MY INSPIRATION: Swine Tax | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Indie alt. rockers Swine Tax play the NARC. Green Room stage at Stockton Calling on Saturday 31st March. Frontman Vince Lisle tells us more about some of the band’s eclectic inspirations for their upcoming EP.

Hamlet – “Alas, poor Yorick!” scene (2014)
I’m pretty obsessed with Hamlet at the moment and often watch this fantastic adaptation (starring Maxine Peake as Hamlet) to wind down after playing a frantic Swine Tax gig. I find the primal power of the revenge story so compelling and constantly take inspiration from the way Shakespeare reveals Hamlet’s complex psychology through powerful use of language. We’re currently working on a sprawling new song which explores the essential theme of the play: the conflict between thought and action. Apparently Lou Reed was also fascinated by Hamlet and frequently referred to the play in his lyrics such as Goodnight Ladies on his Transformer LP.

De Artsen – Conny Waves With A Shell (1989)
Our friends in Dutch indie-rock band Canshaker Pi recently got us all listening to De Artsen – what a band! This beautiful and uplifting song is somewhat reminiscent of Pavement and early U2, however it still sounds fresh in a way that I can’t quite pin down. The rolling drums, shimmering guitars and overlapping vocal lines have influenced many a Swine Tax jam sesh and one particular new song – Never Ending – that will appear on our forthcoming EP. I always find it interesting to think of all the great music that’s out there and that it might even be decades before an album gains wide acclaim.

Charlie Chaplin – “Eating Machine” scene from Modern Times (1936)
I watch a lot of silent films. Charlie Chaplin’s comedies were a major inspiration for our recent Feels Like music video, which we put together on a shoe-string budget with our very talented friend Ste (one half of Teesside garage band Mouses). In this iconic scene from Modern Times, Chaplin’s character is forcibly fed bolts by a crackpot contraption intended to ‘eliminate the lunch hour’. It’s hilarious and its socio-economic message – that mind-numbing, exploitative labour dehumanises people – still feels relevant today (as Mike Ashley penalises his Sports Direct employees for having the audacity to need a piss at work). Essential viewing!

Yo La Tengo – And The Glitter Is Gone/Don’t Look Down – Pitchfork Session (2012)
As the sun is setting quite spectacularly over New York, Yo La Tengo give a 15 minute master class in how to make a sonically-interesting racket with just three people. This epic roof-top jam session, with its pounding rhythm section and expressive jazzmaster squeals, demonstrates why Yo La Tengo are still one of the most captivating bands around. As a three-piece ourselves, we always try to make the most of each musical element and keep the music as engaging as possible. We love jamming and find that being a trio allows us to be a bit more nimble than bands with four or more members. We generally spend our most of our practice time just improvising, fucking about and working through new ideas organically, which then tend to manifest themselves in different ways each time we play live.

American Honey (2016) – Film by Andrea Arnold
This is a remarkable film by writer and director Andrea Arnold about a travelling sales crew of teenagers that road trip across the American Midwest. I rarely re-watch films but I always find myself coming back to this immersive masterpiece. I love how the film has such a strong sense of place and is socially conscious, yet also very lyrical. This will seem like a fairly tenuous link then, but in our music we’re also increasingly trying to capture a sense of place and contemporary culture. Many of our musical influences come from the American college rock scene (think: Pavement, Modest Mouse, Dinosaur Jr.), but we’re very consciously trying to make music that feels current and is true to ourselves – we’re not aspiring to sound ‘vintage’. Some of the lyrics to our new songs are more political and sincere, but I hope they won’t sound too didactic.

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