“We want to catch people off guard”
Sat in the press garden at Reading, as the rain lightly starts to spit, it seems that nothing could cease the happiness of brothers Cole and Max Becker of SWMRS, as they laugh and embrace everyone they get the chance to. Having just finished their afternoon slot at the BBC Radio 1 Stage, it’s easy to see why the Californian punk outfit are huge hitters in the UK with their straight-talking, fun-packed bangers that encapsulate the minds of a generation.
“That’s one side of our pendulum. We want to speak on behalf of our fans and how they feel about the media, politics, the environment changing,” Max ponders as the two discuss how the band has evolved through the years. SWMRS have been creating for over a decade (previously under Emily’s Army), where they are now signed to Fueled By Ramen. With their rebirth, SWMRS released their debut album ‘Drive North’, produced by FIDLAR’s Zac Carper. The record allowed them to burst onto the scene with a traditional style of punk, where high applause followed and their fan base grew tenfold. Thematically, the tone of ‘Drive North’ was largely based around youthful musings, most notably their homage to ‘punk rock queen’ Miley Cyrus. But now, it would appear that the brothers are ready for a new direction.
Their latest single ‘Berkeley’s On Fire’ sees a shift in writing, where they have progressed in addressing issues with authority. Inspired by a protest that the media spun into a scare-mongering event, it made Cole and Max stop and think about the industry’s intentions, “My Mum rang me and said you need to get out of there, it looks like Tiananmen Square. This made me think, man, the TV is lying to us”.
Cole continues, “It got me thinking how the media scares us into thinking a certain way. We wanted to make a song that scared the media more than it scares us”. With their awakened ambition of tackling large-scale problems, without revealing too much, they reflect on how their upcoming album always comes back to encompassing daily struggles we all face, “We still have to have our breakfast, we still have to drink our coffee, we still have to deal with the assholes from the day, so we always bring it back to the smaller scale. We switch from the bigger issues to the smaller issues.”
With this conscious thematic change, the two explained how they draw upon lyrical influences such as Death Cab For Cutie, Arctic Monkeys and Blur to explore more engaging language in their material, “What those guys do well is they use words you can actually see. We’re trying to paint a little bit more of a picture. We want to use colourful language that people can relate to in daily life, and actually, think the song is about them.”
The Becker brothers personify the meaning of passion, where they appear exhilarated at this point of their career. Equally, what prevails is their sense of urgency, in that they are determined for SWMRS not to be a band of predictability.
“We want to catch people off guard. We wanted to establish a relationship with the people that follow us, to prove that we aren’t just a one trick pony,” suggests Cole before his brother closes with “The last thing we want to do is be backed into a corner”
With this awakened ambition, the Becker brothers were invigorated. Not only are they planning on using their music to challenge the wider world, they seem to have adopted a sense of duty in being a voice for their fans. With a new album on the horizon, SWMRS are only just beginning.
Words by Ffion Riordan-Jones (@FfionAbigail_)