Interview with Adam Franklin of Swervedriver

Adam Franklin, founding member and principal songwriter from Swervedriver, has probably been the single most prolific artist to emerge out of the shoegaze scene. Having had at least a dozen releases with his various projects since the year 2000, not to mention the four albums and countless EPs and singles that Swervedriver released in the 90s, Franklin’s never been one to rest on his laurels. Though Swervedriver continues to be the best-known of his projects, Franklin has steadily built a following by ensuring a consistent quality level for everything attached to his name.

Swervedriver’s first single, 1990’s “Son of Mustang Ford,” landed them both on Creation Records and in the shoegaze scene with a bang. Noisier and heavier than their contemporaries, Swervedriver were kind of the odd man out on Creation; sort of the fringe of the fringe. But they owned what they did completely, bringing a healthy dose of attitude and noise rock tendencies to the table, resulting in a brand of effervescent shoegaze that was at times reminiscent of grunge, yet was also uniquely their own.

Even while Swervedriver was still active, frontman Adam Franklin had always kept his hand in other projects, such as continuing to perform with the Sophia collective since the mid-90s. When Swervedriver went on hiatus around 2000, Franklin just got busier, starting Toshack Highway, Magnetic Morning with Sam Fogarino of Interpol, and Bolts of Melody.

Confusingly releasing the first two Bolts of Melody records under the name Adam Franklin (despite having said that it was not a solo project), including 2007’s ‘Bolts of Melody,’ Franklin has finally straightened the name out and released their third record, ‘I Could Sleep for a Thousand Years,’ as Adam Franklin & Bolts of Melody. Adam Franklin & Bolts of Melody have often showcased a softer side of Franklin’s writing, with idiosyncratic ballads and warm, mid-tempo rockers being infused with some of Swervedriver’s noisy edge.

Swervedriver reunited in 2008 and have been intermittently touring since then, to fans’ delight. With Adam Franklin & Bolts of Melody set to headline this year’s Clean Air Clear Stars festival in Pioneertown, CA, followed by a national tour, Adam Franklin really might just be the hardest working man in shoegaze.

How was the recent Swervedriver tour?

It was great! It was just four shows, but we just figured we hadn’t played here for a little while, so we wanted to come back. We didn’t really have time to do a month-long tour, so we just hit four of our favorite towns: New York, Los Angeles, Toronto and Chicago. It worked out pretty sweet because the NXNE [Music and Film] Festival was going on up in Toronto, [so we played that.] We played a street festival in Chicago — it was pretty cool looking out at the crowd and seeing people halfway up lampposts, singing the words. There were also a lot of kids there. At the end of that show, I looked down at the crowd and they all looked like they were in their late teens and early 20s, and I think some people there had maybe not heard us before. It was a free thing, or like a ten dollar suggested donation kind of thing.

Making new fans!

Yeah, I think so.

Was this the first time you guys played together since the 2008 tour?

No, we played Australia earlier this year, back in February. And we did a few European festivals and things. We did the My Bloody Valentine-curated ATP in December of 2009. We’ve been keeping our hand in, and really just having fun with it, seeing what’s out there.

So there may be more Swervedriver shows to come?

I think there will be more, yeah. It’s an interesting thing: I think when we first got back together in 2008, it seemed as if we were suddenly outside of the music industry, as it were — which was fun. It meant that we were just there to rock the house — there was no question of having to sell records or anything. It sort of freed us up, in a way.

That’s great — none of that label nonsense. Seems like you guys had to deal with a fair bit of that in the 90s.

Well, sort of. Sometimes it kind of gets played up too much — you’d see these articles on Swervedriver that said things like, “The unluckiest band in the world, blah blah blah,” but I think there were probably hundreds of bands that had worse situations than us. At least all of our records came out. There are bands that have albums left in the can, because their labels didn’t think they were commercial enough or whatever. Stuff like that is probably far worse. Having said that, I suppose we did have a few ups and downs.

That almost happened with ‘Ejector Seat Reservation’ in the States, didn’t it?

