Swerve is the latest SoCal band to grab our attention. They’re playing The Bootleg on June 26th with support from TEST to celebrate their EP release. Check out more information about the band and how they got their start.
Hometown: Los Angeles
When the band formed: 2015
Greg Mahdesian – Vocals, guitar
Ryan Berti – Guitar, vocals
Brandon Duncan – Bass, vocals, production
Mark Garner – Drums, jokes
When did you first know you wanted to be in a band?
GM: I think I’ve always wanted to be in a band, but didn’t know how to put myself out there until a few years ago. I started off doing solo stuff with my acoustic guitar and then it kind of organically became a band once we started playing live. It’s more fun that way and the music is better, and no one ever asks “who’s your favorite solo artist?”. It’s always “what’s your favorite band?”.
RB: I’ve always thought that music sounded better when there was some synergy between the people making it, and figured that’d be the goal.
BD: Wait, I’m in a band?
MG: When Titanic came out, I saw it and thought, “man, I never want to be on a boat like that” and bought a drum set. The rest is history.
How did the current lineup come to be?
RB: Greg asked if I played guitar, and if I could show up on-time to practice, and I said yes to both.
GM: Brandon produced the first EP and since he knew the songs so well I asked if he could play bass while I put together a live outfit, and he’s been in it ever since. Ryan and I were buddies from school and he asked if he could join the band after several margaritas at Las Perlas in downtown. Mark just kind of showed up one day.
MG: Greg said he had dirt on me, and I didn’t really want to take the risk.
BD: I’m pretty sure it was all an accident.
With all the little pockets of music scenes in SoCal, how do you go about checking out the local scene and finding new bands to listen to or even perform with?
GM: Friends will invite us out to check out their band or their friends’ bands- it’s like a way less lame version of corporate networking. We get asked to support some bands and then we do the same, and hopefully you like each other and become fans of one another and make a connection.
BD: I just wait for the youngsters in the band to tell me what’s cool, and also where to show up for gigs and when.
MG: I don’t know anyone outside of the music scene so it’s basically all I do.
RB: All of the local bands seem to have some network of friend-bands, so it’s just a matter of going to shows and learning what’s going on outside of your own friend-band-network.
What’s your favorite thing about the SoCal scene? What’s one thing you wish you could change about it?
RB: The number of great local/national/international bands that play in Los Angeles on any given night of the week is crazy. I wouldn’t change a thing.
GM: I like how surprisingly welcoming it is. We kind of showed up late to the party and have still found a home, made friends and all that. It’s probably a little too dispersed to really feel like a proper scene though- there’s a lot of micro-scenes. I don’t really have anything else to compare it to, but I like it.
There’s no doubt that this is a crowded place. So do you ever find it difficult to build up even just a solid local following? How does the band go about doing that?
GM: The competition probably forces you to be better. There’s a million different things going on every night, so it’s always easier for someone not to see you than to check you out. Maybe it forces you to think too career oriented as well, and you can end up getting myopic and thinking that LA is all that there is. I mostly think that if you show up and play well, get better and be open to new ideas without sacrificing what you are, and put in the hustle, you’ll at least bring people to shows.
BD: Greg asks me that same question every other week….
How do you handle the band’s social media presence? Where can the readers follow you?
RB: It’s usually an amalgamation of our individual pictures and videos, and we have friends that help us find a common theme/color in that mess.
MG: I try to really take the reigns and approach everything with a hands-off, but controlling vibe.
GM: We know who we are, so we try to just be ourselves when we post and interact with others online…with help from people that know how to post and interact with others.
BD: Also leave that up to the youngsters. But after all, we are a band, so what we’re really interested in are listeners!
Do you have a favorite SoCal spot to play? What makes it your favorite?
GM: Playing the Troubadour was an amazing experience, and I’m stoked to be headlining the Bootleg for our EP release show. I’ve always wanted to play there and to be the main attraction feels good.
What is the band working on right now?
GM: Tons of new music. We’re expanding our sound, going heavier and also prettier. Headlining the Bootleg June 26th, and then getting out of LA to see what we’ve been missing.
BD: Mostly I’m trying to galvanize these youngsters’ livers so that when we go out on the road they can keep up with the old geezer!
MG: I’m not entirely sure… there’s a ballad in there though. And experimenting with feedback.
RB: Fuckin’ bangers.