Amber Fellows talks about “the magic of Swimsuit.” Somehow, the Ypsi quartet always seems to come up with the workings for a good song “as soon as we get together.” This is marvelous, but it’s also impressive, considering the extent of each member’s busy-ness with other musical projects.
Guitarist/singer Dina Bankole balances two other bands: a newer experimental pop amalgam called Everybody’s In (which recently wrapped its debut album), as well as continuing to shred and sweetly serenade atop the rough/tumble pop duo Secret Twins. Drummer Shelley Salant recently toured with Detroit-based punk squad Tyvek and has since been developing her own label, Ginkgo Records, as well as hosting the Local Music Show on WCBN (89.3). Bassist Amber Fellows played with Dos Hermanos in the past, recently collaborating with fellow Swimsuit mate Fred Thomas as a side project duo, Damned Dogs, for an upcoming release on her new Kumi Tapes label. Fellows operates a music consignment space in Ypsi’s Café Ollie, a source for Ypsi artists’ works.
Those familiar with Ypsi’s audio knight Thomas (also City Center, Mighty Clouds and shepherding the Life Like label), knows he’s assuredly occupied. Busy-ness, though, is no match for the Swimsuit magic. When they align, the songs happen – springing exuberantly from tight, lo-fi jams, fostering fuzzy sunburst, rock ’n roll dashers. It surfs, it slides, it sways and it’s made sublime by their subtle knack for harmonization. “This is by far the most collaborative band I’ve been in,” says Salant, “really, in all aspects. Everyone brings something unique to the table and it absolutely wouldn’t be the same band without each of the people involved.”
They finished recording their proper debut album last month (enhancing some older cuts from the Peace Gull cassette), aided by the adept audio engineering of Ryan Howard (also of City Center). The band formed from Salant and Thomas envisioning a potential project, not knowing “who would play what or anything,” back in summer 09. They eventually recruited Fellows and Bankole and “suddenly everything fit together,” in time to debut that winter. In their first year, they’ve played a slew of local shows, released two cassettes and a 7” single and two tours of the East Coast.
“Our sound wasn’t planned at all,” recalls Fellows, who, typically a guitarist, had never played bass before Swimsuit. Though nodding to those who’ve picked out the “surf-rock” sensibility of their tunes, Fellows says “once we found our name, Swimsuit, it definitely informed the sounds or at least the interpretation of the music to come.”
Thomas expands on the idea, pointing to a range of influences, from shoegaze to new wave to New Zealand pop. “It’s just easier to hear reverb…and say: ‘surf.’” Thomas comments on the magic, “Everyone has such a big, bright thing to offer, and these things flow easily, seamlessly, and joyously when we get together.”
Swimsuit launches their next tour May 6th at Woodruff’s in Ypsilanti. www.myspace.com/swimsuitsounds