Brighton band Dead Swans released debut album Sleepwalkers in 2009 on American hardcore label Bridge9. It was described as “blistering and nervously confrontational” by Alternative Press Magazine, and since Dead Swans have been hailed as one of the best bands to come out of the UK. Adrian Imms and Chris Shipman fired some questions to Pid, the guitarist, about influences, vegetarianism and “hardcore”.
Did you set out to create a specific sound when you formed as a band?
At first we started off a lot harder, stripped down and raw sounding. Right Brigade, No Warning and Cro-Mags were big influences. Then we added another guitar player after one practice and it gave us a lot more options to do other things. We just play the kind of stuff we would want to hear, something that would get us stoked if we heard another band doing it.
There are a lot of bands out there that could be labelled as “hardcore” and there has been an increase in the popularity of the genre. Do you view this as a benefit, or on the flip side, does it frustrate you?
When bands like Gallows blew up, it attracted a lot of positive attention to the hardcore scene, which was cool. Then I think a lot of bands wanted to jump on the bandwagon and just used the tag ‘hardcore’ because it was cool. Anyone who knows anything knows what a proper hardcore band is, and bands that were ‘brutal tech death metal’ last year and have dropped that to sound like some faux melodic Comeback Kid rip-off band or something. The kids who matter know what’s up though, and that’s what counts.
What is the least accurate comparison you have found to be attributed to your music?
I hate it when people catergorise us as metal, or metal core. It’s frustrating when some some clueless fuck broadcast their deluded opinions, and have no idea what they’re on about.
You are strong advocates of vegetarianism. How did you first involve yourself with the lifestyle?
As a kid I went into a butchers with my mum, I was only three years old, but I was old enough to understand where meat came from. After seeing like lambs hearts and stuff, I didn’t agree with it, and I thought animals were cool.
What influences you, and where do you draw the energy to write and perform your songs?
Hardcore from the early 00’s, as that’s the era of hardcore we grew up with – the bands we saw, although we definitely acknowledge classic bands that influenced them. We draw influence from a lot of places, just whatever we think sounds cool, bands from American Nightmare to My Bloody Valentine as far as playing live… Stuff we are genuinley excited about and also being on tour is an escape for us – it’s fun to be away and we put everything into playing live shows.
2009 saw the release of your debut full length. Were you happy with how it turned out – would you do anything differently if you could?
Although we were in talks with Bridge 9 for a while, the whole process of getting signed came about real quick, and with deadlines and budgets and stuff, we had to get the record together as fast as possible… Essentially Sleepwalkers was written in 20 hours. We’re all definitely happy with how it came out, it’s just hard to excel yourself. The Southern Blue EP was compiled of the first songs we ever wrote, just straight up fast hard hitting songs. It would of been easy to bang out another album full of stuff like that, but then people would just say “Ohhh, it sounds just like the old stuff.” We wanted to progress and write more thought out songs but without losing our sound at the same time. You can never please everyone and we’re not setting out to try and do that.
Does Sleepwalkers epitomise everything about your band up to this point or is there any territory that has been left uncovered?
I wouldn’t say so at all. We draw influence from so many different places, we can kind of go in whatever direction we want, like more melodic, or have a harder edge to it, or generally faster – or whatever. We don’t like to confine ourselves to anything. I feel like we progessed with Sleepwalkers but I’d like to stick to what we know really, just do what we’ve been doing but better.
And finally, what does 2010 have in store for Dead Swans?
Tour as much as we can, hopefully back to the States, Canada, Russia and Australia. They’re all possibilities at the moment. Always writing songs, I’d like to do a split record with someone and at least have nine solid songs ready or recorded by the end of the year.
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