SWMRS at Grog Shop
Doors 7:30 p.m. | Show 8:30 p.m.
$15 adv, $18 dos + $3 at the door if under 21
SWMRS is the sound of brothers staying afloat, having fun, and learning to move with the currents. The Bay Area punk band is centered around the songwriting of brothers Max and Cole Becker, who have fronted the band through many evolutions since forming the group as Emily's Army in 2004. As SWMRS they've released two albums, including 2016's Drive North and 2019's Berkeley's on Fire, and honed their stagecraft opening for Muse, Blink-182, Cage the Elephant, and Fidlar. After a series of challenges over the past few years, including Max nearly dying in a car accident, the punk rock band has focused on writing new music and returning to the road. Wherever the next wave takes them, SWMRS will be ready with guitars in their hands and songs in their hearts.
Cole Becker – Guitar and vocals
Max Becker – Guitar and vocals
SWMRS is the sound of brothers staying afloat, having fun, and learning to move with the currents. Like the ocean, life moves in unpredictable waves – you can’t control the way the ocean moves, but you can choose whether you sink or swim.
The Bay Area punk band is centered around the songwriting of brothers Max and Cole Becker, who have fronted the band through many evolutions. Originally formed as Emily’s Army in 2004 with childhood friend and drummer Joey Armstrong, the band toured the globe, released two albums, and developed a following as teenagers.
In 2014, as the members entered adulthood, the band changed their name to SWMRS. “We were growing up, and our influences were changing. We changed the name to delineate the new sound,” explains Cole. The following year, SWMRS were hired to create the soundtrack and walk the runway for Saint Laurent’s Men’s Spring/Summer collection. “That was the first spark,” Max notes. “It felt like we were being recognized for our skills. It marked a new era for SWMRS. There was a shift in our songwriting and how we approached our career.”
With the release of their debut album Drive North in 2016, SWMRS were riding high. Their energetic headlining shows were attracting larger audiences. They honed their stagecraft opening for Muse, Blink-182, Cage the Elephant, and Fidlar. They appeared on The Late Late Show with James Corden and played internationally at festivals like Reading and Leeds (UK), Summer Sonic (Japan), Riot Fest, and Parklife (Ukraine).
In 2019, the group released their follow-up, Berkeley’s on Fire, to praise from fans and critics alike. They debuted the first single with a live performance on BBC 1 with Annie Mac and won Best International Newcomer at the 2019 Kerrang! Awards.
But suddenly, the tide changed. In October of that year, Max and two of the band’s crew were seriously injured when the van hit black ice in Wyoming. Max was ejected from the vehicle and the paramedics arrived at the scene to find Max lying unconscious in a snowbank. He had broken his back, shoulders, and legs, punctured a lung, and sustained a traumatic brain injury. “I nearly died,” he explains. Doctors were unsure whether he would walk again, let alone play music professionally. While the path to recovery was slow and uncertain, Max was determined to get back on stage.
“I’ve been so inspired by my brother,” says Cole. “His whole life changed after that wreck. He had to relearn everything over these last three years. It was really hard to see him beat up like that, and it took a lot of patience and flexibility from all of us who love him. It felt impossible to play music without him. I've never seen anyone focus that intensely – he was determined to play music again."
In 2022, after a long period of soul-searching, Armstrong and bassist Seb Mueller stepped away from the band to focus on their personal lives. Once again, the currents changed, and the brothers were forced to change with them. “We have to keep going,” Max says. “I believe in the music that Cole and I make together too much to throw in the towel.”
Max and Cole’s shared songwriting sensibilities have always been part of what makes SWMRS’ music so compelling. They’ve tapped into disparate influences – from the Greek songs of friend and mentor Mihalis Hionas, to the honky-tonk stylings of guitar teacher Mitch Polzak, the brothers continue to draw inspiration from the music they grew up with, crafting unique hooks, and vivid lyrics to draw listeners in to their distinctive brand of punk music.
Their latest single, “Dye Your Hair,” harkens back to the sonic excitement of their first album. “We wanted it to sound the way it feels when you dye your hair for the first time. The way we felt when we first started playing music together. Play it loud and you can hear all the drama, excitement, and raw energy that accompanies those moments of self-discovery,” explains Cole. “I wrote the song about a specific time in my life. I was 19 and working in a kitchen, and the chef would always play ‘90s guitar classics – Oasis, the Breeders, Pavement. That was the soundtrack to my coming of age. It felt right to draw on those influences for this song.”
Recorded in Oakland the song hints at what’s to come from the musicians. “We wanted to make a really good sounding song without any studio tricks in it,” Cole notes. “We’ve realized that what sets us apart is that we share this deep musical language between us. The simplicity of the arrangement highlights the magic.” Max adds, “It sounds the way it does because you can hear our performance, all the imperfections.”
As the band navigate the uncertain waters ahead of them, they carry with them everything they’ve learned from a life spent swimming. “The only alternative is sinking, which is something we won’t do,” Max explains proudly. Wherever the next wave takes them, SWMRS will be ready with guitars in their hands and songs in their hearts.