Here’s the audio from a Minnesota Public Radio interview with me and the Dacey brothers. The interview took place in the Mankato affiliate studio for the show “Minnesota Morning” on January 3, 1991. The audio file comes from a cassette recording of the broadcast with poor sound quality and without the first few minutes of the interview. But it’s worth a listen because it includes a live in-studio performance of an early version of “Tea of China,” a song we included on Spectacular Illusions later that year.
Since the very beginning of the band, we created a lot of print media, promotion, and vanity projects, but in the last months of the journey, we started sending out a newsletter to our mailing list under the title HYPERBOLE. It was primarily a way of letting people know when and where to catch a SWOON show.
The first issue is dated December, 1990. HYPERBOLE was just a handbill with a little bit of news, a list of shows, and occasional lyric. The idea was to hype the shows, hence the name. The newsletter had a short print run of just two issues.
In 1994, three years after THE SWOON had disbanded, I received a phone call from someone (I think it was Emmett) about a guy trying to contact me. There was a Christian music and arts mag called kamikaze that wanted to interview me about THE SWOON. They were doing a feature piece on the band under the title “What ever happened to THE SWOON?”
I declined the interview. Now I wish that I hadn’t. But at the time, I was busy with a wife, a job, two little boys, and a headfirst plunge into Jewish studies. I had no sympathy for rehashing the THE SWOON.
A few months ago the editor of kamikaze, Stephen Knight, graciously sent me a copy of the article (as did one other SWOON fan). Knight did a bang-up job of marshalling what sources he could to put a solid article together.
Unfortunately, Knight’s primary source was a mostly obsolete 1988 interview in a Christian music fanzine called Ragtime. The editor of that fanzine, a guy named Charles Clark who had tried to help us kids out back in the day, also tried to assist by filling in a few of the gaps. As a result, some of the speculation is less than accurate, but that’s the way these things go. On the whole, it’s a good article. It mentions stuff I had completely forgotten about, like the early demo tapes we recorded under the name Restricted Access and how I sold cassette copies of Spectacular Illusions, repackaged under the title Piss and Vinegar, to SWOONfans working the 1991 Minnesota Renaissance Festival. For the record, the anecdote about Charlie Peacock sleeping through the Neverland sessions is not true. We all took turns sleeping on the couch in the Neverland studios, and Peacock put in some late hours on that project. He was very much involved in the whole production, whether he cares to admit it or not, and he was good friend to the band.
At the conclusion of the article, Clark speculates, “Had they continued, it probably would have killed ’em. It’s the excesses of rock and roll.” I don’t remember anything that dramatic. But my mom must have agreed with Clark’s sentiment. While I was gigging with THE SWOON, she took out a life insurance policy out on me.
Swooner Loyd Harp of Indie Vision Music selected our song SWEET ALLY for the “Song of the Day” (December 4, 2020) and did a write-up on the band. Well that’s a surprise! So far as we know, this is the first press THE SWOON has had since 1994 (when Stephen Knight of the arts-and-lit rag Kamikaze did a feature story titled “Whatever Happened to THE SWOON?”) Very cool. Here’s a link to the whole article. Give it a read.
Harp gives us a little back story about how he first heard the band on cassette, later got the CD, and ultimately fell in love with the music, referring to the CD as one of his desert island picks. That’s pretty high praise, so, gosh, thanks!
Harp introduces SWEET ALLY and speculates over the meaning the song:
“Sweet Ally” is a piano-led indie pop composition about falling in love with a girl who was a tightrope performer at the circus. The sentiment is either downright silly or youthfully romantic.
Harp’s right, but it’s not either/or. The sentiment is both downright silly and youthfully romantic. And it’s just one out of many similar unrequited-love songs that we wrote. But the inner meaning of the song intends to paint a metaphor about aspiring toward a spiritual vision and failing to obtain it. Isn’t that the story of every spiritual journey? It’s certainly been the story of my life. It’s like when you fall head-over-heals but later realize that “she’s out of your league.” It’s the way Salieri felt about composing music after he met Motzart in the 1984 movie Amadeus.
I was the comic, I was the clown. She was the angel, angel high above ground.
Harp says, “The piano ‘solo’ (if you can call it that) starting at the 2:00 mark slays me!” That’s Jeana Gillispie’s little diddy in the middle of the song where she makes the keys of the piano bounce like Sweet Ally’s feet balancing act on the high-wire. Good stuff.
Thanks to Indie Vision Music for helping us boost the signal on theswoon.band and for helping us build a little momentum for the re-release of the THE SWOON album and the new hoped-for new release of SPECTACULAR ILLUSIONS. Why not return the favor by going over to Indie Vision Music, checking out their work, and subscribing to their feed?
I can’t find my Sky Poster of THE SWOON. Did I throw it away? I thought I kept one copy. It was a big 18 x 24 inch deal, and we must have printed about 1000 of them. We papered downtown Minneapolis and Dinkytown with those posters every time we had a show. In retrospect, it seems unlikely anyone ever attended a show on the basis of seeing that poster.
The Sky Poster was big glossy sheet of paper featuring a photo taken in the bathroom at Seventh Street Entry (First Avenue) in 1987 or 88, before sonic-bass master, Troy Baartman, joined the band. Troy was always a little sore that he wasn’t in the picture, so sometimes we’d use a sharpie to draw a stickman on the posters—standing in front of the urinal.
We were at Seventh Street Entry—it was our first time playing that club. A big deal to us. First Avenue was doing some local talent showcase series, so we drove up from Cottonwood to participate. No one in Minneapolis had ever heard of us. That was the first of several shows in that little dive.
Derb came with us for the adventure, and so did his friend Sky Alsgaard who happens to be an exceptionally talented photographer and artist. She took the photo in the bathroom. It had a gritty, naughty-boys, these-kids-aren’t-from-Cottonwood look to it, and we liked it. We put it on a poster and printed about 1000 copies without ever giving Sky any credit or compensation for the photo. Time to give credit where credit is due.
Over the years, we had a lot of different photographers try to photograph THE SWOON, some of them high-end professionals, but Sky’s photos captured the real deal in some completely unguarded moments. Watch for more of Sky’s work and her vintage photos from back in the day on theswoon.band as we start gearing up toward the 2021 re-release of the music. We should probably reprint the poster too–this time with credit to Sky.