Waving Not Drowning - The Cold Water Swimmers
Pic: Paul Husband
Cold Water Swimmers are simply one of the best emerging bands around at the moment. A delicious mix of dark brooding guitar, fuzzy pounding bass and primal drumming coupled with intelligent thought provoking lyrics are in evidence in their recorded output to date. 4 amazing self released tracks I'll Be Your Witness, Summer Breeze, Burn Your Idols and most recently Robots when the band ask the HR recruiters favourite question "where will you be in 5 years time?". Hopefully I'll be still here writing about the bands new album in preparation for their world tour, that's if Brexit and Coronavirus allow!
Think post-punk, punk and glam mixed with garage rock with precisely delivered vocals circa 'Unfinished Monkey Business' Ian Brown and you'll not be far off. These are anthems for people who don't do anthems! Plus they are really nice people, a commodity sometimes lacking when you scratch beneath the surface as I am want to do.
Chris Bridgett (ex-Dub Sex, Rude Club, The G-O-D) is not a man short on confidence. To the outsider he may come across as arrogant when he says (of Cold Water Swimmers) that "we're the best band in Manchester at the moment" and then with a glint in his eye and a cheeky smile adds, "but we shouldn't be". He describes Cold Water Swimmers as a "male fronted band", presumably tongue in cheek as a nod to the recent "Female Fronted is not a genre" debate. The 3 musketeers are completed by Carrie Lawson (Bass) and Selina Woolnough (Drums). Born just over two years ago they have taken to performing on their anniversaries. This year they played Blackpool, last year it was in a boxing ring. They're certainly no lightweights in the heavyweight contest to be the best band currently on the Manchester scene. I sat down with them before a recent gig in Bury and I didn't exactly got off on the right foot!
When I started planning this website I drew up a list of all the exciting new bands I wanted to get involved and sent out round robin emails to try and set up interviews....
Chris: Yeah I remember that, thanks.
......and when writing to you I consciously changed one word from that email to everybody else and that was "young" as its obvious that your not fresh faced teenagers anymore.
Carrie: [slightly indignant] I think you'll find that New Order are a lot older than us!
No, what I meant was it's the age of the band itself rather than band members ages.
Carrie: It's ok, I know what you're saying.
Starting afresh again. How do you keep that........
Selina: The same as everyone else really. We just get on with it!
You've all been in bands before. Chris, I hadn't made the connection before today but I saw you 20 odd years ago in Rude Club.
Chris: Yeah, yeah, well that's just it isn't it? It's not something we've just started doing, certainly not something I've just started, so I don't rally see what the problem is really [on being older].
Carrie: I was in a band called The Weeds in 1986. [With Si Wolstencroft on drums, Andy Berry and Nick Arrojo.]
Chris: Yeah, you were only about 16, 17 at the time. I think it's our job to make sure that when people look at us and listen to us, they see past that [the age thing], see more than that, because it so so much more than that. It' not even something we consider, people do and we're realists but it's what we want to do and we love it, and we're really good.
Carrie: It doesn't ever cross my mind not to [carry on performing]
Chris: Andi let me tell you something and this is an observation right. It's only people of our age [gesturing to me and him] that bring it up. The young people we play with never bring it up, they don't care. It's almost as if the people are age can't believe what we're doing and we do it so well. It is ageism and I try not to get defensive about it.
It wasn't an accusation ..........
Chris: ...no, no, no I realise that but it is the 'ism' that it's still okay to fucking do.
I was talking to John Robb about this subject the other day. I asked if he could still see himself playing live at Charlie Harper's (UK Subs - 76 in May) age?
Chris: I didn't see myself playing on stage at this age, I stopped playing for 15 years. I didn't just battle through. When I was 32 I left music. I signed huge major deals with Rude Club and I was just burned out, I dropped out and I joined the real world got back involved music, running the label, managing artists but then when Dub Sex got back together, I started playing again and that was 5 years ago. And now I'm here [gestures in the direction of Carrie and Selina] with the best fucking band in Manchester and it shouldn't be the best fucking band in Manchester but we are. You know we wipe the floor with every single band as far as I'm concerned. I love them all [smiles] but we're just better. So age has nothing to do with it really. You need to come and see us to know that, it's not about age, it's so much more Andi. Let's lay that one to fucking rest.
So how did you all end up in Manchester? Chris you're a son of the North East.
Chris: Like a lot of people I guess. I came down here for college and stayed!
Selina: I didn't, I was waitressing around restaurants in Chester.
Carrie: I grew up in Derbyshire and when I was about 15 I went to Rock City in Nottingham to see The Fall and I got on their tour bus and never left.
Chris: And then married the drummer [Karl Burns]
Carrie: Yes, and then married the drummer, then divorced the drummer. And then married a guitarist!
Chris: [hahahah] got long lives us. Yeah we've got a really interesting story us you know. We shouldn't do what we're doing really but we do and that gives us a really strong spirit I feel.
So how did you all meet?
Chris: [Bursts in to song]. Known each other since we were born man.....
Carrie: I've known Chris since I was in The Weeds........