It was only North America where it didn’t actually get released in the end, which is kind of bizarre, and a bit of a spanner in the works after having built up a bit of momentum on the back of the first two albums. We had a t-shirt for sale on this tour which was actually the Creation Records label from the vinyl of that album, and I heard somebody say, “That’s what the label would have looked like if it had been released.” But it was released on vinyl [in the UK] — I guess it is quite rare now, though. It didn’t even come out on CD in the US.

That was just a whole weird thing where A&M dropped us because they could see that they would have to pay us ridiculously large amounts of money due to the 90s record contract, and clearly we weren’t going to sell enough records to make it back for them. But they screwed [something else] up around the same time — I think it was Soul Asylum? Some band they dropped around the same time reappeared on another major label and sold a million records. Then they heard that Geffen was coming knocking for us, and they were like, “Oh, shit. Uhh…” So they requested extra zeros for the amount of money that it would cost Geffen to take on that album. It just got ridiculous. So Jodi, the girl at Geffen was just like, “Do you have any new stuff?” We were like, “Sure, let’s just move on.” But by the time the next album came out, Jodi had lost her job at Geffen, so we didn’t really have a contact there anymore, and then they didn’t want to release that album either. To their credit, they didn’t keep the album — they paid for it, but they let Zero Hour release it. So that was fine. And it was quite good being back on an indie label, but then Zero Hour went defunct. I think almost every label I’ve worked with doesn’t exist anymore — maybe I’m just a hex. [laughs]

[laughs] Yes, the whole struggling record industry should be looking at you! Speaking of Creation, did you see Upside Down yet?

Yeah, I saw it just before it came out, in Oxford. I also went to the New York screening on Canal St. I went down and said hello to Danny [O’Connor, director] and Mark Gardener [of Ride], who was quite involved with the whole thing. He did some of the incidental music for it as well. I think everyone is pleasantly surprised at how well it seems to be doing. It’s been at festivals in Brazil and Moscow and places.

Yeah, it’s been all over the world!

I think it sums up that era quite accurately. It was kind of a crazy time back then, and that definitely comes across. The only difference I noticed between the Oxford screening and the New York screening was that people were laughing more at the jokes at the Oxford screening. I think that’s probably mainly due to the fact that half of the voices in the film have thick Scottish accents, which maybe doesn’t always translate as well over here.

Yes, Yankees have trouble with the accents sometimes.

Well, even Englishmen have trouble sometimes with really thick Glaswegian accents, to be fair.

True. Do you have any crazy stories from Swervedriver’s Creation era?

There’s a quote from Mark Gardener in the movie about going in there for a meeting on Friday and not emerging until Monday morning. I don’t think I was ever at one of the parties in the Creation offices, but there was a good sort of vibe around. You’d go to the Creation Records office and everyone who worked there was in bands, and you’d just have conversations about The 13th Floor Elevators or whatever. It just seemed like everyone was on the same sort of level, coming out of the end of the 80s — the music industry in the 80s was so mainstream, but the underground was always sort of there, bubbling under.

That was the first label we ever signed to — Creation wasn’t our first choice, though. It was actually Blast First, which was the label that was doing the Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth releases at the time. To us, that was the label. In fact, in the film [Alan] McGee says, “I picked up all these bands that nobody else wanted! Swervedriver and Slowdive — nobody else wanted these bands!” That’s complete bullshit, actually, because Blast First wanted us to sign to their label, but by that point, we had already signed with Creation.

It was actually quite a spontaneous thing when Alan McGee signed us. He had just signed Ride, and we had given our demo tape to Mark to hand to Alan. Apparently, he was driving around in LA with [The House of Love vocalist] Guy Chadwick, put the cassette in the player, and just said, “I’ve got to sign these guys!” Just off of hearing the demo of “Son of Mustang Ford.”

That is interesting about Blast First — in a lot of ways, the Swervedriver sound had a lot more in common with bands like Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth than your typical shoegaze band. But at the same time, especially from the perspective of today, it fits in pretty well with the other Creation bands, too.

