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

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Channelling the sounds of garage rock and post-punk, Newcastle’s Swine Tax have established themselves as one of the region’s most formidable bands. After a successful 2019 that saw the band share the stage with Bodega, The Futureheads and The Orielles and take their explosive live performances to Europe, BBC Introducing in the North-East made Swine Tax one of their tips of 2020. 

The band kick off their year with a new look line up, a new single (Browsing) and a single launch at Bobiks, Newcastle on Friday 31st January, so we caught up with them to find out more.

This year sees Swine Tax go from a three-piece to a four-piece with the addition of Euan Lynn on synth, guitar and vocals. How did this come about and what does he add to the band’s sound and dynamic?
Euan has been part of our live line-up since early 2019. He adds more melody and energy, and more political crack to the band WhatsApp. We’ve always used a few overdubs in our studio recordings, so it makes sense to have someone play those live and work to come up with fresh parts. Soundwise, our music has changed significantly since we first picked up our instruments. As we’ve started to figure things out, the music has become increasingly less bittersweet and a more sardonic and biting. With the newest material we’ve explored more garage-rock vibes, which suits us I reckon. The addition of a synth player also allows for a lot more sonic experimentation, which is cool.

Tell us more about your new single, Browsing. 
Well, it’s a slight departure from our previous singles.  Browsing was recorded at Blast Studios in Ouseburn by Alex and Olly and captures our live energy nicely. The track opens with a deadpan jazz-inspired section, before it abruptly bursts into life with a jagged and fervid post-punk groove. There’s an irate vocal delivery and the song is essentially about people who always choose to ‘sit on the fence’. Euan announces his presence properly with a big synth part and there’s plenty of birdsong on it too, cause why not?

Briefly describe the band’s songwriting process. 
Okay so, generally, it goes something like this: one of us brings an idea to band practice that they’ve come up with at home. Then we will improvise around that idea together as a band and try out various drum beats with some subconscious gibberish vocals over the top. After that, we’ll pick out various parts that we’ve improvised and suggest different ways we could go with it to make it into a song. Then we’ll try some of those ideas and all discuss and debate which ones are worth pursuing. After that, if most of us dig it, we’ll agree on a rudimentary structure and record that on our phones. Vince will then listen to that recording at home, write a more defined vocal part and maybe adjust the structure. After that, it’s a process of refining it and reworking it each time we practice until we’re all happy. The lyrics are usually the very last thing to come with one person writing most of them and a collaborative process of editing those words. We’ll usually have several songs on the go at once. It’s more fun than it sounds.

You were recently announced as one of BBC Introducing in the North-East’s tips for 2020. What does this year have in store for you?
We were dead chuffed about that! With us gigging so much last year, we didn’t really get into a groove with songwriting until the end of the year but now we’re properly getting down to it. We already have a couple of new songs that we’re going to refine, record and release. We loved touring and hanging out in Europe last year too so hopefully, we can get out there again and eat some tasty flammkuchen.

What can people expect from your single launch show at Bobiks on Friday 31st January?
Bags of energy, lots of new material, all the classics and plenty of daftness.  We haven’t played live for over two months, so we’re itching to get back at it. Bigfatbig are the support and are also one of BBC Introducing in the North-East’s tips for 2020. They’re a really exciting new band you’d be daft to ignore. Most of the tickets have been sold now, so don’t dither about!

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