On February 21st 2014, I travelled to The Asylum in Chelmsford with my older Brother, Joe, to see a band we have both been keen on since early 2011: Swivelman. Back in 2011, Joe played at Fusion in Chelmsford with his then band Bipolar Disposition. He met Duf, lead singer of Swivelman, because both of their bands were on the same bill. I was in the small but dedicated audience that night, and I remember Swivelman’s set like it was yesterday. I had never seen anyone play drums or bass in that way before. It was incredible. Their track The Lesson has been in my head ever since.
After seeing Duf and Ben play at The Asylum earlier this year, I contacted them and asked to interview them for an up-and-coming local magazine I had volunteered to write for. They kindly agreed to answer my questions, and I quickly drafted up an article from their responses. Since then, the aforementioned up-and-coming magazine has undergone some changes, which has resulted in my Swivelman article being made a bit redundant. Fortunately, I have this blog, and with their permission, I am now able to share with you as a fan rather than a journalist; an interview with Swivelman:
Since 2011, Swivelman have been bringing their intense and original sound to the eager ears of Essex. With their upcoming tour dates including a show at The Islington, London on March 21st, I dropped a few lines to lead singer/bassist Duf M, and drummer Ben Woolf to find out what’s driving this two-man musical momentum.
1. How did you become Swivelman?
Duf – We met at an acoustic gig at The Hole in the Wall in Colchester. I was Swivelman, just playing acoustic bass with fx and Ben was playing guitar for his mate’s band. He approached me after the gig and asked if I’d thought of getting a drummer. I’d been looking for a drummer that played like Danny Carey from Tool, so when he told me he was the drummer for the Tool tribute band reTool, I knew it had to happen.
2. What’s the meaning behind the band’s name?
Duf – It’s kind of like a shape shifting entity that appears in many guises, being transparent and adapting to its surroundings. A ‘Swivelman’ is not always the same but constant in its changing.
3. As a two-piece it seems like a brave decision to replace electric guitar with bass. What was your thinking behind this bold (but brilliant) move?
Duf – I love guitar, the intention was never to replace it, it was more a case of what could we do without it. I still mimic guitar with fx but I do generally favour the dirty filthy bass sounds and I’ve always loved the drum /bass relationship, so it feels right to want to highlight and accentuate that.
4. When people ask what style/genre of music do Swivelman play, how do you respond?
Duf – It’s like metal without the guitar riffs and screaming! It’s pretty dark!!
Ben – Ermmmm. … Come and see us play and you’ll find out. Bring your earplugs and goggles!!
5. What’s been your biggest achievement so far?
Duf – Making two instruments sound as big and noisy as we do.
Ben – Finding each other.
6. Who are your biggest influences? Do you both listen to the same artists?
Ben – Opeth, Porcupine tree, Katatonia, Karnivool, Tool, anything that Gavin Harrison plays on. We don’t listen to the same thing which is probably why it works so well.
Duf – Puscifer, A Perfect Circle, Tool, The Mars Volta, White Lies, Editors, The Doors, Led Zeppelin. As Ben said, it’s the influential differences that make it so interesting for us.
7. Do you find it difficult to convince people to come and see you play live?
Ben – We don’t know many people so not really!
Duf – I think it’s difficult to find the right audience and you rely heavily on promoters putting you on with the right, like-minded bands. I wouldn’t see it as having to convince people. It’s nice to play to a crowd but I’d rather play to one person that’s digging it than a packed room expecting pub covers.
8. Are there any other Essex bands that you’re a fan of?
Ben – The 38 Snub, The Faceless Dolls, there’s actually loads of good bands in Essex and we are friends with a lot of them. There’s a good scene of alternative hard edged music here!!
9. Where would Swivelman like to be in a year’s time?
Ben – 2nd album/EP recorded and released possibly same case for the third. Touring support slots, decent festivals booked for the coming summer.
10. Do you have any advice for people who are considering starting a band?
Duf – Stay true to what you believe, write music you enjoy but always try to be original and progressive.
Ben – If it stops becoming the best thing you do outside your home life give it a miss…
If you’re interested in hearing what Swivelman have to offer, visit their facebook page for music and a full list of live dates.