Swervedriver takes a dizzying journey

Swervedriver, opening for Hum, Sapphire Supper Club, March 9, 1998

Five years seems to be the average lifespan for many bands -- enough time to toss out a few releases, savor a taste of success, drift into a slump, then head back to the day job. While Swervedriver's last widely available recording was released five years ago, the Oxford, England, band finds itself on yet another label and eager to continue their spaced-out, guitar-driven vision.

Swervedriver's story is a dizzying journey. Originally signed to A&M Records in the early '90s, the band released two well-received recordings, "Raise" (1991) and "Mezcal Head" (1993). Though lumped into the moody English shoegazer/ dream pop scene (along with My Bloody Valentine, Curve, Lush and Ride) and relying on an effects-heavy guitar sound, Swervedriver's approach was a bit more forceful. After completing tours with the Smashing Pumpkins and Medicine, the band headed back to England to record the follow-up to "Mezcal Head."

During the sessions for their third album, "Ejector Seat Reservation," A&M decided to clean house and dropped Swervedriver from the label. Being caught on the losing end of the business cycle suppressed the band's creative output, as vocalist/guitarist Adam Franklin explains. "That's when the shit hit the fan, really. Once again it's the accountants that run rock & roll. ‘If the books don't balance, we're going to have to get rid of a few bands that aren't really making any money.' And we were one of them."

The band was then signed by Creation Records, who dropped them a week before the U.K. release of "Ejector Seat" in late '95. Enter DGC Records. Again, off the Swervies went to record an album. As soon as they were finished with those sessions, their A&R representative was fired. DGC's money woes caused Swervedriver to be dropped yet again and in the possession of a second "lost album," which finally surfaced this year as "99th Dream."

In late '97, Zero Hour jumped at the chance of having Swervedriver on their roster, finally providing an avenue for the February release of "99th Dream." Will fans of the band's early psychedelic-space rock still be interested?

Franklin certainly hopes so. "As far as America is concerned, nothing has come out since ‘Mezcal Head,' which is quite bizarre. ... I know a lot of people do think this is ‘their' kind of band because we seemingly never get any bigger. Perhaps all this stuff that people seem to know about now -- all this hassle we've had -- is going to put people more on our side than ever."

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