The Interrupters, SWMRS
1811 14th St. NW
Washington, DC, 20009
The Interrupters(Hellcat / Epitaph, 2014)Contact: Christine@epitaph.comAn L.A.-based four-piece bound by their rebel spirit and deep love of 2 Tone, The Interrupters make super-high-energy ska-punk that’s equal parts catchy and confrontational. Produced by Rancid’s Tim Armstrong, the band’s self-titled debut for Hellcat/Epitaph Records sees frontwoman Aimee Interrupter, guitarist Kevin Bivona, bassist Justin Bivona, and drummer Jesse Bivona spitting out lyrics that take on matters as thorny as martiallaw and Big Brotherism while churning out bouncing rocksteady rhythms and snarly guitar riffs.After teaming up with Armstrong—whom Kevin got to know while taking over as touring keyboard player for The Transplants in 2005—The Interrupters wrote and recorded all of their debut in a matter of days. Proof of the band’s fiery chemistry, the result is a frenetic free-for-all that tosses out anthem after anthem, from the album-opening “Take Back the Power” (a purely punk rallying cry) to “Family” (a swinging, scrappy number featuring Armstrong on vocals) to “Easy On You” (a powerful but sweetly melodic ode to “breaking cycles of abuse and learning how to love yourself,” as Aimee explains) to “Last Call” (an all-out party song and homage to “Nite Klub” by The Specials).Forming The Interrupters in 2012, Aimee and the Bivonas first crossed paths when the brothers’ former band Telacasters shared bills with her on a summer 2009 tour when she was performing solo as Aimee Allen. When it came time to record their debut, the band reached out to Armstrong (a mutual hero of The Interrupters who had also collaborated with Kevin in producing reggae legend Jimmy Cliff’s 2012 album Rebirth). “Working with Tim, nothing ever gets overthought—it’s like lightning in a bottle,” says Kevin, adding that many of the songs on The Interrupterswere captured in one take. Aimee also points out that the fast-and-loose approach was key to giving her a vocal performance the raw urgency that the lyrics demanded. “Recording the vocals, the most important thing was to be real and honest and if things weren’t perfect, that was totally okay,” she says, noting that her gravelly-growly delivery owes a lot to “all the times I got my Joan Jett tapes taken away as punishment when I was little kid and sang her songs a capella as revenge.”Having toured with Rancid in 2013—along with regularly playing with Armstrong as Tim Timebomb and Friends—The Interrupters have built their live act on unstoppable energy and a feeling of easy community that reflects their familial vibe. “There’s usually a dance party going on in the crowd, which we appreciate, since we always have our own dance party happening onstage,” Kevin says. The Interrupters’s shared commitment to “never taking ourselves too seriously” also goesa long way in offsetting the heavy subject matter at the heart of so many of their songs. “Sometimes it sounds gnarly to say what we’re singing about, but we try to play in major keys and a superfast tempo that makes it feel upbeat,” says Kevin in discussing “Liberty,” a track written in response to increased use of surveillance technology in the U.S. “We have a lot of things that we’re outraged about and we need to sing about those things, but we make sure to keep it fun,” adds Aimee. “Sometimes it’s goodto be happily outraged.”
Bound by their rebel spirit and deep love for 2 Tone, The Interrupters make super-high-energy ska-punk that's equal parts catchy and confrontational. Produced by Rancid's Tim Armstrong, the band's self-titled debut for Hellcat Records sees frontwoman Aimee Interrupter, guitarist Kevin Bivona, bassist Justin Bivona, and drummer Jesse Bivona spitting out lyrics that take on matters as thorny as martial law and Big Brotherism while churning out rocksteady rhythms and snarly guitar riffs.
After teaming up with Armstrong—whom Kevin got to know while taking over as touring keyboard player for The Transplants in 2005—The Interrupters and Tim wrote and recorded all of their debut in a matter of days. "Working with Tim, nothing ever gets overthought—it's like lightning in a bottle," says Kevin, adding that many of the songs on The Interrupters were captured in one take. Aimee also points out that the fast-and-loose approach was key to giving her a vocal performance the raw urgency that the lyrics demanded. "Recording the vocals, the most important thing was to be real and honest and if things weren't perfect, that was totally okay."
