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Vocalist/saxophonist Steve Sostak and guitarist Chris Daly began performing together in the South Bend, IN, group Check Engine during the summer of 1993, and played one show before breaking up in April of 1994. Two years later, Sostak and Daly started Sweep the Leg Johnny with bassist Matt Alicea and drummer Scott Anna while living in Chicago. They decided to incorporate a little bit of all of their influences, which included dissonant rock, progressive music, jazz, noise and punk. It immediately became apparent at the band's live shows that their sound was indefinable. By early 1997, the group had recorded a split 7" with the band Similarities. Divot Records had also released Sweep the Leg Johnny's New Buffalo 7". The group's first tour was in support of New Buffalo, and the release found the band hitting the road for two months. The group followed the tour by recording a track for a Zum magazine compilation at Chicago's CRC studios. The song "Welter" appeared in the summer of 1997. Shortly thereafter, Divot released the band's debut full-length, titled 188.8.131.52. In support of the album, they toured for 57 days. During the outing, the group chose to play in as many locations as possible, whether it was a big city or a small town. The band was pleased with the end results, because no matter where they played, they averaged selling a CD to one out of every four people at each show. By the spring of 1998, Sweep the Leg Johnny had finished recording a split single with A Minor Forest for Tree Records' Post Marked Stamps series. The group spent two weeks that spring touring with Spanakorzo, followed by a handful of summer tour dates. While on tour, the band had begun to write new material for its second LP — their first for Southern Records — titled Tomorrow We Will Run Faster. Shortly before the recording sessions began, though, Alicea left and was replaced by former Spanakorzo/Swing Kids' bassist John Brady. Four weeks after Brady's entrance into the band, he began recording Tomorrow We Will Run Faster with the group. The record was released by the spring of 1999, and the band toured incessantly throughout the rest of the year to promote the album. In January of 2000, Daly and Sostak were busy re-forming Check Engine with guitarist/vocalist Joe Cannon and former Big'n drummer Brian Wnukowski. A few months later found Sweep the Leg Johnny reuniting to record their third LP, Sto Cazzo!, in the band's apartment. The album — their second for Southern Records — was released in the spring of 2000. During a portion of 2001, Sweep the Leg Johnny was on hiatus as Check Engine recorded their debut full-length album. Mastering of the record was finished by September 15 and Sweep the Leg Johnny reconvened with the addition of guitarist Mitch Cheney to play a fall tour. Meanwhile, Check Engine's CD was released in January of 2002, just as Sweep the Leg Johnny returned from their travels. Not to be outdone, Sweep the Leg Johnny managed to release Going Down Swinging only a few months later on Southern Records. A split live release with San Fransisco's Rumah Sakit was released in 2003.
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