Biography : Swirlies

photo of SwirliesFormed from the shell of a Go-Go's cover band named Raspberry Bang, SWIRLIES began their life in Boston/Cambridge, Massachusetts in the summer of 1990. The original band featured Damon Tutunjian (guitar/vocals), Seana Carmody (guitar/vocals), 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 Number 11, The One Who Speaks Abstractly On Recordings, and others) began at approximately this time. Sadly, none of these symbols protected us from The Curse.

The first of many roilings of personnel came 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 arrangement that made a video with Linsey Herman (CAKE AND COMMERCE) for the song "Bell", and embarked on the band's 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 of bands with two bass players. Forthwith, Morgan became disgusted and disappeared into anarchist puppetry oblivion. Ben Drucker was ousted (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.

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 battery. Gavin was with us for 1.95 US tours, and spent the remaining 0.05 of the second tour solo-driving his white Econoline across the country (thankfully with the rest of us in it) and out of our lives forever. The drummerless SWIRLIES played a few liberating analog/digital shows as a trio (Damon-Christina-Andy) before acquiring drummer Adam Pierce (IRIS, DYLAN GROUP, MICE PARADE).

In 1997, Christina left for other pursuits (including VICTORY AT SEA, MARY TIMONY, and recording/sound work). 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 next joined by guitarist Rob '(The) Doctor Laasoko' Laakso (WICKED FARLEYS, KURT VILE AND THE VIOLATORS).

In 2000, SWIRLIES maintained a "Damon-Andy-Rob-Adam" arrangement, while also taking on Mike Walker (LILYS), Ken Bernard (WICKED FARLEYS), Kara Tutunjian, our old comrade Seana Carmody, Deb Warfield (PURE SUNRAY, GOLD MUSE), Doro Tachler (IGLOO), Avery Matthews, Kevin Shea (TALIBAM!, COPTIC LIGHT, SEXY THOUGHTS), and Junko Hemmi (CANDYCANE). These people and others helped make and/or perform songs that became 'Cats of The Wild, Volume 2', the mini-album, EP, or whatever it was (Bubble Core Records, released 25 March 2003). Subsequently, there was some touring with a "Damon-Rob-Adam-Mike-Doro-and-very-rarely-with-bird-researchin'-Andy" arrangement, but this ended when Damon moved to Parts Midwest (followed by Sweden) to find better living through psycholinguistics.

Since 2009, SWIRLIES have toured in odd-numbered years, including: a smattering of northeastern US shows (mislabeled "reunions") in 2009 and 2011 with a "Damon-Rob-Andy-Adam-Deb-Shep-plus guests" arrangement; a longer July 2013 tour supporting Kurt Vile and the Violators with a "Damon-Rob-Deb-Adam" arrangement, plus new recruit Elliott Malvas (YOU'RE JOVIAN, THE SEEERS) on bass, and appearances by Anthony (Detroit), Andy (DC), and Christina (Brooklyn); and a 2015 eastern US/Canada tour in honor of our 25th year (the Silver Ostrich Anniversary) with a "Damon-Andy-Adam-Rob/Elliott" arrangement, along with founding member Seana Carmody (now of REINDEER) and former sound engineer Adam Cooke.

In July 2016, a new track (featuring new Swedish conscripts Viktor Hober and Anna Bergvall) was released by Joyful Noise Recordings as part of a subscription-only series. Also, Taang! is allegedly re-releasing the 'Blondertongue Audiobaton' LP on vinyl in Fall 2016. All signs point to a 2017 tour, although past performance does not necessarily predict future results.

photo of the sirlies in 2003 In addition to this hectic schedule, we've kept up a few other vehicles (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 sneakyflute music-playing group featuring Damon and occasionally others; 3) RICHMOND COUNTY ARCHIVES, a label with 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 mostly for free as digital releases, with one 7" record ("Orca Vs. Dragon") containing songs recorded in London, England.

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

Revised 26 July 2016