2019 sees SWMRS returning to Reading Festival for the fourth time, graduating to a slot on the Main stage after packing out the BBC Radio One tent during their 2018 visit.
It’s fair to say that the Quartet, hailing from Oakland, California, have come to encapsulate everything that the festival stands for; a crowd-pleasing punk act, bridging the Atlantic gap with energetic tracks that celebrate youth, whilst forever touching base with upbeat pop hooks.
SWMRS return to Reading this year as award winners, with Kerrang! Magazine hailing Cole, Max, Joey and Seb as 2019’s Best International Newcomers, following the release of recent album Berkley’s On Fire. We met SWMRS after their slot on the Main Stage to find out what makes them keep coming back for more.
What does your post-gig routine look like?
MB: We’ve pretty much just eaten for the two hours since we played. Leeds lunch is notoriously way better than Reading’s lunch
JA: The food at Reading is fine, the presentation is just way lacklustre.
SM: It was kind of healthy, like salmon and vegetables.
MB: …so basically, we’ve just eaten since the show.
How else do the festivals differ for you?
MB: Reading is always a really crazy show, but the backstage is loud and dusty, not that we aren’t grateful to be here!
CB: Leeds is in this big, beautiful field. It’s different here because you’re in the city of Reading, which is fine – it’s better than Reading, California, that place is full of confederates. People in Reading talk about the state of Jefferson, which is what California was called before the South lost the civil war.
JA: Reading, England, is much nicer than that.
CB: We can talk about history or anything you like, man, you name it.
This is your fourth time at Reading, do you have a favourite from your previous visits?
CB: This one.
MB: To be asked to step up to the mainstage is incredible – we feel like the luckiest guys on the planet.
What were your immediate reactions to the step up the roster?
MB: We were like ‘wow, they chose us!’
JA: The crowd were great too
You referred to Reading as the best festival in the world during your set, what sets it apart?
CB: It’s gotta be the age range of the crowd
MB: Glastonbury is a little old. In America too – there have been no festivals that have established themselves like Reading & Leeds as a place for young people and teenagers to go and experience music.
CB: And it’s kept amazing music at the top, all the kids out there like every type of music. The same kids dancing to Yungblud are about to stick around for the Foo Fighters, you don’t get that in America.
Do any other festivals across the world get an honourable shoutout?
SM: Rock Werchter
JA: Rest in peace, Burgerama, the greatest American festival to ever exist.
CB: Summer Sonic, in Japan
MB: Y’know what; Rocco Del Schlacko in Germany, the most incredible catering we’ve ever had.
When did you guys find out that you’d won the Kerrang! award for Best International Newcomer?
MB: Literally when they announced it, our whole team knew and did such a good job of keeping the secret from us.
JA: We were like ‘why are we flying to London when we might not even win?’
How did you celebrate?
MB: We went to practise, we’ve got a rehearsal space outside of London, so we got some Itsu and then learnt Thunderstruck by ACDC, practised it a few times and decided that we didn’t wanna play that song haha.
What does it mean to receive an accolade like this from the UK?
CB: We are probably bigger in the UK than we are in the US and we love it. England has this amazing system for allowing young talent to grow, Annie Mac is a fucking queen! In America, all radio hosts are cynical losers who sit behind a desk. Our only good host is Zane Lowe.
CB: Right, see? Even he is from the BBC! We have none of our own great hosts.
Are you nearing the end of your current album cycle?
CB: I don’t think we will be sticking to the regular record cycle anymore, when we have some music, we’ll release it, when we have a show, we’ll play it.
SM: We’ve worked really hard to be in the position where we can do whatever we want, on our own terms.
MB: We definitely won’t be blindly listening to the ideas of older people, the 2020’s will be a big era for all of us, the industry is so different to how it was 5 years ago, so let’s just do what our gut is telling us.
SWMRS’ recent album, Berkley’s on Fire is out now