Biography : Swirlies


photo of SwirliesFormed from the shell of a Go-Go's cover band named Raspberry Bang (featuring Rusty Nails of THE CREEPS), SWIRLIES began their life in Boston/Cambridge, MA in the summer of 1990. The original band featured Damon Tutunjian (guitar/vox), Seana Carmody (guitar/vox), Andy Bernick (bass), and Ben Drucker (drums). SWIRLIES played live for the very first time on 25 January 1991 at the Alcove in Allston, MA. In these early years, SWIRLIES wandered the Northeastern Megalopolis with other like-minded folks, releasing 7" records through the kindness of Slumberland, Pop Narcotic, Cinderblock, and other labels. Billy Ruane was often there. In June 1992, SWIRLIES signed to then-Boston-based Taang! Records. The first two Taang! releases, the ’What to Do About Them’ EP (a collection of previous 7"s and new tracks) and ‘Blondertongue Audiobaton’ LP, were created and recorded by the original members plus other mysterious entities. Our dependence on sacred symbols (embodied by The Ostrich, The One Who Speaks Abstractly On Recordings, and others) began at approximately this time - none of these symbols, however, spared us from The Curse.

Chaos soon seeped in with the first of many churnings of personnel. In early 1993, Morgan Andrews (MADBOX, ROCK/PAPER/SCISSORS) took over bass-related duties and infused them with his own blend of irritating noise. It was this SWIRLIES that made a video for 'Bell' with Linsey Herman (CAKE AND COMMERCE) and went on their first US tour in a stinking minivan filled with fashion magazines. Andy later returned to join Morgan and the band and SWIRLIES explored the sensual realm known exclusively to bands with two bass players. Morgan became disgusted and disappeared into anarchist puppetry oblivion. Ben Drucker was oustered (some say unwisely) and went on to use his mind more productively. Around the time that ‘Brokedick Car’ EP was released, Anthony Deluca (THE PLANTS) signed on -- mainly because Lenny Kravitz found an attractive lady to drum in his band.

After some years with Anthony, and our first small tour of Europe in January 1994, Seana left to form the now defunct SYRUP USA, and guitar/singing duties were taken over by The Otter (a/k/a Christina Files). With this group, ‘They Spent Their Wild Youthful Days In The Glittering World Of The Salons’ LP was conceived/recorded over two years at various studios. Anthony departed in late 1995, and Gavin McCarthy (KARATE) took over the drum kit for two US tours and a handful of other shows....during which he went temporarily insane and (smelling like a Bowery bum) drove his white Econoline across the country and out of our lives forever. The now Gavin-less SWIRLIES (e.g. Damon, Christina, and Andy) played a few liberating analog/digital shows, before acquiring drummer Adam Pierce (IRIS, DYLAN GROUP, MICE PARADE).

In 1997, Christina left for other pursuits (including VICTORY AT SEA, MARY TIMONY, and current recording/sound work for which she is widely known). The ‘Strictly East Coast Sneaky Flute Music’ LP (our last for Taang!) was released thereafter. This record featured remixes of 'Salons’ LP material, and new pieces heavily influenced by Scituate, MA. Free from contractual obligations, SWIRLIES were eventually joined by guitarist Rob '(The) Doctor Laasoko' Laakso (WICKED FARLEYS, THE MATHS, DIAMOND NIGHTS, AMAZING BABY, KURT VILE AND THE VIOLATORS).

Since 2000, SWIRLIES have often maintained a "Damon-Andy-Rob-Adam" arrangement, while also taking on: Mike Walker (LILYS), Ken Bernard (WICKED FARLEYS, CERTAINLY, SIR, STRICTLY BUSINESS), Kara Tutunjian, our old comrade Seana Carmody, and Deb Warfield (PUELLA, PURE SUNRAY), Doro Tachler (IGLOO), Avery Matthews, Kevin Shea (TALIBAM!, COPTIC LIGHT, SEXY THOUGHTS, PEOPLE), Junko Henmi (CANDYCANE) and many others. All of the above helped to make and/or perform songs that became 'Cats of The Wild, Volume 2', the mini-album, EP, or whatever it was (Bubblecore, released 25 March 2003). Touring with a "Damon-Rob-Adam-Mike-Doro-and-rarely-with-bird-researchin'-Andy" arrangement was the norm for a while, and briefly ended when Damon moved to Parts Midwest (followed by Sweden) to find better living through psycholinguistics. Lately, SWIRLIES have been active in odd-numbered years, including: some northeastern US shows (mislabeled "reunions") in 2009 and 2011 with a "Damon-Rob-Andy-Adam-Deb-Shep-plus guests" arrangement; and a July 2013 tour supporting Kurt Vile and the Violators with a "Damon-Rob-Deb-Adam" arrangement, plus Elliott Malvas (YOU'RE JOVIAN, SUBURBAN LIVING) on bass, and appearances by Anthony (Detroit), Andy (DC), and Christina (Brooklyn).

photo of the sirlies in 2003Some examples of recent activity, also known as Grim Death Throes: 1) SNEAKY FLUTE EMPIRE, our special alter-ur-label with cassette and CD releases; 2) THE YES GIRLS, a sneaky-flute-music-playing group featuring Damon and occasionally others; 3) RICHMOND COUNTY ARCHIVES, a label with various tangential releases (like 'Nevah Have I Evah: A Sneaky Flute Family Album' and 'Buck Wild!: The saga of Jack Bucky'); 4) SWIRLIES' MAGIC STROP, a series of old SWIRLIES sounds offered as web-only releases.  

Stay vigilant always and prepared anytime, and we shall see you at The Spit on the 4th of July.  

Revised 30 July 2013