Swervedriver are an English alternative rock band from Oxford. Their sound was frequently compared[by whom?] to Sonic Youth, The Stooges, Dinosaur Jr., The Who, Catherine Wheel, and former labelmates My Bloody Valentine and Ride. After experiencing problems with several record labels, the band went on hiatus in 1999 without having reached a mainstream commercial audience.
In 2008 the band reformed for a world tour, which included a performance at the high-profile Coachella Festival, and reissued their first three albums.
The band started in Oxford in 1984, with the formation of a group called Shake Appeal, named after a song by one of their main acknowledged influences, The Stooges. Consisting of vocalist/guitarists Adam Franklin and Jimmy Hartridge, lead vocalist Graham Franklin (Adam’s brother), bassist Adi Vines, and drummer Paddy Pulzer. The band began to fall apart when Graham Franklin and Pulzer left. They are known to have only released one 7" single, 1987's "Gimme Fever" (the name being a pun on The Stooges' song "Gimme Danger"), on Notown Records.
The remaining three members drafted drummer Graham Bonnar. The new lineup had a new name, Swervedriver. Their hometown colleagues Ride passed their re-recorded demo of "Son of Mustang Ford" to Alan McGee of Creation Records.
First album and possible breakup
The group debuted with a series of 12" EPs between 1990 and 1991: Son of Mustang Ford, Rave Down and Sandblasted. They then issued their debut album Raise in 1991. On February 6, 1992, Bonnar abandoned the band at the Canadian border only a few dates into a two-month headlining tour of the U.S. Tour manager Phil Ames called on Danny Ingram from Washington, D.C. band Strange Boutique, to fill in on drums for the rest of the U.S. tour and a short tour of Japan. Rather than replace Bonnar permanently, the band had Ingram move to London for a UK and European tour. In April 1992, the group, with Ingram still on drums, did a U.S. tour in support of two American A&M labelmates, Monster Magnet and Soundgarden. Following an appearance at the Hultsfred festival in Sweden on August 8, 1992, Vines departed to form the heavy metal-oriented Skyscraper. (Vines has since worked as guitar tech for various UK bands including The Darkness, Feeder and The Prodigy. Swervedriver’s final release with the original lineup was 1992's Never Lose That Feeling 12" EP/ 7" single, produced by Alan Moulder. The future of the band appeared uncertain.
Release of Mezcal Head
In 1993, Swervedriver re-emerged with the core of Adam Franklin and Hartridge, along with newly-recruited drummer Jez Hindmarsh (a.k.a. "Jez"), and released the album Mezcal Head, continuing their relationship with Moulder. The album gave them their most successful single, "Duel" (NME's Single Of The Week), for which a music video was released. "Never Lose That Feeling" was tacked onto the end of the American release of the album, along with an extended piece called "Never Learn." They toured U.S. arenas with Smashing Pumpkins and Shudder to Think in October and November 1993. Swervedriver covered The Who's "In the City" on the Who Covers Who tribute compilation, and later covered The Who's "Magic Bus."
Ejector Seat Reservation
1994 found the band adding new bassist Steve George, along with extensive touring of the U.S., Japan and Europe. Creation Records dropped the band one week after the UK release of 1995 album Ejector Seat Reservation and deleted the record from print. This was said to be due in part to the label's decision to focus on its new best-seller, Oasis. Ejector Seat Reservation was never officially released in the U.S., though it was reissued on CD in 2003 by Sony International. It incorporated a wider number of influences from 1960s rock bands such as The Beatles, and 1970s power pop bands like Big Star and The Raspberries. It received little to no record company support and ended up being their poorest-selling album. This began a protracted period of record label problems for the band.
99th Dream and the late 1990s
In 1996, Swervedriver signed to Geffen Records with a multi-record deal, and began recording its fourth album. However, their contract was terminated when their A&R (Artists & Repertoire) representative was fired in a corporate downsizing. Geffen released promotional CD copies of the band's fourth and final album, entitled 99th Dream, but these were quickly withdrawn and the label never officially released the album for sale. Once the legal dust settled, the band was awarded its own recording studio along with the finished album.
99th Dream was finally given an official release in early 1998 after the band signed to fledgling U.S. label Zero Hour Records. (The only differences between the Zero Hour and Geffen versions was a new version of "These Times.") Despite 1998-99 tours of the U.S. (with Hum), Britain, and Australia, they did not break out beyond cult status. The Wrong Treats EP, released in 1999, was the band's last release as an extant group; they announced a hiatus later that year that has lasted nearly a decade.
In 2005, with most of the band's discography out of print, Castle Music released a 2-CD Swervedriver anthology entitled Juggernaut Rides. It brought together 33 songs, including many only available on rare EPs and singles, and four that were previously unreleased, including the 8-minute "Neon Lights Glow," which features accompaniment by an orchestral string section.
