New Band of the Week: Switchdown

Leicester trio Switchdown offer up a fun and bouncy punk-infused alternative rock sound that’s big on energy and feisty riffs. The band describe their energetic sound as “a cover for a growing guitar pedal/amp/cymbal addiction.”

The trio of Sam (guitar and vocals), Harry (bass) and Joe (drums) first met at high school and bonded through pushing each other into mosh pits at Enter Shikari gigs and forming bands together. While none of those former bands really worked out, they sat down in the summer of 2017 and wrote what turned out to be their first single Spark.

As Harry explains: “We’d not long finished uni so we were still coming to terms with life outside of that – lots of job searching and waking up WELL into the afternoon. So I think Spark really served as a shot of much needed energy. Not long after that, we formed Switchdown and we’ve been driving forward with that energy ever since.”

Our latest taste of the Switchdown sound is WHY-PHY, which was released earlier this year and epitomises the band’s ethos of having fun with big riffs and catchy vocals. It opens up with rolling drums and cymbals before crashing into a lively, bouncy riff. That gives way to a laid-back verse led by Sam’s vocals with a flickering guitar riff creeping in, before cries of “Let it grow” feeds into more intense vocals that offer a glimpse of an upcoming chorus before quickly dropping into the opening riff.

Another laid-back verse builds up to a big catchy chorus of “Won’t play these games, You can’t pretend it’s all okay, I’m finding out how hard it is to stay, Won’t take your place, You wouldn’t do the same for me, And I can think of a thousand reasons to leave.”

A quick flurry of heavy guitars drop into palm-muted guitars and drawn-out bass lines, which give way to a fun stabbing guitar riff that feeds into a final chorus. That brings the track to a big energetic ending before closing on heavy guitars and drums.

On the track, Harry told us: “WHY-PHY has been awesome! We’ve really been blown away by how positive the response has been – we’ve had people who we’ve never met messaging the page to say that they love the track. With it being a lockdown release we weren’t sure what to expect, but it’s become our fastest growing track to date. On top of that, it’s crazy to think that despite not being able to gig we’ve actually managed to grow our fanbase.

“We started this band wanting to have fun and a bit of a laugh, and that’s what WHY-PHY is: big choppy riffs, a catchy-bouncy chorus, and the odd reference to 21/22 Jump Street for good measure.” Check it out below:

Prior to that track, the band released Without It last year, which opens up with a fun little riff that feeds into an energetic verse. That feeds into a fun singalong chorus of “And I Lost control without it, And I’m soo tired, And I sound so divided, And I’m so tired.” Check it out in the video below:

Before that, the band released excellent debut EP Headway in 2019, which includes cracking tracks like lively opener Mercedes, a personal favourite Long Way Home, and the more laid-back Polar, which evolves into a big catchy track. All of which followed engaging debut track Spark, which you can check out in the video below:

A major influence on the Switchdown sound has been Lower Than Atlantis, which the band tell us have been instrumental in them blending pop-punk and alt rock and developing cool riffs. While Arcane Roots were influential in helping the band develop a big sound with just the three of them as opposed to their previous four-piece bands. While grungey bands like Dinosaur Pile-Up and Fangclub have also been big influences.

And on what inspires their music, Harry explains: “The live scenario definitely plays a big part in our writing process. We’re always asking the question ‘Ok this is cool, but how can we make it really fun to play live?’, which tends to mean looking for that riff that we can play loud and jump around to. With that sort of emphasis on the music, the lyrics tend to come second – but that’s where we like to draw from our own personal experiences to inject a little bit of honest relatability.

“So say with Long Way Home, that was written around the time that we were going through the often disheartening post-uni job hunt. Or, in contrast, WHY-PHY rose from the time we all watched 21/22 Jump Street and spent weeks speaking in film references – much to the annoyance of our friends and family.”

Switchdown are hopeful of getting back into the studio later this year and have been busy writing music throughout the ongoing pandemic. They’ve also got gigs in the work, including the recently announced show at The Soundhouse in Leicester on 24 July, for which tickets are here. They’ll also be releasing a limited series of vinyls for their most recent two singles, which plays into the band’s DIY ethos.

As Harry says: “DIY and involving our friends is a big part of Switchdown, so we’re working with a group of our arty friends to reimagine the artwork for each of the vinyl sleeves. An artist will be drawing/painting/sticking etc… on 2/3 sleeves each, so each one should come out fairly unique. It’s really exciting to think what everyone’s going to come up with. Sticking with that sort of theme, we may even be in talks with some friends to collaborate on a new piece of merch.”

“Something we love, and that we’re really proud of, is that we get to create and do all of these cool things with our super talented friends. The filming of our last two music videos was more of a massive hang out session than work; with Harry’s brother, George, operating the camera, our mate Mitch, who we met at a gig, providing the lighting, and our good friends James and Nikki sorting out the food and any other job that we couldn’t do. Naturally, we can’t help but get stuck in as well with things like editing and artwork designs, but we owe so much to our friends.”

You can follow Switchdown on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and check out their music on Spotify, Bandcamp, Soundcloud and YouTube.

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