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

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Whether you’ve listened to their music, caught them live or subconsciously seen their name postered across your favourite boozer’s wall, it’s a fair bet you’ve already encountered Swine Tax in some capacity. “I feel like a lot of people have heard of us now!” Says guitarist/vocalist Vince Lisle, reflecting on a whirlwind 18-month spree. “When you’re a new band the only way to get people’s attention is by putting yourself out there, but now that people have heard of us perhaps we can slow down a bit and only play gigs which are suited to what you do.”

It’s a notable change of pace for a group accustomed to playing three local shows per week, and this newfound focus is similarly reflected in their studio output. Indeed, having previously been confined to the frontman’s bedroom, this year has seen Vince, bassist Tom Kelly and drummer Charlie Radford decamp to Blank Studios, where they laid down the upcoming This Is Not A Band EP with Chris McManus. It’s a marked step-up – but then Swine Tax have never been a trio wanting for ambition.

“We’re almost fickle in our influences,” Vince admits. “I’ve been getting into a lot of Philip K. Dick novels recently, and I had a Hamlet phase – there’s a song on the EP that’s like a tongue-in-cheek modern-day retelling! Musically it’s influenced by Fugazi, Sonic Youth and Slint, but then there’s another track that’s quite poppy. We don’t really feel the need to reduce what we do. I think a lot of bands believe they need to distil their selling point and their sound to carve out a niche. I can understand that that’s easier to listen to, but I personally like songs which confound my expectations. You don’t want to alienate your existing audience, but I think we’re at a level now where we have the luxury of few expectations!”

I think a lot of bands believe they need to distil their selling point and their sound to carve out a niche, but I personally like songs which confound my expectations

This uncompromising approach can also be found in the group’s political convictions, and in particular lead track Tory Water; a stinging critique of less savoury industry figures, both on a national level and closer to home. As Vince reveals, however, this raucous verbal attack is far from humourless: “The title is a reference to those in power and what goes on in the micropolitics of a music scene, but it’s also a bit of an in-joke. I drink San Pellegrino as I don’t drink alcohol – but Charlie always takes the piss and says I’m drinking my Tory water again!”

Beyond the EP’s release and their biggest local headline show to date at Think Tank? on Saturday 14th July, the trio have further exciting plans having scooped a stint at Leeds’ Suburban Home Studio with Hookworms mainman and pre-eminent DIY kingpin MJ. “Our friends Dose have just recorded their debut single with him, so they put us onto him and we’re heading down for four days in October. I’m really interested in recording with different people. We’ve had a great experience with Chris, but while we did most of the EP in the studio I still took the tracks and recorded a lot of overdubs, guitars, synths and samples in my bedroom. It’ll be interesting not having that luxury; to see what the process is when we don’t have as much time. We’re looking forward to it.”

Swine Tax launch This Is Not A Band EP on Saturday 14th July with a gig at Think Tank?, Newcastle.

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