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Swerve City - Interview with Swerve City

19 Aug 2020 // An interview by Investigator

Swerve City are one of the greatest rock acts to come out of Auckland in recent times. They possess a sound that blends melodic rock with the undertones of metal and pop sensibilities. Described as blistering, expressive and composed, there's a lot on offer with each new track they release.

Adrian Drew from Muzic.net.nz sat on the other side of a computer typing away to frontman JP Carroll about this exciting new band that's causing the Aotearoa rock scene to explode.

Recently you've been pumping out some great music under your solo project, Arrays. Then, what seemed to come out of nowhere, you announced a new band you're fronting, Swerve City and drop a bad ass cover single to boot!

Hey, thanks!

It seems like a rather serendipitous band formation, how did it come about?

As the story goes, Adam hopped in an Uber that Kev was driving around the same time that Kev and I had been working up some riffs. Then we got Shannon involved and we found all the funny connections between the band members. It's a small world, and an even smaller country I guess! But makes for a cool story.

Some bands like to keep the origin of their name a secret. Is there a story behind yours?

It's probably no secret that Swerve City is the name of a Deftones song. We had gone through hundreds of name ideas (as is usually the case with band names - why is it always so difficult?) and Swerve City got tossed up, and that was that. Not very dramatic, but it's a pretty kick ass song.

Your first release (just out) is a cover of Big Data's - Dangerous. I'm a big fan of the song and its many guises, it was actually our first song after the cake cutting at our wedding in February. It's a fantastic version you've done, hard rock with a pop punk/power pop icing. What made you decide to release a cover first and how do you pick what song as a band to cover?

Congratulations! Thanks for the kind words. I can't quite remember the chronology of events exactly, but between saving up for studio time to record some original tracks, and Covid grinding our world to a halt, the cover popped up as an idea and we went for it. I love the message in the song, about the fragility of our privacy in the digital world, and it's such a catchy melody. It was actually a really organic process; I think I pitched the song to the band and we immediately started to hash it out. As for choosing a song, I think it partly comes down to whether there is an opportunity to offer a different perspective or put your mark on it. Or if you're covering a song to play live, a song that everyone knows that kicks ass can be a great surprise at a show for the audience. I love it when one of my favourite bands drops a cover of an old school banger in the middle of their set. Slight digression there, apologies for the resultant novel.

How do you go about covering a song? My guilty pleasure would be a punk version of Pat Benatar's - Love is a Battlefield. What are the ins and outs of copyright and cost?

Haha yeah, that song would be killer with a punk vibe! To be honest I'm not a copyright lawyer, so I wouldn't want to give any advice just in case. We acknowledge that the song was written by someone else and our version isn't for sale. So, if you're doing a cover, don't expect a massive pay day!

I'm guessing that you're working on some originals, what can we expect next from Swerve City?

We're in the middle of recording 3 originals with Zorran Mendonsa (Coridian, Crooked Royals) - We got thrown off course by Level 3 version 2, but once life returns to some sense of normality we'll continue the process and have some new singles in the not too distant future. Excited to share some more music!

Does everyone contribute to the compositions, do the guys come in with their own ideas or is it more like a jam session that might spark light on a song?

Usually an idea will come from someone and we will flesh it out in the home studio, and then in the band room the instrument parts will continue to develop as we practice them - Once we have a general vision for the trajectory of the song, everyone develops their part to sound as good as it can.

Musically, do the band members all have similar interests or is it quite diverse?

Well, we're all into rock music obviously. But things get pretty diverse once you get into the sub-genres. Plenty of bands and artists cross over of course. If anyone is interested, you can check out the band member playlists on our Spotify profile. Everything from Deftones to Dio in there.

Going from writing solo for Arrays, what's the biggest difference working with a band?

Bands have other people in them, so I can't just drop a two minute guitar solo. Not that I would. Also, there's Kev, who thinks that my fridge is actually his. I don't get that sort of problem with Arrays. In Arrays, I acknowledge that my fridge is, in fact, my fridge. The downside of a solo project is you don't get the input from outside sources. So, whatever your idea is, that's what it will be. But it's nice to not ask for permission. I love being able to do both, particularly as Swerve City has a really chilled but productive vibe. Obviously live shows are a lot easier with a band, too!

Time for some quick fires...

If Swerve City could open for any International headline act, who would it be?

Too hard to choose - Deftones, Foo Fighters, Queen, Muse, Chevelle. Too many inspiring artists to pick just one! Also, I have no idea what the other guys would want.

What's on your heavy rotate playlist right now?

Polaris, Periphery, Northlane, In Heart's Wake.

What's the best and worst gig you've ever played?

I can remember a gig I played in Hamilton early in the Armed In Advance days, playing to 3 people and then my guitar strap broke. What a great time. One of my favourite gigs was the Auckland City Rock Fest - 3-400 punters packed in to the dearly departed Kings Arms to celebrate some of the best up and coming Kiwi rock bands at the time, it was such a good buzz. Swerve City's first show in November was pretty awesome too, but I'm looking forward to more now that the first gig jitters are out of the way.

What's some advice you could give to other kiwi artists who are just starting out? Be patient, relinquish expectations, enjoy each moment and don't let Kev into your house or he'll tell you your fridge is actually his - and expect you to ask permission every time you want to get the tomato sauce out.

Where can we buy/stream your music?


Cheers JP, keep rockin!

Cheers for the cool interview dude!

Live photo courtesy of Nikita Weir/Antonia Pearl Photography


About Swerve City

Swerve City are an exciting new rock band from Auckland featuring members from Fire At Will, Armed in Advance, Sematics and Saints of Taboo.

Swerve City possesses a sound that blends Melodic Rock with undertones of Metal and Pop sensibilities.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Swerve City


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