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While their peers were writing songs about daydreams, flowers, and ocean waves, shoegaze pioneers Swervedriver married their extraterrestrial guitar tones and dazzled, swirling production to songs about cars, restlessness, and escapism. The band’s initial run in the ’90s produced some crucial documents in shoegaze’s development, in particular their 1991 full-length debut Raise and its 1993 follow-up Mezcal Head. They disbanded in 1998 but regrouped a decade later, first playing a series of reunion performances before continuing to expand the parameters of their muscular take on shoegaze with new material like their 2019 album Future Ruins.
Swervedriver were formed in Oxford, England in 1989 by vocalists/guitarists Adam Franklin and Jimmy Hartridge, bassist Adi Vines, and drummer Graham Bonner. Fusing the swirling textures of the shoegaze aesthetic with the more traditional boundaries of pop, the group debuted with a series of brilliant EPs — Son of Mustang Ford, Rave Down, and Sandblasted — before issuing their full-length debut, Raise, in 1991. After a U.S. tour in support of Soundgarden, Bonner left the band, followed quickly by the departure of Vines; 1992′s Never Lose That Feeling EP, their strongest effort to date, initially appeared to mark the group’s swan song. But in 1993, Swervedriver returned; with the core of Franklin and Hartridge rounded out by new drummer Jez Hindmarsh, they released their sophomore LP, Mezcal Head. An import-only release, Ejector Seat Reservation, followed in 1995, and featured new bassist Steve George. In the fall of 1998, Swervedriver resurfaced with their fourth effort, 99th Dream, and the Wrong Treats EP followed in 1999. Bonner and Vines, meanwhile, continued as Skyscraper, and Adam Franklin recorded as Toshack Highway. Swervedriver were on hiatus for much of the 2000s, until an October 2007 announcement that the group would re-form and commence touring the following year. The next several years found Swervedriver — Franklin, Hartridge, and George, with Hindmarsh, Bonner, or, starting in 2012, newcomer Mikey Jones (Bolts of Melody, Heaven) on drums — sporadically touring and appearing at festivals internationally, as well as making an appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. The new single “Deep Wound” was released in the fall of 2013, and the group also announced plans for the arrival of a new full-length album in 2014. The album, titled I Wasn't Born to Lose You, eventually got pushed back to a release date of early March 2015 and was preceded by second single “Setting Sun.” The album would be Swervedriver’s fifth full-length studio long player and the band’s first since 1998′s 99th Dream. Following the album’s release, the band took a three-year recording break but did continue to gig. After concluding a U.S. tour in 2017 they recorded what would become their sixth studio album. Future Ruins was released in 2019 and saw the group moving away from the familiar and nostalgic reworkings of their ’90s sound in favor of more experimental writing and arrangement choices.
In 2020, Swervedriver publicly shared an alternate recording of their debut EP for the first time. They had been unsatisfied with their first attempts at recording the four songs that eventually made up their 1990 Creation Records introduction Son of Mustang Ford, so they quickly re-recorded what became the EP, but held on to the first, rejected sessions. To celebrate the 30-year anniversary of Son of Mustang Ford, the band pressed a limited vinyl run of the unreleased sessions under the new title Petroleum Spirit Daze. The pressing sold out immediately, and three years later they re-pressed more vinyl and made the recording more widely available. ~ Jason Ankeny