By Cai Trefor @caitrefor
Swim Deep are taking Britain by storm with their brand of upbeat indie pop that sounds somewhere in between The Mystery Jets, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and The Stone Roses. Lead singer of the band Austin Williams and drummer Zach Robinson caught up with Critical Wave just moments before their gig at The Green Door Store in Brighton at an old pub, just around the corner called The Battle of Trafalgar.
The band had spent the night before playing to a full house at XOYO in Shoreditch so Zach and Austin sat with meat the bar drinking fruit juice trying to recover in preparation for their imminent Brighton gig. We spoke about touring, recording, what inspires them creatively and the love they feel and want to share in a time of ever-increasing jadedness within society.
Swim Deep’s return to Brighton comes after they played The Great Escape 2012.
Since then they toured with Pond which singer Austin reminiscences, “Yeah we learnt a lot from Pond. We watched them every night and obviously gained and when you watch the same band when you really love every night you learn a lot of stuff of them. It changed me as a front man, I just got more of a charisma about myself it made me realise how to really bring my character out. “It was a really interesting experience. It was a real learning curve as well.”
His outgoing company at the pub reflected someone who was comfortable with themselves off-stage too. His steady level of confidence allowed his entertaining and insightful personality to shine, despite the obvious hangover. Following these character defining shows on the road with Pond they spent a lot time back in their hometown of Birmingham crafting their sound. “We were broke still”, said Zach “but we were always doing stuff; we were working on our shit to get it better,” added Austin.
Fortunately for the band, they had a lot of time to rehearse and write. As the band became a serious commitment, Austin was sacked from his job at Morrisons, Higgy who met Austin while working at Morrison left too, and Zach quit his job at the hair Salon. Cavan meanwhile, “never had a job in his life except for being a recording artist, what a lucky bastard…” said Austin.
This new-found spare-time has been well spent considering the strength of the recordings and live shows today which have seen them receive praise for drawing on early late 80s and early 90s grunge with an optimistic tint. However, when pushed to name a band that influenced their songs Austin responded. “I didn’t listen to much great music that I listen to now. “ I didn’t really listen to music up until a year ago, I always loved music and listened to it but never really bought an album”.
Their songs, therefore, appear to be more influenced by societal matters; “I don’t think people are feeling good about the world recently and I think it’s completely nuts that people aren’t doing what they love, I think that’s strange, I think that’s what my main message is” said Austin. Austin’s lyrics are also drenched in personal experiences and it’s the emotion of these events that shines through in the sound. They are mostly about “myself and social stuff that’s going on, stuff that I would like to say anyway, I would probably say it when I was drunk to you but I just say it into a song, it sounds nice in a song, it doesn’t sound nice when you’re chatting it into someone’s ear. It doesn’t sound nice when you’re chatting it into someone’s ear,” explained Austin.
The sound that these ramblings take in song caught the imagination of label Chess Club Records who bussed them off at the end of 2012 to Brussels to record their debut album with producer Charlie Hugall (Florence and The Machiene). 12-hour days over three weeks at the studio proved enough to get the record finished. With such intensive days recording Austin explained that they had “loads of weed, a ridiculous amount of weed” to see them through. Did you record any songs without a spliff? “No” chuckled Zach. “It’s just amazing, it just suited it. In explaining the choice to incorporate weed into the equation, Austin responded, “I get creative with lyrics, I find myself being able to flow, if I smoked a tiny but I get into the song and really see different melodies.”
After coming back from recording refreshed and ready for the road they album they went on tour with Two Door Cinema Club before going off on their 14-date U.K headline tour of which The Green Door Store Gig was the final date. Out of all the shows, Birmingham really stood out to them “Birmingham was real celebratory, it was real emotional. “
The emotion is understandable considering the band have been ushered from playing small pubs in Birmingham to academies become the center of attention in the music press, all within 12 months. At the mere age of 21 such experiences provide a certain test of maturity as more responsibility comes with the role, but when asked what really made them feel older. Austin responded, “When I first had sex, that made me feel so much older. When I lost my virginity, I was a bloke. Honestly I can remember now, I never thought about that, I finished and I went to get a paper and I told her to fuck off and get me some food, you all the classics. I did feel very mature after that and I felt that I looked at a lot of people differently. I was sex crazy after that day. “I reckon actually after I lost my virginity that’s when I started really rocking out”. Zach teasingly responded, “You felt like a rockstar because you slept with one girl.”
Austin describes the feeling he gets on-stage similarly, “What are the best words? It’s quite sexual, really ballsy, you feel a lot of testosterone, you feel like your floating on a testosterone cloud, fuelled by love.”
It is love that they want to share too. “Well I think we want to give something to people , the same feeling that we get form doing this, I think people should let it be and let us project that”. And “vibes keep us together” said Zach happily. This unity seems to be the foundation for them to move to the next stage of their careers which Austin confidently explains should be “stadiums. Why not?”