In Conversation: Sven

by Hayley Turner-McIntyre // Danny Hines // Photos by Forgotten Media & Sven, Jul 06, 2018

Get the low-down on the South Coast's newest emo heroes Sven.

Catch Sven with Touché Amore and Gender Roles @ The Wedgewood Rooms on 10th July. Limited tickets available here!

Native recently had the pleasure of catching up with local lads Sven, a four piece “emo-grunge-pop-rock” outfit based in based in Portsmouth. Despite having been around for only a few months, Sven have made waves already this year; packing out their first headline show and bagging slots with a bunch of great established artists.

We sat down with band members Joe and Steve to talk dream venues, DIY aesthetic and everything in-between.

We caught your headline gig back in March - it was awesome, by the way - what was it like performing your first show?

Joe: It was quite a good turn out to be fair and the crowd really seemed to enjoy it. We put it on all ourselves and asked the other bands to play, shared the details out as much as we could.

We put up all our own lights for it, literally everything was bare and we pretty much had to bring everything together. We managed to do it, it was a bit of DIY but it was still cool though.

Brilliant! Were you quite surprised the crowd asked for an encore?

Yeah cause we don’t have enough songs! We’ve actually only been a band since last August, so the fact that we had brought out 6 or 7 songs to play at the gig and that happened, that was pretty cool.

Can you tell me how both of you got into playing music, where did your interests start and who are your influences?

Joe: Probably when I was like really young, about 11. I think the first band I properly ever liked was Good Charlotte and then umm, seeing them on the TV when they got in the charts and stuff it kinda went from there and bands like Green Day, Nirvana. Then I started learning guitar and stuff when I was like 12-13 and I just gone from there. Music, not to sound cliché, but has been a part of my life and that’s what it is.

So did you teach yourself guitar?

Joe: No I got lessons when I was a kid and just kinda went on from there and then stopped doing the lessons. The first band I ever made was when I was 17 years old so and we played gigs and played around the UK a little bit and it just kinda like expanded from there really.

Steve: Pretty much the same. So I remember one of my mates bringing round a cardboard box with a load of old CDs like Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and then I pretty much just picked up a guitar from there.

How would you guys describe your sound for people who haven’t heard of you before?

Joe: For months we’ve been thinking about how to describe ourselves and I sat there the other day with a couple of mates and I said that we were kind of like emo-grunge-pop-rock, and I think that’s the only way to describe it! We try to write as heavy choruses as we can and then just obviously and we take inspiration from bands like Nirvana and Basement who are grunge as well.

Joe, you briefly mentioned at the gig your song ‘Father’ meant something to you, can you talk about that a bit more?

Joe: I first started about my Mum and Dad splitting up when I was like younger and my Dad, not to sound cliché, but my Dad kinda went off and didn’t really care and the song carried on like people not needing negativity in their lives and stuff like that. We jammed it out and it just went from there really. Most of the time one of us will bring an idea to practice and it’s usually me and Steve who write the vocals, we just bounce off each other when we work together.

You recently performed at The Joiners [in Southampton] to raise money for the mental health charity ‘MIND’. Can you tell me what charity and the importance of mental health means to you?

Joe: When I was younger I had a bit of a spell where I was in a depressive state and a lot of my friends have been affected, it seems like it circles around in this kind of scene. So if we can raise some money and help people then that’s pretty good.

Music is there to let people have an artistic open and let them express themselves. If we play a show we’re up there expressing ourselves and we just want people to have fun, you know, again not to sound cliché but when everyone’s at a show together it doesn’t matter who you are or what you are or what you look like you’re all there for the same reason - to watch a band and have some fun.

Is there a dream venue you guys want to play at in the future?

Joe: I want to play in Japan, I want to go to Japan so bad! And I also wanna play Chain Reaction in Anaheim in California; it’s the sickest venue and the biggest bands play there.

I did wanna do Warped Tour but obviously that’s not on this year. A couple of years ago a friend’s band played there and also one of my friend’s who’s in the band Gospel Youth. I also know someone in a band called The Exposed, an old punk band, who played there like three or four times - yeah a lot of friends have been out there.

So you already have some industry connections. 

Joe: Yeah this is the thing, so like we’re trying hard but I’d say that the local scene is dying hard; the Portsmouth scene especially, not so much Southampton. 5-6 years ago, everybody came to The Wedge [The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea], but now people don’t even come South really.

Are you working on any new music at the moment, any albums or other stuff?

Joe: So we’ve always got stuff going on; we’re always writing new tracks and stuff. We go to practice, we jam stuff out, we make sure our songs are tight, then we just spent the rest of the time just working on new stuff really. Everybody is always bringing in new ideas so we probably got like 2-3 songs on the go while we’re writing. The issue is we’ve only just released our new EP in Feb so it’s probably not gonna get pushed out for a really long time.

Do you have any label interest yet?

Joe: There is like some stuff going on at the moment, like I can’t say too much but there is some cool stuff which may be happening in the future. We’re in discussions at the moment but I shouldn’t say too much really!

Ooh, gossip!

Joe: Ooooh!

You’ve done quite a lot since your debut EP only came out in February!

Joe: Yeah so we didn’t really announce the band until very recently. Only a few close friends knew about the band and we didn’t really wanna tell anybody or start posting about ourselves.

So you spent the first few months recording and tightening up?

Joe: Yeah that’s what we kinda wanted to do like in my previous band and in Steve’s previous band, we wrote some songs but we didn’t release or record them. This time around we said “I wanna do it properly”, I’d rather have something to show off so people would wanna check us out and there’s proper music out there to listen to.

You're really hitting the ground running with the EP, artwork, merch, the whole package. Did you do everything yourselves?

Joe: So our guitarist Jesse did the album artwork and everything else we did off of our own backs. The EP was actually recorded in George’s bedroom, really, the whole thing. Believe it or not he’s not an engineer so he learnt as he went, so that’s very DIY.

The artwork was a photo that Jesse took on a camera and he just put it together with photoshop, and one of the t-shirts luckily Jesse’s friend’s a tattoo artist so he designed the t-shirt for us and the other t-shirt we have is a photo of my cat on it!

It’s really cool! It’s simple but it fits the aesthetic that you’ve put together with the music.

Joe: Yeah man! At the end of the day, we don’t wanna try to be one of these bands who’s kinda boring and just sits there or just stands there and plays; I’d rather see a band that’s having fun and not be boring.

Should be fun times when it all kicks off, I just know that certain bands they luckily only have to play that one great show then it all takes off. Whereas some bands start off touring and have to do a few sets of shows before anything happens.

We’re just doing it and see where it takes us really. When it stops being fun, that’s when we’ll stop doing it. We’re not in it to make money, we’re here to have fun.

Check out their EP ‘Seventeen’ on Spotify now!

Grab tickets to catch Sven play with Touché Amore and Gender Roles @ The Wedgewood Rooms on 10th July.

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