Dan Cunneen began his marginally successful musical career in 1982, when he co-founded the Portland, Oregon hardcore band Final Warning. Regarded as one of the first U.S. bands to combine hardcore punk with heavy metal, the group released a 7-inch EP on Poison Idea’s Fatal Erection label in 1984 (re-issued on Blackwater Records in 2008). In 2008, Southern Lord records released PDX, a retrospective of Final Warning’s live and studio recordings.
In 1986, Cunneen played drums and recorded with Portland singer/songwriter Lew Jones. In 1987, Cunneen joined the Portland based band Obituaries (playing drums on the Obituaries EP).
After relocating to Seattle in 1991, Cunneen played drums with punk rock band Zipgun. Zipgun released several singles, two full-length albums on the Empty Records label and toured extensively in the United States. Zipgun also appeared in the Doug Pray film Hype!, a documentary chronicling the 1990s Seattle music scene.
In 1994, Cunneen formed and led the Seattle-based Nightcaps, an early lounge-revival band known for shunning irony and adding elements of soul, punk and garage-rock to their sound. Nightcaps released several singles, two full-length albums and played many shows throughout the Western United States.
In 2009, Cunneen co-founded Rat City Brass, a Seattle-based band influenced by mid-20th century instrumental pop music, particularly Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass.