Swell were godfathers of the lo-fi DIY ethos in the indie underground in the late 80s early 90s with their own scrappy 8-track recording studio and record label (pSycho-Specific Records) in a big loft in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District. They made 3 albums in the drafty space above a bar called Peter Pan that excelled in raucous amateur drag shows, with the street sounds and sketchy gutter life permeating the mood of the recordings and imbuing the songs with a cinematic atmosphere.
The first self-titled album was a critical success and opened doors for the band to tour Europe, but it was the second album …Well? that got the attention of the UK music weeklies, record labels, management, and John Peel, who famously said, “First we had Nirvana, then Pavement, and next we’ve got Swell.”
Swell signed with Rick Rubin’s Def American and released their third album, 41, closing out the 41 Turk Street trilogy. The major label backing didn’t change the band’s aesthetic or modus operandi and they continued to self-produce and record, albeit on improved gear.
Beggars Banquet Records in London signed the band for the world for the release of Too Many Days Without Thinking in 1997. This saw the end of the original lineup. Swell continued for a few more albums and made more great music, but by popular consensus, the first four albums were the core of the sound.
Singer and principal songwriter, David Freel, passed away on April 12th, 2022.
The ”Everyday Sunshine: Tribute to David Freel 1958-2022” tour came about when Monte Vallier, bass player, and Sean Kirkpatrick, drummer, felt like they needed to do something to honor David’s legacy and worked with longtime agent Peter Verstraelen to put together a European tour. Original guitarist John Dettman-Lytle was asked to come back into the fold to play David’s acoustic guitar parts and take on the task of singing David’s lyrics. And longtime touring lead guitarist Niko Wenner agreed to join the old friends and complete the line up of original members to play songs from the first four albums live together for the first time in 31 years.
To close out the tribute to David tour this year, Jon Pleeter from the Sound Talent Group agency has booked 4 west coast shows:
”Everyday Sunshine: Tribute to David Freel 1958-2022”
West Coast USA 2023
December 3rd – The Troubador – Los Angeles
December 5th – The Independent – San Francisco
December 8th – Mississippi Studios – Portland
December 9th – Madame Lou’s – Seattle