Violet Swells are an up and coming psychedelic band from Hobart, Tasmania. Their music sounds like their name: its colourful and ebbs and flows under the thin vocals of Ben Simms, the founder of the band.
3rd: Hello Ben! It's not too often that we get acts from Tasmania, how is the music scene in Hobart at the moment? Is psychedelic rock something that is getting a lot of exposure?
Ben: With the small population that Tasmania has, there isn't really room for different scenes of music. Everyone kind just plays with everyone, which seems to work well.
3rd: Is that how Violet Swells came to be? What's the concept?
Ben: It started with me just writing and recording at my house for fun, then getting some friends to jump up on stage with me and play it. Not much has changed since then, but the overall concept of Violet Swells is something I am still attempting to sonically capture. The longer you spend writing and recording, the closer you seem to be able to produce exactly what you’re hearing in your head. The songs I am recording at the moment are much more like what I envision compared to the last, but still a long way off. I think that is what makes the musical canon of a band or artist so interesting. I love to hear experimentation and growth over albums, whether it pays off or not.
3rd: True, it's important to make something stand out. Speaking of which the artwork for your latest single Here Comes Yesterday has a Loony Tunes sort of look to it. How important are artwork and visuals for the band?
Ben: I was working my way through watching the entire Loony Tunes back catalogue while recording Here Comes Yesterday, so maybe it subliminally worked its way in? I think the visual element to a band is really important. That’s something Glam got down really well. It’s just another way to immerse an audience in your music, which really works well for psych music.
3rd: So a lot is being spoken about psych music. Who are the bands biggest influences and why have these acts made such an impression on your music?
Ben: There is a lot that has shaped how I write music, but to narrow it down to a few I would probably say David Bowie, Joe Meek, Scott Walker and The Flaming Lips. They all sound very different, but each one of them spent their time constantly changing but still doing whatever they want. They took advantage of the latest gear or song writing trends but managed to always do it on their own terms. Even Joe Meek who was a producer took the then current song writing tropes of the 60’s and turned them on their head, creating these crazy sounding recordings that were still great 3 minute pop songs. I like that mentality of taking the mainstream and twisting it to conform to what you want to hear, oppose to the other way round. It’s almost a punk rock mentality if you think about it.
3rd: Is that the reason for the recent psychedelic revival with bands such as Tame Impala, Temples and Mystic Braves, just to name a few? Why do you think this sort of sound has made a resurgence in recent years?
3rd: What have you been listening to this week, then. Is there anything new we should be listening to?
Ben: A lot of Kraftwerk and early Hawkwind. They are both big influences on the writing and recording that I am currently doing. Also a band I found via soundcloud called Death and Vanilla. Not sure where they are from, but this has been racking a lot of plays from me.
3rd: What do you have, then, which the above bands haven't got?
Ben: Maybe my vast knowledge of comic book universes? I sneak in a lot of references to weird Marvel cosmic things in my lyrics.
3rd: There's the secret! Thanks, Ben. before you go, I'll let you pick one person, past or present, to add to your group, who will it be?
Ben: At the moment I’d love to have Delia Derbyshire making big sound collages throughout my songs. Either her or John Barry, with an orchestra.