-The original line-up (October 1997 – September 1998)

This band has connections all over the Ontario hardcore tree. Before this band even got started a lot of the members had played together in other projects. Chris Colohan, Christian McMaster and Mike Maxymuik had played together in Left for Dead. Mike and Adam Bratt had played together in Gates of Dawn and The Wayouts on top of having known each other since they were kids. Kyle Bishop and Matt Jones had played together in Rebirth and Grade. Kyle and Mike had played together in Acrid.

This brings us to the origin of “The Swarm”. While Acrid was on tour in July and August of 1997, Kyle announced to the band that he wanted out. He had been debating leaving the band prior to going on the road, but stuck it out, announcing it only to the other members halfway through the tour. It was then that he asked Mike to follow him to his new band, which he planned to name “The Swarm”, after the 1978 film starring Michael Caine.

"The Swarm" film poster, 1978.

“The Swarm” film poster, 1978.

Kyle felt the desire to form a strictly straight-edge band, something he could never do in Acrid or Grade (in fact Grade formed out of the ashes of xIncisionx, who broke up because the original bassist was unhappy about the band dropping the straight-edge belief). This influenced selecting the name “The Swarm”; the idea of a ferocious entity that was enormous and devastating, however made up of small determined individuals, just like the straight-edge movement.

Acrid was over the moment they returned home to Ontario, on August 7th of 1997. Grade was still active full-time but Kyle already had new material written and started looking for members to complete his new band. The band’s signature sound would be carried over from Acrid’s use of detuned guitars. All of The Swarm’s songs composed by Kyle were played in a whole step down.

Adam Bratt and Chris Colohan also wanted to start a new band together, one that was heavier than anything else they had done before. Since Gates of Dawn’s breakup in the summer of 1996, Adam hadn’t played in any bands. But since the summer of 1997, he had been working on new material which would come to life with this new band.

As for Chris, after Left for Dead broke up in late 1996/early 1997, he took a break from music, moving to Toronto. In September of 1997, he moved to Guelph for a year, to attend its university. It was while there that he started looking for a new musical endeavor.

When Kyle found out that their ideology was likewise, through Mike’s suggestion, he asked to join them and combine the new bands. He could now have a project that was vocally passionate and loyal to veganism and straight-edge. In late September or early October, the first line-up was stabilized with Chris Colohan on vocals, Adam Bratt and Kyle Bishop on guitars and Mike Maxymuik on drums. Even though the band claimed to be based in Hamilton, they were actually jamming at Kyle’s “Wheatfield House” (on Stratton Road) in Burlington. After failing to find a bassist, Kyle asked Matt Jones, who was also living with him at the Wheatfield House, to fill the part as a favor. Matt was also busy playing in SeventyEightDays and actually cared little for the style of music that The Swarm was writing.

"Doom: Knee-Deep in the Dead" book, by Dafydd ab Hugh and Brad Linaweaver. Pocket Books Publishing, June 1995.

“Doom: Knee-Deep in the Dead” book, by Dafydd ab Hugh and Brad Linaweaver. Pocket Books Publishing, June 1995.

Chris then suggested a new band name, “Knee Deep in the Dead”, which was later claimed (possibly sarcastically) to be pointing the finger at all their friends who had given up the straight-edge beliefs. Though the statement might have been true of the scene at the time, the name was actually taken from the video game-influenced book “Doom: Knee-Deep in the Dead” (published in June of 1995). After some discussion, it was decided that both names, combined, could be used in formal situations; “The Swarm aka Knee Deep in the Dead”. This was a homage in sorts to the band “Charred Remains aka Man is the Bastard”. Although most of the concert flyers would continue to credit them as “The Swarm” and the fans quickly took on the shortened form. On odd times, they were even simply credited as “Swarm”. It would take until their first release, in the fall of 1998, for their formal name to start regularly appearing on publicity material.

During early song-writing, Kyle and Adam were also listening to a lot of Chokehold, Acme, Mörser, Misfits, Bolt Thrower, Slayer, Cro-Mags, Black Flag, Sick of it All and even Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s first album.

The Swarm played their first show on December 31st of 1997 at the El Mocambo in Toronto. Chris Logan and Ewan Exall had set up the fourth “Toronto New Years Festival”. That year’s line up also featured Brother’s Keeper and Disciple. Prayer for a Fallen Angel was initially set to appear but they weren’t able to get together for a single rehearsal and get ready for the show.

The show was a huge success. Hype had quickly built up by Acrid, Grade and Left for Dead fans who could now witness a true all-star band. That night The Swarm premiered nine songs; “Plague”, “Blink”, “First Saved Message”, “Shoot First, Ask Questions Later” (an early title for “God’s Little Acre”), “Upside Your Head”, “Familiarity Breeds Contempt”, “Last Rites” (which was played twice in a row because Mike messed up the ending), “Choke and Die” (an early title for “Willing Victim”) and “Smooth Running Order”.

The Swarm started playing one or two shows a month in 1998. In January they played at the University of Guelph with SeventyEightDays, Acacia and (maybe) Holocron; and then at 435 Military Road in Buffalo, New York. This first out of town show featured Strong Intention, I Hate You, Sirhan and Assnine. Another early show would take place at Call the Office in London, Ontario, for a Sunday matinee.

A month later, Jeff Scheven put up a show in his apartment in downtown Toronto on Shuter Street. Even though The Swarm had only played a select amount of shows, they were already notorious as one of the best chaotic, sludgy, metallic hardcore bands of the province. Jeff’s band, Idioalla was also playing that evening. The event turned out as more of a party of friends rather than a straight show, but both bands moshed the place.

Less than a month later, Idioalla and The Swarm would reunite at the 1998 Oakville Hardcore Festival (aka Southern Ontario Hardcore Festival, or SOHC Fest). The show at the Oakville YMCA also welcomed Grade, Removal, Pride, Acacia, Sinsick and The Tet Offensive on its first day and Kill the Man Who Questions, Fifth Hour Hero, Hacksaw, Holocron, The Farthest Man and Two Shades of Pain on the second date.

Because the band had such a fantastic lineup, creativity was booming and songs were hammered out quickly. And so, after only half a dozen shows and a brief six months of existence, The Swarm was ready to record their first twelve songs. Both Acrid and Left for Dead had collaborated with No Idea Records and the notorious “buzzsaw” split 12″ vinyl, “Hacked to Pieces”, had been a massive hit. In March of 1998, No Idea was on their third pressing of the split record, having already sold over 2300 copies in only nine months. Some members of Acrid even suspected that all of Acrid’s income went directly to The Swarm. So while No Idea was ordering 1100 additional records on all new colors, Var Thelin offered to put out the The Swarm’s material without even hearing them. Three out of five members of The Swarm appeared on the buzzsaw split and that was good enough for him.

That March they booked a weekend session at Signal 2 Noise Studio to record with Rob Sanzo. In those two or three days, they recorded “Last Rites”, “Familiarity Breeds Contempt”, “Smooth Running Order”, “Fucking Invincible at One A.M.”, “Blink”, “First Saved Message”, “Plague”, “God’s Little Acre”, “x On Our Knees x”, “Upside Your Head”, “Willing Victim” and the monologue “Monopolized Reality for the Maintenance of Order”. The session was financed by Var who offered the band whatever they wanted. During the recording session, Chris and Adam got the idea to include some movie samples. They had watched Taxi Driver enough times to recite it by heart, and included samples in the beginning of “Last Rites”, “Smooth Running Order” and “x On Our Knees x” as well as at the end of “Plague”.

After Rob Sanzo recorded with the band, his recently hired assistant, Jon Drew, handled the mixing. Jon Drew had already worked with bands like New Day Rising, Dead Season, and Grade at S2N and was quickly becoming an important part of the Ontario hardcore sound. The audio masters were then sent off to No Idea Records, who offered to put it out on a 10″ vinyl and CD. Already familiar with the way the label worked, all they could do was wait. Var had a habit of holding out from pressing releases as they were ready. He instead sent batches to the pressing plant two to four times a year in order to maximize a bulk discount. One was usually sent around March, another one or two in the summer and a last around November. As March had just passed, summer 1998 was proposed as a release date for The Swarm’s first release, “Parasitic Skies”.

Almost immediately after the recording session, Kyle started putting together the artwork. Kyle had famously created antique collage-style artworks for the Jonathan Thomas/Sprucehill split CD, Ignorance Never Settles‘ album “Cycles of Consumption”, Shoulder‘s album “Touch” and Grade’s own self titled 7″ as well as the “…And Such Is Progress” LP. He created an original artwork for “Parasitic Skies”, and handed it over to Matt who was in charge of scanning it and sending it off to Var.

