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Swimming with Tsunamis: Local Band Profile

IN THE December 3 ISSUE

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by Zachariah Zendejas

On the musical scene today is the post-hardcore band Swimming with Tsunamis, with members from the Dinuba and Tulare areas. New to the local music scene, this band was formed in January of this year.Post-hardcore refers to the area of punk and hardcore, but does not reside in these neighborhoods; post-hardcore is its own sound, as is Swimming with Tsunamis. Their mix of scream and clean vocals doesn’t make for “easy listening” but it is definitely enjoyable.

From left: Justin Aguirre - Drums, Lance Slusher - Guitar, Mike Mclaughlin - Bass, Manuel Pedroza - Guitar, Grant Gillen - Lead Vocals, Andre Calderon - Lead Screams

Swimming with Tsunamis began under a different name, A Bittersweet Surrender, which existed before with current members Lance Slusher on rhythm guitar and Manuel “Manny” Pedroza on lead guitar. According to Grant Gillen (clean vocals and some screaming), when asked why the band had changed he replied, “When you add four other members that had nothing to do with the original concept of what the music will grow to be like and how to carry it, nothing but change can come of it.”

Swimming with Tsunamis currently has the three members I just mentioned and Andre Calderon on lead screams, Justin Aguirre on drums, and Mike McLaughlin on bass guitar. The current line-up is also made up of guys who have known each other for years and have played in other bands with each other at one point or another. But with the new configuration and set up comes the different talents of each member driving to a sound that is their own.

However, post-hardcore is the new path they chose; each of the members were involved with either metal or hardcore, but with this new band wanted to move in a direction that involved more singing than screaming. The reason for the change involved a combination of what they liked and what their audience would respond to. Most importantly, “It’s what we want to play and have fun doing,” says Gillen. “When you’re in a band not making enough money to live off starting out, you better love what you’re doing.”

The band truly showed their love and dedication for what they do when they did their first multi-state tour in early October from El Paso, Texas to Albuquerque, New Mexico plus a few others. With a van packed with luggage, band equipment and nine guys, it did try their patience from time to time. “Everywhere we stopped we were by a Walmart (sometimes to sleep in the parking lot) and Starbucks (for charging our phones),” says Gillen, reminiscing about their recent tour. He continues, “It was awesome to meet people that responded to what we played,” but there were some shows that were either dropped or canceled.

However, they kept on going. They did have moments of fun, especially when, as Gillen recalls, “Justin drummed on the Las Vegas strip for his birthday as well (went strong for forty minutes before the casino security chased us away).”

Of course, the band is hard at work on their first album which they hope to have finished sometime early 2012, as well as planning another tour sometime mid-2012. Though, when asked what the name for their upcoming album will be, Gillen says the album is still in the writing process and that it will take time for them to come up with a title that fits what they are trying to make.

This wasn’t always the method for choosing names for things. When it came to naming the band, after they decided to move away from the name A Bittersweet Surrender, they had a rather unorthodox method. Gillen says, “We all wrote down the name ideas and put them in a hat and the chosen name would be it. The name drawn was I Hate Tsunamis.”

But as they progressed, they realized there needed to be more to the name, so they began to tweak it and changed it to Swimming with Tsunamis. “The idea for the name to involve Tsunamis came from the still current happenings of the Tsunami and destruction it caused in Japan. In no way did we select and stick with the name to make light of the situation,” says Gillen. “Swimming with Tsunamis is a statement, a reminder, to everyone that there will always be issues and troubles that we must see to the finish in some way or other, no matter what the outcome will be. It’s pushing forward in this way, we as people are able to appreciate the beauty of life among chaos and, unfortunately, death.”

Their sound is a mix of “screaming and singing equally, as well as heavy breakdowns and uplifting melodies to balance out this idea and hopefully connect with people, making them feel alive.”

They can be found on their Facebook. Check them out.

Zachariah Zendejas is 20 years old and attends Reedley College full-time working toward a degree in English. He is an aspiring writer who hopes to do some freelance work for magazines or newspapers.

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