The esteemed rockers of SWERVEDRIVER recently rediscovered their long-lost debut EP, now titled “Petroleum Spirit Daze,” after it remained hidden for over three decades. Working closely with Outer Battery Records, they collaborated to distribute the EP on red vinyl in 2020 to overcome political restrictions that emerged in the UK, EU, and US. With the EP’s thirtieth anniversary and a sense of impending doom in the world, SWERVEDRIVER felt it was the perfect time to share their hidden gem with the public.
The band sat down with us to reflect on the differences between “Petroleum Spirit Daze” and the re-recorded version, plans to release other unreleased recordings, and express excitement to finally share these hidden gems with fans worldwide.
Swervedriver’s original debut EP, “Petroleum Spirit Daze,” is set for a worldwide release on Outer Battery Records after being filed away for over 30 years.
The EP, now recognized as a pivotal moment in the band’s journey, showcases their sound on the verge of a breakthrough under the guidance of Creation Records’ Alan McGee. The band’s collaboration with producer Tim Turan at the House in the Woods Studio resulted in a recording that still resonates with them today.
With its dynamic guitar play, mindful melodies, and timeless tracks like “Son of Mustang,” “Petroleum Spirit Daze” presents Swervedriver at their finest, capturing an integral moment in their ascension.
How did you come to sign with Outer Battery Records? How did that relationship form and how does it feel to be officially releasing this version of your EP over thirty years on?
We haven’t signed anything so far actually; we’re just working with them. I’ve known John for years and it was when we first pressed up Petroleum Spirit Daze on red vinyl in 2020 that we started to work together because we needed to distribute the records and get around the expensive restrictions which had popped up in the UK, EU and US due to all the political turmoil and bullshit. We had been sitting on this recording for all that time and realized that not only was it its thirtieth anniversary but also that the world was ending imminently, so it felt like high time to get it out there onto people’s turntables and into their ears.
Are there any aspects of the Petroleum Spirit Daze recording that you wish you could’ve held onto or not lost in the re recorded version, Son of Mustang Ford?
There’s a fantastic little lick that Jimmy plays on the PSD version of ‘Volcano Trash’, halfway through the solo, which we loved and when we re-recorded the EP he tried to recreate it but it wasn’t quite the same. There’s a deft touch to the playout of ‘Kill the Superheroes’ also – a ‘weightless denouement’ – which was never bettered. Both records are flawed but this version of ‘Volcano Trash’ is certainly more how the guitars were supposed to be, even if it’s still somewhat lumpy. I actually think the John Peel session version is the best of ‘Volcano Trash’.
What are your memories of those early days in Swervedriver? Particularly your time spent with Tim Turan at the House in the Woods Studio and meeting Creation Records’ Alan McGee?
Everyone had streaming colds at the House in the Woods, if the video footage is anything to go by. Tim had already been working with us for a few years when we were Shake Appeal and he had recorded the demo that got us signed to Creation. He still masters our records today. The House in the Woods was a beautiful little studio but if anything, the food was too good! McGee felt the recording was lacking a little urgency and maybe it wasn’t good for us being all fattened-up out in the countryside, so he brought us back into London to be mean and lean once more and fair play to him, I guess having to wait for the night bus at Old Street while scoffing a late-night kebab did make us play faster and fuzzier!
Can you outline for us the biggest differences in Petroleum Spirit Daze compared to Son of Mustang Ford when you personally listen to both back now?
There was more of a ‘sheen’ on the Son of Mustang Ford EP and we still didn’t really love it even though Pat Collier and Jessica Corcoran did a great job. The biggest difference song-wise is the rearrangement and speeding up of ‘Juggernaut Rides’ which is possibly where the late night kebabbery came into play – we listened to ‘I Don’t Know Why I Love You’ by the House of Love and harnessed some energy from that and in fact McGee later said, “why didn’t we save ‘Juggernaut Rides’ for the third single?” There was never a definitive Mustang Ford recording but it’s better live anyway. There’s actually a fourth version that no-one has ever heard – the Raise version – which had more of the sound of that album but was flawed again in its own way and McGee’s suggestion to just have all three singles on the album – “like Never Mind The Bollocks” – was the right decision.
Petroleum Spirit Daze ultimately became the first step on the ladder for your entire career. What does it mean to you knowing that fans around the world can at last listen and own this special recording? Are there other recordings locked away, awaiting reissue?
Delighted of course that people get to hear all these nuances for themselves and yes, there are indeed reels of tape that we’ve been getting baked and digitised – which is exciting and a bit like being detectorists or going on an archaeological dig. Except of course you’re unearthing things you made yourself. So, there will be both 99th Dream and Mezcal Head-era unreleased recordings seeing the light of day later this year, or early next for those records’ twenty-fifth and thirtieth anniversaries.