All this seemed so promising, but things were not meant to last. That April, Revelation Records approached Grade with a serious contract offer. Grade spent the whole month discussing the possibility of signing with this major label and planning out their spring tour with Hot Water Music. Kyle and Matt did make room for a single Swarm show before leaving; April 30th at the Upstate Skate Loft in Buffalo, New York. They were rejoined by Sirhan and Assnine along with headliners Devoid of Faith and 9 Shocks Terror.

The “World Domination Tour” in 1998 took Grade and Hot Water Music through the US East Coast for the majority of May. Just like Kyle and Matt were leaving The Swarm behind, George Rebelo and Chris Wollard of Hot Water Music were leaving behind their other band The Blacktop Cadence. With The Swarm on temporary hold, Mike joined local emo band Sinclaire, replacing their original drummer. Mike also formed a new emo project, Boy Blue, which was short lived. It wasn’t until June that Kyle and Matt, recovered from the long road trip, allowed The Swarm back into their lives. Summer had arrived, but Var still hadn’t received the artwork from Matt. Matt had moved out of the Wheatfield House and was then residing in Toronto, just a few blocks away from the 148 Barton house. Chris and Adam (who were now living at the Barton house together) were extremely eager to pursue the band full-time and with Grade’s connections, booked their first mini-tour for July. Grade’s van was also to come in handy for all traveling needs.

Meanwhile, early June was spent playing a few local shows. This included two shows with Los Crudos; one at The 360 in Toronto with Politikill Incorrect and the other at the River Oaks Recreational Centre with Kill the Man Who Questions, Karrageenan and The Tet Offensive. The band was hoping to have “Parasitic Skies” ready in time for their shows that summer but Matt still hadn’t digitized the artwork. Var then opted to repress “Hacked to Pieces” a fourth time; an additional 1000 records on grey vinyls.

The Swarm was then booked to play the 1998 edition of the Columbus, Ohio More Than Music Festival on Saturday, June 27th. On the way down to the fest, Dave Munro, Jaime Towns, Craig Wattie and the band stopped at the Kung Fu Fireworks Emporium in Erie, Pennsylvania to stock up on fireworks and explosives. Once at the show, Chris and Dave found a tennis ball which they turned into a “Swarm Bomb”; they filled it with as many firecrackers as possible.

Chris wanted to start off The Swarm’s set with the “Swarm Bomb”, but after failing to get it lit, he tossed it over to Dave in the crowd. Dave then managed to light it and chucked it out in the air. The explosion ended up injuring two residents of the Legion of Doom venue, who were responsible for booking the fest. This immediately prejudiced them against The Swarm. A few minutes later, between two Swarm songs, Chris jokingly said “For those of you who care, I’m speaking to you white belts out there, we will be hosting a Women’s Health Seminar in the Swarm Van out front for full internal body inspections!”

This could have been said in sarcasm, but the promoters didn’t take it as a joke. That year, the More Than Music Festival was holding various workshops entitled “Conversational Sexism”, “Sex Positivity” and “Sex Workers”. So the promoters took personal offense to the comment. The following day, Sunday, June 28th, one of the band scheduled to play failed to show up. Chris then asked the promoters if The Swarm could play a second set, but was promptly told that The Swarm was banned from playing any show that Legion of Doom had a hand in. Members of Dillinger Four and Hot Water Music, who were standing right by, threatened to drop out of the fest if The Swarm wasn’t allowed to perform again that day. And thanks to them, they were saved and allowed to perform a second time. But after this, Legion of Doom would make sure that The Swarm would never be welcomed in Columbus again.

The Swarm’s first mini-tour took them through Pennsylvania, New York and Illinois in the middle of July. The band left on Thursday, July 9th for a six hour drive down to Kingston, PA, where the Wilkes-Barre Summer Festival was taking place that weekend. Kyle had already played at the past two Wilkes-Barre festivals, with Acrid in 1996 and Grade in 1997. This event marked the first time that the band would be fully credited as “The Swarm aka Knee Deep in the Dead” on a flyer. They appeared on Friday July 10th at the Independence Fire Hall alongside You and I, Feculence, Before I Break, The Locust, Jenny Piccolo, Assuck, Reversal of Man, Magnus, Chamber, Rye Coalition, Supression, My Lai, All Chrome, Discount, Ink and Dagger and Endeavor; and stayed to witness July 11th’s performances by Hot Water Music, Bigwig, Piebald, Elliot, The Blacktop Cadence, Gun It, Bedford, Atom and His Package, Ethel Meserve, Doc Hopper, The Grey AM, (Young) Pioneers, Everett, Mid Carson July, The World Inferno Friendship Society and The Man I Fell in Love With.

On Sunday, July 12th, they drove back north to Syracuse, NY for another legendary show. The Westcott Community Center was booked for The Swarm to play with The Dillinger Escape Plan, Botch and Jesuit. As if this wasn’t great enough, the next day they went west to play at the Fireside Bowl in Chicago, IL with Reversal of Man, Dragbody and Inept. For a band that had yet to have an official release out, this first road trip created a lot of loyal fans. Some of them were even given some extremely rare CD-Rs or tapes featuring the songs recorded at Signal 2 Noise, but most were urged to get the buzzsaw split and keep their eyes on the No Idea newsletter.

It was while on tour that The Swarm met Jamil Azam. Jamil had been operating Spiritfall Records since 1995 out of Bridgewater, New Jersey. He had already put out seven releases and was extremely eager to work with The Swarm after hearing them play. They told him of their delayed album with No Idea Records, and also that they had three songs that were not appearing on the vinyl edition of “Parasitic Skies”. They could therefore either be used on compilations or a 7″ until they would appear as bonus tracks for the CD version of their album.

Jamil initially offered to put it out as a solo 7″, but Kyle, who was a huge fan of Mörser since Grade had played with them in Bremen, Germany, asked if it would be possible to work with them as well. Sometime later that month, either Jamil or Kyle contacted them about doing a split 7″. Mörser quickly agreed upon consideration that the label they were signed to, Per Koro Records, co-release it. This was for three reasons; to facilitate the European distribution of the records, to keep the songs in control of the German band and to divide the costs.

The artwork for this split would be a collaborative offer. Each of the band was responsible for their side of the booklet, while Jamil designed the layout for the 7″ covers. Chris Colohan’s love of the macabre would come in the spotlight for the first time in this split, using a picture of a dead body above the bands lyrics. Chris, Adam and their friend Ryan Elinsky were also watching a lot of B horror flicks. Such films became very influential in the presentation and artwork for the band; “The Swarm” (1978), “Phantasm” (1979), “The Crimson Ghost” (1946), as were directors George Romero, Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento.

Back home, The Swarm spent the rest of the summer entertaining at local clubs. On July 20th they were invited to open for Brutal Truth at the El Mocambo with Kataklysm and Solus. Then a series of many shows were all booked at Who’s Emma in Toronto. On July 25th they played with Burned Up Bled Dry and Shoot the Hostage ; on August 7th with Kill the Man Who Questions, Shai Hulud, Overcast and Shadows Fall. And on August 21st they were set to play with Phobia, Jaww and Godzilla but the show was re-billed last minute to feature Walls Around Us and Overtime.

In August, with all of their recorded songs scheduled to be released, they started working on a few new tunes. Half a dozen new songs would be composed, some of which would be performed at their show with Dropdead, Gojira and Walls Around Us on September 3rd. But The Swarm didn’t introduce the new stuff in just any old fashion. Rumor had it that someone had called them a bunch of snobs, so they decided to take it to the extreme and played a show dressed in business suits. The suits, however, came off rather quickly, as the venue overheated due to summer temperatures and the crowd going nuts.

Of the new songs performed at this show, two would never make it to any studio sessions; “Best Laid Plans” and “Crawling Through Glass”. The remaining material (including “Absent from the Morning Headcount”) would be kept in the new year for “Old Blue Eyes is Dead” (for which Kyle’s composed riffs were uncredited). The day following the Dropdead show, The Swarm opened for H2O and Madball at the El Mocambo.

-Line-up changes (September 1998 – December 1998)

But in late September, Matt would unexpectedly quit the band. After filling in for a whole year, he had enough and wanted to focus solely on Grade. But Matt would also move out of the Wheatfield House, which forced Kyle to have to sell the property, unable to afford it alone. Kyle would remain in Burlington, while Matt took on an apartment in Toronto, only a few blocks away from where Chris and Adam were now living. Since moving back to Toronto from Guelph, Chris had moved into Adam’s rented house at 148 Barton Avenue. Dave Munro, Alexandra Lamoureux (of Acrid) and her boyfriend Louis Oliveras were also residing there.

Without a place to jam, most of the members collected their instruments and brought them back to their house. Chris and Adam then did all they could, short of breaking in, to get Matt to send in the artwork for “Parasitic Skies”. But it became obvious that the original artwork was given up for lost. Chris then asked Dave Munro to design a new layout for the album. Dave’s new artwork was a pulp style, young roughens, drawing. It was set in an alley with a single lamp shinning down on a guy stabbed in the back of his leather jacket, lying in a pool of blood, with his girlfriend kneeling over him, also wearing a leather jacket with “The Swarm” written on it.  In the background was shadowed six figures with chains and pipes. His artwork was inspired by an idea that Chris had given him, combined with a Swarm t-shirt which was already being sold.

