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Swerving into LA's Music Scene

Los Angeles native band shares cover of iconic The Stone Roses song.

Swerve

Photo courtesy of Maddie Freeman


The hazy Los Angeles nighttime sky is juxtaposed by the bright neon lights that riddle the signs on storefronts and unassuming bars. The city comes alive after dark with people eager to head to their favorite punk rock show, ready to down a glass of mezcal and listen to anarchic tunes. This is the vibe that LA native band, Swerve, emulates in their gritty single “I Wanna Be Adored,” released May 22. 


Swerve’s cover of The Stone Roses' song is made anew with lead vocalist and songwriter, Greg Mahdesian’s moody and atmospheric tone combined with Ryan Berti’s skillful guitar playing. This single follows the band’s most popular Spotify track, “Just Pretend,” and their debut album, “Ruin Your Day.”


“We didn't want to do a straight cover and the more we’ve been playing a kind of dirtier, grungier sound we wanted to lean into it further,” Mahdesian said. “Also with covers, you can break out of your own habits. The melody and chord progressions are already written and I think actually that freed us up to get weirder.” 


The band’s sardonic energy and lyricism are powered by the chemistry between Mahdesian and Berti, who share mixed Armenian ancestry, music preferences, and their share of zany adolescence. In their music-making process, Mahdesian attributes their themes to the sleazy energy of city nightlife and spontaneous emotions. 


“We’re a distinctly LA band,” Mahdesian said. “It’s a part of our identity and we’re from a strong Armenian subculture. A majority of [Armenians] are in Los Angeles and we don’t speak the language but it’s one of those things that tie us to this location.” 


Their first full-length album, “Ruin your Day” is filled with fervent, wonderfully unpolished instrumentals with cynical lyrics fit for any Tumblr-era music lover craving the nostalgia of the early 2000s punk scene. Mahdesian believes this tone can be a byproduct of his personality which is self-described as a “depressive optimist.” Their newer releases highlight the messiness of the band’s youth. 


“We were just thinking about who we used to be, what was going on [pre-pandemic],” Mahdesian said. “We used to be shitheads, in a fun way. We’re always nice boys but we were out all the time, had mutually destructive relationships that were fun, big friend groups and lots of parties. Few responsibilities, I got a lot now, and I think just like tapping into [the past] with distance is simultaneously more accurate and romanticism that gives it a little bit more drama.”


Despite their fondness for covering feelings of nostalgia, Swerve doesn’t focus on straightforward storylines. Their 2021 single “Maybe I Didn’t Do That” is more reminiscent of a conventional breakup song, but the band has recently leaned towards subjective themes. 


“The lyrics don’t come first, the story doesn’t come first,” Mahdesian said. “You start fitting it into the feeling, and the sound and the melody.”


Along with the upcoming June 21 release of their EP "The Darkroom," Swerve teases the production of their next tracks, saying the themes and sound tetter away from the defeatist nature of their previous works. With the anticipation of new music and a potential tour, listeners won’t want to Swerve away from the band just yet. 



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