Swervedriver have shared the video for Spiked Flower, which is lifted from their forthcoming album ‘Future Ruins’. The album is out on January 25 via Dangerbird Records. You can check out the video via YouTube below.
“ When recording Spiked Flower, everything went very Television for a moment… We were in downtown LA and Television came and played next door to the hotel we were staying at. On the Sunday, as I walked to pick up my laundry, I saw Tom Verlaine climb into a car on a side street and then Jimmy had this riff and I started singing “Why don’t you talk to me?” to it and it made me think of Marquee Moon. It didn’t sound like them in the end though”.
The new Swervedriver album is titled ‘Future Ruins,’ a two-word précis of its dread thrills. It opens with Mary Winter, a song narrated by a recognizable Swervedriver archetype: a traveler, hurtling away from this world. “Planet Earth long gone/And my feet won’t touch the ground.” But where is the traveler headed? And why? The second song, The Lonely Crowd Fades In The Air, offers some possible answers: “We’ve stumbled into the end of days/Where the future comes home to cry…” “There’s a lot of foreboding on this album,” agrees Adam Franklin. “Space is in there a lot too. In the first song, the character is a spaceman who’s trying to remember what life is really like. Also, it could be about somewhere in the world where winter isn’t like the winter here. A sunny place, but it’s December or January and you’re trying to remember winter. Something’s going on.”
That something began in October 2017, with a two-week stint with Franklin, Hartridge, Mikey Jones (drums) and Mick Quinn (bass) tracking at MAKE Records Studio in Los Angeles. Having made ‘I Wasn’t Born To Lose You’ hard on the heels of an Australian tour, the band decided to repeat the process and bottle the momentum of a just-completed US tour performing both ‘Raise’ and ‘Mezcal Head’ in their entirety. “That’s a good way to record,” says Adam, “because you’ve literally just seen the whites of the audience’s eyes and you’re thinking, ‘If that audience from last night were here now…’ You can’t get too mellow. We came home with 30 different songs.” There quickly followed a further 10 days’ vocals and overdubs at Seaside Studios in Brighton. Stoking the creative energies was engineer TJ Doherty. A Grammy winner for his work on Wilco’s ‘A Ghost Is Born,’ his diverse credit list also includes Lou Reed and Steely Dan, Stephen Malkmus and Joanna Newsom, Sonic Youth and Selfish Cunt. But the band knew him in a previous life, from their first decade of existence. “He was a fan,” says Adam. “We first met because he was down the front at all the gigs in New York and New Jersey a long lost time ago. He ended up going to engineering school and worked on all these cool records.”
The final 10 tracks were then mixed in spring 2018, as the band toured Europe – again, infusing the recordings with road-slick fumes. Future Ruins exhibits Swervedriver’s fabled widescreen escapism, but with a tension that echoes a sleeve image of Coney Island in skeletal monochrome (from an original photo by Spencer Bewley), like a post mortem photograph of a failed utopia. The title song offers a grim assessment of humanity’s current condition: “We are ruled by fools/These are future ruins/That the king is insane/Is now old news.”
“That was an early lyric, I sang that one in LA, one of about three or four that I sang there,” notes Adam. “It just came out. A rage at the state of the world.” There’s more where that came from. Drone Lover, a song that predates the last album, is a comment on the depersonalized nature of 21st century techno-warfare. For all its melody’s humming mood elevation, The Lonely Crowd Fades In The Air feels like an elegy, with one crushing couplet after another: “Choose your colors wisely/Because things ain’t the same as in days gone by.” That song’s title – “it has a resonance that fits with these times,” says Adam – evokes the alienation wrought by the mass embrace of so-called ‘social’ media; a perspective on our contemporary malaise that’s also echoed in Everybody’s Going Somewhere And No-One’s Going Anywhere, a spoken word dreamscape. “Everybody’s got the same amount of time on the planet,” explains Adam. “There might be a couple in Italy, 90 years old, they’ve been married for 70, they’ve never left the country, and they might possibly have had a better life than the person running around who gets a heart attack at 40 after earning 2 million dollars.” The trip ends with Radio-Silent’s ghostly seven-minute afterburn, its lyric comprising just 26 words: “We’re all so alone/And we all have to live as one/And we all must exist as one/And we all must resist as one.” The track ends with police sirens and an electronic snap. “It’s loud, but it’s impotent rage,” says Adam. “Everything is completely fucked up. There’s no coming back from that one.”
So the journey’s over, and yet Swervedriver ride on. Just as there was never any thought of ‘I Wasn’t Born To Lose You’ being a last hurrah for old time’s sake, ‘Future Ruins’ presents a band moving with real time/real life vitality. It showcases new tricks and classic hallmarks: pop songs which don’t have choruses, like Mary Winter; odd arrangements and weird contrasts, like Spiked Flower’s rock’n’roll grind breaking out to acknowledge English landscape painter John Constable; and a lyric that references Echo & The Bunnymen. See if you can spot that one…
Pre-order ‘Future Ruins’ here.