Dave was on the way to meet the members of The Swarm at a show at the El Mocambo, with the new artwork, when he got in a fight in the street. While waiting for the tramway, he gallantly stepped up to protect a girl getting hit by her ex-boyfriend. The cops were quickly called by passerby’s and when the whole thing was settled, he found the drawing trampled and torn on the sidewalk.

The Swarm aka Knee Deep in the Dead / Mörser split 7". Spiritfall Records / Per Koro Records, late September / early October 1998.

The Swarm aka Knee Deep in the Dead / Mörser split 7″. Spiritfall Records / Per Koro Records, early October 1998.

Only a few weeks later, in early October, Spiritfall Records released their split 7″ with Mörser. The record started out selling very well on its own. A good many people were extremely anxious to get their hands on The Swarm’s first release. And through Per Koro in Germany, Mörser was performing and promoting the release to the European market.

Spiritfall and Per Koro pressed 1000 records in three variants:

  1. 40 Hand-numbered “Limited “PC” Photocopied Cover Edition” on black vinyl
  2. 157 on clear vinyl
  3. 803 on regular black vinyl
The Swarm aka Knee Deep in the Dead / Mörser split 7". Spiritfall Records / Per Koro Records, late September / early October 1998. Limited edition cover.

The Swarm aka Knee Deep in the Dead / Mörser split 7″. Spiritfall Records / Per Koro Records, late September / early October 1998. Limited edition cover.

The pressing plant sent Spiritfall forty records short of covers; and so it was made to their advantage to have a limited edition cover for these orphans. The special covers were photocopied using two live pictures of The Swarm and one of Mörser at a swimming pool party, then hand-numbered out of forty.

Right around this time, Simon Harvey from Ugly Pop Records began putting together a Toronto hardcore compilation, “Terrors of the Christless”. The Swarm was one of the first bands he asked to contribute a song for this 7″. The initial lineup was to also feature Godzilla, Promise Kept, Young Blood, Where it Ends and The Blastcaps. By the time 1999 rolled around, the compilation lineup had been altered to feature completely different bands except for The Swarm; Countdown to Oblivion, Teen Crud Combo, Legion, MV and Megiddo. While all the bands had submitted exclusive studio recordings, The Swarm wanted to send in a live recording, which wasn’t what Simon was looking for and he eventually dropped them. By the spring of 1999 this compilation was abandoned and never released.

The Swarm aka Knee Deep in the Dead / Mörser split 7" add, circa November 1998.

The Swarm aka Knee Deep in the Dead / Mörser split 7″ add, circa November 1998.

Chris then started compiling imagines to design a new layout for “Parasitic Skies” himself, something that Kyle wasn’t exactly happy about. The new layout would reflect the band name and the cult films he was obsessed with, using pictures from a book on natural disasters. The imagery of tornadoes, explosions and an apocalyptic sky would be combined with pictures by Phil Fader and Mark Pesci Rodenhizer. To put together layout, Chris turned to his friend Ryan Elinsky, who had studied graphic design and owned a Mac computer with QuarkXPress.

It was only natural that with The Swarm’s first, new release, the band was eager to go out and play as many shows as possible. Especially after waiting over six months for the recordings to come out. But things became complicated with personality conflicts. Chris has often cited that Grade’s busy schedule was in fact the reason behind the changing of members. While it is true that Grade was at the time starting negotiations with Victory Records and was becoming a lot bigger, faster than they had planned, there are far deeper issues which need to be pointed out.

With Kyle moving houses in Burlington, he was temporarily without a phone number. The rest of the band members all lived in Toronto, and most of them did not drive. To some extent, contacting each band member became increasingly difficult. Additionally, other side-projects were beginning to take up their time. Mike was in Sinclaire (who were preparing their debut CD) and Boy Blue, Kyle was doing Grade and Chris had started Countdown to Oblivion in Toronto with Ryan Elinsky and Stephen Perry.

The band still had no official jam space, and without a bassist, show offers were turned down. Discussions then started taking place at the Barton house about a replacement. Lou, who was originally from Massachusetts and had played in Relm and Barrit, was willing to fill in the bassist position. Since the fall of 1997, he was residing with his girlfriend and had watched The Swarm grow from the very beginning. With Lou in the band, The Swarm would be able to practice at the Barton house. But things did not stop there. Many of the Barton house residents didn’t like Kyle and started suggesting that he should be kicked out of the band.

Chris started talking to his friend Ronnie James “RJ” Larente Osbourne, explaining that two of his bands, The Swarm and Countdown to Oblivion, were in need of new, second guitarists. RJ had just returned from Avarice‘s final recording session in New York, where Chris had provided guest vocals to their song “Count Me In”. Excited to join The Swarm, RJ told Chris that he would have all their songs memorized in a few days. Later that week Chris called RJ to set up a rehearsal with the band. But when RJ showed up, he quickly realized that there had been a major misunderstanding. The band at the rehearsal was Countdown to Oblivion, not The Swarm! A little frustrated, but finding the mistake comical, RJ ended up joining Countdown to Oblivion instead. His time with The Swarm would come later.

It was on December 17th that Chris ran into ex-Left for Dead guitarist, Christian McMaster, at The Amazing Royal Crowns concert at the Horseshoe Tavern. Since Left for Dead, Christian had played in Ignorance Never Settles and had replaced Matt Jones in SeventyEightDays as a tour-fill-in bassist. Chris told Christian about the the possibility that The Swarm change guitarists, and Christian immediately agreed to replace Kyle on guitar. At this point, RJ was still frustrated that he was no a member of The Swarm, and Chris considered extending the band to a third guitarist. But the idea was quickly abandoned.

Within a week, the new line-up was jamming at the Barton house. The first Swarm show with the new members was booked for the fifth annual Toronto New Years Festival. The 1998 edition of the festival was booked by Mike Haliechuk and was extended to a two-day event. Countdown to Oblivion was also invited to play their first show. The Swarm was booked to play on December 30th, with Buried Alive, Floorpunch, Get High and Grade.

Chris then decided that it was time to call Kyle and tell him the news. It wasn’t a fun task and Kyle was understandably furious when told that he was getting kicked out of the very band he founded. Kyle even proposed to quit Grade in order to prioritize The Swarm, but the fact was that Chris had already found comfort in the new line-up. Kyle would shortly after start a new band, Tomb of the Worm, where he would use most of the riffs he had reserved for The Swarm’s new, unfinished songs.

When December 30th rolled along, The Swarm headed to the El Mocambo but once there, Chris opted for The Swarm not to play. With Grade there, he felt it was only respectful not to step on Kyle’s feet. The new “Parasitic Skies” artwork was then altered to add “The Swarm on this recording was…” and “The Swarm is now…”.

-The new Swarm band and the second recording session (January 1999 – April 1999)

 

February 28th 1999. The Swarm at The 360 (Toronto, ON). With Day of Mourning, Teen Crud Combo, Hard Time, Confine

February 28th 1999. The Swarm at The 360 (Toronto, ON). With Day of Mourning, Teen Crud Combo, Hard Time, Confine

Early 1999 was spent booking a bunch of shows through late February and March. The first show with the new lineup finally happened on February 28th. The 360 Club welcomed The Swarm along with Day of Mourning, Confine, Teen Crud Combo and Hard Time. The new line-up attempted to play as little songs as possible from the old composers and started including a new cover of Ringworm’s “The Promise”. That evening, Kyle showed up to see the new line-up perform. He had recently cut off his dreads and had begun to get over the whole situation, in thanks to his new band, Tomb of the Worm. But Adam and Mike were still feeling the awkwardness. During a moment of chaos, Chris threw a jug of water into the audience and by the worst luck possible, hit Kyle right in the face. Chris continued on with the show, completely aware of what had just happened. It was only after their set that someone told him of the incident, and that Kyle had left the venue on the spot.

With this lineup, Chris’ stage antics grew more intense, although they had been in effect since the days of Left for Dead. The main trick was throwing firecrackers into the crowd. Sometimes they would be combined with ramen noodles into what they called “Ramen Bombin'”; it would rain ramen noodles all over the place. Chris would generally throw back to the crowd anything that landed on the stage, and then some. Anything he could get his hands on. But his typical use for water was to spit it out towards the crowd like a fire breather does with gasoline. Chris also famously told the audience to “shut up” and poked fun at “kissing circles”. On occasion people got hurt from the explosions, but they were quickly deemed as “casualties of war” if you wanted to see The Swarm play live. Chris himself went deaf for four days after a fire cracker short-fused next to his ear. Christian and Lou would also often take part of these antics.