I think so. I mean, My Bloody Valentine is basically the band that spawned shoegaze. You could almost say that MBV is now an actual genre of music, because there are so many bands doing that now — not so much Kevin’s bendy chords, but the drum fills and the androgynous “ooh-ahh” vocals. We played a show with the previous incarnation of My Bloody Valentine at a squat in Hackney called The Blue House. They were actually the band that played before us. We were called Shake Appeal at the time, after the Stooges song. And the last song in their set was actually “Shake Appeal.” They came off stage and said, “Are you Shake Appeal?” They were quite a different band then. They had this guy Dave singing. But Kevin still had this two amp thing — he had one amp completely clean and one amp completely dirty, and they were on either side of the stage. That was like, “Whoa — this guy’s playing through two amps.” That was quite a creative thing.

A couple of years later, after they’d changed their lineup and Bilinda [Butcher] had joined, we heard ‘Isn’t Anything’ and thought, “Wow, they’ve been digging the same stuff that we’ve been digging.” Obviously, they had been listening to a lot of Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr. at that time. A lot of it was coming from a similar direction, on both sides of the pond. There were just a lot of good bands. Slowdive, for instance. People talk about shoegaze like it’s these kids staring at their shoes, but as a live band, Slowdive were quite a colossal entity. Just big and loud, a veritable sonic cathedral or whatever you want to call it.

Creation, at the time, was almost like one of these football things were there’s a rich owner and they sign up all the players. It was like McGee was just hoovering up all the good bands. Teenage Fanclub joined from another label, as did The Boo Radleys. Those two Boo Radleys albums, ‘Everything’s Alright Forever’ and ‘Giant Steps,’ were very adventurous, cool-sounding records. There were bands like Silverfish as well, who were an unlikely Creation band, because they were sort of a noise punk band, but they were a great live band. And then The Telescopes came from another label as well. There was a lot of good stuff on the pre-Oasis Creation label.

Pretty amazing time. Do you think there will be another Swervedriver record?

People keep asking us. I suppose if even just the amount of people who’ve asked us went out and bought it, there’d be a few copies sold. I don’t know. It’s a possibility.

When you got back together, was it the same lineup as when you broke up? I guess you never really broke up, per se.

Yeah, I suppose we didn’t, but we obviously didn’t do anything for ten years. But in any case, the band that got back together in 2008 was the band that had broken up, with Jez on drums. But for the recent Scandinavian and Australian dates, we had [original member] Graham Bonnar on drums, who played drums on ‘Raise’ and the first bunch of EPs.

I had the good fortune of jamming with him twice! It was great fun. I was on bass, he was on drums and we just locked in and made some noise. He’s a fantastic drummer.

Was that in San Francisco?

It was in Los Angeles, actually. I had originally met him in San Francisco, though, when I was a teenager. Ricky Maymi [of The Brian Jonestown Massacre] introduced us.

There’s that story — the way Anton [Newcombe] told it to me was that he was driving down the street, saw Graham, and said, “Is that the drummer from Swervedriver?” So he stopped the VW bus or whatever it was, opened the door and said, “Are you Graham Bonnar?” Graham said, “Aye!” And so Anton said, “I’m in a band and you’re going to play drums! Jump in!” So he went straight from leaving the Swervedriver bus at the border of Canada [when he infamously left the band in mid-tour] and went straight back onto the road with BJM! [laughs]

[laughs] Amazing! I’ve heard that story about how he joined up with BJM, but I didn’t realize that was right at the same time that he left Swervedriver!

