In England, alt-rock combo Swim Deep has issued two critically lauded albums — 2013’s “Where the Heaven Are We” and this year’s more adventurous “Mothers” — and has been hailed as frontrunners of a new “B-town scene” in its native Birmingham. But the quintet is only now hitting America, opening for longtime UK chums The 1975, and without any official U.S. releases. “Which is a really frustrating thing,” says frontman Austin Williams. “Because technically, our label owns us worldwide, so we can’t take our music to someone else. Which is why we need this tour so bad — to get people listening, until someone can sort through everything and be able to put our music out.”
You and guitarist Tom “Higgy” Higgins actually formed Swim Deep while working at a British supermarket?
Yeah. That’s where we met. I’ve had tons of s—- jobs, but in every job you get great conversation, so I don’t regret any of them. But out of sheer boredom, Higgy and I decided that we wanted to do something, and get out and visit these places around the world.
And your worst days there?
I got in trouble a lot. My job was to check the dates on things — go through all the shelves and check the expirations. But every day, I would come in, and my manager would show me eight boxes, stacked up, of all this moldy food that I had somehow missed. And I guess if someone does actually eat that food and then gets ill from it, it’s my fault, so there was a lot of guilt that went with that job, as well. I was there for two years, until we were starting to book more shows and get busier as a band.
Did you sample all the new food products as they came in?
Yeah! Me and Higgy used to take stuff off the shelves and go into the chillers — these big refrigerators — and just hide and then eat it. Sometimes it was trifles, sometimes it was just string cheese. But you got a bit of a taste for it. I’ve never shoplifted in my life, I get too much guilt with that, too. But you felt like you wanted another perk from this job, other than your five quid an hour.
Your girlfriend, Ellie Rowsell from Wolf Alice, really talked you up in a recent interview.
Yeah — we always help each other out, all of us English bands. So we’re just very lucky — and very grateful — to finally be given the chance to come over here, because it costs so much for bands to tour in the U.S. now. So you’ve got to grab the chance while you can, really.
IF YOU GO: The 1975, with Swim Deep
Where: Fox Theater, 1807 Telegraph Ave., Oakland When: 8 p.m. Dec. 17 Tickets: $30 (sold out) Contact: (510) 302-2250; www.ticketmaster.com