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Formed in Los Angeles in 1991, the Wondermints slowly built a reputation as a cornerstone in the city's pop underground. While the band's status grew, several members individually made names for themselves as expert sidemen, eventually elevating the Wondermints to a sort of underground supergroup. Big names in the industry, such as Eric Carmen and former Dramarama member Chris Carter (who subsequently became the band's manager), started to take note, finally paying off when Brian Wilson recruited them as part of his backing band for his comeback to the stage in 1999. Beginning as a collaboration between keyboardist Darian Sahanaja and guitarist Nick Walusko, the Wondermints released a series of home-recorded cassettes and by 1992 enlisted the talents of bassist Brian Kassan. Drummer Mike D'Amico entered the fold a year later and the quartet continued to release homemade recordings. Toy's Factory Records of Japan found interest in the band and in 1995 released their first official album, the contents of which were compiled from the home recordings, but right around the time of this release, Kassan chose to leave the ranks. Regardless, given the greater exposure, the Wondermints secured places on several tribute and compilation albums. Multi-instrumentalist Probyn Gregory agreed to fill the slot Kassan had vacated, and in the fall of 1996 the group released The Wonderful World of the Wondermints, a record entirely of covers -- something of an abnormality for a group's second outing. They followed The Wonderful World of the Wondermints with a track for the immensely successful Mike Myers film Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Penned by Sahanaja, the track opened up the doors to the Wondermints' first stateside distribution deal, with EMI, and in 1998 the group finally released their first official non-compilation all-original album, Bali, to fantastic reviews. A year later, the Wondermints released the EP Cellophane. When Brian Wilson enlisted the band for his surprising resurgence as a live performer, the Wondermints were exposed to the masses as the meat of his backing band. The collaboration proved so successful that Wilson brought the band out in 2000 to perform the classic Pet Sounds live in its entirety, then again on world tours in 2001 and 2002. The group found time amidst this heavy touring to record Mind If We Make Love to You, released in 2002, which featured, naturally, a guest appearance from Wilson. The Wondermints and Wilson took 2003 off from touring and Darian Sahanaja joined Heart for their summer tour before work on Wilson's 2004 solo release, Gettin' in Over My Head, began. Wilson again took the Wondermints out on tour in early 2004, debuting the lost Beach Boys masterpiece SMiLE over 30 years after the project was initially abandoned, and was so invigorated with the performances that he announced plans to release a re-recorded version of SMiLE with the Wondermints. This time he made due on this promise, as the album was released on Nonesuch in the fall of 2004, officially rocketing the Wondermints to sizable importance in the history of rock & roll. Kaleidoscopin': Exploring Prisms of the Past appeared in 2009.
© Gregory McIntosh /TiVo
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