Somojo Magazine

The Swipes

Would you mind introducing yourselves and telling us what instruments you play?
Stefan: Hello, my name is Stefan and I try my best to sing and play guitar.
Thomas: Me too.
Udo: I’m Udo, the guy with the thick strings.
Jens: I’m Jens, the one behind the drum set.

How long has the current band line up been together?
Stefan: Since 2007, but some members played in former bands together. I’m the new one.

How did you get to meet each other?
Jens: Thomas and I used to play in different bands together. Now we found Stefan and Udo who are nearly as blessed with musical genius as we are.
Stefan: I found there a call for help in the internet: Save us, save us! I could not resist to be a good guy…
Udo: Yeah, Stefan was our saviour. When Thomas, Jens and later on I played together, all the additional musicians escaped after a short time. Only Stefan was tough enough to cope with such savage and pig-headed guys like us.

Stefan: For the moment just a 5 track promo ep - but we prepare the recordings for a complete album.
Udo: In July we’re going to record 10 new tracks in order to enlarge the current demo to a full length album.

What music did you listen to while growing up?
Udo: Really commonplace stuff, better not to mention… But later a professional underground record dealer became my flatmate, and so I got into some pretty cool music - with focus on psychedelic, garage, wave, post punk and the like.
Stefan: I grew up with shitty 80’s music, but that gave me at least the taste for catchy hooklines, haha… Later Beatles and the Who got impotant for me.
Jens: I started hearing 80’s Breakdance and
Electro stuff, followed by a 60’s Psychedelic phase and now I’m into everything from 60’s Garage to Exotica-Lounge-Weirdo-Music.

How long have you played your instruments?
Stefan: I started in the end of the 80’s on bass and in 1990 with guitar.
Udo: Halfway serious playing began in 2001 when I took a dozen of bass lessons. Roughly at the same time I started to make some clumsy first steps in several variegated jambands. In 2003 I finally had my very first gig… together with Thomas and Jens, by the way.
Jens: I’m playing drums since 1980.

What was your first instrument?
Jens: My first drum set was a weird no-name thing, coloured black with silver curls. Very psychedelic!
Udo: My very first bass was a really strange one – an old short scale no-name exemplar, made in Taiwan. A friend of mine bought it for approximately 20 Euro on a flea market in
Stefan: My first guitar was an ugly green metallic Ibanez, my first bass a cheap Hohner.

Are you self taught or did you have lessons?
Stefan: I had accordion lessons as a child. On bass and guitar I’m an autodidact.
Udo: A few bass lessons, like mentioned above, but most widely self taught. Besides, in the age of 12/13 I had at least two years of flute lessons. But I hated them, and after that I was fed up with making music for a pretty long time.
Jens: I had lessons for about 7 years. Since then, my level is constantly decreasing.

Did you always want to be in a band when you were growing up?

Jens: Definitely yes.
Stefan: Yes, since I was a teenager watching punkrock-bands in our local youthcenter.
Udo: On the one hand it seemed to be a cool idea to me… but on the other there were too many cautionary tales in my circle of friends and acquaintances. Guys who considered themselves being upoming rock stars though they were, in fact, bloody amateurs without the slightest evidence of talent, inspiration or even discipline in keeping practising.

The Swipes

What is your current equipment?
Stefan: Gordon-Smith guitar, Marshall amp and tons of effects to hide my bad playing, haha…
Udo: Two Musicman Stingrays, a Clover 5-string, Hartke 350 Amp, 2 Trace Elliott 2x10’’ boxes and several effects – forming a certain contrast to the mentioned beginnings.
Jens: A Pearl Custom Z. Sabian cymbals.

If you had an unlimited equipment budget what would be on your shopping list?
Stefan: My private ghost guitar player.
Jens: More cymbals, a new drum seat and a whole gamelan orchestra.
Udo: A double-deck tour bus, with a stage and a first class foldout PA on its roof, useable as a rolling domicile, with a professional recording studio, the portfolio of an exquisite guitar & bass guitar shop and a swimming pool aboard. (Note: If you want to make it in the music biz, you better shouldn’t think too modest if somebody offers you a golden opportunity...;))

Do you use the same equipment live as you do when in a studio?
Stefan: Yes. Only for demo-home recording I use a digital preamp from Line 6.
Udo: Yes indeed.

Do you record at a purpose built studio or do you record at home with portable digital equipment?
Stefan: We use normal studios. Only at home I use portable digital equipment.

Any new recordings planned?
Udo: See above.
Stefan: With some luck we will finish this summer the recording of our debut-cd.

When’s the new album released, how long has it taken?
Stefan: There is no release date for the moment. We will search for a label with the finished song material.

Do you have any favourite tracks on your new album?
Stefan: No, they are all equally bad. We feel ashamed.
Udo: I think Silent Alarm is more than bad – it’s badass ;)

Who are the main song writers for the band?
Stefan: Thomas and me, but some songs were written together. The arrangement of the songs happens together in the rehearsal room. So
everybody has some influence to the result.