Having toured with Rancid in 2013—along with regularly playing with Armstrong as Tim Timebomb and Friends—The Interrupters have built their live act on unstoppable energy and a feeling of easy community that reflects their familial vibe. The Interrupters's shared commitment to "never taking ourselves too seriously" also goes a long way in offsetting the heavy subject matter at the heart of so many of their songs. "We have a lot of things that we're outraged about and we need to sing about those things, but we make sure to keep it fun," adds Aimee. "Sometimes it's good to be happily outraged."
There’s never been a punk band like SWMRS. That’s probably because it’s too limiting to label the Oakland quartet, “a punk band.” You might initially detect the caustic broadsides of The Clash and the amphetamine bubblegum of the Ramones. But within the carefully penned lyrics, propulsive energy, and raw honesty, you can hear the echoes of Public Enemy and Frank Ocean, A Tribe Called Quest to Kurt Cobain.
Listen to “Harry Dean,” the first song on their debut album, Drive North. The guitars draw blood, the drums detonate, and lead singer, Cole Becker unleashes a bleak but rowdy sneer.
The song chronicles the evolution from high school square-to-learning to let loose. It’s about the smallness of our place in the universe and the realization that you can do whatever you want. The central influences are the actor Harry Dean Stanton and “Cheap Beer” by FIDLAR—whose lead singer, Zac Carper produced the album.
“When I was younger, I used to write really political songs and was angry all the time,” Cole Becker, 20, says. “I eventually realized that you don’t have to write songs about politics to let people know that you’re thinking”
The band officially formed in early 2015, but their roots stretch back for years—to when Becker, and his childhood friend, Joey Armstrong (drums) began playing music together at 8 years old. They didn’t know how to play their instruments, but they’d seen School of Rock, and tabbed Cole’s brother Max to sing and play bass.
Before graduating high school, they’d already released two full-length albums and a handful of EP’s. They’d toured the world, and shared stages with Pennywise, Rise Against, and Soundgarden.
But SWMRS is a wholly new endeavor. The band recruited their friend Sebastian Mueller to play bass and Max Becker switched to lead guitar. Yet it’s more than just a slightly different formation: they’ve gone deeper, thought harder, learned to play with more power yet greater control.
After seeing them rip up the stage at Burgerama IV, Saint Laurent Paris creative director Hedi Slimane became so enamored with SWMRS that he asked them to walk the runway at his Paris fashion show, and write the soundtrack for his Spring/Summer 2016 presentation. Fueled by 40 oz. bottles of malt liquor, they turned in a 17-minute version of “Like Harry Dean Stanton.” It went over very well.
Their approach is crystallized on the album’s title track, “Drive North,” It’s not a command; it’s a concept. It’s about hometown pride and the desire to create a unique cultural identity. It’s allegorical and subversive, and could be the theme song for the Golden State Warriors the next time they play the Clippers.
Or listen to their first single, “Miley,” which i-D Magazine called, “the most punk tribute to Miley Cyrus ever.”
“Miley does exactly what she wants. It’s really rare to see somebody doing that, Cole Becker says. “She’s a business commodity, but seems to have maintained creative autonomy, which is super punk rock. And she’s standing up for sexual freedom and gender fluidity…that’s important, and something that not a lot of pop stars are doing.”
In 2016, punk rock isn’t just aesthetic. It’s about the ideas. It’s about upending expectations and finding freedom in your own voice. SWMRS have made a timeless but modern coming of age album—one that reminds you that you aren’t the only one trying to beat against the current.
Originally released on the band’s own Uncool Records, Drive North was re-released by Fueled By Ramen in October 2016. The new version of the album includes previously unreleased songs “Palm Trees” and “Lose It”.
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?