Swervedriver was coated with 10 years of dust when they took the stage at Coachella last month. The band—a seminal coulda-been-a-contender that hazily spun out of the British shoegaze phenomenon of the early '90s, but never moved enough units to trade their cult status for chart success—had been broken up for a decade, and their afternoon set in the "Mojave" tent was the first of a string of stateside reunion shows.
No one really cared.
That isn't to say that the band wasn't surrounded by fans—a few hundred loyal supporters were there—but given the size of the festival (and tent), the band was presented with a blunt reminder that, despite all the critical prose on their legacy and those desperate reunion inquiries from fans over the past 10 years, when it comes to reunions, Swervedriver is not the Police. They aren't even the Pixies.
But there should be no pity for the poor alternative rock band whose reunion is most likely a toothless paper tiger lacking the bite of bigger artists. Swervedriver frontman Adam Franklin—the formerly dreadlocked singer whose face was constantly draped in matted hair during the band's initial run—is painfully modest in his desire to get the ol' band back together. He doesn't want to be Frank Black (and of course no one in their right mind wants to be Sting). Instead, the band's reformation has more to do with reaching younger fans than with delivering cheap '90s nostalgia, or making a desperate cash grab before the sun sets on the band forever.
"We know big fans of the band that never got to see us play," explains Franklin. "There are people looking forward to seeing us again, but this is for the people who never got to see us. When I saw the reformed Stooges, that was a band I'd never seen, and it was just amazing seeing them on stage."
For a generation of kids (present company included) who were captivated by the band's aggressive take on the usually passive shoegaze genre, this reunion offers us what Iggy's return offered Franklin: an opportunity to see a band we thought we'd never see. And of course, that Coachella show—complete with rolling tumbleweeds (this can be taken as symbolic, or quite literal, given the desert location of the festival) during their set—was most likely an aberration, since the band was hastily added to the bill at the last minute.
"We weren't really up to full speed," says Franklin, regarding their daytime tent show, a terrible scheduling decision given the band's decadent and swirling guitar sound, which works best in a dimly lit rock club late at night. "The pressure was off us because it's a festival. We just went out and did it, really."
According to Franklin, this second time around for Swervedriver is an open-ended excursion, and while they primarily want to play for new faces, they are holding back on future recordings ("There's no plan to do anything"), or announcing anything more permanent than a handful of club shows. Besides, the man is double booked as is, with another solo record under his name due out soon, plus the Magnetic Morning project with Interpol drummer Sam Fogarino. But until then—dreads or not, huge crowds or not—Franklin will resume his role in front of a band that we've waited over a decade to see. There is nothing more important than that.