by Adelie Salagnac
Pour in some multi-colored hair, a bunch of guitars, the energy and angst of your teenage years, Hawaiian sand, some California sun and good vibes, and you’ll get Oakland quartet SWMRS. Just as the band was getting ready for their upcoming tour, promoting their debut album Drive North, Max Becker (lead vocals, lead guitar) was nice enough to have a chat with me about the band’s latest projects.
Let me tell you: the SWMRS dudes are definitely the kind of guys that take their music seriously – themselves? Not so much. Chatting with Becker was much like talking to your best friend, reminiscing memories and laughing at inside jokes.
“We want to go to Japan! I think we would do very well there. I’m sure they’d really like our cool blond hair, right?” he says before bursting into laughter.
Don’t be fooled by the band members’ young age. Even though they started off the band as teenagers, they have accomplished things any more seasoned musicians could wish for. One of their many accomplishments include being on the road with the Warped Tour both in 2012 and 2013, and it has been nothing short of a learning experience.
“Pack a lot of stuff, drink a lot of water, make sure you don’t spend too much money and try not to eat too much junk food,” was Becker’s very own advice for any band doing the Warped Tour.
“It was tough,” he says, more seriously. “We learned a lot of stuff the hard way. But it kind of made us really prepared for being SWMRS. We were a different band back when we were doing the Warped Tour; all of what happened made us prepare for ‘the big deal’.”
You might indeed know SMWRS as Emily’s Army, the name they played under during their earliest years. A new sound, a new lineup, life passing by, made the band renamed themselves.
“This change of name means maturity, adulthood,” comments Becker. “Before, we were working hard and we were really good, but we were like a bunch of kids. It’s a reflection of just becoming better musicians and growing up.”
Their debut album as SWMRS, Drive North, is out on February 12th – the result of many months of hard work and experimentation. It was recently featured on Rolling Stone and described as an “angsty new garage-rock album”, “raw and emotional”.
“We had a bunch of songs that we worked on with Zac [Carper from FIDLAR], who gave us a different perspective, he gave us more of a different perspective than anyone we’ve ever worked with before. He’s just from Hawaii, I don’t know, he comes from a different place and has a different vision. We ended up picking up some cool dialect.”
The band will release a new single, “Figuring It Out”, to promote the album. Get ready to be blown away by their original, artsy and fun music video.
“It’ll be a little bit more professionally done than the ‘Miley’ music video,” says Becker, before adding that, “it’s still going to have the same cool, artistic vibe.”
Real balls of energy, SWMRS always keep themselves busy, promoting their music, playing shows, organizing festivals, interacting with fans, touring the continent…and the world too. They somehow still manage to be constantly writing new materials, making a point of focusing on the future and on continually improving themselves. We bet those kids will be heard big and far.
“We wrote about 14 songs already. We won’t record another album probably for another couple of years, but we are going to be so ready! We just write a lot.”
Meanwhile, check out SWMRS hit-song “Miley” below.
Drive North is out via Uncool Records on February 12th. SWMRS will play in Philadelphia at the Fire on March 4th with the Frights. Info and tickets on TicketWeb.