RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW LEEDS BAND SWIM WEAR
What made you decide that music is a thing for you?
Iwan: I saw The Struts in East Village Arts Club when I was 13, and realized that that’s all I wanted to do.
Ned: As someone who has learning difficulties and hyperfocus, my parents wanted me to learn an instrument to help streamline my brain. Music was something that just latched onto my brain and has been stuck there ever since.
Matt: My dad had a compilation CD in his car called Ultimate Experience, and it absolutely blew my head off. I remember sitting there after 6 hours of driving to Somerset and listening to Burning of the Midnight Lamp cause I didn’t wanna get out the car.
Introduce us to you and your musical history.
Iwan: My name’s Iwan, and myself and the bassist of Swim Wear (Rob) went to school together. We played together in a county guitar ensemble. We both liked indie music, so when Rob joined me at uni in Leeds I knew he just had to be in the band.
Ned: My name’s Ned, and I first picked up a pair of drumsticks when I was 7. I come from a family of musicians and music seemed like a natural progression for me. I grew up on prog rock and heavy metal, which makes my progression to an indie rock band all the more strange!
Matt: My name’s Matt, and I come from a music obsessed household. I started playing guitar when I was 7 and I followed it through all the way to uni. It was here that I met Iwan during one of our guitar classes.
What was life like for you before music?
Iwan: I started guitar at 7 so I don’t have much of a memory of life before music. But, I’m pretty sure I wanted to be a power ranger. Specifically, the blue one.
Ned: Same as Iwan, except I wanted to be Ben 10!
Matt: I’m in the same boat as Iwan!
What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?
Iwan: The Rolling Stones’ cover of Not Fade Away, because I was listening to bands like McFly at the time and obviously that sounded very different.
Ned: Has to be Ruby by Kaiser Chiefs, it’s the first song I remember hearing in my life.
Matt: The first track on that Ultimate Experience CD! I think it was Watch Tower.
Where do you feel you currently sit within the music industry?
Iwan: I feel like I’m sat where most people in the industry are sat. The job that pays the bills is a job I don’t want a career in, but I hope that with enough hard work, that’s a position I can change.
Ned: I think we’re at a position of every act trying to make it big in this industry. It’s a tough place to be in but I refuse to be put off by it.
Matt: I think we’re sat very much at the beginning. However, I’m very grateful to just be able to play guitar in a band with my friends.
What’s the biggest thing you have learned from someone else in the industry?
Iwan: I was speaking with somebody in a more established band who told me not to rush into management until I’d found somebody who could genuinely manage the band better than I could. Whilst I was skeptical at the time, having taken his advice I think he was absolutely right.
Ned: A professional drummer once told me that speed and technique on the drum kit is subservient to the song. This helped me open up my mind to how I play drums and allowed me to better myself in my songwriting capabilities.
Matt: My vocal teacher told me to only ever do music because I wanted to and not because I thought I needed to prove anything to anyone else.
Tell us Two truths and a lie about you.
Iwan: I have a second dan black belt in taekwondo, I got all my stuff nicked while skinny dipping in Barcelona, and I’m fluent in three languages.
Ned: I have a gold medal from the Regional South Swimming Competition, I caught a pair of Gavin Harrison sticks, I did trampoline for four years
Matt: I was scouted for the Everton Youth Team, I was almost run over by John Mcclure of Reverend and the Makers, I’m an enormous country music fan.
If you could wish for one thing to aid your career what would it be?
Iwan: I’d like to be given a shot. Whilst I understand the volume of artists that feel the same, I feel that hard work in this industry can still go largely unnoticed and unappreciated.
Ned: I’d like for a representative from a big label to sit down and listen to our songs.
Matt: I’d like a massive support slot on a nice chunky tour.
Do you ever worry about people taking things the wrong way or cancel culture?
Iwan: No, I don’t. I think it’s obvious what I’m about and what I’m not. If people choose to misconstrue that, that’s a matter for them. I think that cancel culture is currently one of the most toxic traits of creative industries at the moment, and I like to think that any fan of ours knows better than to partake in it.
Ned: I’m sceptical of cancel culture and its benefits. While it has done some good things, I generally believe that the trait of knocking someone down or shaming someone for having a different opinion or perspective is toxic and ugly. As for our band, if someone’s going to try and take us apart and try find some misconstrued meaning in a song or something about our characters, that is something for them to deal with.
Matt: The only thing I worry about is where I’m going for my pint on Friday.
Do you sign up for any conspiracy theories? If no why not?
Iwan: If you consider believing in aliens to be a conspiracy theory then yes I do. Because if you have any concept of how big the universe is, to believe that we are the only living species is ridiculous.
Ned: I think that the Kirkstall McDonalds is hiding something big. It can’t keep claiming to be 24 hour and keep closing at midnight! What is it hiding?
Matt: I have a small brain; I don’t think deeply!
What was the worst experience on stage?
Iwan: (in complete unison) The first time we played The Jacaranda!
Ned: (in complete unison) The first time we played The Jacaranda!
Matt: I found our first gig in London particularly difficult. I was so physically tired that I struggled to perform to a level I was happy with.
Tell us something about you / each member that you think people would be surprised about.
Iwan: I’ll answer for Ned. For somebody that is such a fucking animal of a drummer, Ned is reliably level-headed and always seeks to serve the music over himself.
Ned: I’ll answer for Matt. For me, it’s his insistence to cook incredibly healthy meals and then complete throw it away with all the beer he drinks! He’s like a bottomless pit for alcohol!
Matt: I’ll answer for Iwan. For someone so pragmatic and scientific, he’s a very emotional person! We always have lots of development department meetings!
What makes you stand out as a band/artist?
Iwan: I think that honesty is a pivotal part of Swim Wear. In the lyrics, this always translates as personal experiences that I feel lots of people can relate to, whilst in the image I feel that the reality of four friends making music together is always at the forefront.
Ned: For me, it’s our authenticity and musical character. With lots of artists I’ve seen they act on stage like they’re having the best time of their life, but it feels manufactured and fake. With us, what we do on stage and how we project ourselves through our songs and parts is what I feel makes us stand out
Matt: I’d say it’s our character and cheekiness. Some other bands put emphasis on their image in a very important way. For us I don’t believe we are trying to deceive anyone. What you see is what you get.
I hear you have new music, what can you tell us about it. What was the recording process like?
We feel it is the most authentic music we’ve ever made. It is the product of so much hard work by both us and close friends, which has resulted in a body of work of which we are uniquely proud and can’t wait for everyone to hear!
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes? Would you change anything now it’s finished?
Iwan: I feel that the recording of this single has completely changed my mind on the subject of home recording. Whilst I was dead against the idea to start off with, I feel that it has allowed me a level of control that I would never have had working with an external producer, and the end result is a song I could not be more proud of.
Ned: For me, it’s been learning how to put my ideas forward in a context that the other guys understand. I don’t play guitar so I’ve been using my perfect pitch to convey what I want harmonically to the other guys. All I’d go back and change is my guitar-playing abilities.
Matt: The biggest learning curve for me has been learning how to use my singing voice in a more restrained way, and understanding how backing vocals all fit together.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
Yes absolutely! We can now announce that we are releasing at least two more singles this year, and we cannot wait for you to hear them.