“This is the band where we finally wove all those threads together to create the music that we have always wanted to make.”
Swn & All My Friends bring the glorious prog-psych pop of Once & Future Band here on March 6th. We chatted with them ahead of their UK tour & 6Music session with Marc Riley.Buy Tickets
Q: The band name is perfect for you guys – does it come from somewhere specific?
A: Thanks! Our good friend Danny James suggested the name to us. It’s a reference to T.H. White’s Arthurian classic “The Once and Future King”. It represents our love and reverence for the music and tones of the past and how we carry these influences forward, synthesizing them into a modern sound. That’s the hope right? To bring something new to the conversation, while acknowledging the teachers who lead us down this path.
Q: Even though this is your debut LP as O&FB, it’s easily obvious it’s not the 1st record you guys have done as musicians given how well crafted it is – how did you come together as a band?
A: We’ve played together in various combinations over the years in Drunk Horse, Howlin Rain, Danny James, and other incarnations along the way. No matter what kind of music we were doing in any of these bands, we carried within each of us the threads of all the different sounds we share a love for. Once & Future Band is the band where we finally wove all those threads together to create the music that we have always wanted to make.
Q: Even though there’s a tonne of deeply embedded influences in your sound, it’s also a wonderfully easy record to connect with – how did try and meld so many influences into a pop record?
A: The main reason we’re able to do it is that we don’t put arbitrary limitations of genre on ourselves. We love combining seemingly disparate elements to create a dynamic tension that makes our work feel exciting and new.
Q: Does the fact O&FB is more of a collaboration than previous bands, it seems to me, have an influence on the size & scope of the record – both in terms of influences & the grand pop ambitions of it?
A: Totally. While the band started as a way to play Joel’s repertoire of songs, it has evolved over time to be a more cohesive effort for all of us. Now, instead of being one person’s sole vision, it’s everyone bringing their songwriting talents, experiences and ideas to the table. It’s more of a conversation than a monologue. Through that spirit of collaborative chemistry we’ve wound up creating a sound that feels rich and expansive. So often our work together has gone places we hadn’t previously imagined until we found ourselves in the midst of creating it. That’s exciting, it makes us want to keep going forward.
Q: Whilst the record is prog-pop & grand, it does seem to address more human concerns around love & loss – were there any particular records or artists who were an influence or touchstone for that?
A: There are so many artists whose lyrics we love, from the beautiful sadness of Bill Fay to the sardonic bite of Becker and Fagen. Combining expansive music with deeply personal lyrics is a way to represent how even simple interactions between people can hide vast depths of emotion. Somehow lyrics like that can touch people personally and let them connect their own lives to the song’s story.
Q: How are preparations for transferring the sound for the UK tour coming along?
A: Swimmingly. We’ll be bringing songs from our LP as well as from our soon to be re-issued EP to the stage, with new opportunities for intergalactic detours along the way!