Interview: Adam Franklin of Swervedriver
In 1998, after four albums and years of touring, Swervedriver decided to take a little time off. However, although they never officially broke up, the hiatus lasted longer than anyone expected.
It wasn’t until 2008 that the British band became active again, when they returned to the United States for a tour. Fans began to wonder if the band was really back -- or if it was just a one-off reunion.
In the three years since that last Swervedriver tour, guitarist/lead singer Adam Franklin has kept busy with his band, Bolts of Melody, touring and releasing four albums, including 2010’s I Could Sleep For a Thousand Years.
Guitar World spoke to Franklin about how the June U.S. and Canadian tour came about (See tour dates below), the return of original Raise-era drummer Graham Bonnar and the question on every fan's mind: Will there be a new Swervedriver record?
GUITAR WORLD: This is Swervedriver’s first U.S. tour since 2008. Since then, the band has played a few shows in England and Australia. How did this month's mini-U.S. tour come about? Was coming back to the U.S. and Canada something you had planned since the original shows in 2008, or did you just think, "Why not?"
We were offered a couple of festival dates, and we figured it's already been three years since we last played the U.S., so it would be fun to do it. But look, we're just gonna be doing four shows in four days over a weekend -- and that's it. That's all we can do right now, due to people's various commitments, so apologies if we're not coming to your town. Chances are we're not, since we're only hitting four towns!
But there's only so much we can do. And, of course, you only go where the offers are made; for example, we would have loved to have played Adelaide on the recent Australian tour, but there wasn't really an offer and we were told we would have lost money on that if we had gone, so however much we would love to play everywhere for everyone, all the time and forever, it's not always possible.
So this time out, we're just hitting four of the cities where we've always been well received: New York, Toronto, Chicago, Los Angeles -- and we'll try and arrange to come back over and play more shows at a later date.
On the recent Australian tour, Graham Bonnar came back to play drums. How did his return come about? Had you been in contact with him over the years?
Graham would come to see Swervedriver when we came back through San Francisco in the '90s, and he came to our London shows at the end of 2009. I ran into him again on a Saturday lunchtime in a pub in London during the World Cup in 2010. He was with some bandmates, and they were taking some time out from mixing some recordings in a studio around the corner. I ended up popping round there and singing some backing vocals on one song.
What was it like playing with Graham again after all these years? Did it come naturally or did you have to work at it to get back into a groove?
Well, no. Just like when the rest of us got back together in 2008 and said it was like riding a bike again, this was similar. It's just a different bike.
How did you work on the post-Raise material with Graham? Did you try to get him to play the material the way Jez would or did you give him free reign to play it the way he wanted?
It's interesting seeing what another drummer does, and, of course, Jez had to learn Graham's parts once and now Graham has had to learn Jez's. I've been fortunate enough to play with some great drummers over the years, and each one is different and a law unto himself. I love what Graham does with the post-Raise material just like we love what Jez did with the Raise material. It's all good!
What are your plans for the rest of the year? Will there be any more live shows for Swervedriver, more Bolts of Melody tour dates? I know the question is always asked, has there been any talk about new Swervedriver material, or better yet, is there any interest in the band for recording new material?
There will certainly be more Bolts of Melody dates, particularly as we haven't yet been out and played the I Could Sleep For A Thousand Years songs. We will be looking to do further Swervedriver shows also, and writing/recording new material has been mentioned. Before that, though, there's another Bolts of Melody album that's almost ready to be recorded.
I'm getting a bit backed-up here, aren't I?
SWERVEDRIVER ON TOUR:
June 16: New York City, Irving Plaza
June 17: Toronto, NXNE
June 18: Chicago, Taste of Randolph
June 19: Los Angeles, The Echoplex