But this behavior wasn’t always to their advantage. The Columbus More Than Music fest wasn’t the only place to ban them. At the 1998 Wilkes-Barre Summer Festival, they were banned after engaging a smoke bomb. But there were plenty of festivals left that were dying to feature The Swarm in their line-up. On the weekend of March 5th-7th, the annual New Bedford Festival was taking place in New Bedford, Massachusetts. That year’s event took place at the VTF Poirier Post and also featured Grade, Confine, ForceFedGlass, You and I, Four Hundred Years, Lynchpin, Jerome’s Dream, Nora, Racebannon, Good Clean Fun, Daltonic, Kid Dynamite, If January’s Willing, All Chrome, For the Love of…, The Warren Commission, Inept, Ink & Dagger, LaneMeyer, Time Flies, Before I Break, Saves the Day, Boxer, Smackin’ Isaiah, Meridian, Try.Fail.Try and Song of Kerman.

Although the fest lasted three days, The Swarm left on Sunday to play another show on their way back home. But they did manage to meet a new band that they decided to keep in close contact with, ForceFedGlass. Only a half hour northwest of New Bedford was a show booked for them at Studio 159 in Providence, Rhode Island. They spent the night there and made their way home on Monday morning. Two and a half weeks later they would play with Dystopia and They Live at The Lions Club in Toronto. This would mark the first time that Adam, Chris, Kyle, Matt and Mike were in the same room since September of 1998. But members stuck to their respective bands and didn’t interact.

On Saturday, March 27th, The Swarm drove down to Wayne, Michigan to play at the annual Michigan Fest. Also appearing that weekend was Dead Season, Hot Water Music, Small Brown Bike, Discount, Indecision, Creation is Crucifixion, My Lai, Born Dead Icons, Thoughts of Ionesco, Sarge, Tristeza, The Convocation of…, Keleton DMD, Voglio Capirlo, Gyga, Quixote, Three Penny Opera, Rainer Maria, Panthro U.K. United 13, Barrit, Reversal of Man, Trephine, Dynamic Ribbon Device, This Robot Kills, Bloodpact, The Crimson Curse, Chris Ieo, Moods for Moderns, Aasee Lake and Lovesick.

During the evening, a bunch of kids decided to run out into the crowd naked. Chris then hurried to the back room where they had left their clothes and hid them in a deep freeze, leaving the pranksters to panic at the thought of having to return home naked. As if this wasn’t dramatic enough, during The Swarm’s set, Lou Oliveras dropped feces in the middle of the mosh pit, which went on to be the topic of the month. The “shit in the fest” would become a reoccurring theme for The Swarm.

On April 9th, The Swarm was back at Signal 2 Noise with Rob Sanzo and Jon Drew. “Parasitic Skies” still wasn’t out, but Var was ready to pay for this studio session too. In a single day, seven brand new songs were tracked; “Lament”, “Bleeding to Death”, “Fuse”, “Absent from the Morning Headcount”, “November First”, “Start Spreading the News” (which was later renamed “5.15.98”) and a cover of GO!’s “Just Say GO!”. These songs were once again extended with snippets. “Bleeding to Death” featured an intro from a cult disaster film, followed by an audio recording of Budd Dwyer’s TV broadcast suicide. And “5.15.98” starts with a recording of Sinatra scatting and snapping his fingers.

From this session, Var had promised to put out a 7″, to be titled “Old Blue Eyes Is Dead”. It had been over a year since Frank Sinatra passed away, and Chris dedicated this album to his memory. Chris and Adam liked not only that he was a fantastic crooner, but also that he was a perfectionist and also had ties to sketchy crimes. This appealed to The Swarm’s ideals.

Right from the start, three of the seven songs were reserved for compilations. Ewan Exall had been present at the recording session and made extra sure that their friends at Redstar Records would use a song on their upcoming compilation “The Sound and the Fury“. Paul G. and Brendan Munn had been close friends of The Swarm since the very beginning and they got first pick; “Lament”, which has (so far) remained exclusive to Redstar Records.

Stephen Perry, who was in Countdown to Oblivion, was friends with Chris Iler who operated Fans of Bad Productions Records. Fans of Bad Productions’ last compilation, “GO!” had featured Acrid, and naturally when Chris Iler started compiling songs for his next compilation, “The Street Enters the House”, he asked for The Swarm to send in a song. To this went “Absent from the Morning Headcount”. Finally (and with no relation to Chris Iler’s compilation “GO!”), The Swarm had recorded a cover of New York hardcore band GO!’s song, “Just Say “GO!””, exclusively for a gay rights compilation, due to be released on Bledslowly Records on 12″. This compilation was to also feature Spread the Disease, Racebannon, The Judas Factor, Devoid of Faith, Kill the Man Who Questions, Dreadnok, Neil Perry, Joshua Fit for Battle, Forcefedglass, Devola, Fate of Icarus, Foundation, Pilate, Let Me Live, and Reactor No. 7. But it ended up never coming out.

The layout for their new EP would be one of the coolest that No Idea Records would ever release. Once again Chris teamed up with Ryan Elinsky to create a fold-able die-cut cover. The front featured an old fashioned automobile (a 1960’s Cadillac model) with a girl walking out and a silhouette of Frank Sinatra on the left, which was folded over like an envelope closing. Inside was an insert with the usual lyrics and song meanings on one side and fantastic photographs by Phil Fader and Bill Corbett on the other. In the center of these pictures was Frank Sinatra’s 1938 mugshot from his adultery arrest in Bergen County, NJ. The back side of the record cover had a rectangular hole cut out just the right size to only see the Sinatra mugshot.

For the fourth weekend of May, Chris booked a Canadian weekend mini-tour. However he failed to tell anyone else in the band that these three shows were coming up. Only a few days before leaving did everyone else find out of this tour and Mike didn’t have time to get all of his drums together. On Friday May 21st, they drove six hours east to Montreal. That evening they appeared at the original Underworld Skateshop in Ahuntsic (in Montreal), Quebec. Joining them were Ire and Born Dead Icons. Luckily Born Dead Icons was nice enough to lend The Swarm some equipment to play the show.

On May 22nd, The Swarm played a benefit concert for CHUO 89.1 FM, Ottawa’s campus radio. In support for their radio show, “Babylon”, they shared the stage with Buried Inside, In Reach, But I Am One, Kuru and 7 Layers. The final date of the mini-tour was a Sunday matinee booked at The Dungeon in Oshawa by Beau Bomberry, with Impasse and Shiloh.

-The Swarm tours with “Parasitic Skies” (May 1999 – June 1999)

The Swarm aka Knee Deep in the Dead's album "Parasitic Skies". No Idea Records, May 1999

The Swarm aka Knee Deep in the Dead’s album “Parasitic Skies”. No Idea Records, May/June 1999

In mid-May, Var announced to the band that “Parasitic Skies” was on its way. Fourteen months after it was recorded (and after countless shows featuring the phrase “Our album is coming out in a couple of weeks”), the nine-song 10″ vinyl was officially released. For this, The Swarm had planned a much anticipated summer tour, hoping to promote the new release as well as the new batch of songs which had been recorded in April. It would get a little confusing for the fans; the band was performing songs from a new EP that wasn’t even close to coming out, meanwhile pushing to sell a brand new LP of songs that were already considered “old” and that were recorded with a different line-up.

Over time the vinyl would be repressed in many different colors and totaled nearly five thousands records in sales. With each reissue, No Idea increased the blue hue in the title and band logo, starting originally as more of a grey and ending with an unmistakable blue. The pressing went as such:

  1. First pressing: May 1999 – 899 on black, 550 on grey and 246 on clear 10″
  2. Second pressing: July 1999 – 1105 on black 10″
  3. Third pressing: November 1999 – 513 on green 10″
  4. Fourth pressing: February 2001 – 550 on grey 10″
  5. Fifth pressing: July 2003 – 380 on black 10″
  6. Sixth pressing: February 2013 – 394 on smokey clear, 106 on olive green 12″

The fifty vinyls that Var had rushed to the band were missing the inserts, which hadn’t been printed yet. So Adam’s friend, Damian Abraham, who was coming with them on tour, had the idea to draw a limited edition insert. The comical insert mentioned that in order to receive the real insert, one had to write to No Idea Records. Only fifty of these inserts were photocopied (while on the road), and were all hand-numbered.

The Swarm aka Knee Deep in the Dead limited edition, tour insert for Parasitic Skies. Designed by Damian Abraham. Image courtesy of Willem-Jan Kneepkens

The Swarm aka Knee Deep in the Dead limited edition, tour insert for Parasitic Skies. Designed by Damian Abraham. Image courtesy of Willem-Jan Kneepkens

Although the band had played a good many shows at American festivals and in upstate New York, this would truly be their time to shine on their own. Their seventeen-day tour would take the six musicians through the Midwest, the East Coast and one date in the south. They also added two new covers to their set list for this tour; Misfits’ “Mommy Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight” and Black Flag’s “Revenge”.

