Formed all the way back in 2004, the band SWMRS is originally from Oakland but has the sun-soaked surf punk sound of your favorite SoCal band. But they might be offended if you said so – they have a song called “I Hate L.A.” and their new album, set for release on February 12th is titled Drive North. You may be familiar with their lyrical ode to Miley Cyrus and fans of fashion might even recognize brothers/guitarists/singers Max and Cole Becker as models for Yves Saint Laurent last year. But their biggest claim to fame is arguably their punk rock lineage. Drummer Joey Armstrong is the son of none other than Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong, who helped them produce their first studio albums under their original band name Emily’s Army.
According to their Facebook page, they classify their genre as “hawiiange” (Hawaiian grunge?) which is decidedly accurate. Their lyrics play upon themes of young romance, adolescent confusion and general teenage antics making for fun and lighthearted songs that incorporate both punk and beach pop influences. But rather than relying on super distorted low-fi guitars and simplistic drum beats, their sound is refreshingly clean and refined and surprising to hear coming from such young dudes.
Even though many of their songs might be about love and the beach, it should be noted that as a band they also deal with some more serious and current subject matter. Perhaps this is what sets SWMRS apart from the rest. The Becker brothers also create Boyzine, defined on their Facebook page as “a zine for boyz (and girlz)… New masculinity not defined by patriarchy.” At their show at Chop Suey this month, their encore included a cover of “Boys Don’t Cry” by The Cure. Max closed the set by proclaiming “boys can cry, girls can cry, non-binary people can cry, everyone can cry!” SWMRS may be just the band to lead today’s socially progressive punk youth.
They have already established themselves in the Oakland music scene and are quickly garnering the attention of the rest of the country too. Seeing as they opened for Wavves and Twin Peaks on their September tour last year and are currently headlining their own tour with Melissa Brooks and the Aquadolls (aptly named the “Aquatic Reference Overkill Tour”) I have no doubts we will be hearing more about SWMRS in the very near future.