Yeah, I think it was! We were about six dates into a tour, round about 1992 or something, and Graham just wasn’t having a good time. I think he had a girlfriend who was in London but had gone back to San Francisco, which was where she was from, and he just had to see her. The tour bus was one of those ones with bunk beds or whatever, and I think to Graham it felt like it was a coffin or something. He was tending to sleep in the back lounge a little bit. We got to Niagara Falls, I think, and we’d all gone through the whole showing of our passports, and then Graham apparently said something like, “I’m just going to get a sandwich.” [laughs] And then one of these Canadian guards comes on and goes, “One of your party has defected.” We say, “What are you talking about?” They said, “We found him wandering over there.” So Jimmy went and spoke to him, and he was like, “I’ve got to sort my head out.” So we left him at the border with just enough money to fly to San Francisco. And that was it! It was a little bit crazy.

We had The Poster Children opening up for us, and their drummer at the time was John Herndon, who’s now in Tortoise, but at the time his name was Johnny Machine. For a while, he was going to double up and play two sets a night, but then we all decided it was going to be too much for him. But we managed to not miss a single date on that tour. Our record label girl in New York, Julia — her boyfriend’s band was in Minneapolis, and their drummer flew out for four shows. Then our tour manager knew Danny Ingram, so he flew out from DC to Vancouver, and did the next year and a half of touring with us.


That kind of brings us around to what happened on these recent dates. Graham couldn’t make it, and we were like, “What are we going to do?” Sam Fogarino from Interpol was one choice, because I play with him in Magnetic Morning, and the other choice was Mikey Jones, who is the drummer for Bolts of Melody. As it turned out, Sam couldn’t do it. We even had Interpol’s sound guy doing sound on our dates, but they’d literally played a festival in Copenhagen six days before our first show, so it would have been too much for him to get to New York in time to rehearse. But Mikey was amazing! We had one rehearsal, and he rocked it!

Mikey is quite a drummer. He can really hit, and he’s got finesse, too!

Yeah, he’s amazing! He’s a lot of fun to play with. The good thing about all of this is that it keeps you on your toes. Even though Swervedriver is a band that basically got back together the way a hundred other bands did, we’ve played with three different drummers just in the past year! It’s always a little bit different, and it keeps it fresh. The worst thing about being in one of these bands that gets back together is when the word nostalgia appears in the review. You’re thinking, “It’s not nostalgic.” When you’re on stage there and it’s happening, it’s the furthest thing from nostalgia! But, I suppose if you haven’t got a new record out, then maybe you’ll always be perceived as a nostalgic thing.

Well, maybe. In your case, you keep pretty active with your other projects, so I imagine that helps you at least stay sane. Let’s talk about the most recent Bolts of Melody album, which came out last year — how’s the response been to it?

It’s been great! People seem to really dig this stuff. That was the first record with Bolts of Melody as the name of the band. There were two previous albums out as Adam Franklin, the first one of which was confusingly called ‘Bolts of Melody.’ Then there was ‘Spent Bullets,’ and now ‘I Could Sleep for a Thousand Years.’ Part of the thing was, when you get to the truckstop and the waitress is serving you coffee and says, “What’s the name of your band?” It just seemed weird, everyone going, “Well, it’s kind of named after him.”

But it’s also that it’s more like a band thing; it always has been, it never was a completely solo thing. So, it’s been three albums in [roughly] three years, and I’m looking to record another one. I’d like to at least get started on it. There’s a whole album’s worth of songs written already, which have a sort of film soundtrack style going on, but mixed with an almost Swervedriver-esque rock ‘n’ roll energy. I try to release something every year. [Everything that’s been going on] is a lot of fun, but we didn’t really get to tour for the last Bolts of Melody album. We’ll be doing some dates at the end of summer/beginning of fall, starting with an appearance at the Clean Air Clear Stars festival in Joshua Tree on the weekend of September 23 and 24.

You guys supported The Church on a tour a couple of years ago?

That was cool! But, there was another disaster on that tour. We were in Seattle staying at a friend’s place, and he lives near a graveyard. We were going, “So who’s buried there?” And he says, “Well, Bruce Lee is buried there.” And Mikey is like, “We have to go!” So we walk around the corner, and Josh, the bass player, is the first one to try to jump the fence. He didn’t quite manage it; he fell back down, and completely screwed up his ankle. It was broken, in fact. It was more serious than we thought it was at first. He did one show with his leg up, but then we had to fly him back to Nashville. But The Church had this kid Craig [Wilson] playing keyboards, and he stepped up to the plate. We’re driving to the next gig in Chicago, and Craig is in the back of the bus with an acoustic guitar trying to learn his parts, with Mikey beating out the drum patterns on the back of the seat.