The tour started out right at home in the basement of a Chinese restaurant in Kitchener, Ontario that Dave Stevenson had booked on May 28th. The next day they played at the Jewish Recreational Centre in Toronto on May 29th, where they played with In My Eyes, Committed, Walls Around Us and As We Once Were. The last two days of May were played in either London or Windsor, Ontario and then in either Detroit or Ann Arbor, Michigan. These dates have yet to be recovered.

May 29th 1999. The Swarm at The Jewish Recreational Center (Toronto, ON). With In My Eyes, Committed, Walls Around Us, As We Once Were

May 29th 1999. The Swarm at The Jewish Recreational Center (Toronto, ON). With In My Eyes, Committed, Walls Around Us, As We Once Were

The Swarm then met up with Seven Days of Samsara for two dates in the Midwest. On June 1st, they played at the Fireside Bowl in Chicago, IL with The Vida Blue, then at Scooter’s House in Madison, WI. At theses shows, The Swarm was prepared to offer something new. They decided to light the venue with candles, which were quickly kicked all over the place once they started their set. The Madison show was particularly violent. The moshing was so intense that Christian was pushed outside the window and fell outside. Members of Hot Water Music, Leatherface and Dillinger Four were out there at the time (having played in Milwaukee the night before); and Paddy Costello and a few others pushed Christian back inside through the same window. By then the place had gone wild and even mic stands had been smashed into bass and guitar amps. Later that night, Lou was paid 10$ to jump off the second floor balcony, after bragging that he was a ninja.

On June 3rd The Swarm traveled east to Kalamazoo, MI to play with Small Brown Bike, Keleton DMD and Berwer at the 31G. On the 4th they arrived in Cleveland to play two dates. The first would be with L.E.S. Stitches at Speak in Tongues. The second would be on June 5th, when they met up with their second tour-mates, Adamantium. Their first show together was played at The Euclid Tavern with Hot Water Music, Leatherface and Dillinger Four.

The Swarm and Adamantium with their roadies (Damian Abraham and Dave Mendel) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, June 1999. Photo courtesy of Matt Horwitz

The Swarm and Adamantium with their roadies (Damian Abraham and Dave Mendel) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, June 1999. Photo courtesy of Matt Horwitz

The Swarm and Adamantium continued on to play in Syracuse, NY and Worcester, MA at The Space with Bane Ten Yard Fight and Embrace Today. They then proceeded south to play at The Melody Bar in New Brunswick, NJ and at Stalag 13 in Philadelphia, PA. Finally they played in Fayetteville, NC at Stephen St. Germain’s house with Until Today, Impasse and High Pointe.

June 13th 1999. The Swarm at Westcott Community Center (Syracuse, NY). With The National Acrobat and Head On

June 13th 1999. The Swarm at Westcott Community Center (Syracuse, NY). With The National Acrobat and Head On

Parting ways with Adamantium, The Swarm drove back north intending to play their last two tour dates with Dead Season and The National Acrobat who were on tour together. However, due to Dead Season’s lack of a bassist, their tour was delayed for a week and they appeared at neither of these two shows. The show on June 13th was played at the Westcott Community Center in Syracuse with Head On. The final date was initially supposed to be played at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Buffalo, NY but it was changed at the last minute to the Eldridge Club in Tonawanda, NY, where Fall Silent, They Live and Kill Shot opened.

By the end of the summer, the demand for the 10″ had been so unbelievable that Var immediately put in a second pressing for an additional eleven hundred records. That season, more releases featuring The Swarm would come out. Craig Caron from Schizophrenic Records released the compilation “Spankin’ Nurse” which featured four songs from the March 1998 session; “xOn Our Kneesx”, “Upside Your Head”, “First Saved Message” and “Blink”. Around the same time, No Idea released their compilation, “Back to Donut!”, which included “Fucking Invincible at One A.M.”. This would be the first time that any of these songs appeared on CD, officially.

"Back to Donut!" compilation, No Idea Records, summer 1999

“Back to Donut!” compilation, No Idea Records, summer 1999

 -The third recording session, Octoberfest and the Halloween show (July 1999 – November 1999)

In early July, The Swarm started talking with ForceFedGlass about the possibility of doing a split together. It hasn’t been established if both bands performed together again after the New Bedford Festival, but at least they were still in direct contact. Both bands had brand new songs and labels interested in backing them to make it happen. Behind ForceFedGlass, Mike Haley was starting The Electric Human Project in Wilmington, Delaware. For The Swarm, Jamil from Spiritfall was ready to help out.

In the first week of August, both bands went in studios. ForceFedGlass had booked God City Studio in Salem, Massachusetts to record with Kurt Ballou. As for The Swarm, only four months after their last trip to Signal 2 Noise, they were back again. This session would yield six new songs financed by Spiritfall; “Guilt Parade”, “Untreated Symptom”, “Ollie Impossible”, “The Most Lethal Dose”, “Snizzshot in the New HeartattaCk” and their cover of Black Flag’s “Revenge”. “Ollie Impossible” and “Snizzshot in the New HeartattaCk” featured group backup vocals by Brendan Munn, Ewan Exall and Damian Abraham who were all present at the studio session.

Again, three songs from this session would be dedicated to compilations. While in studio, Brendan asked if he could include “Snizzshot in the New HeartattaCk” as a bonus song on the still unreleased Redstar Records compilation, “The Sound and the Fury”. Brendan was also including Avarice‘s song “Count Me In”, and with the two Swarm songs on there as well, the compilation would feature three songs with Chris Colohan.

HeartattaCk Fanzine, Issue #22, Summer 1999.

HeartattaCk Fanzine, Issue #22, Summer 1999.

The song “Snizzshot in the New HeartattaCk” was written to address issues of the HeartattaCk fanzine. Their Summer 1999 Issue #22, “Vulvalution”, had used pictures of naked teenage girls’ private parts as an attempt to address “women’s health issues”. But this was a hardcore community publication and Chris felt amused that they would lower themselves to that level and quickly exposed them. It was his way of getting back at the hardcore community, who were looking down on him for engaging in promiscuous sexual activities, while hypocritically letting themselves be turned on by magazines and workshops on the topics.

The other two songs intended for compilations would remain (to this day) exclusives. Coalition Records in the Netherlands was begging to have a new Swarm song on their compilation, “Counter Culture”, an international benefit supporting Indonesia’s political issues. For this they were sent “Guilt Parade”. Closer to home, in Dearborn, Michigan, Eric Ziembowicz was compiling a new series of compilations entitled “Prevent This Tragedy” to be released through Element Records. Four compilations were planned, but only the first one, featuring The Swarm’s “Ollie Impossible”, would be released. Both of these compilations would only be released in the spring of 2000.

The last three songs, “Untreated Symptom”, “The Most Lethal Dose” and “Revenge”, along with “Snizzshot in the New HeartattaCk” would appear on the split with ForceFedGlass. The design for this layout was entirely handled by Chris and Ryan Elinsky this time. With dual record labels behind the scenes, the budget was generous. It was decided that the split, “The Self-Destruct EP”, would be released on a picture 7″ vinyl, accompanied by only a double-sided insert. The vinyl itself would feature a close-up image of a dead man’s face, topped with an opaque blue layer and red blood splatter. The insert sheet featured the band information on one side and another picture of a dead man punctured by shotgun bullets on the other side.

In late August, The Swarm was booked for a two-day weekend mini-tour in the United States. These two dates in Pennsylvania and New Jersey were booked by 97A who were playing the last shows of their summer tour. On August 21st, The Swarm drove down to Philadelphia, PA to play at Stalag 13 with No Contest, Strong Intention, Destro and Time in Malta. But 97A hadn’t been able to reach the club’s owner/resident and assumed that the show had been cancelled. With Stalag 13’s reputation it wasn’t uncommon to show up to a closed venue. So 97A skipped over the show and went straight back to New Jersey. But the show did happen with The Swarm headlining. On August 22nd, The two bands finally met up in New Brunswick, NJ for a house show at 331 Somerset Street. That evening also featured Full Speed Ahead, Rain the on Parade, Dead Nation and once again Time in Malta.

In September, the finished masters of “The Self-Destruct EP” were sent in to the record labels, who were hoping to have the split out before the end of the year. By this time “Parasitic Skies” was well established and praising reviews were surfacing everywhere. The Swarm finally started receiving attention from magazines; and interviews were pouring into Chris’ email. One of the most memorable would be an invitation from Stephen Perry for an interview in the Maximum Rock N Roll magazine. The interview was conducted in September but would appear in the December 1999 issue of the monthly publication.

