The return of Swirlies

By RICHARD BECK  |  February 27, 2009

Maybe the weirdest thing about Swirlies is that they've gotten weirder. Whereas the vast majority of bands clean up their sound as time goes on, Swirlies' revolving-door-style line-up has provided a constant influx of new ideas. Sometimes they're bad ideas — Cats of the Wild Vol. 2 (2003), for example, doesn't encourage repeat listens — but it's better than boring. Tutunjian: "I'd rather become shittier-sounding, as long as it's deliberate-shitty, than become slicker. And lose all dynamics and texture. It hurts my ears so much, listening to the stuff on the radio." He can be given to broad declarations: "I hate modern music."

As for the upcoming shows . . . there doesn't seem to be a consensus on what they will sound like. I asked whether it's possible to replicate the band's meticulous studio soundscaping in a live setting and got a hilariously diverse batch of answers. Tutunjian: "Oh yeah, absolutely, it's possible." Pierce: "The studio ideas are impossible to replicate live. Live tends to be a really loud wall of sound, just blistering." So look for some kind of middle ground. Pierce: "Andy always loves to bring a portable tape player. He'll play some random found sounds through the microphone." But Swirlies thrive off these contradictory energies, both live and in the studio. Tutunjian: "We add in the chaos and then some. Tuning, things breaking, I don't know. It's a mess. We've realized that's just part of the fun."

SWIRLIES + BULLPEN CATCHER + GREGORY AND THE HAWK | Middle East upstairs, 472 Mass Ave, Cambridge | February 28 at 9 pm | 18+ | $12 | 617.864.EAST or

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