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Thursday, August 7, 2014

These Go to 11: interviewing The Swapsies

This day had to arrive! After meeting them at Indietracks (one of the highlights of the Festival without a doubt), Huw & Andrew, main composers of The Swapsies, one of the Blog favourite bands, take part in our questionnaire series. As expected, here's one of the funniest and charming These Go to 11 we ever had!

Huw Spink & Andrew Warhurst, The Swapsies
Best spoonball squad ever. Period
Hailing from Liverpool, the band started around 2011, releasing debut single 'You’re My Maillot Jaune/ Hey There You' that summer. But 2013 was the real "Swapsies year". First, with the August release, in conjunction with our dear friends from February Records, of their sophomore single 'Another Game on Saturday/ A Fleeting Summer' that, aside from its glorious two pop gems, got a lovely soccer-obsessed physical release. And before closing the year, it was followed by their first EP, 'Sparrows', four irresistible tunes, again preciously packed with a mini-fanzine and an illustration. While we await for new songs, and after enjoying them live for the first time, we can assure you this: your small & shy indiepop heart will be forever grateful if you hear The Swapsies. Music full of charm, harmonies, handclapping and genuine passion. Graceful, joyful, everlasting pop. Here we go!

1. First record that you bought (be honest)
Andy and Ned Flanders' choice
Huw: Almost definitely 'Any Dream Will Do’ by Jason Donovan. I still really like that song. I tried to persuade The Swapsies to perform it. Alas to no avail!
Andy: Ha! My Mum and Dad had the Joseph and His Technicolour Dreamcoat LP so after I went to see the musical I asked them to put it on a tape for me. I'm pretty sure I could sing it now but I'm not convinced it'd suit us! I remember when I knew I was getting my first CD player I went out and bought two singles. 'Free Me' by Cast and 'Blackbird on the Wire' by The Beautiful South. The first cassette I remember getting is 'Things Can Only Get Better' by D:Ream when I was about 7. The first record I remember feeling any sort of ownership of was a 7” of 'We Didn’t Start The Fire' by Billy Joel which I used to ask my Mum to put on for me to dance around to.

2. First and last concert you have attended (be honest too!)
Huw: First was Paul McCartney in Earls Court in London in 1993. It was mind-blowingly exciting! Even if I was sat about a million miles away from him. Last was The Hidden Cameras at Indietracks. Life-affirmingly wonderful.
Andy: First: Idlewild at the Students’ Union in Liverpool in 2002. It set me off on a lifelong love affair with Scottish music! Last: Indietracks!

3. Guilty pleasure (song/band you shouldn’t like but you do, yes, it’s the embarrassing question)
Huw: Very hard to answer! Apart from the aforementioned ‘Any Dream Will Do’? Ok then - 'Asajere' by Las Ketchup then. Love that song! Tremendous. No idea what they are singing about, which might help my enjoyment somewhat! [Blogger's note, it's 'Aserejé', and easily ranks among the worst songs ever, but we love The Swapsies too much to take it against them...]
Proof that genius pop composers
chat to each other
Andy: It’s definitely not a very cool answer but I really like the hymns of John Bell. I don’t go to church a lot anymore but my Mum’s a vicar and I grew up singing songs in church. I think a lot of my love for a catchy tune comes from that! A few years ago I went with my Mum to see him sing some songs and talk about songwriting and during the interval he came and had a chat with me. We talked about Glasgow and Belle and Sebastian and he drew me a little map showing me how to find the record shops when I was going to visit. (As a coda to this, I messaged Stuart Murdoch about our conversation through the B&S website and he replied saying that he’s a fan too)

Mount Beatles!
4. Most precious music item you own (collector mode on)
Huw: Very hard to choose just one! Probably a model of Mount Rushmore but with The Beatles instead of Presidents. It’s quite classy in its own way.
Andy: My original vinyl soundtracks of the first three Muppet Movies! (should that be the guilty pleasure?)

5. Favorite lyrics (not yours)
Huw: “The temptation to take the precious things we have apart to see how they work must be resisted for they never fit together again”, from ‘Must I Paint You A Picture’ by Billy Bragg. Or maybe “I know it’s kinda hard but I’m glad that it is” from ‘Desperation Made A Fool Of Me’ by Belle and Sebastian.
Andy: I love so many of the lines in Belle and Sebastian’s 'Get Me Away From Here I’m Dying'. “Nobody writes them like they used to so it might as well be me” is such a wonderful philosophy for a song writer to live by.
Think of it this way/ You could either be successful or be us/ With our winning smiles, and us/ With our catchy tunes, and us/ Now we're photogenic/ You know, we don't stand a chance

6. Musician/s you would like to meet (should be alive, for obvious reasons, but you can choose a dead one too)
Henson & family
Broadside balladeer
Huw: Phil Ochs. He is my hero. A great lost songwriter of the 1960s. I’d love to have had the chance to tell him how much his songs mean to me (having already made a fool of myself telling Billy Bragg & Stuart Murdoch)
Andy: Would Jim Henson count? He had a lovely singing voice and an ear for a harmony but didn’t write any of the songs. I’d love to have met him. I'd also like to sit round a cafe table with Stuart Murdoch and Lee Mavers.

7. Favorite artwork album (not yours)
Huw: The Beatles’ ‘For Sale’ LP. A lovely photo of four lovely men. What more do you need?
Andy: Kraftwerk’s Tour De France artwork takes some beating for me

'Motherless Brooklyn'
8. Books or movies? Depending on your answer recommend us one (trick: you can choose both) 
Huw: My favourite film is ‘Bridesmaids’. It has genuinely cheers me up everytime I have watched it. I really like the novels of Jim Thompson – though they are not terribly cheerful. They are all great (they are also all rather similar – which is fine by me!).
Andy: I wouldn’t want to choose one over the other! Our friend Kristin (co-runner of February Records) recommended reading 'Motherless Brooklyn' by Jonathan Lethem so I did and it was great. I’m reading another of his books now so I’ll pass on Kristin’s recommendation! For a film to recommend, I recently watched a documentary called ‘Just Like Being There’ which is about screen printing gig posters. It’s super-inspiring! Since I’ve watched it I’ve been recommending it to everyone!

9. Release (of yours) you are most proud of
Huw: Andy wrote it but our song ‘I Won’t Stand Idly By’ is the one I enjoy singing most. It’s a bit of a protest song, but it’s also about being a bit shy. In my mind it’s our nod to great protest singers like Phil Ochs without forgetting that we are not gregarious, rabble-rousing kind of people either.
Andy: I’m really proud of how 'Another Game on Saturday' turned out and it’s a lot of fun to play.

10. What’s does it mean indie for you? (yes, the “serious question”)
Huw: Indie to me just means doing it. Not waiting for perfection or hoping for fortune and glory but the act of creating music being in itself its own reward.
Andy: Yeah, it's the freedom if you think you’ve got something worthwhile to share to just do it yourself and get it out there. If we like the music we make then maybe someone else will too? There’s also a great community spirit where everyone helps each other out where they can without expecting anything much in return. I think blogs like Bloodbuzzed sum up that spirit and enthusiasm and are just as much a part of ‘indie’ as the people who make the music.

11. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Huw : Celebrating the ten year anniversary of filling in this questionnaire (thanks Mitch Hedberg!)
Andy: Living in the West End of Glasgow in an independent Scotland (wishful thinking)

Zillion thanks Andy and Huw! Zillion thanks Swapsies!

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