LIKEYOUSAID recently had a chance to sit down with Swim Deep, a psychedelic dream-pop band from the United Kingdom, to talk about life in Birmingham, band tattoos, and the two juxtaposing realities between writing and living in the real world. Vocalist Austin Williams, guitarist, Tom “Higgy” Higgins, bassist Cavan McCarthy, and drummer, Zack Robinson took part in the interview during the Swim Deep US tour with The 1975*.
How did the band arrange a US tour with one of the biggest English rock bands of the modern day? Through a text message, of course. Swim Deep and The 1975 had previously toured together in the UK, where eight of Swim Deep’s singles across two albums (2013’s Where The Heaven Are We and 2015’s Mothers) have received critical acclaim. Read the full interview the Brits of Swim Deep below.
How did you guys meet and decide to pursue music?
Austin: Well, me and Higgy met when we were working at Morrison’s supermarket.
Cavan: We all kind of met at bars, just when we were going out at 18.
Austin: We all met because we thought each other looked cool, I think. Then we were just a gang.
There’s a lot of pressure when you’re that young to be in school and not pursuing art as a career, did you feel any of that in the beginning stages of the band?
Austin: We were just talking about this today. The worst thing that the government can do in a way is kind of tell you to get a degree and put yourself in lots of debt. And for all the art and the music and drama—it’s almost seen skive lessons that people at my school used to take just to have a bit of a laugh. It got quite a bad name, music lessons and stuff. They don’t take it as seriously as science lessons or anything like that. But if you’re gifted at something, then it shouldn’t really matter.
Can you tell us about Birmingham, where you’re from?
Austin: Birmingham’s quite a weird place because the center is so small, but there are so many different areas around and outside the center.
Zack: It’s not like London where there’s so much stuff outside, it’s quite small, isn’t it?
Austin: Except for the villages like Moseley and stuff. But it’s a good place. It’s very multicultural as well, there’s a lot of diversity and a lot to do.
Who writes the lyrics?
Austin: Me, I write all the lyrics.
While listening to your music, I found that there were often juxtapositions in the lyrics, a lot of opposing ideas and non-sequiturs.
Austin: Yeah, it’s interesting. I never really thought about it, and then someone said that I wrote in couplets, so I kind of looked up what that meant—it means what it sounds like. But yeah, I never really did too well at English in school or anything so this is my kind of exploring writing and stuff, and I feel myself getting better at it. It’s a fun thing, it’s really sweet.
Do you write often?
Austin: Write lyrics often? No. I often note, I make lots of notes, all the time, but I don’t write songs of lyrics all the time. I’ll just keep these notes and develop the notes when I want to write a song.
Is it hard as a writer or artist to go from being super introspective while creating, to being in the real world and removing yourself from your material to the social world and being with family or going about daily life?
Austin: What, you don’t think you can be creative with your family?
No, I’m just talking about making the transition between two very different worlds that artists live in.
Austin: Yeah, it’s quite interesting. I guess sometimes you can spend so long not in the real world that it becomes your real world. I don’t know, I’ve always been encouraged at home. I’ve never felt like I’ve had to dumb down anything for family or anyone. I think they always laughed or they always liked it when I did stuff that was funny or whatever. So I got quite lucky, because I know a lot of people that didn’t have that privilege.
How did the idea of touring with The 1975 come about?
Austin: Well, we wanted to come to America for so long, and we couldn’t really afford to without having a reason to go out there. We haven’t had the chance to release a record out here so we want to come out and meet some people. We got a lot of fans out here that haven’t really heard us play so, I feel like this is a good tour to do because Swim Deep and The 1975 do share a few of the same fans. We just want to play music to people.
Higgy: Ozzy literally just texted Matt a thing saying, “We want to go on tour with you,” and he was like, “Ok, yeah.” That was it.