SWAMP THIEF | ONES TO WATCH
John-Paul Davies speaks to a Swansea duo making waves on the scene with their melodic take on sludge-rock.
Swamp Thief I is your first release and reviewers have heralded you as the best new two-piece around. But you guys have been playing together for around two decades! Where did it all begin?
A schoolmate introduced us [Mark Lockwood, drums, and Simon Bevan, vocals/guitar/bass – questions answered jointly by the duo] when he moved schools and became friends with Simon. Simon was pretty competent on the guitar back then, but I was just learning, so picked up loads from him. We started off playing quite heavy Machine Head-type music. We shared a similar taste in music, just clicked, and have been playing together in some shape or form ever since.
The EP shows you’ve nailed down the two-piece sound – it’s tight but there’s a lot of layers for two players. How do you recreate that live?
Live, Simon’s running a shit-ton of pedals to make it sound big. Swamp Thief I was a little more complicated – we added some backing vocals and double-tracked somewhat, but again we used the live rig for one set of guitars and the bass. I’d say it’s fairly close to how we sound live, just with fewer ‘jazz errors’.
Lockdown means you’re not able to promote the EP live, but it’s still getting on playlists and radio shows. Have you been surprised by the welcome and support from the music and metal community?
With the genre our sound fits in with, there’s a really healthy scene and lots of cool people who want to talk about and promote underground bands. We did a lot of networking and reaching out to get the word out about Swamp Thief I, and turns out the people who have heard it liked it. To have had such positive feedback is really humbling and really nice. It might sound corny or clichéd, but we really are so grateful.
How are you going to follow up the EP? What’s next, and will it take another 20 years?
If we could get it down to 20! That would be seriously slapdash for us. Our aim is to try and release a collection of music, four or so songs, every year – we’ve probably got enough written to keep us going for not far off 20 years! We’re halfway through recording the next one, so hopefully that’ll come out later this year.
Swamp Thief I is getting a physical release very soon on CD, thanks to the awesome dudes at The Cosmic Peddler and The Swamp Records – the name is a pure coincidence! And we did a video for [the EP’s opening song] Mary, which we’re putting out in February. And, hopefully sooner rather than later, we may even play some gigs again.
words JOHN-PAUL DAVIES photos LLOYD STRANAGHAN