Interview with Austin Williams from Swim Deep
A quick geography and meteorology lesson for you, since that’s why you come to PeteHatesMusic. The Midlands are in central England. Its largest city is Birmingham, which receives rainfall on average about 180 days a year – basically, every other fucking day of the year! I don’t know if there’s a correlation between the gloomy weather and depression, but whether they mean it or not, Birmingham’s Swim Deep are out to make the world happy with their fantastic and happy pop music. The band burst onto the scene with a couple of amazing singles, and have an album on the way.
Although they haven’t been making music for too long, Swim Deep – consisting of Austin Williams (vocals), Tom Higgins (aka “Higgy”, guitar), Cavan McCarthy (bass) and Zach Robinson (drums) – have toured the UK several times, and are in Austin, Texas this week for South By Southwest. I caught up with singer Austin Williams, as he was doing what all rock stars do – ride a bus.
PeteHatesMusic (PHM): I’m not going to ask you those bullshit “why are you called Swim Deep” or “where did you meet” questions.
Austin Williams (AW): I’m very glad about that.
PHM: I did want to ask you about your fabulous music videos though. I noticed that all 3 of your videos involve cute girls, which I’m a big fan of. I assume you have something to do with this?
AW: Um, a little bit you know. Everyone likes it, I guess. You just want to project that kind of happiness in whatever form it comes across.
Swim Deep – Honey
PHM: So how do I get to be an extra for your next video?
AW: (laughter) Send an email to my manager I guess. Ya, it was great. We’re coming to Canada actually.
PHM: Oh are you? That was one of the questions I wanted to ask you guys. I saw you guys are coming over for SXSW, and wasn’t sure when you guys were popping up to Canada.
AW: I thought we were doing Canada. I hope we’re doing Canada.
PHM: I haven’t checked your tour schedule, but I hope you are, too.
AW: Maybe I should check it.
PHM: I love the warm guitar effects in both Honey and King City. I actually lived in England last year, and I wouldn’t imagine many bands would have warm, poppy music given the crap weather. How do you explain your nice, warm sound?
AW: Yeah. Well, I guess that’s why. Because there isn’t that good weather here. It’s a little bit crap and a bit bleak. So we’re making music that makes sense, so it kind of doesn’t reflect on what we’re doing but reflects on what we wanna do.
PHM: So if you guys lived in like Spain or California, you’d write dark, depressing music…
AW: Yeah, it’d probably be crap. We probably wouldn’t be releasing an album if we were in a nice place.
PHM: Both of your singles, King City and Honey, they both have just about a quarter of a million YouTube views – with probably about 10,000 from me alone.
PHM: Is the hype too much too fast? Is it scary or exactly what you want to have?
AW: No. It’s a healthy amount. But you’ve got to stay grounded. You can’t take it too seriously; otherwise it would be too much too soon I guess. You’ve got to keep it at the level that you think it is; the amount of believe that you think you have in it I think.
Swim Deep – King City
PHM: That makes sense. Your new single, The Sea, has another sea named track on it – a cover of Led Zeppelin’s Down By The Seaside. I would say their sound is pretty different different than yours – how did you arrive on a Zeppelin cover?
AW: Yeah, it’s very different. Well, we were just listening to that Physical Graffiti album, and it’s probably one of the best albums. We heard that song on there, it’s called Down by the Seaside. And I think we got a lot of fans that probably haven’t listened to Led Zeppelin yet, and haven’t taken the chance to understand what they were about. And I think they had such an important influence on pop music. It’s kind of like letting people listen to it again, you know? And I think it’s really a challenging song to do, as well, and it’s pretty fucked up with all the timing in it. It was really fun to do, so it was real nice to have it come off. It was real cool to learn a massive song, and put your own twist on it.
PHM: Definitely. Your debut album is out in May, is that right?
AW: Yeah, it is. Yeah.
PHM: Does it have a name?
AW: It does have a name. I’m not going to tell you though.
PHM: You cant tell me?!
AW: Ah no, sorry. Yeah, I nearly gave it away to Yorkshire Mail the other day, man.
PHM: No worries. What can we expect from it? Any slow ballads or 8 minute psychedelic Zeppelin jams?
AW: You know what, those 8 minute psychedelic jams got cut down a bit. Maybe we’ll save that for the third album. Expect what you know already, I guess, but with a little bit more. The production on the album, I’m really happy with it. It sounds really sonic, it’s really cool. There’s a couple of surprising ones on that one. But we wanted to keep it set with where we were at that point in time when we wrote these songs. We didn’t want to look ahead too much, you know?
PHM: Definitely looking forward to hearing it. So you guys leave for Texas not too long from now. What have you heard about SXSW?
AW: I’ve heard it’s amazing. I’ve heard it’s pretty long though. To get kind of anywhere, it’s a big walk or a drive. But, I’ve heard it’s amazing. Apparently we’ve got a swimming pool at our hotel, so pool party at our place!
Swim Deep – The Sea
PHM: Awesome! Do you have any Canadian bands on your iPod or stereo these days?
AW: I don’t, man. We don’t really hear much about Canadian bands. (Note: FOR SHAME!). I really like Arcade Fire. But I guess that’s the only one that people think they know from Canada, isn’t it. They’re from Canada – they are, aren’t they? I’m too afraid to look.
PHM: I’ll have to drop you a list of Canadian bands to check out.
AW: Yeah, you should man, you should.
PHM: There are definitely lots out there. Okay, last question. What bands would you recommend to our readers that they might not know?
AW: I would recommend a band called Splashh.
PHM: You guys just toured with them, right?
AW: Yeah, we have. They’re a great band.
PHM: Awesome, we’ll definitely check them out. Thanks for your time and definitely enjoy SXSW, it’s a pretty crazy week. And pop up to Canada soon.
AW: Definitely man, I look forward to it. Cheers man.
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Hopefully Swim Deep make some waves (sorry) at SXSW, and keep bringing their great music to this side of the Atlantic (specifically Canada). Keep your eyes out for their debut album in May, which is still nameless since I couldn’t coax it out of Austin.