Los Angeles-based rock collective Swerve – comprised of Gregory Mahdesian, Brandon Duncan, Ryan Berti, and Mark Gardner – has blossomed into an incredibly impressive act since the days that the moniker was attached to Mahdesian’s solo career. While the band admits their chemistry is off the charts at this point, we can hear it in the music they release. In fact, with their latest single “Lose Control”, we pick up on hints of influence amidst a bed of music that sounds like they’re having a really great time.
Luckily enough, we got to chat briefly with the guys about the track itself, as well as some really important topics like supergroups and Batman. Check it out below!
What was your first musical moment (be it a song you remember, a memory with a family member, etc.)? How do you think that impacted the way you make music today?
I actually have two that I can think of. The first song I can remember is from the Traveling Wilburys- that super group with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Roy Orbison. They had this track called “Not Alone Anymore,” and Roy Orbison sang the lead vocal on it, and it just floored me. I think my family had just moved across the country and I was a depressed little 5 year old, and that song, and especially that vocal, really spoke to me.
The other moment was around the same time. I had this walkman that could record the radio, and the oldies station played this song by the Box Tops called “The Letter,” which is just an awesome single. I would just listen to the station until it would play again so I could record it, and it’s the first song that was ever “mine.”
These both definitely impacted how I make music. I guess even at an early age I had a tendency to look back to the past for inspiration, and these songs really solidified my appreciation for classic song structures and catchy as hell choruses.
“Lose Control” is so fun with that twinge of 90s nostalgia that seems to pop out at points. What was creating that song like?
Thanks! Creating this song with the band was really fun. I started writing it on my acoustic guitar, and I must have been listening to a lot of jangle rock at the time because the song is filled with those little moments. When I brought it to the guys it turned into this fun, upbeat electric rock song. We added some acoustic to the recording to kind of pay homage to how it began. I remember that it came together very quickly- we finished off writing it in one session and anytime we would go back to try and tweak it, it was just kind of superfluous. There are definitely 90s touches in it. We really like to reference our influences without sounding too much like them, so you can notice them if you pay attention, but might not if you’re just casually listening.
If you could collaborate with anyone besides your amazing bandmates, who would it be and why?
So many people! Paul McCartney, just because he is the all time legend and I think I would kill to have him sing or play on a song. He’s still got it too! A few years ago he released this album called New that was awesome. I think I’d really like to get the producer Stephen Street to work with us, if he would do it and we could afford him. He produced the Smiths and all the best Blur albums, and I think he would be able to make our band really push ourselves and do something great. Noel Gallagher is my favorite, so to write with him would be amazing. And to have Michael Stipe sing something for me would make my year.
This month, you headlined the What Angie Says showcase at The Mint. What was that performance like? How has your performance style developed over time?
That performance was a lot of fun. We actually booked that right at the last minute- we had all been traveling so the band hadn’t been together for a little while, and the only time we found to rehearse was right before the show. It turned out to be one of our most energetic sets. In general, we’ve just gotten a lot more comfortable over time. We play around with harmonies more, and we don’t get nervous, so we can engage with each other and with the audience rather than just looking at our instruments and trying to play the songs correctly. The more we play the better we get as performers, but I don’t ever see us busting out dance moves or anything like that!
What has been your favorite song to write thus far? What makes it so special?
We haven’t put it out yet, but there’s a song called “Kennedy.” We usually close our set with it because it’s a live favorite for our audience. I’m really happy with the lyrics of it- the main line started out as a placeholder lyric and as the song developed I realized that it was actually the linchpin of the whole song. It’s funny how things like that happen. As far as the music goes, it went through so many iterations that we considered giving up on it, but we finally landed on the right arrangement and it felt so natural that I’m glad we kept at it.
If you could be any superhero, who would you be and why?
Batman, because he gets all the best toys and chose to be a hero rather than being born with a superpower. Although his backstory is very sad, at least he has Alfred.
What’s up next?
Besides world domination? We’re going to keep putting out singles leading up to our EP. We have some music videos in the works, and shows coming up in LA- the next one is March 26th at the HiHat in Highland Park. We want to start playing outside of the city soon, and to get back into the studio to record all the new material we’ve been working on.
Keep up with Swerve here.