Began in 1995 as Alarm 115, a noise-punk outfit inspired by Drive Like Jehu, The Fall and Ultra Bidet. The band - Darren Seltmann, Robbie Chater, Tony Diblasi and Manabu Etoh - bought all their instruments at junk shops, where they also discovered piles of old records.

When Etoh was deported and Alarm 115 ended, those records became the core of a new project. Chater was a film student at Melbourne's RMIT, and had access to a recording studio there, which he and Seltmann used to turn said vinyl into a 30-song demo tape labeled Pan Amateurs.[2] In 1997, A new lineup (Seltmann, Chater, Diblasi, and Gordon McQuilten) was assembled to play the tunes live, debuting in July under the name Swinging Monkey Cocks. Their first four shows were played under different names.

Live performance:
Initially The Avalanches played live using samplers, analogue keyboards, bass guitar, drumkit and theremin. Their set-up later included four turntables, a percussion stand, and a battery of MIDI-controlled special effects.

The band was a favourite at 2000/2001 festivals, including the Big Day Out, Falls Festival and V1. Peter 'Snakey' Whiteford joined as percussionist for the August European tour. At the Electric Ballroom in London, Seltmann shattered an ankle on stage, which meant the remaining shows were DJ sets only. This format continued for the US and Japan 'Since I Left You' tours. Chater, Dexter and De la Cruz also took the DJ show around Australia, calling themselves The Magic Midgets.

'Brains' is a monthly clubnight held outdoors behind the tiny Melbourne bar 'St Jeromes', and features regular DJ sets from Avalanches Robbie, Darren and Tony.

'Brains' is usually soca-inspired DJ sets , but can include anything from the 'Highlife' guitar music of West Africa to unusual re edits of 80's acid house tracks, and sometimes even new Avalanches material.

Far from a typical 'world music' DJ set, the 'Brains' nights are extremely loud and celebratory, with people overflowing into Caledonian Lane, the band bringing in a special P.A system to cope with the extra crowd. The 'Brains' experience toured Australia in early 2005, and spilled over into the band's DJ sets at that year's St Jerome's Laneway Festival and Meredith Music Festival.

The Avalanches continued DJing at Australian festivals such as Golden Plains and Splendour throughout 2006 and into 2007, although these sets were a return to a heavier 'club' sound and markedly different to the previous 'Brains' DJ sets.