Lou then suggested The Swarm plan a winter tour with his good friends in Bane. Some dates were quickly discussed and planned for October and November and the tour was announced on their brand new website (www.xmulletx.com/theswarm). But this tour was shortly after abandoned when Christian announced that he wouldn’t be able to take time off work.

On the weekend of October 8th and 9th, Erik Hoibak and James Hamilton put together the first “Rocktober Festival”, at the time under the name of “Octoberfest”. This was a massive event divided between The Pineroom and the YMCA in Oakville. Not only were some of the best bands playing, but Redstar Records was also releasing “The Sound and the Fury” at the show! A great many bands from the compilation were to play at the fest; The Swarm, Confine, Ignorance Never Settles (playing their last show), FaceDown, A Death for Every Sin, Dead to the World, Every Time I Die and As We Once Were. Other bands at the event included Searching for Chin, The Juliana Theory, Maharahj, GodBelow, Bloodpact, Capture the Flag, Break of Dawn, In Truth, Day of Mourning, Creation is Crucifixion, Provoked, Racer, Near the End, Cru Jones, Walls of Jericho and Marilyn’s Vitamins.

On October 30th, The Swarm played a true Halloween concert; performing in make-up with half of their set list comprised of Misfits covers. The idea for this show had accidentally been revealed in the interview with Steph Perry, in September, but because of its delay in being published, the show was kept a secret until the performance.

The concert took place at The JCC, a small venue inside the Bloor Theatre in Toronto. Traindodge made a stop in Ontario during their tour to play at this show, along with Bloodpact and Figure Four. Initially 9 Shocks Terror was scheduled to appear but they had to pull out. The Swarm’s already popular cover of “Mommy, Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight” was accompanied by “Last Caress”, “Ghouls Night Out”, “Where Eagles Dare”, “She”, “We Are 138” and “Hybrid Moments”. Two or three more Misfits songs were played that evening however not all could be remembered. The band actually learned the new covers only early that day.

Before going on, Chris and Dave Munro met in the bathroom to mix up fake blood. Apparently a first “Kiss recipe” batch was attempted, combining vinegar and food coloring, but after finding it too thin, Dave added a thickening agent. This third ingredient actually created a chemical reaction and made the Super Soaker water guns, which had been filled with the liquid, explode and coat the bathroom with red substance. The second batch was created using grenadine and corn syrups. This one proved more successful and would was used to drench the audience later that night. Josh Zucker then brought out a trampoline and tossed it into the mosh pit. The crowd, covered in fake blood, went insane, smearing red liquid even on the ceiling of the venue. After the show some of the band members stuck around to help Mike Haliechuk clean the place, but the damage was done.

As early as November, The Swarm started composing new material for a second full-length, which they hoped to release through No Idea Records in the summer of 2000. They were already planning to enter Signal 2 Noise again in the spring. One of these new songs was also scheduled to appear on the Hater of God Records compilation, which John “Johnster X” Moran was starting to put together. “The Seven Deadly Sins” compilation was to feature The Swarm, MK Ultra, The Black Hand, Catharsis, Damad and Kill the Man Who Questions.

-The Swarm tours with “Old Blue Eyes is Dead” (December 1999)

In early December, the Maximum Rock N Roll issue featuring the Swarm interview was finally in stores. And even though Christian couldn’t commit to touring, it wasn’t going to stop the band from booking a bunch of shows. On December 6th, Chris announced via the first Swarm email newsletter, that they were coming back to the States on tour. It was then revealed that Andy Dempz, who was playing in Bloodpact at the time, was going to fill in on bassist, allowing Lou to switch to guitar in place of Christian. This news was announced to Christian via the same newsletter, who was also understandably unhappy about the surprise. Andy had been a fan of The Swarm since the 1999 Michigan Fest and had traveled to Toronto on multiple occasions to see them play. Andy and Adam only practiced the songs for a day prior to going off on the road. It was only once they were travelling in the van that they continued to teach Andy more songs. By the end of the tour, he knew their entire catalog.

The merchandise situation on this tour would be the best the band ever had. That month, No Idea released two highly anticipated Swarm releases plus t-shirts. First up was the CD version of “Parasitic Skies”, which featured all twelve songs recorded twenty months ago in March of 1998. In addition, three unlisted live songs were added at the end of the CD as bonus tracks. The live songs had been recorded at one of the final Swarm shows featuring Kyle and Matt in the band, at Who’s Emma on September 3rd 1998. The first two of theses songs, “Best Laid Plans” and “Crawling Through Glass”, were also the final songs written with that lineup but the band had failed to ever record them. The last bonus song would be their anthem, “On Our Knees”.

The Swarm aka Knee Deep in the Dead's EP "Old Blue Eyes Is Dead". No Idea Records, December 1999

The Swarm aka Knee Deep in the Dead’s EP “Old Blue Eyes Is Dead”. No Idea Records, December 1999

The second release in December would be their 7″ EP “Old Blue Eyes Is Dead”. After many layout delays and changes, the pressing plant finally got it right. Its first pressing would count 2226 copies and over time, nearly five thousand records would be sold. The pressing went as such:

  1. First pressing: December 1999 – 2010 on black, 1014 on transparent red, 202 on transparent pink
  2. Second pressing: 2000 – 768 on blue, 320 on half black/blue
  3. Third pressing: 2001 -??? on clear, ??? on transparent green
  4. Fourth pressing: November 2003 – 550 on transparent blue
  5. Fifth pressing: August 2014 – 80 on blue/pink swirl, 80 on pink/blue swirl

The second Swarm tour started out at Club Saw in Ottawa on December 16th with Coarse of Action and Weights and Measures. They then drove down south to play two shows with ForceFedGlass; one in Lawrence, MA (with Converge, Cave In and Ache), a second in Richmond, VA. The new split had been scheduled to be out by then but it would be delayed for another few months.

On December 19th they played at The Kaffa House in Washington D.C. with My Best Mistake, Pg. 99, Daybreak, Gamewinner, Brace and Boxcar Children. Then up to New Jersey to perform at a radio station, the name of which has been lost with time. That night they stayed at Jamil’s house, and discussed their upcoming split EP with great excitement. They also managed to do some shopping in New York City.

December 19th 1999. The Swarm at The Kaffa House (Washington D.C.). With My Best Mistake, Pg. 99, Daybreak, Gamewinner, Brace and Boxcar Children

December 19th 1999. The Swarm at The Kaffa House (Washington D.C.). With My Best Mistake, Pg. 99, Daybreak, Gamewinner, Brace and Boxcar Children

Up next was The KillTime in Philadelphia, PA, with This Day Forward, All Else Failed, So it Begins and The Sound of Failure. After five days, they crossed back into Canada through Quebec to play in Sherbrooke at the 116. Their final date was at Cafe L’Inconditionnel in Montreal with A Death for Every Sin.

While on tour that December, Chris and Andy started planning a European tour between The Swarm and Bloodpact for the New Year. By the time the tour was over, Chris and Andy were getting along so well that they planned a new band together, Ruination.

The Swarm performed their last show of the year at sixth annual Toronto New Years Festival. That year’s show was booked at one of The Big Bop’s venue (The Reverb, Kathedral or Holy Joe’s) with the initial line-up of Every Time I Die, Day of Mourning, Confine and Eighteen Visions. However Eighteen Visions was replaced at the last minute by Clear from Utah.

-Restructuring the band and ultimate breakup (January 2000 – March 2000)

At this point, the atmosphere in The Swarm was already deteriorating. Chris was running the band like a one-man show. Anyone and everyone was expandable. He started booking the Swarm and Bloodpact European tour with Andy, which would take place from May 4th to the 28th. He also started booking shows in Ontario without consulting the rest of the band. “The Self-Destruct EP” test presses were in Spiritfall’s hands, and by then ForceFedGlass had broken up. A similar faith was approaching for The Swarm.

In early January, bored of the hardcore community, Adam announced that he would no longer lead a straight-edge lifestyle. Without wanting to cancel the shows that were already booked in Waterloo, Oakville and Burlington that January, Chris asked RJ Larente, to fill in as guitarist. This caused serious questioning as to the band’s future. Adam was a founding member and wasn’t happy being replaced and he quit The Swarm.

The band didn’t have time to practice with RJ before their first show with him at the Button Factory in Waterloo. He already knew all of the March 1998 songs, having learned them with intention to join the Swarm, but the few that were written since had to be learned on the drive to the venue. RJ and Christian had been old friends and the two wasted no time in getting down to business.

RJ was a perfect fit for the band. He was an incredibly talented guitarist who learned quickly, he was vegan and he was straight-edge. On top of this, he was already familiar with half of the band, and was still playing in Countdown to Oblivion with Chris. But Lou (and his girlfriend Alex) were very much opposed to having RJ in the band, for personal reasons. Lou made it clear that he would quit the band if RJ became a permanent member.

