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 interview with Adam en route to Philly show
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Posted - 07/02/2009 :  09:57:49 AM  Show Profile  Visit bradsears's Homepage  Reply with Quote

June 30th, 2009
Interview: Adam Franklin

British singer-guitarist Adam Franklin is perhaps best known for fronting the propulsive '90s U.K. guitar-rock juggernaut Swervedriver, which reunited last year for a brief U.S. summer tour that swung through the TLA. Franklin's been involved in myriad musical projects over the past decade-plus, from Magnetic Morning (the band he shares with Interpol drummer Sam Fogarino) to the Robin Proper-Sheppard-fronted indie-rock collective Sophia to Franklin's own Toshack Highway and a solo career under his own name, with backing band Bolts of Melody. That latter outfit comes to the Troc on Wednesday night (opening for the Church) behind the recently released gem Spent Bullets, which finds Franklin and company exploring thick, melodically compelling psych-pop with loads of guitar atmospherics and elegant, ethereal passages. We caught up with Franklin over the phone today as his tour van rumbled toward Philadelphia.

You've played Philly lots of times - any particular memories stand out?
Well, I suppose there was one time playing at the Khyber Pass when I was just doin' a little run up and down the east coast on the Amtrak, you know, doing these little solo shows, and I remember playing the Khyber Pass and then I had to catch the last train back to New York and somebody said, "Well, if you need a cab there's this certain guy in a pink CadillacŠ" or something. And eventually he pulled up and I could see him out the window as I was playing, and I sorta rounded up the set and said, "Well, my ride is here," and I packed up my guitar really fast and got in the cab. And I thought that was quite a good way to exit the show, you know?

I guess the other thing that sticks out, I guess the Troc was whereŠactually, two things happened at the Troc. We toured with Soundgarden, and we finished our set and we all sat next to the drum riser during their set, and there was one song in their set where Chris Cornell kinda does an acoustic thing and at the end, Matt Cameron, the drummer, just does this little kinda roll, and that's the end of the song. So I was sitting next to them and I said, "You know what, I think even I could play that drum part," and Matt said, "Yeah man, you should do it, you should do it," and him and Ben Shepherd sort of pushed me up to the drums, and actually I did do that roll to finish off the song. So technically I can say that I have actually played drums live on stage with Soundgarden.

That's pretty cool. What's the worst thing that's ever happened to you in Philly? Any calamities?
Well the massive calamity was I guess a couple years later Swervedriver played with the Smashing Pumpkins and I think that was also the Trocadero, and before the show we were sitting around, I guess the Pumpkins were soundchecking, and we were having a beer and smoking a cigarette and Jez, our drummer, smoked a cigarette and he was putting it out in the ashtray and the ashtray exploded and his hand was pretty badly injured.

It exploded?
Yeah, the story wasŠwell, what we were told was that Gibby Haynes and the Butthole Surfers had played the previous night and Š

Uh ohŠ
Yeah. I dunno, he had some sort of live ammunition he was firing in the air or somethingŠI dunno. And then the cleaning lady had come 'round and picked up this stuff and she put it in the ashtray, which is probably not somewhere you'd put, you know, gunpowder.

Yeah, not so much!
So we ended up playing a bunch of slow songs and Jez literally had his sticks gaffer-taped to his hands, and then afterwards he was taken to the hospital. Luckily the Pumpkins had canceled the next night's show, so it gave him a chance to recover, but it was pretty calamitous.

No kiddin'. Obviously you're playing the Troc again tomorrow, so I guess that room has some ghosts for you.
Yeah, yeah, I guess so.

How's this tour been going so far? Are the songs and the band really jelling now? Did it take a few shows to get into the groove of playing, or did you hit the ground running?
I think we hit the ground running. I mean, it's a different sort of lineup.

Oh yeah, tell me about the lineup you have now.
It's Locksley Taylor, he's from SIANspheric, he's playing guitar. He's been playing guitar with me for a few years. Josh Stoddard on bass. And then the drummer is Mikey Jones, who plays in Josh's band the Still Out, from New York. So we flew out to San Diego and had three days' rehearsal and it sounded great, and that first show, everyone thought it was probably the best sort've Adam Franklin and the Bolts of Melody show yet, which is cool. And we did the whole run up the West Coast, up to Seattle, and then unfortunately Josh injured his foot - he broke his foot and he's actually flown home to Nashville for surgery. So we were a bit concerned who was gonna play bass, but we got this kid Craig Wilson, who's the keyboardist in the Church, to play bass. He was already playing keyboards with us on one of the songs, so he came with us in the van for a day and learned the set, and we had a two-hour rehearsal in Chicago, and he's been doing pretty good so far.

That's good. I've seen a few clips from the tour on YouTube - it's cool to hear how some of the songs have evolved from the recordings. You feel pretty good about the new life these songs have taken on?
Definitely, yeah. The live thing's always a bit different from the studio, and I always think they should be approached in different ways. You can have more instrumentation in the studio, and then you figure out a way of doing all of that live, and some of the songs you change the arrangements here and there, but I think it sounds pretty good. I guess I should check out YouTube because I didn't realize there was stuff out there already.

