David Freel, singer, primary songwriter, co-founder, of Swell passed away April 12, 2022. David was a true original. The songs he developed and the lyrics he wrote are like no one else’s. His unique approach to life informed everything he did and affected everything he touched.

Paolo Vescia


Swell, as it was, will never be again. But the original members are uniting for a tribute to David and the formative years of the band. They will be doing a short European tour in April 2023 playing favorite songs from the first 4 albums.

Swell 2023 is co-founder Sean Kirkpatrick on drums, Monte Vallier on bass, Niko Wenner as lead guitar, and John Dettman-Lytle, original guitarist, stepping in to play acoustic guitar and take on the majority of the singing.

Sean Kirkpatrick, drummer, started the collaboration with David in 1989 that led to the recording of the first album “Swell”. Sean’s unique drumming can be heard on all the albums through the 4th album “Too Many Days Without thinking”. Sean collaborated with David again in 2003 for the 7th album “Whenever You’re ready”.
Sean is currently a celebrated visual artist living in Santa Barbara, California, and released a debut album in January, 2023 with his musical project The World is Haunted. (https://seankirkpatrick.com) (https://theworldishaunted.com)

Monte Vallier joined as press and radio publicist for David’s pSycho-sPecific Records release of the first album. When the need arose for the recording project to become a live band, Monte joined as bass player. He played on some tracks for the CD release of the first album “Swell” and continued writing, co-producing, and touring on all the albums until 2000’s Everybody Wants to Know, but left the band before that album was finished.
Monte is a producer and recording/mix engineer with hundreds of album credits currently living in Seattle.

Niko Wenner is the longest surviving guitarist to work with the band. Niko first started touring as the lead player in 1993 and continued through 2004. Niko has been the primary songwriter and guitarist in the band Oxbow for 8 albums including the newest Joe Chiccarelli produced Love’s Holiday to be released in the spring on Ipecac Records. Niko lives with his wife Céline, and two young children in San Francisco.

John Dettman-Lytle learned a lot of guitar technique from David Freel, and the “Swell” strumming style has been ingrained. As loft mates at 41 Turk Street in San Francisco’s tenderloin neighborhood, he was there while Sean and David worked on the songs that would become the first album. David asked John to join as guitarist for the first live shows and the recording of the 2nd album “…Well?”. John, back then, was assistant art director at Thrasher Magazine and became a pioneer web developer in the dot-com era. Currently residing in Las Vegas, he has been remixing famous 60s hits by Herman’s Hermits as Dj Something Good, and is a consultant in the footwear industry.

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Paolo Vescia