“”Formed in 2006, Brighton’s Dead Swans at the time were seen as the UK’s answer to the likes of American Nightmare, Horror Show and The Carrier, whom unsurprisingly they toured with plenty of times across Europe. Whilst they obtained decent accolades through the UK music press and nabbed support slots with the likes of Bring Me The Horizon, they maintained an underground following that remains strong to this day. “We called it a day in 2013. We had previously planned to call it quits just before our final European tour with Horror Show. It was definitely sad, but necessary at the time.” Reflects vocalist Nick Worthington.
“It was definitely sad, but necessary at the time.”
Given how prominent Dead Swans were in the UK hardcore scene and their greater influence on the likes of Basement and Gnarwolves, in the late 00’s it would be hard to find a UK hardcore show they weren’t supporting. It helped of course that their friends in More Than Life and Last Witness also stuck to the same rigorous touring cycles by bringing each other out on the road. “The hardcore scene comes in waves. I have watched hometown scenes disintegrate and regrow. I love watching the younger generations take control and make things happen for themselves, that’s what its all about.” Reflects Nick.
Despite the bumpy start to their comeback, it feels seems like Dead Swans are putting everything they can muster into their live shows, demonstrated by the passionate performances at Outbreak Fest in 2016, the two shows with Gnarwolves last year and their Sweatfest slot in January. “It’s kinda funny.” He laughs. “We had a fairly bumpy start but things are starting to shape into the band we all knew and loved. When writing new material it is near enough the same but we’re approaching things with more care and thought this time around which is obviously making things a lot easier. We are in no rush.”
“I have watched hometown scenes disintegrate and regrow…”
In the wake of the band’s conclusion, Worthington moved away from the band’s hometown and out to mainland Europe. A bold move, and one that meant we couldn’t get an up to date press shot past 2016, but one that seems to have benefited the vocalist greatly. “I can remember making my peace with it and moving to Vienna thinking ‘I’m never doing that again’. It just came back around, I had been writing a lot and wanted to put the words to music again and the lyrical content I had didn’t fit my other band. I think that was my main drive, to create another record with DS.”
When Sleepwalkers came out in 2009, it felt more than just your standard melodic hardcore record. Songs like ‘Tent City’, ‘20. 07.07’ ‘Ivy Archway’ touched on mental health struggles, the deaths of family and friends, as well as the less glamorous sides to chasing your dreams of being a musician. To this day there are few albums that sound like it either, thanks to it’s gritty production values. It’s unsurprising that as part of their reunion; a short tour-celebrating the record in full would be on the cards. “Sleepwalkers was probably the bands most defining sound and the songs still mean everything to us and since we have been playing we have only done the occasional fest, so we wanted to play it in 200 cap rooms in the UK and just lose our minds.”
“If we wanted to make money we wouldn’t be playing hardcore.”
Despite the stigma around the idea of a band reuniting being disingenuous of what made them great in the first place, this isn’t an issue for Dead Swans at all. “I couldn’t give a fuck.” Nick comments bluntly. “This band has been such an important vent to me personally over my anxiety and depression throughout the years of dealing with it that those issues don’t really enter my head anymore. If we wanted to make money we wouldn’t be playing hardcore. We all work to make ends meet and this bands just a labour of love.”
INTERVIEW: MILAN JOOSTE // FEATURE: ASHWIN BHANDRI
DEAD SWANS HIT THE UK IN MONTH FOR THEIR REUNION SHOWS, AND TO PLAY SLEEPWALKER IN FULL. YOU CAN CHECK OUT THE DATES BELOW.