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Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2008

“I Hate Interpol, I Really Hate Swervedriver...

Magnetic Morning’s clumsy beginnings

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There are many things that Magnetic Morning is good at. Naming things is not one of them.

Until a mere month before the group's debut EP was scheduled for release, the team of Swervedriver/Toshack Highway frontman Adam Franklin and Interpol drummer Sam Fogarino took the moniker "The Setting Suns." Unwittingly, they had taken the moniker from another band-the already-existing Setting Sun-who desperately wanted it back.

More recently they had naming issues with their brooding, atmospheric and quickly re-titled Magnetic Morning EP, which just hit stores with its unfortunately titled standout track, "Cold War Kids."

Franklinswears that the song, and its frequent cries of "You and me/ Cold war kids" wasn't meant as a slight to the band Cold War Kids.

"It came from a Hawkwind song," he says. "From the line 'Only the dead dreams of the cold war kid.' We thought, 'That's a great name for a tune.' Then, all of a sudden there was this band called 'The Cold War Kids.' The band was quite small at the time, but they kept getting bigger. But we had already recorded the song."

Luckily, music is about more than nomenclature. If it weren't, Magnetic Morning would be in trouble, and not just with all the bands whose names they've accidentally used. They would be in trouble with those who read Magnetic Morning's lineup and expected Interpol's or Swervedriver's music. Magnetic Morning fronts its own sound, more moody than Franklin's other work and more rock 'n' roll than Fogarino's.

That's just how the band wants it to be: not a side project, not a collaboration between bands, but an entity of its own.

"In some ways, it would be really nice for someone to say, 'I hate Interpol, I really hate Swervedriver, but I like you guys,'" Franklin says.

So, sans the Interpol and Swervedriver lineage, Magnetic Morning is just a band that formed in 2006 after being introduced at dinner by a mutual friend. Never mind that the friend was the prominent rock journalist Jack Rabid, or that they were introduced having been fans of each other's music, or that they had to write their songs by e-mailing MP3s of ideas to each other to work around their touring and recording schedules.

"It's kind of easier [to write songs that way]," Franklin says. "You don't have to be in the same room with the other guy; you can think out your part by yourself. And when you send it away, he can take his time and let it sink in for a week."

Though Fogarino and Franklin live down the street from each other in Jersey City, N.J., the first time the duo played their songs together was in the recording studio.

While the album was being written, Franklin was actively involved in at least five projects: Magnetic Morning, of course, but also a Swervedriver reunion tour ("We sounded better than the last time we played, 10 years ago"), a solo album, and a few European gigs playing guitar for the band Sophia-gigs where, of all things, Sophia split the bill with the band Cold War Kids.

For Franklin, it's a bizarre paradox. Though these multiple projects mean more work, they've helped him focus and take a more casual approach to songwriting.

"You write whatever is coming out of you, not having to put yourself into this band's mind-set or another's," he says.

And, ultimately, the more bands he works with, the more he can solve Magnetic Morning's only major problem: naming things.

"We took 'Magnetic Morning' from the title of a Toshack Highway album. I was saying we should name it something cool, like 'Magnetic Morning,'" Franklin says. "We realized, 'Wait a minute, we could just name it that.'"

Magnetic Morning headlines a 10 p.m. bill at the Cactus Club with The Life and Times and Sleep Comes Down on Saturday, Oct. 25.

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