Adam Franklin has released several albums under the solo alias Toshack Highway and has performed select Swervedriver songs on tours. In June 2007, Franklin released his first album under his own name called Bolts of Melody on Hi-Speed Soul Records from San Diego, California. His second solo record "Spent Bullets" will be released on Second Motion Records on March 31 2009.
In early 2007, Interpol drummer Sam Fogarino joined with Adam Franklin to form a side-project band that would come to be know as Magnetic Morning (formerly the Setting Suns). Their debut EP was released on iTunes only in November 2007.
During an interview promoting his first solo album, Adam Franklin discussed the prospects of a Swervedriver reunion, and referred positively to the recent reunion of the Pixies. In October 2007, the band's publicist announced Swervedriver would reunite in 2008 for a world tour. Drummer Jez Hindmarsh confirmed the news on the band's message board. Dates and details have been announced on their MySpace page. Right before their 2008 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival performance Adam Franklin said in an interview "This time around—it’s ten years on, and the people who saw us ten years ago would love to see us again, and a bunch of people have sprung up in the interim—it could be a good time!".
In November 2008, the first three albums (Raise, Mezcal Head, and Ejector Seat Reservation) were re-released by Sony BMG in the UK as "Remastered and Expanded" editions. All three records are released as digi-packs, with 16 page booklets and liner notes from Adam Franklin and Jimmy Hartridge, are digitally remastered, and have 4 extra bonus tracks each.
In the USA, Hi-Speed Soul records (in conjunction with Second Motion) licensed the reissues of "Raise" and "Mezcal Head", and released them on January 20 2009. The US releases are the same as the UK versions, except for printing differences. A limited number of online "Deluxe Edition" orders will also include a limited edition poster signed by the band and a "Swervedriver Raygun" water-pistol.
- Raise (1991, Creation/ A&M) (initial copies came with free 7") (reissued & remastered 2008 Sony BMG, 2009 Hi-Speed Soul/Second Motion)
- Mezcal Head (1993, Creation/ A&M) (reissued & remastered 2008 Sony BMG, 2009 Hi-Speed Soul/Second Motion)
- Ejector Seat Reservation (1995, Creation) (initial copies came with free 7") (reissued 2003, Sony International) (reissued & remastered 2008 Sony BMG)
- 99th Dream (1997, Geffen [promo CD only]/ 1998, Zero Hour) (initial copies came with free 7")
- Juggernaut Rides '89–'98 (2005, Castle) 2-CD best-of collection
- Son of Mustang Ford 12" (1990, Creation)
- Rave Down 12" (1991, Creation)
- Sandblasted 12" (1991, Creation)
- Reel to Real 12" (1991, A&M)
- Never Lose That Feeling 12"/ 7"/ CD EP (1992, Creation)
- Duel 7"/ CD EP (1993, Creation/ A&M)
- Last Train to Satansville 12"/ CD EP (1993/1994, Creation/ A&M)
- Last Day on Earth 12" (initial copies on white vinyl) / CD EP (1995)
- Space Travel Rock 'n' Roll 12"/ CD EP (1998, Zero Hour) (came in anti-static foil wrap bag)
- Wrong Treats (1999)
- "Surf Twang" (b/w "Deep Twang") free instrumental 7" included with initial vinyl copies of Raise (1991, Creation)
- "For Seeking Heat" (b/w "Duel") 12" (promo) (1993, Creation)
- "My Zephyr (A Sequel)" (b/w "Mars") 7" (1994, Flower Shop) (1000 copies only)
- "Plan 7 Star Satellite 10" (b/w "Flaming Heart") (1995, Creation) free 7" with initial vinyl copies of Ejector Seat Reservation
- "Bring Me the Head of the Fortune Teller" (b/w "The Birds") 12" (promo) (1995, Creation)
- "Why Say Yeah" – Swervedriver/Sophia split double 7" (1996)
- "Magic Bus" – Swervedriver/Happy Campers split (1997, A&M Records) and Forces of Nature movie soundtrack (1999, Geffen)
- "93 Million Miles from the Sun... And Counting" 7" (1997, Sessions)
- "Good Ships" (b/w "Hate Yr Kind") (1998, Zero Hour) free 7" with initial vinyl copies of 99th Dream
- "Hitcher" b/w "Just Sometimes" 2008 Reunion Tour only red vinyl 7" Hi-Speed Soul Records
- On the Road with Swervedriver: A Rockumentary (promo VHS, 42:51 total time) (1992, A&M) Features live footage, interviews, and all of the band's music videos up to that point
- Rider - by Jez Hindmarsh (1992, Lulu.com) An autobiographical look at life on the road with Swervedriver.
- Swervedriver official MySpace page
- Toshack Highway
- Hi-Speed Soul's preorder page
- Restoration of live Swervedriver videos
- Reference to the tour in April 1992
- Reference to the tour in October 1993
- A 2008 interview with Swervedriver
- interview and review of the Fillmore show in San Francisco, 2008
- Nov 2008 interview with Jimmy Hartridge
Biography from Wikipedia