Collective Concerts & Indie88 Present
SWMRS: BERKELEY’S ON FIRE
The Regrettes, Beach Goons
410 Sherbourne Street
Toronto, Ontario, M5X 1K2
Doors 7:00 PM
This event is all ages
Within the opening bars of SWMRS second LP comes a sea change. You think you're in familiar rock territory with the Oakland-formed quartet when suddenly an electronic beat kicks in that throws you for a loop. The same thing happens throughout the ten tracks that make up Berkeley's On Fire -- the band's most urgent, electrifying and groundbreaking record to date. "We started having conversations about how to make something brand new within the genre of rock," says co-frontman and songwriter Cole Becker. "That's what we talked about every single day."
One of rock music's biggest challenges is overcoming the understanding that it's a genre heavily indebted to its own sense of history. Cole, alongside bandmates Max Becker (guitar, vocals), Joey Armstrong (drums) and Seb Mueller (bass), found that in fragmenting and deconstructing that history, there is new territory to be won and something brand new to be carved. "We have such a deep love for rock music," says Max. When the Becker brothers were growing up and first heard the Ramones and The Clash they heard authenticity and rawness. "It had so much potential to change the way people think and feel." Over the past decade, rock has become a dirty word for a variety of reasons, conjuring images of out of touch, unoriginal nostalgia. SWMRS want to reclaim the word, make it cool again. After all, the childhood friends have invested their whole lives in the art form, having started playing shows in their local Bay Area at the ripe age of 13.
In 2016, SWMRS put out their first record Drive North themselves on their own imprint, Uncool Records. The DIY move paid off in spades with acclaim from Rolling Stone, Noisey, Nylon and Billboard. They became the first unsigned band to perform on The Late Late Show With James Corden (also their late night debut) and their music reached as far as Paris Fashion Week on the Saint Laurent runway. After international headline tours and festival appearances the band signed with Fueled By Ramen who re-issued the record.
In Spring of 2018, the Oakland band drove south to Los Angeles to work with envelope-pushing producer Rich Costey (MUSE, At The Drive In, Death Cab for Cutie). Over two months they pushed and pulled the ideas they'd been working on since their last record, resulting in something you've never before heard from SWMRS -- or any contemporary punk band for that matter. Costey took a sledgehammer to any preconceptions about what the foursome should or could be creating. Genres be-damned, sonic limitations out the window, this was an exercise in grand experimentation, and has more in common with the fun, experimental ethos behind Beastie Boys, Rage Against The Machine, De La Soul,or '90s Bay Area Hyphy rap music than it does any of the band's prior peers. The diversity is indicative of a generation reared on streaming services. SWMRS make music as they consume it -- hyperactively.
"There was so much more attention to detail," recalls Cole, on the levels of perfectionism. A drum sound could take two weeks to find. Rather than it being a stressful endeavour, they were grateful for the time as they recycled past sounds to build this new pastiche that flits from pop rock ('Too Much Coffee') and breakbeat ('Lose Lose Lose') to emo punk ('April In Houston') and jangly power pop ('Trashbag Baby'). "Everyone talks about rock being dead. That's totally bullshit," says Max. "We've only hit the tip of the iceberg."
After watching their hometown get engulfed in a media frenzy over a riot in 2017, SWMRS felt that it appropriate to call the record Berkeley's On Fire. At a time when fire possesses so much vivid and painful imagery for Californians, SWMRS want to document the fears of their generation while emboldening the hope that a new world with optimistic possibilities might emerge from the ashes. Sick, like most young people, of being told that they are incapable of changing the world around them, SWMRS carry a torch for the idea that there is a future to fight for.
Overall, it's a record about urgency during a time when the pressure is on the youth to carry America -- and the world -- forward. "When you travel around the world trying to communicate with people your own age you find really wild anonymous things in common," says Max. "We all want the same thing. The world is smaller than you think." The process of writing it in itself helped Max and Cole get over their own anxieties. 'April In Houston' is the most introspective the louder, more aggressively toned Cole has ever been. In 'Too Much Coffee,' Max documents his own struggles to get to a place of self-acceptance and its eventual conclusion, teaching him to trust in his own voice. For long-standing fans 'Trashbag Baby' is a particular treat; the first time both Beckers share vocals on a song. "I had been letting this song sit. The riff was cool but the vocal wasn't as cool. What would make it as cool? Cole!," shares Max. It's a representation of how the pair have helped each other through their individual problems.
The band are chomping at the bit to feed the new material to their fanbase, with whom they have an immediate connection with via social media. It's a symbiotic relationship, where SWMRS learn as much from their audience's perspectives as their fans do from them. As for the lack of trendiness surrounding guitar-based music, the guys couldn't care less. They're encouraged by the freedom that offers them to try all manner of things. "This is somewhat of an experimental gamble," says Max. "I'm tired of being bored by what I hear," offers Cole. Through touring it they hope to create not just a safe space, but a welcoming community for anyone to feel love for one another and to express themselves to their fullest potential. "I want to give people the feeling I got when I went to my first punk rock show," says Cole. "Floating above the world, feeling alive."
Perfectly imperfect – that's one way to describe LA based punk act, The Regrettes. Writing songs that proudly bear a brazen and unabashed attitude in the vein of acts Courtney Barnett or Karen O – with a pop aesthetic reminiscent of 50's and 60's acts a la the Temptations or Buddy Holly – the LA based four piece create infectious, punk driven tracks.
