To Feel Good: Swim Deep Re-Group For A Fine New Album
Swim Deep haven’t released a body of work in a few years, which is why the release of their third album ‘Emerald Classics’ is all the more significant. It is also the first album from the band since their line-up change (with ex-Childhood drummer Thomas Fiquet and Robbie Wood replacing two original members, Tom Higgins and Zach Robinson).
When Clash speaks to frontman Austin Williams, he is trying on jumpers at Portobello Road Market in London. He says he is “good” and we believe him, especially as it’s album release day for Swim Deep.
“It feels quite exciting,” he goes on to say. “Really exciting. I’m proud of us. It was done independently, on a small budget.” (The album has been released on Swim Deep’s newly formed label imprint Pop Committee via Cooking Vinyl.) When asked just how small the budget was he elaborates: “Nothing. Pure favours really.”
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Swim Deep’s debut album ‘Where The Heavens Are We’ was met with much acclaim, whilst the following release ‘Mothers’ was much more experimental. And then there was a self-induced hiatus.
Post-hiatus, the band are now back and ready to get back in the game. They promise that these are their most fully-fledged pop songs to date. ‘Emerald Classics’ is personal. It’s based on the band’s life experiences, although there were a lot of musical influences too (“obviously”). They focused on “real stories”.
“The main thing was the lyrics and [making a] statement. [We] worried about sounds after,” he explains.
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‘Emerald Classics’ certainly makes a statement, with the first single taken from it ‘To Feel Good’ being gospel-infused yet gritty. It’s a million miles away from songs on their first album. Meanwhile, other songs like ‘Bruised’ are blissful. It’s always hard to pick a favourite track from an album you love and it was no different for Austin.
“I guess it changes every day. At the moment, it’s ‘Top of the Pops’. It’s about fulfilling your mother’s dreams.” When comparing ‘Emerald Classics’ to their previous albums, ‘Mothers’ and ‘Where The Heaven Are We’, ‘Emerald Classics’ is described as “a lot more of a labour of love. It took a lot more out of us. The others were quite easy. The last year has been the most fun I’ve had in the band.” The album-making process, on the other hand, was “arduous.”
The band faced obstacles in the form of line-up changes and hitting the wall creatively, but it all worked out eventually with perseverance and there was a message to be learned for them. “I was writing over a few years and writing a lot every day. Some of it just wasn’t hitting. But when we came together as a unit, it was really rewarding. [It goes to show that] you can’t just admit defeat.”
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This album was recorded on the South East Kent coast over a period of three weeks with Dave McCracken producing (Ian Brown, Beyoncé). It feels like an evolution but also a rebirth for Swim Deep, but what does ‘Emerald Classics’ mean to Austin? “It’s a love letter to what made you and broke you and stuff. [It’s about] Birmingham, where I grew up, and the realities there.”
An honest, introspective album, it also feels like a glimpse into where they are going as a band. A new line-up can sometimes prove tricky but in Swim Deep’s case it was “easy” because “we needed them. They came over and gave us the energy we needed as new members so it was really fun”. They embraced the new members with open arms and used them to get the most of them.
The new additions also, inevitably, affected the band’s sound in a very positive way: “They’re both multi-instrumentalists and into songwriting. They helped me become better.”
Austin explains that he feels supported having two other songwriters in the band. Releasing an album is exciting enough but there is the added excitement of touring the album too.
Swim Deep have played a few shows recently but their tour officially starts this weekend. When asked what’s next for the band Austin answers: “More music, touring, trying to conquer the world...”
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'Pop Committee' is out now.
Words: Narzra Ahmed
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