Six Of The Best: Swine Tax | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Newcastle alt-rockers Swine Tax return follow up their excellent recent release, Relax, with another Barry Hyde (The Futureheads) produced single, in the form of Johnny. The track is a much groovier, moodier affair with notes of BRMC, The Smiths and Young Knives and is about reflection on the state of mind with someone who has an addiction. It’s a cracking song filled with engaging lyrics and sonic textures that demonstrate what accomplished songwriters the band have become.

Here, Charlie (drummer) give us six of the band’s garage rock inspirations…

Hello, it’s Charlie from Swine Tax! We’ve just released our new single Johnny, a motorik stomper inspired by early garage rock. Without further ado, here’s a list of some of our favourite garage rock tracks that inspire us…

Los Saicos – Demolición (1964)

In the early 60s when The Beatles were writing love songs about holding hands, Peruvian proto-punks Los Saicos were writing rebellious songs about smashing up train stations. The anarchic lyrics (even though it’s in Spanish) and the riffs appeal to me a lot more than other bands from the same period of history. The first time I heard this track I must’ve been about ten or eleven and my dad had it playing in the car while we were on our way to Wet n Wild water park in North Shields. Every time I hear this track, I am instantly transported through time to the tender age of ten, floating through the lazy river in a rubber ring, trying to avoid the many floating soiled plasters and chlorinated radgies. Demoler, demoler, demoler, demoler! Echemos abajo la estación del tren! 

The Velvet Underground – I’m Waiting for The Man (1967) 


This song has definitely been a lyrical inspiration for our latest single, Johnny. Both songs tell the story of a character escaping their monotonous existence by taking drugs, and I think that Lou Reed’s approach of writing about the city’s marginalised underbelly was something that interested us. I really like how the beat throughout the song never changes, giving it a real sense of direction, which allows you to focus on the words which tell the vivid story of an unhealthy routine. The guitar tone is so sharp and mean sounding and when paired with the discordant piano towards the end of the song it evokes a real sense of unease. 

Osees – Dreary Nonsense (2020)

Osees (AKA: Oh Sees, OCS, Thee Oh Sees etc…) are a big band favourite at the moment – the volume of their musical output is incredible so there’s always plenty of new bangers to listen to. You can hear a lot of John Dwyer’s old band Coachwhips in Osees and I especially enjoy the fine line they walk between garage rock and psych. After watching the rehearsal video they uploaded earlier in the year I was eagerly waiting for Protean Threat and I wasn’t disappointed when the album dropped in September. It’s full of energy and experimentation making it a thoroughly enjoyable listen. It’s not my favourite album from them, but it has some really strong songs and was subsequently followed with some terrific live shows such as this performance of Dreary Nonsense – my standout track off of the record. We’ve definitely been taking a leaf out of Osees’ book lately, when it comes to writing fast, short and to the point songs, but we’re yet to get under two minutes! 

The Blackmen – L’urlo Negro (1966) 

This track is a recent discovery for me, thanks to stumbling across the original material from Mondo Cane, a cover album consisting of reworks of 60s Italian pop music arranged and performed by Mike Patton (Mr. Bungle, Faith No More, Fantômas and literally hundreds of other projects). L’urlo Negro translates to ‘The Black Scream’ and is an energetic and eerie garage stomper consisting of two contrasting parts. The A section is a tense build up with vocals delivered with a harsh bite and continuous floor tom gallop whilst the B section is an anthemic pop chorus alleviating the tension fashioned in the verse section. The juxtaposition of the two sections works well and I find that it just makes me laugh because it’s so unexpected and out of the blue. There is certainly a lot to be said about the harsh-verse-poppy-chorus structure that we have used in some of our newer unreleased music – so keep an ear out!

The Dirtbombs – Ever Lovin’ Man (2008)

Mick Collins has been a prominent figure in the Detroit Garage rock scene since the 1980’s, probably most well-known for his garage rock outfit, The Gories. I’m really into one of his other bands, The Dirtbombs, at the moment. They have a weird sound because they often play with two drummers and without a bass player, although they have Ko Melina playing a baritone guitar caked in fuzz nowadays. Collins sings with a lot of soul in his voice, influenced by growing up in Detroit at the height of Motown Records. The energetic garage-punk songs with a more soulful rather than distorted vocal is a cool dynamic and gives them a unique sound which first got me interested. I’d recommend watching the whole Amoeba live show on YouTube, you won’t regret it!

The Sonics – The Witch (1965)

The Sonics, often championed as the first pioneers of garage rock, are another band favourite. I’d wager that most people playing garage rock, including those I have already mentioned, have spent loads of time appreciating The Sonics. That particular list includes Kurt Cobain, The White Stripes, The Cramps, Mudhoney, The Hives, the list goes on. There is so much about The Sonics I love; the simple structures, the aggressive barking vocals, the riffs… just an all-round great and original band. Their debut album was recorded live and with only mic capturing the entire drum kit, yet it sounds so big; we’ve tried and tried to get a similar sound when we demo new songs, but I suppose thanks to the digital age we haven’t come close. We’re planning to do live recordings when we are next in the studio to try and capture some of that desirable chaotic energy. 

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