Premiere: SWMRS Release New Tour Documentary

Premiere: SWMRS Release New Tour Documentary

From Saint Laurent runway to the southwestern desert, a look at the life of four rockers

From Saint Laurent runway to the southwestern desert, a look at the life of four rockers

Text: SAMUEL ANDERSON

Following the announcement of their fall tour with FIDLAR, SMWRS has released “I’m Afraid to Go Home,” a mini tour documentary shot over the course of a week in February that captures what life is like on the road for this slaphappy grunge quartet.

It had been a busy month already. On top of releasing their debut studio album, Drive North, SWMRS offered a blitz of raucous, tightly-packed shows throughout the southwestern desert, far from the Saint Laurent campaigns and runway appearances that had exalted them in the world of fashion, but where, lead singer Cole Becker told us, the band felt right at home: “We like to play smaller venues to experience parts of the country you wouldn’t otherwise see.”

While Slimane’s vision brought them to a fashion audience, the band had long outgrown the garage when the designer-cum-photographer spotted them at an LA music festival in 2015. Formed in 2004 after Cole, his brother Max (lead guitarist), and childhood friend Joey Armstrong (drummer and son of Green Day’s Billie Joe) watched School of Rock (“It’s our generation’s version of The Ramones!” Becker said), the band’s most recent iteration crystallized when the original trio ran into bassist Seb Mueller on the street outside the Scientology Celebrity Center in Los Angeles. “We asked [Seb] if he could play bass, and he said, ‘not really, but I can learn,’” said Becker.

The group’s DIY attitude is on display in the 12-minute montage, shot on Super 8mm by frequent FIDLAR collaborator Ryan Baxley. In between shredding for rapt audiences, band and friends tumble around in matching jumpsuits reading “I HAVE GIVEN UP,” play catch in parking lots, and—yes—go swimming in motel pools.

Becker, 20, with his lank platinum mop and ecstatic movements, matches the otherworldliness of the film, which is dialogue-free and features a soundtrack of stripped-down SWMRS tracks and little-known '60s pop (including the namesake “I’m Afraid to Go Home” by Brian Hyland). Eschewing leather for knitwear (he boasts an extensive sweater collection), Becker describes the band’s aesthetic as eclectic: “We just want to look like we all sit at the same lunch table.” With back-to-back summer and fall tours ahead of them, whether they choose to wear designer or rock thrift store threads, it’s clear these wunderkinds can make any room bang their heads.

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