The band, a dark synth collaboration from Adam Bravin and Justin Warfield, took an indefinite break in 2012. But what was initially a single reunion show in Los Angeles quickly became a national tour after American Horror Story: Hotel
licensed the band's 2006 hit "Tear You Apart" for the popular FX network show.
The show rocketed SWR back into action, and fans fell in love with the song all over again. The excitement for the band escalated, and the once dormant duo was again in the spotlight. Bravin responded via email to a few questions about the band’s recent success, the tour and what is next.
That pivotal scene in the premiere episode of American Horror Story: Hotel excited current SWR fans, lured in new fans, and put a huge spotlight on SWR overnight. "Tear You Apart" in a way capsulated how the entire season would unfold. How and when did you and Justin learn the song was going to be featured in the premiere of AHS Hotel?
We received an email asking if we had an instrumental of “Tear You Apart” for a potential placement in AHS
. The email also included the fact that it was Lady Gaga that had requested it. I’ve become friends with her over the years and reached out to see if it was, in fact, her. It was. We had never made an instrumental, so we went in the studio and dug through old hard drives until we found the debut album with that particular session on it. We made an instrumental and sent it off. We had no idea what the scene was, how long it would play, no information. We found out with the rest of the world when we watched it on tv. It was insane. We were blown away that, not only did they use our song, but they used the entire song, with vocals, and basically made an entire “music video” for it, based on one of our favorite movies, The Hunger
. It was mind blowing and we are so grateful to Lady Gaga, she’s the best!
Do you know whose idea it was to use your song? A music supervisor or someone else?
She told me that they had had another song in that scene up until a few days before the premiere and she wanted our song instead, so she had them change it.
SWR performed final shows a few years ago. When did it become clear to you and Justin that you wanted/needed to perform together again?
had given us this new life, years after we had decided to take a break, we had been getting hundreds and hundreds of requests to play live. We honestly didn’t think we’d ever play shows again, especially this soon, but we realized that it was the ten year anniversary of our debut album and it might be a good way to celebrate by playing a few shows. We met one night over frozen yogurt and decided to see what would happen if we performed in L.A. and let our manager know to reach out to the Fonda. When tickets went on sale, it sold out in five minutes. They put a second night on sale and it sold out in five minutes. We realized that people really did want to see us and after playing those shows in L.A., we decided to choose our favorite cities around the country and take the 10-year anniversary show on the road.
How did the idea of playing the entirety of the debut album come about?
We both love when bands play albums in their entirety and figured it would be a perfect way to celebrate the anniversary. There are a few songs we never really play off of that album and we were both excited to try to play the whole album, something we have never done.
When you first started rehearsing for the L.A. shows, how long had it been since you and Justin played SWR songs together?
We hadn’t played anything SWR since the last shows we had done at the Roxy in 2012.
The L.A. shows sold out instantly. How did you and Justin react to that kind of love from your fans?
It was insane. We really had no idea that those shows would do so well. We really love L.A. so much, it meant everything to us that the support in our hometown was still there.
SWR songs create a very specific dark, atmospheric mood. Have either of you ever scored a movie or TV show, or have you considered doing that?
We’ve never scored anything, but it’s something I’m planning on doing. A friend has asked me to score his short film, which I’ll start on later this year.
SWR recently released "Never" as a single. Has this new surge in fan interest made you and Justin consider making a new SWR album?
We have no plans to make a new album. We went in the studio on my birthday, Dec. 30, last year, just to see what would happen if we tried to sit down and write a new song. We had no idea if we would be able to write as easily as we had been able to in the past, or if it would be difficult to get back into that mind frame since we had both been working on new music individually for the past few years. As soon as we started playing together that day, it was very clear that nothing had changed. The song came to us super fast and we were done within a couple days.
You have made yourself very accessible to fans on social media. You’re kind of an open book. Have you always been that way? Is Justin like that as well, or is he more reserved?
I’ve always been that way. I feel that it’s important to let people know that there are jut as many difficulties in my life as there are blessings and accomplishments. There were numerous musicians that had been there for me through their lyrics when I was younger. I feel like it’s my responsibility to pay it forward and put myself out there, even if just one person can learn from the things I go through.
You’ve also been very open on social media about sobriety and having a positive life outlook. Do fans reach out to you and thank you for being an inspiration to them in their own struggles?
Yes. I get tons of messages from people telling me their stories and how some of the struggles in my life that I’ve overcome have been inspiring to them. Each and every message I receive inspires me to continue to be the best person can be.
You’ve announced a special access ticket that allows fans to listen to sound checks and spend extra time meeting you both. Do you and Justin enjoy meeting fans in person?
We LOVE meeting our fans in person. We always have. It’s important to us to spend as much time as possible with the people that support us. We wouldn’t be where we are as a band without them.
Can you talk a little about your solo project?
I was working on an album that featured all my favorite female vocalists when Justin and I decided to take a break from SWR. Justin pulled me aside one day and suggested that I try singing on one of the songs I had produced for one of the girls. now, I have NEVER sung in my life. Like, never. Ever. So, I wasn’t into the idea at all. He knows me really well, we’ve been friends since we were kids. He told me that I would really benefit as an artist if I could figure out how to become a vocalist and how much I would love it as another way to express myself. I was terrified. It’s a fear of mine to sing in front of people. We went in the studio one night and wrote a song together. I went in the booth and did vocals. I was not into it at all. He kept pushing me, and after a few days, we had finished an entire song. He told me that, with some work, that he thought I could actually figure out how to become a singer. I trust Justin more than anyone else in the world, so I decided to give it a shot. After we had written a few songs together, I could see what he meant about how much I loved this new way of expressing myself. I decided to make an entire record, even if nobody would ever hear it. I still can’t really wrap my head around hearing myself sing, but I have a whole record done now. It’s pretty crazy. The solo project is called, “Love, Ecstasy and Terror,” and it features a few of my good friends/musicians. Johnny Radtke (Kill Hannah / Filter) Daniel Ash (Bauhaus / Tones on Tail / Love and Rockets) Mars Williams (Psychedelic Furs) Tony Kanal (No Doubt) Dita Von Teese, Esthero, as well as a few others. The first song will be released very soon, so excited!
Many people may not know this, but you are President Obama’s personal DJ. How did his team initially approach you? Do you know how he heard of you as a DJ? What was the first meeting with President Obama like?
I did a party that someone who works very closely with him had attended. She approached me and asked if I would do a private event. I told her I would be happy to and she gave me her card, it said, “Obama 2012” on it. I was like, “Yeah, right.” A few weeks later I was DJing his 50th birthday party in L.A. A few weeks later I was DJing at the House of Blues for him in L.A. and met him for the first time. I’ve met so many people in my life and I’ve never been intimidated. When I shook his hand he said, “Hello Adam, thank you for being my DJ.” I was like, “Uh. Um. Er. Uh. You’re welcome Mr. President.” We’ve hung out a few times since then, as I’ve continued to DJ for him, he’s the coolest guy of all time.
You also posted online that you turned down Donald Trump multiple times when his team approached you to be his DJ. Can you elaborate at all on that?
Nothing really to say about that other than I refused.
You post adorable pictures of your dog Wall-E on social media. Do you take him on the road with you? Does he own a black hoodie?
Wall-E doesn’t like to tour. He’s a dog that prefers to live his life in LA. He has a black hoodie, he needs it to get into my party “Cloak and Dagger” where you must wear all black. He loves it there.
She Wants Revenge returns to Cleveland on Thursday, June 16, to play House of Blues on its 10th anniversary tour of its debut album.