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Cali punks to storm The Garage

California punk rock band SWMRS is set to bring their North American tour to The Garage on Sunday, March 20.

SWMRS+take+their+punk+rock+tour+to+The+Garage+in+Burnsville+on+Sunday%2C+March+20.+Other+bands+at+the+show+will+be+The+Frights%2C+Unturned+and+The+Everyday+Characters.+SWMRS+was+previously+known+as+Emily%27s+Army%2C+but+changed+its+name+in+2015.
SWMRS take their punk rock tour to The Garage in Burnsville on Sunday, March 20. Other bands at the show will be The Frights, Unturned and The Everyday Characters. SWMRS was previously known as Emily's Army, but changed its name in 2015.

SWMRS take their punk rock tour to The Garage in Burnsville on Sunday, March 20. Other bands at the show will be The Frights, Unturned and The Everyday Characters. SWMRS was previously known as Emily's Army, but changed its name in 2015.

Courtesy of Alice Baxley

Courtesy of Alice Baxley

SWMRS take their punk rock tour to The Garage in Burnsville on Sunday, March 20. Other bands at the show will be The Frights, Unturned and The Everyday Characters. SWMRS was previously known as Emily's Army, but changed its name in 2015.

Justin Christensen, Senior Reporter

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With a new sound, a new name, an impressive musical background and a drummer who’s the son of Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, Oakland-based SWMRS have a lot going for them. Their new album “Drive North,” released in Feb. 2016, has already received positive reviews and several of the shows on their North American tour with The Frights have sold out.

Lead guitarist of SWMRS Max Becker suggested that his band is going to keep reaching for this success.

“We’re just going to keep going up,” he said. “We kind of like to reach for the stars.”

Although the band has always had a following, it took them many years to get to where they are now. They officially formed in 2004 after guitarist and vocalist Cole Becker and drummer Joey Armstrong watched the film “School of Rock.” This film influenced them to play live music together and they formed the first iteration of SWMRS: Emily’s Army, named after Max and Cole’s cousin who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis.

Emily’s Army had quite a run since then, releasing demos, touring, and even working with Billie Joe Armstrong to release two studio albums. They played their final show as Emily’s Army in 2015 at Australia’s Soundwave Festival.

Later in 2015, the group changed their name to SWMRS and announced “Drive North” with an accompanying single called “Miley,” a punk rock tribute to the former Disney princess.

Even though the band’s membership has stayed mostly the same, Becker still sees SWMRS as something completely different.

“I consider it to be a new band,” he said. “The only thing we kept are the social media accounts.”

Their sound on the new album does appear to be quite different from material they’ve previously worked on. They’ve often been lumped in with the “surf-punk” or “pop-punk” categories, but on “Drive North” they seem to shy away from that sound, instead exploring hip-hop, grunge and pop influences. Becker has a name for this melting-pot of sound.

“I like to call it modern grunge pop,” he said.

Despite Becker coining this category, he still hopes to stay away from being lumped into the conventional genres.

“We try to stay away from particular scenes,” he said.

Although scenes, conventions and genres try to grab hold of certain bands, SWMRS’ musical background, extensive touring and willingness to experiment may help push them into a unique place musically.

The band SWMRS is touring with, The Frights, appear to share this experimental nature, categorizing themselves on their Bandcamp page as “A hormonally charged garage-surf-punk mess of driving rhythms and reverb drenched riffs with ‘50s rockabilly references…”

Becker shared how The Frights are a perfect tour partner for SWMRS.

“It’s awesome. I don’t think we could have possibly found a better match,” he said.

To see these two bands perform, as well as two additional groups, Unturned and The Everyday Characters, head down to The Garage in Burnsville on Sunday, March 20 at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 the day of the show. More information about the event can be found at The Garage’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/garagemn, and more information about SWMRS can be found at http://swmrs.com.

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Cali punks to storm The Garage