Lead by outspoken frontwoman, Lydia Night, and comprised of Genessa Gariano on guitar, Sage Nicole on bass and drummer Maxx Morando, the group have left the LA rock scene floored, managing to capture the hearts of jaded rock critics while opening for acts like Kate Nash, Jack Off Jill, Bleached, Pins, Deep Vally and more. With nothing but demos available online, the group are already beginning to generate hype, from outlets like NPR, and with NYLON already heralding them them as a "punk act you should be listening to".
From the opening moments on a track by The Regrettes, we're greeted with a wall of guitars, infectious melodies and a wistful nostalgia that continues right until the final notes. Taking cues from acts like Hinds and Hole, there's a wistful sense of youth and vulnerability that lies at the heart of each song.
A song by The Regrettes is, essentially, a diary entry into Lydia's life. "My music is a spectrum of every emotion that I have felt in the last year, and you can hear that when you hear the songs. Everything that is happening in my life influences me. It's everything from boys, to friends, to being pissed off at people, to being really sad. Just everything."
The most intoxicating draw of The Regrettes is their bashful, heart-on-your-sleeve temperament – writing urgent and fast-paced pop songs with a punk rock mentality. "The way that we write, it's all based on honesty," muses Lydia on the group's punk aesthetic. "If I finish a song, I'll just leave it – I won't really go back to it. I like things to feel in the moment and I don't want it to be perfect. If I work on something too much I lose it and get bored and I want to do the next one.."
First song, "A Living Human Girl," best showcases the vulnerability of the group's lyrics. Singing about a less than perfect complexion, a bra size that is considered smaller than most, and those little red bumps you get when you shave, The Regrettes aren't afraid to embrace their imperfections. "Sometimes I'm pretty and sometimes I'm not", sings Lydia over 60's inspired guitar riffs and a kicked back drum beat. "I don't remember exactly what sparked it, but I remember when I wrote those lyrics, I was just really angry."
"There are times when you feel really insecure and you really don't like yourself, so I wrote it for people who feel that and I wrote it for myself. I just felt like there wasn't a song like that out there. A song that if I was feeling super shitty about myself, that I could listen to. I wanted something that would make girls and boys feel confident," she explains.
Lydia's not afraid to have her feelings on display. "I am not scared of anyone judging me, I don't care. I don't give a fuck if someone doesn't like what I have to say. For every person that likes you, there's a person that doesn't like you. No matter what, if people can relate to the music then it's worth it. That's what is cool for me." And at the end of the day, isn't that what punk music is all about?
BIOHailing from San Diego’s Logan Heights neighborhood, Beach Goons was the brainchild of Pablo Cervantez, the band’s vocalist, guitarist, and sole constant member. Beach Goons started innocently enough with Cervantez and a couple friends picking up instruments and playing out, hitting up any place that would have them, from their middle school to Logan Heights’ library. As the band grew, their sound evolved with them. Their early singles showed a brash, garage-indebted take on punk, but by the time of BoiSad, the edges began to smooth, and more of Beach Goons’ personality began poking through. For their new album, hoodratscumbags, Beach Goons didn’t rush things, instead spending the better part of two years workshopping the songs until they became the most potent examples of what they wanted to express. “Most of the songs were scrapped or I rewrote them,” says Cervantez of the writing process. “It was just going to be an EP, but it got to a point where we had enough songs for it to be an album.” The product of all that work is hoodratscumbags, which GRNDVW Recordings will release on September 7, and sees drummer Chris Moran and bassist David Orozco joining the ranks. Across the album’s 10 songs, Beach Goons effortlessly blend genres, taking a bit from punk andsurf, to authentically express their lives and where they come from. “We’re from a Mexican community, we’re all Mexicans, and we really love showing it,” says Cervantez. “[Logan Heights] is the heart of Mexican culture, and the heart of Chicano culture, and I really want to emphasize this was our upbringing and this is who we are.”Songs like “A.M” and “The End” show the album’s breadth, as Beach Goons write airtight pop songs, but come at them through the side door. The songs twist and turn, revealing their ability to surprise a listener without ever breaking their stride. “I feel more confident writing and releasing this than I ever have,” says Cervantez of hoodratscumbags, and that’s something that’s noticeable on first listen. Beach Goons are pulling off moves that put them in a class of their own, taking the best of bands like Wavves, Joyce Manor, and Culture Abuse, and framing it in their own way. “My family moved here, I’m firstgeneration,” says Cervantez, “I just want to show those people that if you come from these streets, if you come from these hoods, you can do it too.” That sense of community, and Beach Goons’ sheer excitement, permeates the entirety of hoodratcumbags. It can be heard in songs such as “Chunti,” where Cervantez sings in Spanish and holds nothing back. It’s moments like these that show Beach Goons for what they are: a band that’s young, excited, and not afraid to show the world the full scope of themselves. Beach Goons will be touring in support of hoodratscumbags, including an appearance at Riot Fest in Chicago, spreading their message, and sharing their joy, with anyone that listens.
Advance tickets also available at Rotate This & Soundscapes
$1 per ticket sold will go to the SWMRS Fund in support of organizations working on the frontlines of the issues they are addressing. Whether it is climate, racial, economic or gender justice, we know that centering the
most vulnerable communities will result in the most just and creative solutions. Learn more about the beneficiaries at: https://swmrs.com/swmrsfund.