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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, “Little Miss Sunshine,” harkens back to the sonic excitement of their first album. “I’ve been writing and rewriting this song for almost ten years. The idea started as a sketched portrait of a friend of mine when I was eighteen, but has since taken on a life of its own. Whereas originally the song was about her, it’s become about how our relationship has changed over time. In a way, the song grew up with us” Cole notes.

“It’s about looking back with fondness at a period in my life– the good times and the bad. When I hear this song now, I think of that particular moment of my adolescence where the entire world felt within the reach of my friend and I. We were so sure that we were smarter than everyone around us, and we were certain that we would change the course of history with our art. We weren’t, and we didn’t, but it’s beautiful to me now that we once believed that we were, and that we could,” says Cole.

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.

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