That’s awesome. I know who you mean — I saw The Church at The Highline Ballroom earlier this year. At one point, for some reason Kilbey was not on bass for this one particular song, but Marty was, but then Craig was too! They rocked the dual bass thing.

They’re really good, and they really do switch it up quite a lot, as far as who is on what instrument when. The album they just released, ‘Untitled #23,’ is really great. I didn’t know all of their stuff, but I really like that album. Here’s a band who’ve been around for a long time, and they’re [still] doing new records which are really quality. That was a good, fun tour. They also almost had Mikey playing drums, I believe. They were doing the tour where they were playing three albums.

That was the show I saw.

There was some issue with their drummer. At some point, it was touch and go, and I think Mikey had gotten the call. Then he found out it was three albums being played in their entirety, which would be quite a lot of work to learn. But at this point, it seems like anything’s possible; people wandering off, or not being able to finish tours. Mikey was on stand-by, but in the end Tim [Powles] made it. That would have been quite something.

Getting back to Bolts of Melody, it’s interesting seeing where it’s going. When we were recording ‘Spent Bullets,’ Swervedriver had already gotten back together, and the noisier aspects of Swervedriver were seeping back into other things. When it is your own thing, you do sort of call the shots more; even though I wrote most of the Swervedriver songs, it always ended up being a pretty democratic process, as far as which sounds people like in which songs and so on.

Are you still doing Magnetic Morning as well?

Well, I’m not sure about Magnetic Morning. Sam is incredibly busy with Interpol as well as becoming a father. I found a live recording of one of the shows we did when we toured and I was reminded of what a really cool, live touring outfit it was.

Magnetic Morning – “At a Crossroads, Passive”

I’d love to see it sometime.

It’d be nice to reconvene it sometime.

What’s the Sophia collective all about?

Well, Sophia is basically Robin Proper-Sheppard, who was in a band called The God Machine; they were from San Diego originally, but moved to London around 1990. Sophia has been Robin’s band since then. It’s basically just him, really. I’ve sort of played with Sophia going back a long time; I was actually playing with them back when Swervedriver was still around the first time. The first dates I played with Sophia, Swervedriver’s bass player Steve George also played. It was around 1997. Back then, Sophia shows were always on the European continent. We always sat down onstage. Robin played acoustic, and I was playing this sort of maudlin, pedal steel-type sound. We had a whole year where we did two or three things in Europe with Sophia, interspersed with doing Swervedriver dates in the US and Australia. The contrast was extreme. With Swervedriver, you were always on your feet, and it was loud, with the crowd going crazy. Sophia was at the other extreme entirely. I’ve actually played with Sophia for quite a while, but I haven’t played on any of the albums. I guess I’ve just never been around when he was recording. There might actually be some more Sophia stuff later this year. There’s a London lineup of Bolts of Melody, which the New Yorkers refer to as “Brits of Melody.” The UK Bolts include three guys who are also in Sophia.

Ah, so it’s all in the family!

Yeah. [laughs]

Very cool. Are you influenced a lot by other types of art or artists besides musicians?

Well, I’ve always thought of the music [I do] as being quite visual. In some ways, I can sort of imagine a song before it’s written, or something like that. I’ve actually been very inspired by graphic novels. Some Swervedriver songs actually reference characters from the Love and Rockets comic book, and Dan Clowes’ earlier stuff, like Lloyd Llewellyn. There’s a lyric in “Rave Down” about the “all-night hell gas station,” which was totally [taken from] this one image of Dan Clowes’ character Lloyd Llewellyn, where he’s standing at this Shell gas station, but the S has dropped off the sign so it says “hell.” So that was literally taken from the page of a comic book. A couple of years ago, the Hernandez brothers, who do Love and Rockets, were doing a signing at Forbidden Planet in NYC. It was the only time I actually had anyone sign anything; I queued up and everything. But later on, I e-mailed Jaime the song “Kill the Superheroes,” which references a bunch of his characters. He e-mailed back saying it made his day, which was quite a nice thing.

