Band Profile: Dirty Mike and The Boys

Meryl Sands '13 and Sophia Naylor '13 sit inside a rocket in The Cosmonaut's Last Message.

Known as one of Swarthmore’s most entertaining musical ensembles, Dirty Mike and the Boys have become a prominent force in Swarthmore’s musical scene over the past three years. The five-member band features Tyler “Don Jon” Zon ’16 and Cole “the Funk” Graham ’17 on guitar, RJ Tischler ’16, aka Reggie Titanium, on the bass, Tyler Welsh ’16 on drums, and Mike Selverian ’16 on everything else. The band came together at Swarthmore in the fall of 2013, but has connections extending farther back.

“We were all conceived at Worthstock ’93, same tent and everything,” said the band members in a group statement to the Phoenix. Dirty Mike and the Boys also cited the “forces of nature and lust” as factors that lead to their development as a musical group.

“When the wind’s not turning in the opposite direction, who’s not going to not want to turn it around?” asked the band.

While they occasionally write original compositions, Dirty Mike and the Boys have spent most of their time at Swarthmore as a cover band, but they’ve never been afraid to add their own interpretations to their covers.

“Being a cover band is a lot like running a daycare for homesick penguins; you keep seeing pictures of the North Pole and eventually you’re gonna want to go swimming,” said the group’s statement to the Phoenix. Dirty Mike and the Boys describe themselves as alt-ska-pop-funk fusion with some jazz influences.

Dirty Mike and the Boys cite a number of musical works, artists, and places of various influences on their band, ranging from Action Bronson to Waffle House to the “Law and Order” intro song. However, the band is also dedicated to expanding their sound to include new instruments and musical styles.

“Lately we’ve been trying to incorporate Caribbean rhythms into the percussion, and Mike’s learning the guzheng to really round out our sound,” stated Dirty Mike and the Boys. The band’s continual stylistic evolution has lead to a streamlined writing process for original music.

“The songwriting process is very combative. Typically the two alpha males of the group will slug it out in a vicious fight to protect their mate,” said the band in their statement. Later, after clarifying that they were mistakenly describing the method by which polar bears procreate, the band described their songwriting process as simply creating a chord progression and giving it to their lyrics department. The lyrics department, which the band states contains figures such as Drake and Jimmy Gastner ’16, is an integral part of their distinctive style. Dirty Mike and the Boys say that creating and playing music is simply a natural thing for them to do.

“Asking us why we play music is like asking a male bowerbird why it decorates its nest with glinty stones and berries,” said Dirty Mike and the Boys.

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