Cuddle-punk Hits Vienna

NYC band Schwervon! promotes new CD Low Blow

On The Town | Philipp Conrad, Sebastian Hoffmann | April 2009

Drummer Nan Turner erupts into the first track of Schwervon!’s new record Low Blow pounding heavily on her toms and bass drum. Guitarist Matthew Roth sings, "I’m not what you thought, I’m not what you thought."  This album feels surprising dark and slow, and also more ‘poppy’ than the punk-rock band’s previous work.

"We started playing music together a couple months after we started dating," reminisces Turner in an interview with The Vienna Review. "We met at a music club and liked each other’s style – so it was pretty organic to start jamming together."

But Roth and Turner are not your typical punk duo.  When their jams turn deep and serious, their lyrics border on absurdity.  And when Roth’s guitar bursts with happy melodies, things get serious. This style sets them apart from their punk counterparts that tend to be aggressive and often employ violent lyrics. They sing about personal disasters, every day problems and don’t pretend they can change the world through punk rock.

Their musical style fits their personalities. In person, Matt and Nan seem like the world’s cutest couple, their voices intertwine like their sense of humor. This warmth comes through on stage; the group is known for including the audience and creating a sense of community.

A good example of this is Schwervon!’s video for their new single "Balloon." Roth and Turner jump wildly around on a Lower East Side New York rooftop with friends and random weirdoes. Originally released on a 7" split with the German band The Woog Riots, "Balloon" sounds and feels like a spring party tune recalling hyperactive pop anthems by the Thermals or Sleater-Kinney.

"The favorite thing about playing live for us is that it’s consistently fun," Turner laughs. "The silliest thing that ever happened was we took off our pants at a late-night 1:30am show. We also like to do interpretative dance sometimes."

It has now been 10 years since the two met in 1999. This was before Turner had ever touched the drums and Roth had stopped playing the electric guitar since his noise-rock college years in Kansas. One was brand new to the scene, and the other was rusty.  But since the two have had a dramatic impact on New York’s local scene; Not only has their music inspired others in their genre, but they are known to go out of their way to support young local artists. For the past four years Roth has been producing and mastering music for himself and others out of his unconventional home-based studio in New York City’s Lower East Side.

"I enjoy figuring out the right way to capture and interpret sound," Roth explains. "I like discovering what’s special about every person I work with. When it comes to engineering I very much like combining traditional and non-traditional techniques."

Though generally considered punk/rock, Schwervon! actually drifts towards the new genre ‘antifolk,’ a term coined in the underground New York City scene. It can be described as a punky DIY (do-it-yourself) answer to the conservative 1980s songwriter scene. The antifolk community has been a home to greats such as the Moldy Peaches and Beck.

On Apr. 12, Schwervon! will be coming to Vienna’s einbaumoebel at 8 pm. Located near Alser Straße at Gürtelbogen 97.

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    the vienna review April 2009