Tsunami


Jenny Toomey: guitar, vocals
Kristin Thomson:
guitar, vocals
Andrew Webster:
bass 1990-1996
John Pamer:
drums 1990-1996
Luther Gray:
drums 1997-
Amy Domingues:
bass, cello 1997-
Bob Massey:
guitar, keyboards 1997-

photo by Jessica Kourkounis 1998

 
 
 

Tsunami has always had big ideas to live up to. Their first show was planned in advance of any practice or serious song writing, and this sort of ambition quickly became the standard. Now, over 19 releases, six American tours, three European tours, a Lollapalooza tour, three videos, and nine t-shirt designs later Tsunami is still going strong.

The Beginning: It was the end of 1990 and Kristin and Jenny were living in the same house where they ran Simple Machines. Earlier that summer they had met Andrew Webster when Jenny's band Geek (another Simple Machine band) had done a three-week tour with Superchunk and Seaweed. Andrew and Jenny made fast friends and eventually, he was (con)vinced to come up to Arlington around Thanksgiving 1990 to try to form a band that could play at a New Year's party. After enlisting the support of former housemate John Pamer to play drums, Tsunami was formed. They weren't quite ready for the New Year's party, but within a couple of months they were already packed into Kristin's Trooper in freezing February for their first tour.

1991: Without even a single to their name and only a handful of shows under their belt, Tsunami hopped in the Trooper and high-tailed it across the country in the middle of February to play four shows with Beat Happening. Being as busy as they were, they had only allowed a few hours grace on the journey. So, when they heard the gnashing of gears at 2:00 AM in the middle of Indiana, they knew there may have to be a shift to Plan B. No, it wasn't as simple as low oil or water...it was half the transmission. After two days at the same hotel as a war convention, they had a new transmission and were on their way to Waukesha, WI for the third show. Tsunami rocketed home from their first tour, recorded their first four-track cassette "Cow Arcade", then went into Inner Ear to record the Headringer 7". Later that year they relecorded Genius of Crack for Homestead Records. That summer, they squeezed in the Trooper again and trekked across the country, doing some shows with Scrawl and ending up in Olympia, WA for the K Convention.

In 1992, Tsunami got a lot of recording under their belt and appeared on four 7" singles. First there was the song "Left Behind" released on a Sub Pop Single of the Month split 7" with Velocity Girl, then they contributed "Punk Means Cuddle" to a Teriyaki Asthma compilation 7" for C/Z Records. Later in the year they recorded "Could Have Been Christmas" for the Simple Machines "Seasons Greetings" 7", and finally "Beautiful Arlington" - a 3 song 7" that was released in Australia by IV Recordings.

1993: Tsunami had over 7 releases in 1993 including their acclaimed Diner and Matchbook 7"s, as well as the long awaited full-length debut, Deep End. Although it had been recorded the previous summer, 3 changeovers in manufacturing and an unsuccessful attempt at re-mixing had pushed it back by 10 months. In 1993, Tsunami also got what they thought was a prank call. Some guy named John from Lollapalooza said he wanted Tsunami to play the side stage! It seemed too weird - they thought they were small potatoes but John Rubelli was determined to change the face of Lollapalooza, and Tsunami was excited to help out. Tsunami hooked up with Lollapalooza in New Orleans and headed west, doing six shows with Sebadoh, Free Kitten and Thurston Moore. Late in 1993, in the middle of a 6-week American tour, Tsunami stopped for a week in Chicago to record their second full-length, The Heart's Tremolo.

1994 was Tsunami's big year of touring. Following the release of The Heart's Tremolo, their second full-length, Tsunami did two separate US tours and made two trips to England, one with Eggs and Rodan and the second to play the Phoenix Festival with Shellac, Girls v Boys, Bailter Space and The Raincoats.

1995: Drummer John Pamer - perpetual student - took off another semester of school from UMASS Amherst in the spring of 1995 and Tsunami set out on the road again. In the midst of a long spring tour, Simple Machines released World Tour and Other Destinations, a 22-song compilation of their hard-to-find singles, b-sides and compilation tracks. After a short East Coast tour in July, Tsunami dropped off John in Boston and bid him good luck - he was off to Amherst for one full year of summer school and college to finally finish his undergrad degree. With that, Tsunami was officially on hiatus until John's graduation in May 1996.

