“TWBA mixes hypnotic guitar riffs, dynamic arrangements and Mary Beth Kite's versatile vocals into a musical Cuisinart that spits out some engaging rock 'n roll. ”
— Wayne Ellis, The Every Other Weekly
What's with the name?
The Whole Bolivian Army owes its name to original bass player and cofounder Steve Miller. The name itself is a reference to the final scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, when the two American outlaws are surrounded by what seems like the entire armed forces of Bolivia.
When did the band form?
Where is TWBA from?
TWBA was born in Edmonds, WA, spent its formative years in Seattle during the tail end of the grunge era, took a lovely detour to Port Townsend, and now thrives in Grit City (Tacoma, WA).
What kind of music does TWBA play?
Indie rock, alternative rock, modern rock. Influences include the Sundays, Veruca Salt, and Throwing Muses. TWBA's sound is elastic and changes from album to album.
Click on any album title below for track list, lyrics, album credits, and streaming.
The Monster That Ate Her (2019)
Morning After Food Poisoning in the South of France (2008)
North by Nowhere (2006)
War Stories (2003)
The Whole Bolivian Army (1997)
COMPILATIONS: Ad 2's Drip; Heyday Records' The Last Time I Went to Las Vegas; CMJ's Certain Damage (Vol. 96, 115); The Bread Alone Project (Vol. 1); Seattle Peace Concerts' Picking Up the Peaces; Blimp Kitty Records' Best of Seattle (No. 3, 5).
Let's start with the short version: Boy meets girl. Girl says she can sing. Boy invites girl to mom's basement for quick tryout with newly forming band. Girl opens mouth to sing. Boy falls in love. The Whole Bolivian Army is born! (Cue soundtrack...)
The girl eventually married the boy, and today Mary Beth Kite (vocals) and Matt Kite (guitar) are the only remaining members of the original lineup. Gibson Kite, their son, became TWBA's full-time drummer in 2018. Jay Perry (fretless bass) provides the low end.
Headquartered in Grit City (Tacoma, WA), TWBA has been playing to Northwest audiences since 1993 and has survived grunge, Y2K, and the departure of the Seattle Super Sonics, among other adventures. The band has shared stages large (Seattle’s mural amphitheater) and small (the fabled Crocodile Café) with Seattle luminaries ranging from Harvey Danger to Goodness.
TWBA’s music has its roots planted firmly in the "modern rock" and "alternative" sound that aired on college radio in the '80s and '90s with the likes of The Sundays and Throwing Muses. Comparisons run the gamut, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a band that sounds like The Whole Bolivian Army—according to its fans, the Northwest’s best-kept secret.
TWBA runs its own label, Gargantuan Records, and has played an active role in the Northwest music community for the last several years. Along with spawning Wilmafest (a foofy-free, estrogen-fortified version of Lilith Fair) and Gargantuan Productions (a short-lived musicians' co-op), the band has donated performances and/or recordings to Amnesty International, Students Against Violence Everywhere, the Bread Alone Project, Home Alive, Northwest Harvest, the Saint Hussy Scholarship Fund, Seattle Peace Concerts, and the Washington State Arthritis Foundation.
"The noise of the Whole Bolivian Army isn't the ominous stomping of boots on dirt, Paul Newman and Robert Redford's sweat making wet splats in the dust as their fate approaches in a flurry of gunfire. This Whole Bolivian Army is from Seattle, not South of the Border, and dispatches a crisp-as-Wasa-bread power-pop sound, spread with a touch of honey and butter for added sweetness. Mary Beth Kite's throaty, vibrato vocals slither over resonating guitar chimes, and elastic bass lines alternately recall the Sundays and 10,000 Maniacs."
— John Graham, Willamette Week
"TWBA play guitar-based, melodic, modern pop music with brains."
— Robert Allen, The Iconoclast
"Great big wonderful things do come in small packages — proves front woman Mary Beth Kite of The Whole Bolivian Army (TWBA). Unlike the soft, girly-like vocals saturating the airwaves these days, Mary Beth delivers something beyond an extraordinary ability, she delivers passion."
— Stacy Emerson, Tacoma Reporter
"'Ah-Ah-Ah' is the greatest song I have ever heard. The whole album is pretty."
— KEXP's John Richards, Pandemonium Online
"It's pop but it's got power."
— Marisa Lencioni, Seattle Times
"The steady and challenging voice of Mary Beth Kite soars high above the mediocrity that infiltrates so much of today's modern rock landscape."
— Kyra Kelly, The Torch
"More bands should be as fearless."
— Claude Flowers, Eastside Journal
"TWBA aren't trying to make your eardrums bleed. Instead, they write complex rock songs which make for pretty sweet listening."
— David Musolf, Insite
Available upon request.