With this in mind, and not wanting to have to replace half of the band again, Chris decided that it was best for The Swarm to call it quits. He was still very busy with Countdown to Oblivion and by then also writing new songs with Ruination. Mike would also shortly after give up the straight-edge trend. His other band, Sinclaire, was becoming increasingly more busy and was on the verge of signing with Sonic Unyon Records. Finally, RJ and Christian had just started a new side-project with Chris Logan, Funerary, which promised to be of epic quality.

February 1st 2000. The Swarm at The Reverb (Toronto, ON). With Cro-Mags, All Out War, Shutdown

February 1st 2000. The Swarm at The Reverb (Toronto, ON). With Cro-Mags, All Out War, Shutdown

The final Swarm show which had been booked (apart from the European tour) was on February 1st. Cro-Mags, All Out War and Shutdown were on their month and a half long, “Conquer the World Tour 2000”, North American tour. In each city, they selected a different band to open for them. The previous night at The Rainbow in Montreal was Earth Crisis. In Toronto at The Reverb, it would be The Swarm.

The band announced to their close friends that this show would be the final Swarm appearance, with Adam back on guitar. The band was set to play an hour prior to any of the touring bands playing, giving time to the roadies and sound crew to set up the stage for the bigger acts. When The Swarm played, three quarters of the attendees were still waiting in line outside, unable to get in until the venue’s staff arrived. The show was poor and the band felt unaccomplished.

Ewan Exall then convinced the band to plan out a proper farewell. Chris sent out the final Swarm email newsletter on March 5th, announcing the self-destruction of the band. They booked two final shows in late March; one at the Michigan Fest, another at The Kathedral in Toronto opening for Ringworm. Meanwhile, Ruination entered Cloud City Studio in mid-March to record their first material. In the last email, Chris also mentioned that “a few of them” (members of The Swarm) hoped to record some of the final Swarm songs, featuring one or two alternate members (RJ on guitar and possibly a replacement on bass or drums). But their fourth recording session was abandoned rather quickly once other projects became priorities.

With the Swarm going out of business, Matt Rennick created a brand new commemorative website (www.sohc.org/theswarm). The upcoming ForceFedGlass split would be even more appropriately titled. Now featuring two deceased bands, “The Self-Destruct EP” would sell like hot cakes once it came out in time for the Michigan Fest. The 2000 copies of the picture disc sold out within two months, prompting ForceFedGlass to put out a discography CD in order to get their side of songs out to their fans.

The Swarm’s second to last show at the Michigan Fest took place on Friday, March 24th. That year’s lineup also featured 9 Shocks Terror, Alkaline Trio, Atom and His Package, Bloodpact, Born Dead Icons, Capture the Flag, The Casket Lottery, Cave In, Computer Cougar, The Convocation of…, Dillinger Four, Elliot, Good Clean Fun, Inside Five Minutes, Isis, The Jazz June, Keleton DMD, Kill the Man Who Questions, The Locust, Lovesick, Panthro U.K. United 13, The Promise Ring, Propellor, Quixote, Rainer Maria, Reversal of Man, Small Brown Bike, Sweep the Leg Johnny, Ted Leo, Twelve Hour Turn and Voglio Capirlo.

The Swarm’s van, “Tammy”, had died after their December tour and so their friend Al Biddle (who had played at the 1999 Michigan Fest with his band Dead Season), offered to drive them down. Christian, Lou, Mike and Adam went with him, while Dave Munro took Chris, RJ, Mike Haliechuk and Ewan Exall. While crossing the boarder, everyone was told to keep quiet as to not reveal that they were going down to perform a concert, and therefore not have to pay duties for a temporary work visa. But RJ decided to tempt faith and asked the boarder patrol when their legal records expired. After taking a closer look inside the van and noticing three out of five people sporting tattoos all over their body, they were asked to pull over for an inspection. Luckily, two shady characters were trying to smuggle a Corvette across the boarder at the same time and The Swarm & friends were skipped over.

At the fest, the feces incident came to life again. Justin Pearson (from The Locust) had filled a stuff animal with the goods and threw it in the mosh pit while The Swarm was playing. The stuffed animal was quickly destroyed by the audience, to reveal a brown substance which had spread all over the floor via the mosher’s feet.

Everyone stayed for Saturday’s showcase but had to leave early on Sunday to make it back in time for their show in Toronto. On Sunday, March 26th of 2000, The Swarm played their final show, opening for Ringworm and GodBelow. The original lineup of openers was to be Day of Mourning, Rise Over Run and Haymaker. Of these, only Day of Mourning remained. Haymaker gave up their spot for The Swarm, while Rise Over Run cancelled, making room for Bloodpact, who were asked to join last minute after playing the Michigan Fest.

At this show, no firecrackers were set off. The band just played straight through their set. At the end of their performance, they announced a giveaway of all of their leftover merch, first come first serve. Everything but the split with ForceFedGlass was given away for free. Eric Ziembowicz had also offered to press t-shirts through Element Records. The shirts would represent the end of the the band perfectly, offering a “Parasitic Skies” style tornado on the front and the Cadillac design from “Old Blue Eyes is Dead” on the back.

-The Swarm legacy (April 2000 – Present)

After The Swarm’s breakup, most of their immediate plans were passed on to Ruination. Ruination filled The Swarm’s spot on tour with Bloodpact in Europe and they also provided a new songs to “The Seven Deadly Sins” compilation.

At least five more compilations featuring The Swarm songs would be released over the next two years. In the spring of 2000, Coalition Records finally released “Counter Culture”, which included “Guilt Parade”. When Chris, Christian and Mike reunited in 2002 and formed Cursed, they would re-record “Guilt Parade” for their first album, “One”. Also in the spring of 2000, Element Records released “Prevent this Tragedy”, which featured “Ollie Impossible”.

In the summer of 2000, Fans of Bad Productions Records released “The Street Enters the House”, featuring “Absent from the Morning Headcount”. No Idea then announced a plan to release a Swarm compilation, featuring both 1999 recording sessions, everything not found on “Parasitic Skies”. Although No Idea still lists this in their plans to come, chances are slim that it will ever see light of day. In 2001, Redstar Records offered Chris that they release the last two sessions on a compilation CD, but he turned them down, stating that it was No Idea who had dibs on it.

As of 2014, Var still owns the digital CD masters of all three Swarm recording sessions. “Old Blue Eyes is Dead” was eventually released digitally through iTunes (along with the CD track listing version of “Parasitic Skies”), but the August 1999 session has still never been released on other formats than vinyls (with the exception of “Snizz Shot in the New HeartattaCk” on the Redstar Records compilation).

In 2001, Redstar Records released a split-label (with Goodfellow Records and Surprise Attack/S.A. Mob Records) sampler, “It’s All About the Money”, which featured “Lament”. Within the next couple of years, No Idea would use their song “Bleeding to Death” on their compilation, “The Shape of Flakes to Come”.

The Swarm aka Knee Deep in the Dead's album "Parasitic Skies", 12" repress by No Idea Records, February 2013

The Swarm aka Knee Deep in the Dead’s album “Parasitic Skies”, 12″ repress by No Idea Records, February 2013

The most recent Swarm material to surface has been the recent reissues by No Idea. In February of 2013, Var repressed “Parasitic Skies” on vinyl. Only this time it was upgraded to a 12″ record and the artwork was printed on manila cardboard instead of black paper. The vinyl master was re-cut by Dave Eck at Lucky Lacquers and the cover was screen printed at Aesthetic Print & Design. Then in August of 2014, another limited repress of “Old Blue Eyes Is Dead” was released.

Over time, The Swarm has been asked countless times to reunite, but members have all moved on to very different lifestyles. Chris Colohan and Kyle Bishop remain the only vegan, straight-edge ex-members. With this in mind, Chris would not be comfortable playing songs with topics that the rest of the band would not reflect. The Swarm will simply remain a legend.

If you’re aware of anything about The Swarm which was omitted from this biography, please leave a comment! The band wants to know!

