the time Geffen seemed like our savior because they came in when A&M pulled out. [Geffen] tried to get Ejector Seat Reservation released [in America] but negotiations came to nothing because there was massive amounts of money being talked about. As soon as the name Geffen appeared, [Creation and A&M] saw dollar signs."

So without an album out in the US but a new record deal, Swervedriver took their advance from Geffen and finished building their studio and quickly started work on their next album. The summer of 1997 was the scheduled release of the fourth Swervedriver album, "99th Dream". Just weeks before the release date, Geffen pulled out and Swervedriver were left without a label for the second time in their career.

"I remember because tour dates were coming through, I had to find somewhere new to live and I was thinking that I'd just go on tour and look for a place when I get back. Then I get a phone call message from Jimmy saying, 'Umm... apparently Geffen has pulled out. Umm... speak to you later.' I was like, 'what the fuck?' So I phone him up that morning, and he said, 'Yeah, I just got a phone call from Andy our manager....' We got a meeting the following morning, that day I was like, for fuck's sake. And the next morning, we're sitting there thinking what's the fuckin' point. That lasted a couple of hours, then we started to look into ways to get the album released. I mean, we got our own studio and the album was ours as well."

With a brand new studio and an album waiting to be released, Swervedriver signed up with Zero Hour, an independent label based in New York. "There were major labels interested this time around," says Adam, "but we went with Zero Hour. We'd have to be more of a priority. It's not like we demanded anything from Creation in the first place, we were well aware of the bands that were on Creation already. Then with Geffen, we were so far down in the priority list."

"Well, I think Oasis were good when they first came out... I think they're total shite now."

In February of 1998, Zero Hour released "99th Dream". The only major difference between the Zero Hour release and the Geffen promo is that the track "These Times" was recorded differently. When asked why the change, Adam explains, "Well, it started to bug us actually. (laughs) To me it's a generic-indie pop song. A lot of people really liked it, probably because they got used to it." There was also a small mixup with two tracks, Electric 77 and Stellar Caprice. Throughout "Electric 77" Adam sings the line "stellar caprice in flames" and the Stellar Caprice track is an instrumental. Adam explains, "A stellar caprice is a spaceship and the song has references to it throughout the whole thing. Y'know, aliens looking down on you and I needed a lyric so I came up with 'stellar caprice in flames'. It never occurred to me that it was already a track on the album. Stellar Caprice was already the title of that track before I started writing Electric 77."

Since they haven't toured in four years, they dedicated this year to the road. They have just started their second tour of the US for this year with dates throughout the country (including Iowa City!!) in June. I went to the show at the Roxy earlier this year and was very surprised that the songs don't focus on any particular album. Swervedriver play everything from "Son of Mustang Ford" to the title track of their latest album, 99th Dream. "Well, we just wanted to make it more interesting for the people that come and see us, y'know? Those are some of the best songs and they are the songs that we feel good playing."

"99th Dream" won't be released in the UK until July. That's something that rarely happens, a UK band releasing their album in the US months before the UK release. The UK release will be the first album from Swervedriver new label, Sonic Wave Discs.

"That's Jimmy's idea. We already had the SWD logo back from Ejector and it looks like a label. So Jimmy came up with Sonic Wave Discs."

As for the future of Swervedriver, they have a 3 album deal with Zero Hour which includes "99th Dream" so you can expect more material from them next year. After this US tour, they will go back to the UK and play a few shows and maybe a quick tour of Japan, "it's all very sketchy at the moment."