“We wanted to be pushed to our limits on this album…” - hmv.com talks to Swim Deep
As their second full-length effort Mothers hits CD shelves today (it’s available to preview and purchase on the right-hand side of the page) we sat down with Swim Deep frontman Austin Williams to find out all about their band’s new embrace of all things psychedelic…
When did you start work on the album?
“Pretty much as soon as I finished the first album, there wasn’t a moment where I said ‘Okay, let’s start the next album’, I’m always writing, I’m always at it. I think the first songs we really wrote where we knew that this was what the record could sound like was ‘To My Brother’ and ‘Namaste’. They were beacons to us, we knew then that what we were doing was starting to sound like a record.”
Did you have lots of songs to choose from for the album?
“I never finish songs, I write so much but I get bored quite quickly with songs. I need the studio environment to feel stimulated and to make sure I actually finish things.”
Where did you record the album?
“We went to Brussels, it’s where we did the first album, it’s amazing, we picked it because the studio has just so much stuff, we were like kids in a toy shop. We wanted to be pushed to our limits on this album and with the gear they’ve got there’s no sound you can’t make.”
What’s Brussels like to live and work in?
“It’s renowned for being quite boring, but I really like it. It’s quiet, but it’s got really amazing beer, there was a bar down the round that had about a thousand different beers, it was incredible in there.”
How did you want this album to move on? It’s fair to say it’s a bigger record than your debut…
“Absolutely. I wanted there to be more going on, which came quite naturally, it’s a strange thing, I was trying my hardest with these songs, I knew that, but it didn’t felt like I was trying. Does that make sense?”
You weren’t forcing anything, that kind of feeling?
“Definitely. I always want to try and we aren’t a slacker band, but at the same time nothing feels contrived or forced.”
You worked with Dreamtrak, what did he give you as a producer?
“He’s the first person we ever worked with and we didn’t use him the first album, I wish we had now. I wanted to work with him again, I’ve always gone into his little studio to my demos, so when it was time to choose a producer for the album we tried a lot of different people and I realised I was much happier with my demos. I didn’t want someone to recreate what he’d done. He is the dream, he gets it completely, I say all sorts of random things to him, I could tell him I wanted a track to sound like you’re walking on a cloud wearing football boots and 9/10 he’d nail the sound I want it.”
So was there pressure to go with someone else from the label?
“Some, everyone’s a bit scared of losing their jobs aren’t they? Labels like big pop producers, someone who’s made hits, but that’s a factory model, luckily they’ve got people who believe in us so they let us work in the way we like.”
There are five of you this time with the addition of keyboardist James Balmont, did they affect how you wrote?
“James’s progression into the band was quite a natural one, he started as a live keyboardist and then he slowly moulded into a permanent fixture. Me and him started writing together, we bonded over our love of soundtracks.”
Has it affected how you present yourselves live?
“Definitely. When we started out we were quite shoegazey and it was quite lacklustre sometimes, but adding him and the keys to the mix has made a massive difference. He’s given a lot more power.”
What kind of record is this lyrically?
“My world has broadened so much between our first album and this one. I became a bit more human, I started reading, I fell in love, I moved in London, lots of change and I feel like I’ve grown up a lot since our last record. The last album was about seeing the world, this is about expressing and absorbing where I am. It sounds more spacey and psychedelic, but lyrically it’s way more grounded in reality.”
Finally, where did Mothers come from as a title?
“We spent ages talking about what to call the record and one of us suggested ‘To My Brother’, which is the second track on the record. I don’t like the idea of calling a record after a song, so ‘To My Brother’ morphed into ‘To My Mother’ and then to ‘Mothers’. I think it ties the record together quite nicely, it’s a good metaphor for so much of it.”
Swim Deep’s new album Mothers is out now.