Over the past couple of months, we’ve spotted a word (or rather a hashtag) popping up on Twitter when a few good people are tweeting at each other. That word is #UKSWELL. We thought we’d have a chat with Holy Roar Records co-founder and Pariso guitarist, Alex Fitzpatrick and see what all the fuss is about.
What is UK Swell?
“The million dollar question! I’ve been summing it up as, ‘A loose grouping of British heavy bands that don’t subscribe to any particular fashions, trends or OTT machismo.’ But equally it’s just a load of friends all helping each others bands out and promoting each others creativity.”
What bands inspired this spate of bands musically?
“It was wholeheartedly inspired by ‘The Wave’ (Defeater/Pianos Become The Teeth/Make Do And Mend/Touche Amore etc) in America. Just because we are a tiny island with a stiff upper lip, doesn’t mean we aren’t as good! It was however, initially, a total pisstake and a joke. The name came from Stu (other Pariso guitarist) on a walk with Bastions and myself to go and see a Harms Way/Nails/Rise and Fall gig.”
What bands are leading the pack?
“The ‘core’ is/was The Long Haul, Pariso, Kerouac and Bastions. But I really think it encompasses any good, tasteful heavy bands doing their own thing – from Hush in Glasgow, to run,WALK! in Winchester, to Veils and Crocus in Cornwall, to Rosa Valle in Middlesbrough, to Brontide, to Witch Cult, to Jackals, to ‘Swell Forefathers’, Rolo Tomassi. There are obviously way more other bands too.”
Where has UK Swell come from ideologically? Was it a reaction against anything in particular?
“I guess it was a just a few bands, roughly at the same time, realising that we all wanted to make heavy music without having to subscribe to neat little genre boxes, or cliches. It’s a reaction to macho bands being TUFF and serious and frowning too much, its a reaction to shows that have five bands on the bill that all sound the same, its a reaction to the whole, ‘Oh you cant do that if you want to be accepted by our scene!” mentality, and it’s a reaction to heavy bands not generally being able to play with lighter/indie/more progressive bands and vice-versa. Just do what the fuck you want as long as it has passion; as long as it’s fun; as long as it’s good artistically and sonically. I honestly cant believe that in 2011, when Ibiza synths are being smacked into heavy beatdowns and dubstep artists are sampling Korn (not that I think these things are good btw!), that there are still all these musical cliches and rules dictated by small-minded precious/precocious musical scenes.”
What are the common goals or characteristics of the bands involved?
“To have fun, enjoy each others company, help each other out in any ways possible and play shows! Anything else is a bonus. Oh and by leaving miserable egos at the door. Those are the ‘goals’ I guess. Characteristics – I don’t know really! I guess with the core four bands you could say they are all hardcore bands in a very loose sense, with non-linear song structures and an appreciation of bands such as Converge, Young Widows, November Coming Fire and stuff like that. Good tones, hopefully tasteful, a bit of thought and intelligence.”
What do you think the scene hopes to inspire?
“More interesting and diverse bills, more co-operation and collaboration, and a platform to call out bullshit on machismo, sexism, real violence at shows and other non-inclusive, anti-productive stuff.”
As well as running HRR, you’re also in Pariso you’re really practicing what you preach. How important is that to you?
“Oh, I don’t know! I try (or I think I try!) not to make a big deal out of it really. I release records because I love it and it’s all I know, and I play in a band and write music because I love playing shows, travelling, writing music and sorting artwork and merch ideas. It’s not any deeper than that really. Obviously Holy Roar is my job and Pariso is just for fun, so there is a distinction, but I really do just like music and making friends through music. If people dig all/any of it, then that validation is obviously nice… but it’s not what I do any of it for.”
Does it work as UK Swell or does it look better as #ukswell?
“Technology unfortunately rules the world and spreads ideas the quickest so #ukswell!”
A couple of the #ukswell bands Alex mentioned – run,WALK! and Crocus – are off on tour together with Lavotchkin across the UK in June 2011. You should definitely pop down to your local show. It’s going to be an awesome good time. We promise this.