The principal songwriter and sole continuous member of Dumptruck is Tiven. Born and raised in Connecticut, Tiven received his Bachelor of Arts in music in 1980 from Wesleyan University in Middletown. In 1981 he moved to Boston, where he performed in several local bands with Swan and drummer Mark Mulcahy (Miracle Legion).
In 1983, Swan and Tiven formed Dumptruck and began writing songs. The duo recorded six songs with Mulcahy at a local studio. "[They were] demos, really, more than anything else," Swan recalled on the liner notes to the 2004 reissue. "Seth and I played bass on each other's songs... which is how we would tackle the songs live in this incarnation of the band." Pleased with the results, the duo recorded six additional songs with drummer James Clement and released D is for Dumptruck on Incas records in 1983.
The record was well-received "The dozen songs fall somewhere between Joy Division and the dB's", said The New Trouser Press Record Guide.Robert Christgau awarded the record an "A-" in his Village Voice review. The duo added Shawn Devlin on drums and Steve Michener on bass for live performances and signed with Big Time Records.
"By the end of 1986, a year and a half of pretty constant touring had taken its toll on the band," Tiven remembered. "Steve Michener had quit the band shortly after Positively had been released ... When we returned home from a particularly grueling 3-month tour just before Christmas, Kirk and Spike [replacement bassist Michael 'Spike' Priggen] made a decision to leave the band."
When Tiven and Devlin were uncertain about continuing the band, the label urged them to move forward, offering them a chance to record their next album in Rockfield Studios in Waleswith producer Hugh Jones. Tiven and Devlin recruited Kevin Salem (guitar, backing vocals) and Tom Shad (bass) and began rehearsing Tiven's new songs.
In 2018, Tiven released the first studio recording by Dumptruck in over 17 years. “Wrecked” was self-released digitally and on CD as well as a limited colored LP version for Record Store Day 2018 in conjunction with Schoolkids Records. The LPs have sold out.