After singer Shawn Brown was unceremoniously fired from the Washington, D.C. emocore band Dag Nasty, he teamed up with guitarist Jason Farrell, bassist Nathan Larson, and drummer Alex Daniels to form Swiz. Brown's new group essentially incorporated the melodic galloping guitar riffs of Dag Nasty with an early-'80s hardcore crunch and Brown's ferocious screaming vocals. The band quickly made a name for themselves within the D.C. hardcore punk scene. Going against the grain, where at the time most D.C. underground bands were either getting more experimental or more poppy, Swiz unapologetically went back to the roots of hardcore punk and tapped into the fiery aggression of such trailblazers as Minor Threat, Black Flag, and Void. The group's first release was a clear blue 7" on local independent label Hellfire Records that was accompanied by a Swiz comic book. The band's self-titled full-length was released a year later on Sammich Records, owned and operated by Amanda Mackaye, younger sister to Fugazi's Ian Mackaye. The record created a buzz for Swiz, not only in their hometown of D.C., but throughout the hardcore punk community. 1989 saw the release of Swiz's second LP, Hell Yes I Cheated, also on Sammich. The album's title was an intentional jab at the ridiculousness of what the straight-edge hardcore movement had become in the late '80s, depicting Brown on the cover of the album smoking a cigarette with X's on his hands.
By 1990, original bass player Nathan Larson departed Swiz and joined fellow D.C. contemporaries Shudder to Think. Swiz then recruited bassist Dave Stern and released the With Dave 7" EP on the Jade Tree Records label. Soon after, the band ran out of steam and called it quits. Singer Shawn Brown briefly sang for the Columbia, MA, punk unit the Downer Boys, and drummer Alex Daniels joined the D.C. pop-punk band Severin. Meanwhile, Jason Farrell and Dave Stern formed Blue Tip, who still release material on Washington, D.C.'s Dischord Records. In 1995, Jade Tree released the Swiz anthology No Punches Pulled, which features the band's entire catalog. The latter part of the '90s saw the re-formation of Swiz in the form of Sweetbelly Freakdown, who released one album on Jade Tree and followed with a U.S. tour. ~ Rick Kutner