The Swedish Models were founded in 2007 by former members of Cape May and Vinyl Radio. Their sound is punky garage rock, with an emphasis on heavy guitars which has helped them earn a buzz as one of San Diego’s current candidates for “most likely to make it to the bigtime.”
The early band included two lead vocalists: Andrew Bernhardt and Ryan Waller, both formerly with Vinyl Radio (Waller was also in the Jury, Bernhardt with Cape May). The group was filled out by Dusty Paul (Vinyl Radio) and Andrew McNally (Rookie Card). Bassist Mark Wiskowski (Cape May, Roses on Her Grave) was replaced in 2008 by Keith Hilton, who was also in Vinyl Radio.
Bernhardt came up with the band’s name during a break at one of their first rehearsals. “I went to the toilet to talk to an old man about a mule and came back to our rehearsal room, opened the door, and said, ‘Where are all the Swedish models?’ It would have been sweet to open the door to a room full of hot models, but instead it was just our sweaty and half-drunken band. So we continued on as the Swedish Models from that day going forward, and if you have just enough to drink, we really do look like Swedish Models.”
The group made their debut in late May 2007 at the Beauty Bar. “Our first show at the Beauty Bar was memorable,” says drummer Dusty Paul, “because we brought our bikes (my Schwinn Stingray and Andrew B’s banana-seated My Little Pony cruiser) and party favors consisting of noisemakers and horny-goat weed. A lot of folks went home with strangers and wrote us thank-you letters the next day.”
The band’s songs cover just about every nook of the rock and roll pantheon. Bouncing keys, crunchy chords, soaring guitar solos, smart harmonies, and that rare attack of two drummers sharing one kit. If a comparison were to be drawn, it would be to the late ‘60s/early-‘70s incarnation of the Kinks.
“Our songwriting process usually starts with hooks that stick in our heads that need to be laid down as songs,” says Bernhardt. “It’s the reason why we take part in this wonderful wasteland called music — vocal hooks or instrumental hooks or just a groove. There’s so much material that we grab from each other. We try to go for the hooky stuff that we’ll love playing over and over. There’s a stony, catchy pop vibe in a lot of the material. We’re all multi-instrumentalists to some extent, so when we write, someone naturally goes for what they feel like playing, and it works out by natural selection.”
Between 2007 and 2009, the band never officially released any music. They were inactive from 2009 until around 2018, when they began turning up at occasional shows. The core trio of Andrew McNally, Dustin Paul, and Andrew Bernhardt recorded new songs at Earthling Studios, where owner Mike Kamoo also happened to dig up the band’s old recordings during an excavation. The “lost tracks” as McNally refers to them. “It’s cool to hear with fresh ears,” he told the Reader, “but right now our focus is on finishing this LP…Then we’ll dive into that. We’re looking at pulling a few of those songs to play live.”
Their 13-song 2019 album was recorded one song at a time over that year at Earthling Records with guest players including Brian Reilly, Matt Costa, Mike Kamoo, and the band's new bassist Chad Pittman.