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Hüsker Düing it for the Kids

"We did this gig and a couple of blokes in flares and hooded tops came up to us afterwards and said, 'Yeah, you'd be really good if you weren't so heavy metal'. I suppose visually we are a bit heads down, no-nonsense rifferama merchants, but . . ."
Swervedriver are not heavy metal. Heavy, maybe- metal, absolutely not. Squashed into a Camden drinking hole, Adam (guitar/vocals), Jim (guitar), Adi (bass) and drummer Graham are aUempting to explain exactly whatthey are: "We like tunes, but we also like hard, fast music. . . There's a sort of cross between the dubwise bass kind ofthing and Valentinesy vocal melodies. . . We're quite into manic music with laidback things on top. . ."
Confused? You needn't be. The imminent debut 12" EP on Creation reveals the Oxford foursome to be tightrope walkers 'twist friction and relaxation, fury and harmony. 'Son Of Mustang Ford' is the sound of a band grubbying Creation's clean-cut history, ("Signing to them was a real surprise because we haven't got Creation haircuts!") taking contemporary American guitar rock and instilling it with a liberal dose of languid British dreampop. Like Teenage Fan Club, Edsel Auctioneer, Venus Beads et ai, Swervedriver have been torched by Transatlantic fires, and they're smouldering nicely. Although talk of American invasions encourages some suitably patriotic responses.
"There's loads of good British guitar bands," froths , Adi 'Some of the American bands don't really live up to their promise: like, I don't think Killdozer are very good, but i what a fucking brilliant name for a band - best I've ever heard!"
Swervedriver's finest attribute is the way in which they cunningly play off physical laziness against musical energy. On stage they're a disciplined shambles, forever suggesting self-destruction yet walking away unharmed every time.
"It's a funny old game that is," nods Jim. "You spend weeks getting the numbers together and getting it all tight and then you do a gig and you thrash away and get really pissed and no one ever knows where they are. Some people have said we're really overindulgent, but that's to do with not really knowing what's going on, it's just basic confusion."
No single episode has captured their laid back atmosphere more perfectly than when, supporting Ride, a momentarily unemployed Adi sat down halfway through a song, had a cigareUe and casually rejoined his colleagues for the climex.
"Ha ha! You should see him in the practice room," confides Graham. "He starts the song, then he goes to the shop to buy cokes and Mars Bars and he returns exactly on time to come back into the song!"
"It's only 'cos I was singing it in my head on the way to the shop," beams the proud bassist. "I've never been late yet. No matter where I go, I'm always back in time!"

'Son Of Mustang Ford'is out on July 16, with a string of dates leading up to it.

Simon Williams


Originally Appeared in NME, 7 July, 1990 Copyright © NME.