1996-97: Well, the end of 1995 and beginning of 1996 flew by with no Tsunami action. As John's graduation approached, Jenny and Kristin kicked into high gear, writing songs like crazy and getting ready to practice again. Unfortunately for Tsunami, John decided to spend the summer in Amherst, making enough money to eventually move to New York City. Knowing John's long-term goal of living in NYC, they weren't surprised about his decision, but what to do? Drummer-less? After talking about commuting, tape swapping, or whatever, Tsunami took a bold step and contacted another drummer in Arlington to work on the new songs - Luther Gray. An ex-mailorder intern, Trip was last seen as the live drummer for Sea Saw in 1996 and played sax on Delta 72's record. He teaches drumming lessons and plays in a bunch of jazz combos and a gospel choir! After 6 months of practice Tsunami headed to Chicago in the spring of 1997 and recorded fourteen songs at Kingsize Soundlabs with Dave Trumfio and Mike Hagler. The result - their fourth record, A Brilliant Mistake, which was released by Simple Machines in August 1997.

1998: After a huge US tour in the fall of 1997 to support A Brilliant Mistake with new members Amy Domingues (bass), Trip Grey (drums) and Bob Massey (guitar & keyboards), Jenny and Kristin returned home with the most momentus task ahead - the Simple Machines Finale party. They bore down on this final project, balancing out party details with fevered Tsunami practices. The Finale was incredible, with hundreds of folks there to see Tsunami's set. After the party Tsunami did a small East Coast tour, finishing up in New York on Easter Sunday.

2001: While on a tour supporting her solo record Antidote, Jenny and Amy were joined by Kristin to play a few Tsunami songs during a show in Philadelphia.

2002: In August, Tsunami practiced hard and got a set back into shape to play Ladyfest DC with Amy, Trip and special guest Franklin Bruno on extra guitar and keyboards. Kristin was 9 months pregnant.

2003: Feeling energized by the previous Ladyfest, Tsunami played Ladyfest Philly in March with Amy, Trip and Ida's Dan Littleton sitting in on a couple of songs.

Simple Machines Releases

SMR 4.5 Tsunami
Headringer 7"
1991
7": out of print
Songs on SMR 33 CD

The 7" that launched 1000 indie-rock ships. Recorded in 1991 at the old WGNS Studios in Arlington, a 5 song classic. The 7" is long out of print, but all the songs are on SMR 33 World Tour and Other Destinations.

Review.

SMR 13 Tsunami
Deep End
1993
CD: $11 LP:$9 CS:$7

The Simple Machines koffeeklatch brings you ten feisty songs on their full length debut. Recorded in Lancaster, PA by Ken Heitmuller and Jay Sorrentino in the spring of 1992 and released in 1993 on Simple Machines and Southern Records. The muscle behind the myth.

Review. Lyrics.

SMR 14 Tsunami
Season's Greetings 7"
1992
7": out of print
Songs on SMR 33 CD

Tsunami and Velocity Girl each pitch in a song on this 7" to spread some holiday cheer. Although the 7" is probably the only place you can see Archie Moore wearing green tights and a wreath around his neck, you can hear Tsunami's melancholy and beautiful "Could Have Been Christmas" on SMR 33 World Tour.

SMR 16 Tsunami
Diner 7"
1993
7": out of print
Songs on SMR 33 CD

Another classic 7", featuring the likeness of Bethesda's Tastee Diner on the front. Recorded up in an old slaughterhouse in Massachusetts by Bob Weston. Also long out of print, the songs "Load Hog" and "Gold Digger" are both on SMR 33 World Tour.

SMR 18 Tsunami
Matchbook 7"
1994
7": out of print
Songs on SMR 33 CD

Who could resist the giant matchbook 7"? Included "In a Name", "Not Living" and a remixed version of "Bossa Nova" recorded by John Loder in England, now only available on SMR 33 World Tour. The fabuolous packaging was created by drummer John Pamer and Steve Raskin, and was included in the Smithsonian's Cooper Hewitt Museum of Design as part of the Mixing Messages: Design in Contemporary Culture exhibit.

Review.

SMR 24 Tsunami
Be Like That 7"
1994
7": $3.50

The songs everyone asks about (and the one everyone listened to on their American Airlines headsets one summer) plus an unreleased track that's not on The Heart's Tremolo. Packaged in a full-color flags of the world sleeve that was featured in the 1995 American Institute of Graphic Arts' Design Annual - A16A and shown at the Smithsonian's Cooper Hewitt Museum of Design as part of the Mixing Messages: Design in Contemporary Culture exhibit. Here's your chance to buy a piece of art today!

