Auckland, New Zealand’s SWALLOW THE RAT are releasing their debut full-length, Leaving Room, this Friday, April 24th via Shifting Sounds, and today the band have teamed with BrooklynVegan to share one more early preview of the album with a music video for its opening track “New Cross.”
Leaving Room is a compelling tangle of driving post-punk rhythms and raw, shoegaze-tinged guitars, with Swallow The Rat expertly using dense atmospherics to build tension and dynamic releases. “New Cross” demonstrates that ever-driving energy, from its sharp opening chords to its crashing finale. BrooklynVegan praised the track saying,
“Swallow the Rat traffic in the same kinds of dark, shouty ’80s post-punk influences that buzzy bands like IDLES, Fontaines DC, and The Murder Capital have been reviving lately, but they also add in swirling shoegazy guitars and noise rock crescendos, all of which are present on ‘New Cross.'”
Swallow The Rat’s songs often hinge on an ability to feel spontaneous yet deliberate–tightly wound intensity that only unravels when the band is ready.
It’s a creative chemistry rooted in the merging of musical backgrounds: guitarist/vocalist Sam Vercoe, drummer Hayden Fritchley, and bassist/vocalist Stephen Horsley all hail from Auckland, but it wasn’t until guitarist Brian Purington—a native of Austin, Texas—moved to New Zealand and began collaborating with Vercoe that Swallow The Rat was born. Adding Purington’s uniquely American influences and vibrant psychedelic flourish to Vercoe, Fritchley, and Horsley’s foundation of wiry New Zealand post-punk resulted in the collision of muscular riffs and shimmering textures that are captured on Leaving Room by producer/engineer Nick Abbott (Foals, Pulled Apart By Horses, Robert Plant). It’s the perfect accompaniment to the album’s lyrical explorations of loss, change, and disenfranchisement with modern life–as seen on “Hey Yeah” where Vercoe paints a nuanced picture of aging while still seeking purpose.
Swallow The Rat seem to exist in the in-betweens. The Auckland, New Zealand band’s debut full-length, Leaving Room, often feels electrifyingly spontaneous yet staunchly assured—like tightly wound intensity that seems to unravel only at the exact perfect moment. The sound rises and falls to reflect these ten meditations on change, empathy, and regret, and it’s in these sprawling dynamics and varying shades that Swallow The Rat thrives, welcoming the listener into uncharted territory along with them.
Swallow The Rat’s unique musical chemistry is rooted in a merging of worlds.
Guitarist/vocalist Sam Vercoe, drummer Hayden Fritchley, and bassist/vocalist Stephen Horsley had been playing with one another in various projects throughout the Auckland music scene for years, but it wasn’t until guitarist Brian Purington—a native of Austin, Texas—moved to New Zealand and began collaborating with Vercoe in 2017 that Swallow The Rat was born. Adding Purington’s uniquely American influences and vibrant psychedelic flourish to Vercoe, Fritchley, and Horsley’s foundation of wiry New Zealand post-punk resulted in the collision of driving riffs and hazy atmosphere that defines Swallow The Rat’s sound. The new band released a self-titled 7” and quickly began gaining momentum in the Auckland live circuit before turning to producer/engineer Nick Abbott (Foals, Pulled Apart By Horses, Robert Plant) to record their first full-length at North-Western Recorders.
Tracked live over just three days, Leaving Room captures Swallow The Rat in their unrestrained element. Fritchley’s twitching rhythms lock in with the propulsion of Horsley’s bass to provide the bedrock for Purington and Vercoe to unleash a twin guitar attack, which swings from cutting post-punk to raw shoegaze. Opener “New Cross” highlights the guitarists’ interplay and builds to a towering conclusion, while its lyrics question the ephemeral nature of our social media-permeated modern life. Elsewhere tracks like “Cold Moon” and “Chromos” utilize a stomping pace and whirlpools of reverb-drench guitars to back the lyrical disenfranchisement with unfit leaders and hostile societal norms. A sense of disconnect emerges throughout Leaving Room as “Shifting Sand,” “Hey Yeah” and “Echoes of a Tide” grapple with the inevitability of change and aging. The songs twist and boil from plaintive passages to noise-tinged walls of sound, an ever-evolving cacophony echoing the challenge of shedding the baggage of the past while holding on to what truly matters.
Clocking in at over six minutes, the album’s title track closes Leaving Room by contemplating the unanswerable questions that stem from tragedy. The droning guitars force the focus towards Vercoe’s stony vocals and explorations of loss—a sonic push towards empathy that offers catharsis but not clean resolutions. The song fades out and the listener follows the band into the unknown, creating a fitting end to Swallow The Rat’s deeply human and uncompromising debut.