Download The Swarm’s complete discography

-Past concerts listing (work in progress)

  1. 1997-12-31 Toronto New Years Festival, El Mocambo (Toronto, ON) Brother’s Keeper, Disciple
  2. 1998-01-17 University of Guelph (Guelph, ON) SeventyEightDays, Acacia, Holocron
  3. 1998-01-31 435 Military Road (Buffalo, NY) Strong Intention, I Hate You, Sirhan, Assnine
  4. 1998-02-27 Jeff Scheven’s House (Toronto, ON) Idioalla
  5. 1998-03-13/14 Oakville Hardcore Festival/Southern Ontario Hardcore Festival, Oakville YMCA (Oakville, ON) Idioalla, Grade, The Swarm, Removal, Pride, Acacia, Sinsick, The Tet Offensive / Kill the Man Who Questions, Fifth Hour Hero, Hacksaw, Holocron, The Farthest Man, Two Shades of Pain
  6. 1998-04-30 Upstate Skate Loft (Buffalo, NY) Devoid of Faith, Sirhan, Assnine, 9 Shocks Terror, Children in Heat
  7. 1998-06-10 The 360 (Toronto, ON) Los Crudos, Politikill Incorrect
  8. 1998-06-12 River Oaks Recreation Centre (Oakville, ON) Los Crudos, Kill the Man Who Questions, Karrageenan, The Tet Offensive
  9. 1998-06-27 More Than Music Festival, Mekka Warehouse (Columbus, OH)
  10. 1998-06-28 More Than Music Festival, Mekka Warehouse (Columbus, OH)
  11. 1998-07-10 Wilkes-Barre Summer Festival, Independence Fire Hall (Kingston, PA)
  12. 1998-07-12 Westcott Community Center (Syracuse, NY) The Dillinger Escape Plan, Botch, Jesuit
  13. 1998-07-13 Fireside Bowl (Chicago, IL) Inept, Reversal of Man, Dragbody
  14. 1998-07-20 El Mocambo (Toronto, ON) Brutal Truth, Kataklysm, Solus
  15. 1998-07-25 Who’s Emma (Toronto, ON) Burned Up Bled Dry, Shoot the Hostage
  16. 1998-08-07 Who’s Emma (Toronto, ON) Kill the Man Who Questions, Shai Hulud, Overcast, Shadows Fall
  17. 1998-08-21 Who’s Emma (Toronto, ON) Phobia, Jaww, Godzilla / Walls Around Us, Overtime
  18. 1998-09-03 Who’s Emma (Toronto, ON) Dropdead, Gojira, Walls Around Us
  19. 1998-09-04 El Mocambo (Toronto, ON) Madball, H2O
  20. 1998-12-30 Toronto New Years Festival, El Mocambo (Toronto, ON) Grade, Floorpunch, Buried Alive, Get High, Catharsis, Spread the Disease, Good Clean Fun, Reach the Sky, One Sided War, Creation is Crucifixion, Fate of Icarus, Extinction, Countdown to Oblivion
  21. 1999-01-02 Discovery Records (Tonawanda, NY) Brother’s Keeper, Buried Alive, Saves the Day, Reach the Sky, Every Time I Die
  22. 1999-02-28 The 360 (Toronto, ON) Day of Mourning, Teen Crud Combo, Hard Time, Confine
  23. 1999-03-06 New Bedford Festival, Veterans of Foreign Wars Poirier Post (New Bedford, MA)
  24. 1999-03-07 Studio 159 (Providence, RI)
  25. 1999-03-24 The Lions Club (Toronto, ON) Dystopia, They Live
  26. 1999-03-27 Michigan Festival, Knights of Columbus Hall (Wayne. MI)
  27. 1999-05-21 Underworld (Ahuntsic, QC) Born Dead Icons, Ire
  28. 1999-05-22 CHUO.FM benefit. Babylon (Ottawa, ON) Buried Inside, In Reach, But I Am One, Kuru, 7 Layers
  29. 1999-05-23 The Dungeon (Oshawa, ON) Impasse, Shiloh
  30. 1999-05-28 Chinese restaurant basement (Kitchener, ON) 7 Chakras, Rassinett, Another Heather
  31. 1999-05-29 The Jewish Recreational Center (Toronto, ON) In My Eyes, Committed, Walls Around Us, As We Once Were
  32. 1999-06-01 Fireside Bowl (Chicago, IL) Seven Days of Samsara, The Vida Blue
  33. 1999-06-02 Scooter’s House (Madison, WI) Seven Days of Samsara
  34. 1999-06-03 31G (Kalamazoo, MI) Small Brown Bike, Keleton DMD, Berwer
  35. 1999-06-04 Speak in Tongues (Cleveland, OH) L.E.S. Stitches
  36. 1999-06-05 The Euclid Tavern (Cleveland, OH) Hot Water Music, Leatherface, Dillinger Four, Adamantium
  37. 1999-06-07 The Space (Worcester, MA) Bane, Ten Yard Fight, Adamantium, Embrace Today
  38. 1999-06-10 The Melody Bar (New Brunswick, NJ) Adamantium
  39. 1999-06-11 Stalag 13 (Philadelphia, PA) Adamantium
  40. 1999-06-12 205 Bedell Place (Fayetteville, NC) Adamantium, Until Today, Impasse, High Pointe
  41. 1999-06-13 Westcott Community Center (Syracuse, NY) The National Acrobat, Head On
  42. 1999-06-14 Eldridge Club (Tonawanda, NY) The National Acrobat, Fall Silent, They Live, Kill Shot
  43. 1999-07-23 The JCC/The Bloor Theatre (Toronto, ON) Spread the Disease, Sinclaire, Walls Around Us
  44. 1999-08-21 Stalag 13 (Philadelphia, PA) 97A, No Contest, Strong Intention, Destro, Time in Malta
  45. 1999-08-22 331 Somerset Street (New Brunswick, NJ) 97A, Full Speed Ahead, Rain on the Parade, Dead Nation, Time in Malta
  46. 1999-09-04 The JCC/The Bloor Theatre (Toronto, ON) Rain on the Parade, For the Living, Countdown to Oblivion, Teen Crud Combo, Marilyn’s Vitamins, Walls Around Us
  47. 1999-10-09 Octoberfest, The Pineroom/YMCA (Oakville, ON) Searching for Chin, Confine, GodBelow, Creation is Crucifixion, Bloodpact, Maharahj, Ignorance Never Settles, Capture the Flag, In Truth, As We Once Were, Day of Mourning, A Death for Every Sin, FaceDown, Racer, Near the End, Every Time I Die, Dead to the World, The Juliana Theory, Break of Dawn, Provoked, Cru Jones, Walls of Jericho, Marilyn’s Vitamins
  48. 1999-10-30 The JCC/The Bloor Theatre (Toronto, ON) Traindodge, Bloodpact, Figure Four
  49. 1999-12-11, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Worcester, MA) Bane, Buried Alive, Reach the Sky
  50. 1999-12-12, 120 Hamilton Street (New Brunswick, NJ) Kill the Man Who Questions, Born Dead Icons, Dead Nation, Rambo
  51. 1999-12-16 Club Saw (Ottawa, ON) Coarse of Action, Weights and Measures
  52. 1999-12-17 ??? (Lawrence, MA) Converge, Force Fed Glass, Ache, Cave In
  53. 1999-12-18 ??? (Richmond, VA)
  54. 1999-12-19 The Kaffa House (Washington D.C.) My Best Mistake, Pg. 99, Daybreak, Gamewinner, Brace, Boxcar Children
  55. 1999-12-20 ??? radio station (???, NJ)
  56. 1999-12-21 The KillTime (Philadelphia, PA) This Day Forward, All Else Failed, So It Begins, The Sound of Failure
  57. 1999-12-22 116 (Sherbrooke, QC) Oppressed Conscience, Nilblorts
  58. 1999-12-23 Cafe L’Inconditionnel (Montreal, QC) A Death for Every Sin
  59. 1999-12-31 Big Bop (Toronto, ON) Confine, Day of Mourning, Every Time I Die, Clear
  60. 2000-01-?? Button Factory (Waterloo, ON)
  61. 2000-02-01 The Reverb (Toronto, ON) Cro-Mags, All Out War, Shutdown
  62. 2000-03-25 Michigan Festival, Knights of Columbus Hall (Wayne, MI)
  63. 2000-03-26 Kathedral (Toronto, ON) Ringworm, GodBelow, Day of Mourning, Bloodpact

Related Post

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
  • Thank you Dave! I added the show to the list!

  • Hey there! I’ve been searching for this show. Ewan Exall booked it and he told me Idioalla and Ignorance Never Settles were also on the bill. Does that sound familiar to you? We’re still trying to get a flyer for the date.

  • MM

    One show missing: The Swarm and Coalesce at Club Shanghi in Toronto. First time I saw them, must have been early 1998. Can’t remember who else played, but I think there was at least one more…Idioalla maybe?

  • Dave Stevenson

    I put them on in May ’99 in Kitchener in the basement of a Chinese restaurant. The other bands were 7 Chakras, Rassinett, and a ska band featuring Liam Cormier (Cancer Bats). It was the day after a big Motorhead, Hatebreed, Day of Mourning show at a nightclub right next door to the restaurant. The Waterloo show that you listed was actually a Countdown To Oblivion show that Bill Corbett put on with Secretariat.

  • Crazy Steve

    That was an excellent read.

  • liamflaherty

    I think that 12-11-1999 show was at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. A benefit for firefighters if I remember correctly.

  • TYFFU

    Chris performed two Swarm songs with Fucked Up at a long winter show in 2012 or early 2013.

  • disqus_z1AXyt2C4v

    Old Blue Eyes Is Dead and Self Destruct were bootlegged and released on a cd titled Seven Inch Violence.