We chat to… Learn To Swim
Jamie Skey sat down with upcoming harmony friendly three piece Learn To Swim...
Everywhere they go, Learn to Swim (two members can’t even swim!) always take the weather with them. And the beers. Artrocker caught up with the DIY, drum machine-backed indie trio at Soho Square on a blindingly sunny afternoon, as Mark, Matt and Molly take quenching slugs from brown bottles of beer. Aptly, their “summer anthem” is called Sunshine State, a sweet breeze of traditional pop serviced with shimmering 12-string guitars and three-part harmonies. Indeed, this summer – with gigs booked across the capital, including, hilariously, one at a swimming pool – they’re set to make a splash in the indie scene. But where did it all begin?
As guitarist Mark explains: ‘Matt and I were doing stand-up acoustic nights all over Camden and Kentish Town.’ They then, in true Spinal Tap fashion sans the death, went through a string of drummers. ‘Then one drummer came along, really nice guy, Dave, who brought Molly, said Mark. However, history soon repeated itself; Dave – who played in a ‘Mexican fighting mask’ – was swiftly shown the door, only to be replaced by a
another, smaller, button-operated Dave – a drum machine, who as 12-string guitarist Mark adds wryly, ‘is reliable.’
With a new music director in Molly, who ‘brings a sense of musicality,’ the band could now ‘concentrate on the songs.’ ‘For us it’s all about creating songs that people remember in a traditional sense. We’re traditional English pop, ‘ Mark enthuses.
Listening to their home-crafted tunes, - ‘I recorded a vocal part in Mark’s car! ‘ Molly grins – their influences immediately jump from the stereo. ‘The Kinks, Beach Boys, The Beatles, the Madchester scene and big beat’ are all present and correct. ‘But people are saying we sound like Go-Betweens and Felt, and we’re quite happy with that,’ nods Mark.
It’s sparkling pop music with an English twist, sure, but there’s a bittersweet glint in each cut. Says Mark: ‘If you’ve got a brain, you can’t really be happy, can you.’ ‘All the best songs need a tinge of sadness to them,’ Molly sagely adds.
They must be doing something right; they’ve pricked the ears of the Independent critic Simon Price, Keane producer Steve Hillier and even Coldplay marshals Parlophone. ‘By the way, Parlophone,’ laughs Mark, ‘we’re just like Coldplay.’
So what’s next? ‘We want to teach the world how to sing the perfect harmony,’ jokes Matt. Seriously, he reconsiders, the future’s about ‘playing bigger venues, having a better sound.’
One thing’s for sure: Learn to Swim won’t be sculpted by passing fads in a hurry. Says Mark: ‘We have noticed on the circuit, you see lots of things come and go. A few years ago every band was like the Libertines and we were sounding like what we sounded like. Then all of a sudden those leather jackets and lop-sided guitars disappeared.’
Keep up to date with Learn To Swim on their YouTube channel.