Losing two members to other bands would, understandably, drive a stake through any group’s heart.
For England’s sonic/melodic rockers, Swervedriver, it was just another bump along the highway.
“Anyone who leaves a band on their own accord, it’s sort of like a vote of no confidence,” lead singer-guitarist Adam Franklin said during a recent stop in the group’s stint opening for the Smashing Pumpkins.
“Ultimately, though, it wasn’t very difficult to overcome, and we had our own ideas that we wanted to get out anyway,” Franklin said of the departure of drummer Graham Bonnar and bassist Adi Vynes.
Bonnar joined a San Francisco band called The Brian Jonestown Massacre, and Vynes hooked up with Skyscraper shortly before Swervedriver began work on its second A&M album, “Mezcal Head,” released in early October amid heady reviews.
Joining Franklin and guitarist Jimmy Hartridge in the passenger’s seat are newcomers Jez (drums) and Steven George (bass).
With “Mezcal Head” and the infectious single “Duel,” Swervedriver didn’t lose an ounce of power in the two years since its stirring debut “Raise.” Produced by Alan Moulder (Jesus & Mary Chain, Curve), the new album brings more layered chaos and intensity but with consciously more upfront vocals.
“(On the first album), we heard from some fans who said ‘we can’t hear what you’re singing,’ and I couldn’t tell as well when I played back on some of the tracks,” Franklin said with a laugh, “and so we were wondering, ‘What were we thinking?,’ so we worked on that.”
It’s too early to tell if Swervedriver is riding the commercial coattails of the gold-selling Smashing Pumpkins, whose “Siamese Dream” (Virgin) is in the Top 20 on Billboard’s album chart. But Franklin has noticed a positive response.
“It’s only been like a week or so since the tour started,” he said, “but we’ve had fans come up to us after the show and say, ‘We thought you were cool. I’ve never heard you before, and now I’m going to go out and buy your record,’ and that’s exactly what it’s all about, I suppose.”
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