SMR 25 Tsunami
The Heart's Tremolo 1994
CD: $11 LP:$9 CS:$7

The Heart's Tremolo is Tsunami's second full-length release, recorded by Brian Paulson during a Chicago pit stop on a 1994 US tour. Ten songs beautifully packaged in metallic silver, and this time lyrics are included! Released by Simple Machines and Southern in 1994.

Review.

SMR 29 Tsunami/Eggs/Rodan
Monsters of Rock CD
1995
CD: out of print

A tour CD featuring one song from Tsunami, one from Rodan and one from Eggs. The occasion? A three-band tour of the British Isles in 1994, when all 13 of us shared one van. Fabulous cover art depicting an egg, a tidal wave and a laser-spitting beast attacking London by Archer Prewitt.

SMR 33 Tsunami
World Tour & other Destinations
1995
CD: $11

With 19 releases, 6 American and 3 European tours, one Lollapalooza tour, 3 videos, and 9 t-shirt designs under their belt, Tsunami brings you a 70-minute, 22-song compilation CD of their hard-to-find singles, b-sides and compilation tracks from 1991-1997. Pretty prolific for a band that squeezed tours and practices between the full-time fun of Simple Machines, day jobs, various side projects and bands, and a drummer finishing his college degree 460 miles away from the hometown of DC.

SMR 52 Tsunami
Poodle/Old City 7"
1997
7": $3.50

"Poodle" is a catchy number paying homage to a brave team of Poodles that competed in the Iditerod sled race (among other things), and "Old City" is a pop gem about stolen cars so insidious you'll be humming it all day long. Recorded during the Brilliant Mistake session at Kingsize, "Poodle" is also on the CD, but "Old City" is only found here! Not only good songs, but hand packaged in letterpressed sleeves, a limited edition of 1800.

SMR 53 Tsunami
A Brilliant Mistake CD
1997
CD: $11

A Brilliant Mistake is Tsunami's fourth release. After the release of The Heart's Tremolo in 1994 Tsunami spent two years honing skills, recruiting new converts, watching the zodiac and avoiding two of the most disgusting years of rock commercialism. Fourteen songs recorded in April 1997 with the fellas at Kingsize Soundlabs in Chicago, and, really the best sounding stuff yet. Gorgeous vellum packaging, and lots of lyrics to read.

Review.


Complete Discography

1991

Cow Arcade demo cassette

Simple Machines

out of print

1991

Headringer 5 song 7"

Simple Machines

on SMR 33 CD

1991

Genius of Crack 7"

Homestead

on SMR 33 CD

1992

Tsunami/Velocity Girl split 7"

Sub Pop

on SMR 33 CD

1992

Teriyaki Asthma vol.7 7"

C/Z Records

on SMR 33 CD

1992

Season's Greetings split 7" w/ Velocity Girl

Simple Machines

on SMR 33 CD

1992

Beautiful Arlington 7" /CD-single

IV (Australia)

on SMR 33 CD

1993

Diner 7"

Simple Machines

on SMR 33 CD

1993

Inclined Plane comp 7"

Simple Machines

on SMR 33 CD

1993

Matchbook 7"

Simple Machines

on SMR 33 CD

1993

Deep End LP/CD/CS

Simple Machines

available

1993

Teen Beat 100 comp 7"

Teen Beat

on SMR 33 CD

1993

August Working Holiday split 7" w/Small Factory

Simple Machines

on SMR 33 CD

1993

Echoes from the Nation's Capital comp CD/CS

TWUnderground

1994

Be Like That 7"

Simple Machines

available

1994

Monsters of Rock II CDw/Eggs & Rodan

Simple Machines

out of print

1994

The Heart's Tremolo LP/CD/CS

Simple Machines

available

1995

"Our Band Could Be Your Life" Minuteman tribute
comp LP/CD

Little Brother

on SMR 33 CD

1995

Tsunami/Superchunk split 7"

Honeybear

out of print

1995

World Tour & Other Destinations CD

Simple Machines

available

1996

Compulsiv comp #3 7"

Compulsiv

out of print

1997

Poodle/Old City 7"

Simple Machines

available

1997

A Brilliant Mistake CD

Simple Machines

available

You can get any of the Tsunami titles listed as available from Dischord mailorder.

Check Tour Dates for Tsunami.


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