That’s really interesting.

The only other autograph I’ve ever had was Ed Bishop, who was the American actor who played Ed Straker in the 70s sci-fi TV show UFO, which also featured Nick Drake’s sister, Gabrielle Drake. They came to some sort of car show or something like that. They had made die-cast toys of some of the vehicles from the show, so I went along and had Ed Bishop sign the box of this toy car.

Do you have a thing for cars?

[laughs] You’d think so, wouldn’t you?

One might! I probably could have missed the real deal — graphic novels — and thought that it was cars all along that you were into.

I’m not really sure why it was, but for some reason there was that whole thing. First there’s the name of the band, then there’s “Son of Mustang Ford,” and “Pile-Up.” It was all about driving. It might have been because there was a certain period where we were driving around a lot, listening to Hüsker Dü tapes and stuff, and it was all about [that feeling] of being in motion. It was kind of like how Brian Wilson doesn’t surf. I’ve never actually owned a car; I’ve always lived in places where you don’t really have to have a car.

[laughs] That makes it even better!

[laughs] What, the fact that I’ve never owned a car?

Yeah! And that’s such a great quotable quote, the Brian Wilson doesn’t surf thing. [laughs]

[laughs] Yeah. I mean, I can drive — Brian Wilson really has never surfed, I think. [laughs]

[laughs] That’s funny. Part of what made me think of asking about if you were influenced by painters and other artists was that I was listening to the song “Guernica,” from ‘I Could Sleep for a Thousand Years,’ and I was wondering how you came to write that.

Well, obviously the title is taken from the Picasso painting, which was kind of anti-war. It’s also a great-sounding word, for starters. The song was sort of knocking around for quite some time, and then a friend of ours was murdered in Los Angeles. He’d been living in Los Angeles for about twenty years. One day, I got this phone call from a friend of mine saying something terrible had happened. Somehow the lyrics were about him, and since Guernica was an anti-war thing, it just became an anti-war, anti-violence thing. There’s also something about the 60s generation growing old; it says something like, “the Carnabetian army marches on, but they’re living for nothing now, won’t you please lend them your song.” And the Carnabetian army is from that Kinks song, “Dedicated Follower of Fashion” — all these dandies walking down Carnaby Street.

It’s funny when you think about all these people from the 60s who are basically old men now. The passing of time — it all happens so quickly. I was watching this thing on YouTube recently, where Buffalo Springfield got back together for one of Neil Young’s Bridge School Benefit Concerts, and I remembered that about twenty years ago, I saw Ride play in London at Brixton Academy. There was an aftershow thing, and Stephen Stills was at the bar. For some reason I was being quite cocky — well, I was joking with him really, but I was like, “Aren’t you the guy from that band The Byrds?” and he was like, “Yeah, I don’t think so, buddy.” I don’t think he knew that I was joshing with him. But then I told Andy Bell from Ride that Stephen Stills was there, and he was like, “Really?” I told him that I had said, “Aren’t you the guy from The Byrds?” and Andy was like, “It’s not The Byrds, it’s Buffalo Springfield!” I said, “Andy, cool it, I know it’s Buffalo Springfield! I was just having a laugh!” Andy and the rest of the Ride guys were thrilled that Stephen Stills had come to their show. But I think back on it, and it was twenty years ago now. Stephen Stills was probably the age that I am now. It’s really weird. At that point, it would have been twenty years since Buffalo Springfield was doing stuff. It’s kind of frightening, really.

What a trip.

It’s also interesting about this Buffalo Springfield reunion; they played a couple of songs they’d never played live, because their last album was more of a studio thing, wasn’t it? So it’s quite amazing, there’s Buffalo Springfield from 1967, finally getting around to playing some of these songs in 2011. It’s quite incredible, really.