Chris: [still singing]....and I was 21 in Dub Sex man. And we had a friend called Eilidh Bradley, who was in Solar Race [sadly died of an overdose in 2014] she was her friend, my girlfriend and then we didn't meet again for ages until her funeral really. Carrie and Selina were in a duo called Touareg I was in another band and I invited them to do a gig with us and i thought they were fantastic, I loved them...
Carrie: He said to us 'do you know what your band needs? Me!'
Chris: .........and then sort of 6 months later, the universe made it happen and that's 2 years ago now.
So how does the song writing process work?
Chris: [adopting an American rock star drawl] I write the songs and they bring the magic!
Selina: Yeah, pretty much that.
Chris: I write the songs and I go "ladies, I've got this
Selina: I got this, that's right......
Carrie: .........and we go duh duh duh [adding bass and drums]
As simple as that?
Chris: As simple as that my friend. Previously [in The G-O-D with Simon Wolstencroft and Karl Hildebrandt] split what the band was going to sound like with Funky Si, even though I wrote the songs.....
Carrie: He [Funky Si] was in The Weeds with me.
I have to fess up here and say I don't know The Weeds
Chris: They were legendary Manchester band. Ask Clint Boon next time you see him about The Weeds, say you met Carrie and say "tell me about The Weeds".He loved them and massive influence on Inspira Carpets as well.
Carrie: We supported the Happy Mondays in 1986 and we had a single out on Marc Rileys' label called "China Doll" but we split up before it was released. After supporting The Fall, Marc stole our drummer to join them. [Replacing Carrie's then boyfriend Karl Burns. Must have been a few interesting conversations around that time].
So back to the present day. What plans have you got for 2020. Back in the studio for more material?
Chris: Yeah, we're writing now. Got a couple of songs at that demo stage and they're sounding really good. Hopefully some more gigs, some better gigs.
So have you noticed any change in the way the industry works since you started out?
Chris: No, it's still full of cunts......
Selina: Ha ha ha
Carrie: It's slightly, only slightly though, less misogynistic. ....
Chris: .....very slightly!
That's not something that I wasn't really expecting to hear in 2020, but I'm picking up a lot of this through interviewing some of the bands with female members in. Amazed this is still happening.
Carrie: When you're older it's not that they want to shag you, they want you to mother them.
Selina: ....and then they still want to shag you!
So what other bands around the current scene excite you?
Chris: I love the Tinfoils........
Carrie: ...The Pagans SOH [not strictly a NW band hailing from West Bromwich but play a lot in the region]
Selina: Pagans, they're great.
Chris: Narrow Margin, there's something special about them. There's a bit of The Clash going on.......
Stiff Little Fingers, Manics, The Skids too?
Chris: Yeah all of that. The singer has got that vibe going on hasn't he? The Scuttlers, they're good, Loose Articles, The C33s, Battery Farm...
I saw The Battery Farm for the first time last week, they're great.
Chris:....Fierce man and you can dance to them as well. They're good.
Funny but all of the bands you've mentioned are lined up to do something with MANCANDI in the coming weeks!
Chris: Well you may be onto something there! There's definitely the feeling that something's happening. There's some nights you go into The Peer Hat and it'll be "that band over there and another other there, one round the corner" it's like a bit of an epicentre building and I've not really noticed that in Manchester for a while. I've been out of that sort of scene since I was a lot younger but it brings that feeling back I think there's a sense that there is something happening. That's good and if we're part of that then I'm honoured to be honest if we're included in that.
The interesting thing about the current scene [in Manchester] if that's the right phrase to use, is that there isn't any one dominant style joining everyone together. It's not shoegaze or baggy or lo-fi, it's just a load of really interesting bands gigging together on the same bills. It's certainly not Madchester 2. I believe that the scenes are also good in places like Warrington and Wigan.
Chris: It always is. These satellite towns are where most of the talent comes from a lot of the time. It's always been a health scene in Wigan. All it takes is a breakthrough band and brings other stuff with it. The Lathums are that breakthrough band same as Sheffield with the Arctic Monkeys, breakthrough and pull something with them. Oldham has been producing top notch bands and musicians for decades.
Thanks for your time today, really interesting chat.
CWS: You're welcome
So I wrapped it up there retired to the bar and licked my wounds. And although I appeared to touch a nerve at the beginning it was all smiles and handshakes at the end. The gig that came after this interview was nothing short of brilliant, despite the small but appreciative crowd. Dave Haslam had previously tweeted that the two best gigs in town that weekend were The Pagans SOH at Night and Day on the Saturday and this gig at Burys Two Tubs pub the night before. He was as they say, conspicuous by his absence!
FOOTNOTE: Several weeks after this interview Selina was groped at a gig by a guy who she confronted, ending in an altercation. Guys please keep your hands to yourself at gigs or stay at home. This 2020 for fucks sake. Remember that could be your daughter, sister or wife being sexually assaulted. Let's make gigs safe spaces for all women to come and enjoy the music free from fear.
If you want to catch Cold Water Swimmers live then check them out at these upcoming dates:
Sat 29th Feb - The Globe Glossop with support from The Battery Farm and Bones Shake - Free Entry