"Well, the idea was a band, but we're really a neurotic bunch of obsessive compulsive weirdos," Switches
singer Matt Bishop says.
The neurotic obsessive-compulsive weirdos, pulled through impressively and way fantastically, and on March 18, 2008 Switches released their debut album, Lay Down The Law
, produced by Rob Schnapf (Beck
, Elliott Smith
) on Interscope.
Strangely, Switches, who now all live in London, came together naturally and easily. Matt grew up in Southend (a low-rent seaside town, something like the old Asbury Park neighbourhood) and formed the band while at college: he just sent a group email and chose the people whose responses he liked best. Even if they didn't like the same music.
There's Ollie Thomas, guitar: musical wunderkind aspiring to psychedelic-tinged virtuosity ala Hendrix
, but also partial to some tough new wave in the Stranglers and Television. Thom Kirkpatrick, bass: belt and braces, biscuits and tea, Beatles
and Ben Folds
, he is particularly English, even for someone from Britain. Steve Godfrey, drums, drums and more drums: he personifies his instrument. He likes to drum, drums to live, learned Appetite For Destruction
on pencils and saucepans so by the time he got his first kit he could play the record flawlessly.. And Matt: the seventies-leaning songwriter with a love for ELO
even though he wasn't born while they reigned, and a fully-fledged Child of Britpop.
The varying influences are a natural for Matt. In his teens he wrote hundreds of songs spanning from pop, disco, piano ballads, Beck-esque hip-hop, glam, punk, hardcore and emo. His stacks of homemade tapes were typhoons of conflicting styles. However styles, genres, bin cards and such hadn't quite been established in pre-school – when Matt began playing at age three. At four he's bringing his dad's electric guitar to school (dad was a former BBC engineer), along with his own little Fisher Price recorder. Already Matt loved to multi-track and over-dub when he shouldn't have even known the words. Oh did it make for some funny photos of the weird kid – guitar almost bigger than him!
"At that age I only knew, like, two chords so it was mainly Bolan rip-offs," he says. "I had this kid tape recorder and my mum's reel-to reel."
While this didn't make Matt a child prodigy, the music obsession obviously continued and therefore this story and the band. Originally called Matt Rock and the Others, almost immediately they won a Battle of the Bands contest. First prize was a support slot for The Darkness
"We didn't know who they were when we saw them backstage." Matt says. "Max was asking 'when are Status Quo
The only way to go from a battle of the bands contest is, um, up, and the first up move was changing their name to Switches. The guys quit school and dedicated themselves to music that consumed them. They got compared to Weezer and The Vines a lot (Weezer
for the music, The Vines
for Matt's unpredictable behavior). Switches toured for a year before being signed.
"When my publisher first approached me he was like 'I've heard five tracks – one of them sounds like The Bee Gees
, one sounds like T. Rex
, one sounds like Fugazi…'" Nice!
Rather than head straight into the studio to record a disjointed mish-mash of an album, Switches hit the road again. The band was on a mission to solidify their sound and present a coherent musical front. They returned ready to record their debut 'Message From Yuz EP' for Degenerate Music – four tracks of handclappy glamstomparama that crystallizes the last decade of British pop excellence and stood as an introduction into Switches' world: Starts like Elastica kung fu-kicking and winds up in a three-way rock-opera face-off between ELO, Kraftwerk
and Ziggy Stardust
They then released 'Lay Down The Law' which was immediately picked as track of the week by NME
. Admired for it's swagger, stomp and hooks galore – the song teases for the same named album to come.
And the songs just connect…. Bishop's voice alternately soars and stings, confidently owning you, and you want to be owned. Like swaying to Marc Bolan
or snidely getting schooled by Deborah Harry
, you are owned. Bishop captivates, corners, connects. Meanwhile the music is busy tricking and tripping with enthusiastic, irresistibly upbeat riffs. But the songs are swamped in the bitter sting of romance. Lyrics betray the music with an emotional deviance often delivering a smartly sour bite.
"The message is going to be of Love, but to be wary," says Matt. "Love songs that aren't quite happy endings… I really admire Ray Davies
for writing songs that weren't involving him; he was just watching…"
Matt continues, "Rock music is still alive and kicking…I really hope we can take it into new areas. At best in a genuine connection between band and listener. Creating music shouldn't be a one-way street – empathy, creativity and passion are crucial to us eventually, hopefully, pushing boundaries."
Nylon Magazine Music Tour w/ She Wants Revenge
, Be Your Own Pet
& The Virgins:
5/12 - Denver, CO at Gothic Theater
5/13 - Kansas City, MO at Beaumont Club
5/15 - Austin, TX at Stubb's Bar-B-Q
5/16 - Dallas, TX at House of Blues
5/17 - Houston, TX at Meridian
5/18 - New Orleans, LA at House of Blues
5/20 - Saint Petersburg, FL at Jannus Landing
5/21 - Fort Lauderdale, FL at Revolution
5/22 - Orlando, FL at House of Blues Orlando
5/23 - Atlanta, GA at Variety Playhouse
5/24 - Asheville, NC at The Orange Peel
5/25 - North Myrtle Beach, SC at House of Blues
5/27 - Baltimore, MD at Rams Head
5/28 - New York, NY at The Fillmore at Irving Plaza
5/30 - Washington, DC at 9:30 Club
5/31 - Philadelphia, PA at The Fillmore at TLA
6/1 - Boston, MA at Paradise Rock Club
6/2 - Montreal, QC, Canada at Club Soda
6/4 - Toronto, ON, Canada at Phoenix Concert theater
6/5 - Detroit, MI at St. Andrews Hall
6/6 - Cleveland, OH at House of Blues
6/7 - Columbus, OH at Newport Music Hall
6/9 - Cincinnati, OH at Bogart's
6/10 - Indianapolis, IN at The Vogue
6/11 - Saint Louis, MO at The Pageant
6/12 - Chicago, IL at House of Blues
6/14 - Minneapolis, MN at Fine Line Music Cafe
6/17 - Vancouver, BC, Canada at Commodore Ballroom
6/18 - Seattle, WA at Showbox Showroom & Lounge
6/19 - Portland, OR at Crystal Ballroom
6/20 - San Francisco, CA at The Fillmore
6/21 - Los Angeles, CA at The Wiltern LG
"Drama Queen" (video)
"Lay Down The Law" (audio)
(Streaming audio and/or video links may expire without notice)