Middlesbrough band SWEARS offer up a dark and brooding rock sound fused with elements of grunge, doom and pop, which they describe as “hot n’ heavy.”
The band started out with Joel Clayton and brothers George and Stephanos Louca writing a few early demos in the summer of 2017. They brought in a bassist, who was replaced with Tom Gingell to complete the lineup in 2019.
They’ve since honed a sound that they summarise as: “It’s a lot of fuzzy guitars and reverby vocals, with influences from grunge, punk, doom, and pop. When we started this band we had an idea that we’d do music a little more pop-orientated and accessible than in our previous bands. But as time has gone on and we’ve defined our sound, we’ve ended up becoming darker and heavier, both in terms of the music and in lyrical subject matter. But it’s been a natural progression, not really through any overt choice. “
Our latest taste of this is moody new single Believe It, which was released earlier this month. It opens up with stabs of bass then driving drums that feed into a dreamy opening verse of reverby vocals and high-pitched guitar. That’s joined by a fun riff for the faster chorus “I could rip this up, Kind of shake it down, But my head is fucked, When you’re not around, You can be on top, Looking down on me, A vicious time to stop, Too high to ever leave, And you better believe, And you better believe it.”
Another laid-back verse feeds into another dark but catchy chorus then little stabs of guitar and sweeping high-pitched vocals drop into a final blast of the chorus.
On the new track, they told us: “The reception has been great – probably better than we expected! We’ve had airplay on our local BBC Introducing program, as well as nationally on BBC Radio 6 Music and Amazing Radio, and internationally on Banks Radio Australia and Amazing Radio USA.
“It’s probably one of our most melodic, least shouty songs, but still arguably one of our moodiest. We spent a bit more time in the studio fleshing out the textures on the song with multiple guitar parts, backing vocals and percussion, so there’s more or a richness of depth to it sonically compared to some of our more punky material.”
The new track is the band’s first release since last year’s debut EP Seersucker, which includes the feisty Catacombs and Brain Dead, which opens up with a cool fuzzy guitar riff. But we particularly enjoy the lively Say Nothing. It opens up with a fun riff that continues as driving drums join in then drops into a verse of fast-paced vocals. A raucous chorus kicks in and flows into more fast-paced vocals through another verse.
Numerous repeats of “You’re too dead for living, I’m too alive to die” crawls to a stop. But it kicks back into life with driving drums and guitars under a screeching guitar solo, which tees up a lively conclusion to the track. Check it out in the video here:
SWEARS draw influence from a wide range of bands and musicians from all eras and genres. This includes traditional rock-based heroes like Jimi Hendrix, Ty Segall, Josh Homme, Dave Grohl, Arctic Monkeys, Nirvana, Turbowolf, Alice in Chains, Black Sabbath, The Doors etc. It also includes hip-hop and rap artists like Outkast, Tribe Called Quest, Tyler the Creator, Hieroglyphics, The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar, as well as older artists like Bill Withers and Marvin Gaye. They also cite Spaghetti Western movies, James Bond theme songs and, apparently, KEO Beer.
And on what inspires them to write music, the band tells us: “We never really set out to write a particular song in a particular way, we just write what sounds cool to us. Our songwriting tends to be quite fluid, usually beginning with an idea from one of us for a riff, a bassline, or a bit of melody. Lyrically we tend to focus on quite heavy themes, but draw inspiration from many places.
“Joel is the primary lyricist and they can come from things going on in his life, or the way he’s feeling, or things that are topical, such as politics or climate change or other news stories.”
There’s plenty more to come from SWEARS, including new music and live shows. As the band explains: “We’ve got a couple of other releases in the bank from our recording session at All Silk Recording Studio with the main man Ed Hall, so you should hear some new material from us soon!
“We want to throw a hometown release gig sometime in the near future, and we’re hoping to get back out on the road to tour and play some shows later this year or perhaps early next year. We’re also looking forward to making some more music videos – potentially expanding the SWEARSiverse (we’re trying to franchise our way to that Marvel money) – and coming up with other creative ways to promote our music and shows.”
And they add: “We put a lot of thought into coming up with interesting and often funny (or at least we think so) music videos that usually interlink in some way – which is what the SWEARSiverse thing is about – so check them out on our Youtube channel. Other than that, keep an ear out for our music and hopefully come see us live in a town/city near you soon!”