Inside Swim Deep’s Sci-Fi-Inspired ‘Retrospective Classic’ Second Album

Sat in the back corner of a Camden café, Swim Deep are taking a break from rehearsing for Reading & Leeds. A widescreen TV on the wall runs through goals from last season’s Premiership matches as the band lounge on cream leather sofas. The mood is relaxed and happy, which, between bites of a tuna panini, frontman Austin Williams explains is the complete opposite to how he felt recording their second album, ‘Mothers’.

Decamping from London and Birmingham to ICP Studios in Brussels – the same place where they recorded their 2013 debut ‘Where The Heaven Are We’ – the quintet filled the recording room with a wild array of instruments, from farfisas and electric sitars to omnichords and timbalas, to play with. “I remember being quite stressed throughout,” Austin explains. “I’d always go to the drumkit and just bash it for ages. I was just constantly running from one thing to the other and second guessing myself, thinking, fuck I’ve got to do this, I’ve got to do that. What am I going to do next? We got the whole album done in four weeks so respect, but it was stressful.”

To jumpstart writing for album two, the band headed to a remote cottage in the Peak District shortly after the release of ‘Where The Heaven Are We’. The idea was to get out of the city and into a creative space, but not a lot came out of the time the group spent there. “There was the very, very earliest bits of ‘To My Brother’ and ‘Hotel California’. Like the chord progressions,” laughs newest member, keyboardist James Balmont. “I guess the biggest thing that came out of it was that we bonded as musicians,” adds Austin.

More bonding took place at the studio, with the band sharing beds – Austin, drummer Zach Robinson and bassist Cavan McCarthy in one, James and guitarist Higgy in another. They only left ICP twice in the four weeks they stayed there – once for Austin’s birthday to a place called Delirium (“It has the world record for having the most variety of beers in the world in one place,” enthuses James) and once for a Christmas party that ended with James and Higgy dragging eight-foot Christmas trees back to the studio.

The album, produced by Dreamtrak (who helmed an early release of previous single ‘King City’), is one that doesn’t sound like a band resting on their laurels. In fact, it’s far more galactic, operating in a psychedelic, sci-fi stratosphere. “I got this new synthsizer when I wrote ‘Imagination’, and I’d listened to loads of sci-fi, like Vangelis,” says Austin. “People have to buy this album because I spent all my money on synths.” “It’s the same synth Tangerine Dream used on soundtracks to sci-fi films in the ’80s,” adds James. “That was like a lightbulb clicking in my head, like ‘we could make things like that’.”

“In hindsight, we could have made an album that sounded like the last one, but was a little more progressed and had better songs,” Austin says, pondering the band’s switch from indie-pop anthems to unpredictable experiments in psychedelia. “I don’t know if people will get it or not. It might take a few years.”

“In 20 years’ time, people are gonna be like, ‘They were ahead of their time’,” offers Cavan. James nods confidently, describing ‘Mothers’ as “a retrospective classic” as the rest of the group fall about laughing. Come September 25, they’ll be gleefully ushering us into another dimension.

THE DETAILS

LABEL: Chess Club/Sony RCA
RELEASE DATE: September 25
PRODUCER: Dreamtrak
RECORDED: ICP Studios, Brussels
TRACKLISTING: ‘One Great Song And I Could Change The World’, ‘To My Brother’, ‘Green Conduit’, ‘Heavenly Moment’, ‘Namaste’, ‘Is There Anybody Out There’, ‘Forever Spaceman’, ‘Grand Affection’, ‘Imagination’, ‘Laniakea’, ‘Fueiho Boogie’