- Lucy Brouwer
- 23 October 2009
Swimming - -Eagle Aviary
Swimming are a Nottingham-based five piece comprising John Sampson (vocals and guitar), Peter Sampson (drums and vocals), Andrew Wright (samplers and vocals), Jonathan Spittlehouse (guitar) and Blake Pearson (bass). Their post-rock influenced sound has been described as having the energy of the Pixies combined with the ambient soundscapes of Boards Of Canada, but they prefer the term 'Superhero Shoegaze'. Their debut album The Fireflow Trade was released earlier this year on their own Colourschool label.
Would you describe your music as post-rock or progressive? Or would you say it was something else?
We like to think we are more mainstream than either of those labels would suggest. We're influenced by a lot of post-rock bands and there are progressive elements to some of the songs but there are also simple melodies and harmonies and pop tunes. We've been compared to something like 50 bands or artists this year and enjoy reading some of the more creative descriptions that are out there - such as 'superhero shoegaze'.
The band was named after the fact that you used to rehearse after going swimming, and a lot of the song titles seem to have ocean and sea references. Do you think this love of water has had an influence on your sound?
Yeah of course. People see different meanings in the water imagery. It seems to resonate with so many bigger ideas, but we didn't really plan it. We were kind of drawn to that quality of the sound and feeling of being in water or the ways water is used. We used to make a lot of field recordings of drains, streams, swimming pools, the Channel, or a frozen pond and sometimes you get an emotional reaction listening back to them. The music reflects this little obsession we had and it spread almost subconsciously into the songs and then, up to a to a point, into the lyrics.
We've moved away from it a bit now as it was never meant to be too literal. You can only take a vague metaphor so far before people start to think you are actually singing about ancient oceans
You’ve done several headphone only gigs in Nottingham with binaural artist Dallas Simpson. Can you explain what these were and what they entailed? Do you have plans for any more?
Dallas is a legend. He is our link to the audience for these gigs. He puts tiny mics in his ears and sends what he hears to the audience who all wear headphones in another room. This means that you hear exactly what he hears as he moves around us playing in true 3D surround sound. We also strap a camera to his head and project that on a wall for the people to see what he sees. It's the best way to listen to ambient music so we play a more stripped down set. We did a little tour earlier this year and we have plans do it again this winter.
You’ve also had Dallas remix one of your tracks, although it could perhaps better be described as capturing his experience of listening to the component parts whilst out in the countryside. Did this influence your usual recording process?
That remix totally opened our minds to the potential of environmental recording in music - if done right. We used more of the binaural (headphone) recordings on the Pacific Title EP, but the freedom to record in other spaces carried into the album. We recorded instruments in old halls, outdoors, and used field recordings to create the ambience and space we wanted on the record. You don’t have to be limited to the studio or a computer.
You’ve played some unusual venues, including Lee Rosey’s Tea Room in Nottingham. What’s the weirdest venue you’ve played, or would like to play?
We had planned to have the album launch party at a planetarium. but it couldn't happen then for a load of reasons. One day we will do it. With a film that we make.
There seem to be a lot more bands coming out of Nottingham these days, but there doesn’t seem to be a particular sound common to any of them? Would you agree? Would you say that there's a healthy music scene in Notts these days?
There are loads of great bands coming out of Notts over the last year or so, FISTS!, Ronika, Pilgrim Fathers, Souvaris, The Cusp, Lone, No Lovers, Origami Biro, JCDecaux and First Blood are all ace. Amusement Parks On Fire's (who front man John has produced in the past) new album is gonna be amazing too. It's good there is no generic sound coming out.
Swimming play at the Tunnels Aberdeen on October 2nd, Nice’N’Sleazy, Glasgow on October 3rd and then support ILIKETRAINS on tour at King Tuts on October 17th.