If there’s one thing the music industry has been lacking in the past decade or so, it’s a good ‘ol angsty, Californian punk rock band made up of dyed-haired teens making some raucous tunes. This musical recipe for punk success was extremely popular in the 90s, with bands like Blink-182, The Offspring, and Bad Religion rising in the scene. But all of these bands had one thing in common: they all hailed from the sunshine-y, long haired, carefree Southern Californian culture that has captivated people around the world for decades. Now, almost ten years since the last notable punk band to hail from the Golden State, we have SWMRS, the band we’ve been waiting for.
Influenced by a fusion of The Ramones, The Beach Boys, and taking some inspiration from School of Rock, SWMRS have carved out their own brand of punk rock. The band is somewhat dynastic, considering the drummer’s father is punk legend Billie Joe Armstrong, but unlike other musical family empires, the band is making a name for itself on its own. Hailing from the Bay Area, SWMRS holds a ton of pride in NorCal music culture and made this stance as a band very clear with a vocal and dynamic full-length debut, aptly titled Drive North. A potent response to the world’s obsession with L.A. and all things SoCal, Drive North is fast-paced, direct, and all things not SoCal. The album’s title track explicitly pleads “I hate Venice Beach / I hate the Echoplex / I hate Santa Monica Boulevard / I hate L.A. / drive north!” And somehow, through the intense gang vocals and distorted guitars, this song makes you take pride in where you’re from in a way that only Bruce Springsteen has perfected.
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of catching SWMRS on their headlining European tour. On the second floor of an old London pub in a crowd of about 50 people, I experienced one of the liveliest and most passionate shows that I have ever seen. SWMRS is truly a band that was made to play live music, and you can catch them in a few weeks when they come through Chicago and open up for FIDLAR at the Metro on November 17! The show is sold out from the venue, but hey, Stubhub is always an option.