We’re so often championing UK music that it’s always great to hear from bands across the pond. Enter Night Swims…
RECORD WEEKLY’S INTERVIEW WITH NIGHT SWIMS
Hi Michael, how are things?
Times are interesting. A lot to be excited about currently in our world. Playing a good amount of shows over these next few months, getting a lot of attention on the album. Feeling overall positive.
Introduce us to the band — when, how and where did you form?
The band consists of myself [Michael], and I’m the singer/songwriter and guitarist. David plays bass and guitar, Nathan’s on drums and percussion, and we also have our new guitarist, Tim.
We officially formed during summer 2020, though I spent a fair amount of time writing the material that makes up ‘Idle/Wild’ at the beginning of the pandemic in March that year. I’d known David for a little while by then and he worked with me early on in the spring to help with some of the demos I’d written. Shortly after that process began, it became apparent he should just be in the group. He eventually reached out to Nathan, who he’d played with in a previous band.
After rehearsing for a bit and elevating the songs, we went into the studio and recorded the album. I later reached out to Tim, who was a friend I knew from the music scene here in San Diego, and asked if he would like to join us. Since then, we’ve been able to really begin refining the live sound.
Which artists have been the most influential on your sound?
The most inspirational artists for us tend to bridge a lot of genres. I’d say that Jason Pierce of Spiritualized and Spacemen 3 is personally my biggest influence of all the musicians I grew up listening to, but there are tonnes of other English bands that inspired me from different eras. These include Jesus and Mary Chain, The Cure, The Verve, Blur, Pink Floyd, a lot of that sort of British Invasion stuff.
But there are also loads of American psychedelia, new and old, in the mix: The Brian Jonestown Massacre, 13th Floor Elevators, The Red Krayola, The Stooges, Suicide, etc. I’m also a huge fan of solo artists like PJ Harvey, Björk, AA Bondy, Townes Van Zandt, Van Morrison, and a lot of country and folk musicians. I’ve also been heavily influenced by R&B and soul — contemporary and classic — like The Temptations, The Isley Brothers, Otis Redding, Teddy Pendergass, The Ojays, and so on.
Man, I love all kinds of music, so I like to believe I can draw inspiration anywhere. I’m also a huge hip-hop and rap fan. I love Freddie Gibbs, Biggie, Nas, A Tribe Called Quest, Tyler, the Creator, and Kendrick Lamar. Though one of my favourite artists from the past ten years is easily Frank Ocean. His music speaks to me in a very intimate way. He is all over our latest record, in ways people might not hear…
What has the impact of the pandemic been on Night Swims? Can you outline the pluses and minuses?
As I eluded, we formed during the pandemic, so if anything, it took a lot of pressure off trying to rush things and start playing. We kind of did it all a little out of order; we wrote an album first and then started playing.
Honestly, though this was a terrible time for a lot of people, it was quite fulfilling for me to just have solitude and be able to completely concentrate without any real distraction. It also gave the band time to really become cohesive as far as playing with one another.
Talk us through the album then…
So, our debut album, ‘Idle/Wild’, is a very personal record for me. It’s a collection of stories from my life over the past 15 years. It’s filled with a lot of shit that I needed to work through and be able to address before I could move on to anything else.
I started writing these songs originally with the intention of it being a completely solo endeavour. I didn’t really want a band at the time. I didn’t write anything with other musicians in mind. My mom had just died and it spurred a lot of self reflection, and it forced me to be brutally honest with myself when writing the music. There is so much pain and sadness in the themes of the songs, but also hope and love because I was healing from my past and looking forward to my future.
As I mentioned, David and Nathan eventually joined later on as I realised that I wanted to bring the music to life in a way where I could no longer be the only voice on the record. Without those two, these songs never would have been elevated to the point that they were. They are both the most talented musicians I have ever worked with and I feel so fortunate that they wanted to be a part of getting this thing to where it landed.
Before Nathan came on, David and I actually recorded the whole album. We rented a cabin in Idyllwild, California, and, for nine days, we did the whole thing with some other musicians lending their talents. But, ultimately, it came down from the mountains and we realised we didn’t have the album we wanted. So, we went back to the drawing board, had Nathan come on as our permanent drummer, spent another five months with the songs and entered Singing Serpent Studios in the fall of 2021. We hired Ben Moore as our engineer and he became our de-facto producer as well.
We kept a few things from the Idyllwild sessions but ultimately re-recorded 95% of the album with Ben. He was another piece that was added that just really helped to bring out the best in us as musicians. I’m very grateful for what he contributed.
After recording was officially complete Ben, David and I mixed the album and, in January, it was sent out to be mastered ahead of its release on 11th February. And that’s where you find us now; promoting this album that took the better part of two years to complete.
Fantastic stuff! Can you share what’s next in your sights?
We’re aiming to tour, play as many live shows as we can and just promote ‘Idle/Wild’ as much as possible. I’ve already begun the writing process for the next record, even before this first one was finished. I have a little more than 50 songs already in the works, but for now, I want the main focus to be getting these songs in a place where people can experience live what we did in the studio, in a different but exciting way.
I want to play bigger shows with bigger venues and eventually be at the point where we can have a full orchestra on stage with us. Plus, I want to also play overseas. Ultimately, I just aim to continue what I began in March 2020 and now have with the musicians I look at as my best friends.