Oh yeah, people are on it. So over the past year you've gone between a lot of projects - the Swervedriver reunion, Magnetic Morning, your solo stuff, SophiaŠis it easy to separate the moods and demands of each project, or do they in any way bleed into one another or influence each project?
Well, I think there's a basic element which is consistent there, which is that it's me - it sounds obvious, but it's me playing the same guitar through more or less the same amplifier configuration [laughs]. But certainly I've never suddenly burst into "Rave Down" during a Sophia set or anything like that [laughs].

Well no, but as far as the moods go, do you look at them all as separate, distinct outlets or is it all part of a whole?
Well, I think it's good to tap into all those different vibes going on in all those bands. The first time me and [Swervedriver bassist] Steve George did a Sophia tour back in 1998 or '99, whatever it was, I think that year we did two or three Swervedriver things in the States and a thing in Australia as well, and that was always much more a full-on, crowd-going-crazy thing, you know, while we're up onstage rocking out, and in between we were doing Sophia in Europe and at that point Sophia was a sort of sit-down band cause Robin liked it that way that we were all sittin' down onstage, so it was quite a contrast, back to back - one minute you have people jumping up and down and then you're playing a room in France or Germany and playing this quiet music. But it keeps things more interesting, you know?

When you're working on a record, are you conscious of the fact that there's an audience out there that will eventually hear it, or are you just sort of getting things out from inside of you and not thinking about how others will react to it?
Hmm, I think ultimately you remain true to yourself creatively. But at the same time I suppose you're aware that, you know, you think, "Well I guess people are gonna wanna hear me rockin' out on guitar, so perhaps we'll rock out a bit," or something. I dunno. I mean, I think you're definitely not doing it totally for yourself, you gotta have one ear out, you know?

Did the Swervedriver reunion play any part in the sound of this record? Not that it sounds like Swervedriver, really, but there are some of those familiar guitar textures.
Well, it's interesting because the guitars were put on Spent Bullets after the Swervedriver tour and I think some of the guitars are quite heavy. But it's all in your definition of "heavy" or "rockin'," I suppose. Some people have called the album "mellow." I mean, I dunno, I didn't consciously map everything out or plan it to sound any particular way in that sense - it's all sort of slightly subconscious, you just sorta get a feel for what's right. I think if everything was really charted out too much, there wouldn't be anything there to surprise yourself with.

When you were first starting out, either making albums or playing live, did you try more to plan things out and make everything go as you intended? Was that more of a concern 15 or 20 years ago?
Yeah, I think maybe where you're younger you can't just improvise so well. When it came to my solos I pretty much played the same sort of solo that I'd worked out beforehand, whereas every night [Swervedriver guitarist] Jimmy Hartridge would go off on a different tangent. I used to think, "How the hell is he doing that?" It was something I wasn't able to do, but eventually I learned how to improvise and solo as well.

Was that something the two of you talked about and worked on, or did it just naturally evolve?
I think it just came from watching and hearing what Jimmy was doing and realizing that he was keeping within his theme but sorta going crazy on stuff. There's a Swervedriver song called "Laze it Up" and I think Jimmy's solo on that was quite a revelation to me at the time. I was like, "Wow, what the hell are you doing there?!" I guess even at that point, that solo kind of blew me away.

So was it just a matter of developing the confidence to take risks?
Well, I mean, because it is live, it goes by in a second, and I think it's good to take risks and do something a little crazy every now and then.

What do you have planned once this tour wraps up?
Well, we're gonna try to do some more recording over the summer, because there's more touring in the fall - some Sophia stuff and more Bolts of Melody stuff, and some Swervedriver stuff as well. I think we're gonna be doing the All Tomorrows Parties thing.

Oh yeah, I saw that - the My Bloody Valentine-curated one.
Yeah. So some more stuff going on, and I think some more Magnetic Morning stuff as well, later on. So I'm keeping busy.

Are you in writing mode now?
Yeah, there's a bunch of ideas, so I'm just trying to figure out the best way to go about doing all of those things.

Man, it must be nice to know that you have all these ideas flowing all the time and all these projects to work on - I'm sure you've watched a lot of your peers and friends struggle to keep their art and their bands going.
Yeah, it's cool, there's always a stockpile of tunes, really. Some of the stuff you gotta go backŠit might be five years old, and it didn't make sense at the time or whatever, and you've gotta figure out a way that it will make sense, so, it's always quite interesting.

Any chance of more Swervedriver shows, aside from the ATP thing?
Well, there'll be a couple more shows around that, over in England. Nothing's in the works for the U.S. right at the moment. I really know about as much as you do about that. It's reallyŠit just sort of hovers in the air.

Adam Franklin & Bolts of Melody - along with the Church - play the Troc on Wednesday, July 1st, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $28.50-$32.

Adam's 'All Happening Now' 36 songs project

New Swervedriver music

AF & BofM Band Camp - http://adamfranklin.bandcamp.com/
Adam Franklin Sound Cloud - https://soundcloud.com/adam-franklin
Twittter - https://twitter.com/SwervedriverUK

Assistant Driver

156 Posts

Posted - 07/02/2009 :  12:51:45 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
What do you have planned once this tour wraps up?
Well, we're gonna try to do some more recording over the summer, because there's more touring in the fall - some Sophia stuff and more Bolts of Melody stuff, and some Swervedriver stuff as well. I think we're gonna be doing the All Tomorrows Parties thing.

Oh yeah, I saw that - the My Bloody Valentine-curated one.
Yeah. So some more stuff going on, and I think some more Magnetic Morning stuff as well, later on. So I'm keeping busy.

Now thats what I call good news... nice!
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