I wish they would have brought it to New York; I would have gone to see them.

I would love to see them play a song like “Expecting to Fly,” but I don’t suppose they’d probably attempt that, with all the strings and all.

Maybe not, but I’d love to see them play “Mr. Soul” and stuff like that.

Yeah, absolutely.

In your mind, what’s the biggest difference between Swervedriver and Bolts of Melody?

That’s an interesting question. The biggest difference is probably the brand name. It’s amazing how people respond to the name. We’re very fortunate that people respond to the name Swervedriver. They see that name and they come out to see us play. We played in Australia, and there are a bunch of people who know about the other stuff I’ve been doing. But then there are people who come up after a show and go, “What have you guys been doing the past ten years?” I’ve been doing a ton of stuff, but I guess the word just doesn’t get out as much. I sort of have to piggyback everything on the Swervedriver brand name. But, now that Mikey has played drums in Swervedriver, we’ve actually got half of Bolts of Melody in Swervedriver.

Aside from that, I don’t know — I’m sort of trying to figure it out. That might have been the reason we didn’t make any attempts at writing new Swervedriver songs when we got back together. There are some Bolts of Melody songs that the guys in Swervedriver suggested maybe playing. Jez said, “How about ‘Morning Rain,’ I quite like that one,” and Steve said, “I wouldn’t mind having a go at ‘Seize the Day.’ It would have been odd for Swervedriver to play Bolts of Melody, I guess.

Could be cool.

It would kind of be cool. There was this album I did back in 2000 as Toshack Highway, which was more instrumental and, for lack of a better word, soundtrack-y. There’s a bit more of that element in the newer Bolts of Melody things. I think everything maybe finds its place. It’s similar with Magnetic Morning; there was this song “Indian Summer,” which was one of the songs I wrote for that, and Lee, who’s the guitar player with Bolts of Melody that’s up in Toronto, was like, “Couldn’t we just trade that song for another one?” He’d heard the demo and he wanted it to be a Bolts of Melody song. It’s kind of interesting how everything eventually finds its place — or maybe it doesn’t matter; perhaps it’s okay if it sprawls around a bit. Some of my favorite songs to play on acoustic guitar are the Magnetic Morning ones. Doing solo acoustic shows are quite interesting for me because then I can kind of mix it all up; throw a bit of Magnetic Morning next to a Swervedriver song, follow a Bolts of Melody song with a Toshack Highway tune.

Do you find that you need that variety in your projects to get all your artistic fulfillment?

Photo: Josh Stoddard

Yeah, and I think it’s really good to have as many outlets as possible. I was doing this thing the other day — there’s this film coming out about the Oxford music scene called Anyone Can Play Guitar, and it features a couple bands that I was in before Swervedriver: Shake Appeal, which was the band that turned into Swervedriver, and then there was another band before that called Splatter Babies. They were asking us if there were any tracks from those bands they could put on the soundtrack album, and I was saying, “I don’t think there’s anything of a good enough recording quality.” We did one appallingly recorded four-track tape, and then there are some rehearsal room tapes and a couple of live things.

But, I was actually knocking around with one of the Splatter Babies tunes just this morning! I stumbled in drunk and decided to put vocals on the thing. I was just Facebooking with Paddy Pulzer, who was the drummer, and Amelia Fletcher who went on to be in Talulah Gosh. I was telling them how I’d done this recording, and perhaps Amelia would like to put some vocals it. It’s kind of a more rocked-up thing, like maybe how that band would have sounded in 2011, and Paddy wrote back saying, “This actually sounds really good!” The songs we had in that band were kind of cool, but we didn’t deliver them very well. So there you go: this band existed for basically five minutes in 1985.

You never know where something’s going to come from!


Pick up Adam Franklin & Bolts of Melody’s latest release, I Could Sleep for a Thousand Years.

For the band’s upcoming tour dates, see our recent article.