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Baker's Dozen

Driving Force: Adam Franklin's Baker's Dozen
Ned Raggett , January 10th, 2024 12:25

From childhood seven inch singles and cash-in LPs to the joy of Sandinista! on shuffle, Swervedriver and Bolts Of Melody frontman Adam Franklin takes Ned Raggett through the thirteen records that shaped him

Adam Franklin is a busy man, as showcased by his list of forthcoming releases. Though perhaps best known for leading Swervedriver, he's also released a lot of work under other names, the latest being Bolts Of Melody, whose new album Film Noir is out later this month. As he explains in an energetic chat from his home in Oxford, however, it’s not so much a new undertaking as a slight reconfiguration of a project that’s been running for some time.

"Locksley [Taylor, of Canadian shoegaze band Sianspheric] contacted me and he just said, 'Hey, do you fancy doing a new record? You got anything lying around?' Riding around on tour we used to listen to everything from Serge Gainsbourg to Lee Hazelwood to Scott Walker, and then more obscure instrumentals as well, and so his idea was 'Let's do an instrumental album, like a soundtrack.' In the end, I do sing on three songs,I think a total of three lines, but that was sort of the genesis of this new record."

There's also a massive and long overdue reissue of Swervedriver's fourth album, 99th Dream, originally released in 1998. Recorded after the band's departure from Creation Records, both its relative obscurity and the band's then-tenuous existence, which would lead the following year to a lengthy hiatus, have obscured the fact that at its best it was an intriguing, engaging exploration beyond the style and sound expected of them.

"We forced the rights back!” Franklin says. “I mean, somebody had the rights and for the last ten years they hadn't paid one cent. We have the reels of tape, and we just thought, ‘Look, let's get this 99th Dream thing sorted out.’ In the end we went to the distribution people and [the previous rights owner] knew he didn't really have a leg to stand on.” Back in 1998, too, 99th Dream was a difficult birth. “After we'd been dropped by a few labels, we had literally bought the reels of tape. It was picked up by Geffen initially, but then Geffen didn't go through with it. I think there was Beggars Banquet and then Zero Hour, and we decided we'd rather be a big fish in a small pond rather than a small fish in a big pond. In retrospect, it would've been different if we'd gone with Beggars. But all the people that wanted to sign us were wonderful, wonderful folks."

While there's much to dig into with the reissue, Franklin's still most engaged with his new work, describing it as part of a continuous creative churn. These days, he says, "I'm more prone to random things – sitting down and making something up on the spot. I don't think there was a good time for the world to close down as it did, but when it did, the great thing was we had this Bolts Of Melody album where the sparks of inspiration had already been sprinkled throughout the songs,s o it was a question of 'Let's go in and see what we can do.' Then everything crazy happened [with Covid] and we just thought, 'Let's make this album as crazy as it can be as well!'"

For his Baker's Dozen, Franklin's choices range from long-established classics to intriguing curios. He adds by way of introduction “that I feel like this list is quite white–male–guitar, [but] they’re the kind of things that influenced me specifically as a musician.”

Adam Franklin's new album with Bolts Of Melody, Film Noir, and a reissue of Swervedriver's 99th Dream are both released on January 19 via Outer Battery.

To begin reading Franklin's Baker's Dozen, click the image below.