Do you write songs only about personal experiences?
Stefan: That’s what writers with no imagination do, hehe! Can also happen to us but I try from time to time to get little critical messages into the lyrics. Sometimes rock music should be more than just entertainment.

Do you find song writing easy or difficult?
Stefan: The best songs are written in 5 minutes. That’s easy. But some songs need time to develop – so it can happen that they got finished after 6 months.

Is there anyone who you would like to collaborate with on writing songs?
Stefan: Why not Tom Waits? :)

Who are your favourite song writers?
Stefan: Just a selection: Frankie Stubbs (Leatherface), Aimee Mann, Pete Townshend, John Lennon/ Paul McCartney and Stock Aitken Waterman.

Which countries have you gigged in?
Stefan: The Swipes played only Germany. But with former bands I played also Great Britain, Italy, Austria and Switzerland.
Jens: I had the great pleasure to play in Bulgaria with the fabulous Bad Homboys, a Reggae-Band I used to play in.

Which countries would be at the top of your list to tour?
Jens: Great Britain, France and Tuvalu.
Stefan: Great Britain and Japan…
Udo: …as long as there are no major concert events on the moon, at least.

Who would you like to tour with?
Stefan: The Who.
Jens: The Sonics, The Electric Prunes.
Udo: The next band of Didz Hammond (who played sooner with the Dirty Pretty Things). I dig his performance style since I saw him live with The Cooper Temple Clause.

How do you promote your music and get your music to new fans?
Stefan: Torture and blackmail.
Udo: Yeah, that’s one of the meanings of our band name. Sometimes a little swipe may convince the indecisive… Okay, let’s get a little more serious: We apply the usual public relations instruments, such as presenting ourselves on many internet platforms, socializing with concert organizers and multipliers in the (local) music biz, getting our songs into many (web)radios, doing interviews (like this) and so on.

Do you use any websites like ‘Reverbnation’ or ‘Soundclick’?
Udo: Yes, a lot of them. They are useful instruments for free self-promotion.

Do you think such sites are good for independent and unsigned artists?
Udo: By all means.

Do you think the internet overall is a good or bad thing for new artists?
Stefan: It helps the people to discover new bands. You need only seconds to find a band on MySpace or at the itunes store etc. But I really regret that with internet, mp3s and everything digital, music looses more and more its magic. Everything is quick to consume and it fits in little white and black sticks and you even don’t need a cupboard for records anymore. I am not sure if we should applause on every point. In the past the people went to concerts and record stores to discover bands. Today people make their perfect analysis beyond the screen. This may be up to date, but it’s also absolutely sad.

Would you sign with a major record company?
Stefan: The famous good or evil question. My personal truth: No big difference to independent labels anymore. Today there are no labels anymore who are only driven by people with conscience and ideals. Everybody primarily wants to make some money and they all have co-operations with big distributions, internet pages and the rest of the media. It’s understandable – because it’s the only way to survive today. And of course it’s better than nothing. But beat, punk, garage and all the rest are everything but not a hidden secret music treasure. It’s mainstream like every music genre. The contemporary taste of fashion decides about success. Ah, I forget the main answer: Why not if they let us do what we want?

How did you come up with name?
Stefan: Pure desperation.

What would call your style of music?
Stefan: We call it “New Garage”. Also pure desperation.
Udo: This term is being used by several labels, as an example see

Who do you listen to when chilling out?
Udo: Massive Attack, Thievery Corporation, De-Phazz, Boozoo Bajou, Banco de Gaia, Yonderboi,  Terranova, Daturah and many others.
Jens: Future Sound of London, Loop Guru, Massive Attack, Spacemen 3, Spiritualized, Main, Bowery Electric etc.
Stefan: Monoland from Berlin.

Have you ever entered any ‘battle of the bands’ competitions?
Stefan: With former bands 20 years ago. I think we are a touch too, er, mature for that today, haha. Anyway, in my opinion it’s silly to compare and rate music in such ways.

Where can you see yourselves in ten years?
Stefan: Here.
Udo: If not in heaven, in hell or the like, haha. But in fact: It’s even hard to predict where someone will be in only two or three years – we’re living in turbulent times. Nevertheless, we’ll kep doing our best to get ahead.

What’s your best/worst experience at a gig?
Stefan: The moment you are one with the audience and everybody dances.

Do you get nervous before a gig- how do you calm down?
Stefan: Not really - and if yes, a beer helps.

What are your day jobs if you have one?
Stefan: Writing.
Udo: Ditto.
Jens: I’m a project manager for biogas plants.

Has your music been used on any film soundtracks?
Stefan: Not with the Swipes, but I had the
opportunity with former bands. But the Swipes have a video. Wow – that’s a start!
Udo: A song of my parallel project “The Straight A” got selected for a professional short film by a director from Berlin; but we’re still waiting for the result.

Is it something you’d like to get involved in if the opportunity came along?
Stefan: Definitely yes!

Is there anything you’d like to add?
Stefan: All of your readers on our artist profiles in the internet – e.g. on or on MySpace.

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