- Lash 41 (1995-1997)
- Ailment (1996-1998)
- Heterodyne (1998-2000)
- The Jeta Grove (2001-2003)
- Shortwave Dahlia (2004-2010)
- The Near Reaches (2010-2012)
- Solo work (2012-present)
- The Pneumatic Girls (2013-2014)
- Blindcopy (2020)
Tape Experiments and Gloomy Rock
I think I met T.J. Mahaffey in the winter of 1994 via old friend and friend-to-all Dan Decker. I remember being excited because T.J. and I liked a ton of the same music. He might have been the first person I’d met in college who was vocal about their love for Skinny Puppy. He also had this wonderful painting style. Dan and I became pals in theatre class, bonding over our deep abiding love of Pearl Jam.
At some point very early on, we decided we were going to all make music together, and I believe it was T.J. that suggested Lash 41 for the name. We started gathering up equipment. I had this Yamaha home keyboard with a built in 8-track recorder, and a Roland SH-101. T.J. got his hands on two Roland drum machines (the 505 and 707 – my first experiences with step sequencing), and Dan had something. He definitely brought an enthusiasm and pure excitement to all of us.
We made a cassette on our own called Taming the Screw. I wanna say there were 50 copies. Someone mailed me a copy a few years ago. I, being an edgelord in my late teens, wrote “GOD” on my forehead in eyeliner and our friend Mary (who was taking photos for the inside of the cassette) snapped this absolutely foolish image. I’ll find it and post it so we can all giggle together.
I had started writing songs in 1990. It was all … not garbage, you have to start somewhere, but you’re mimicking whatever catches your ear. The songs I wrote in Lash 41 were my first steps outside of that. There were still tons of derivative elements, but we were folding primitive sampling and tape experiments in as well.
I haven’t digitized it yet, and haven’t heard the songs in decades, but I may have to bust out a cassette deck and put it on again.
We ousted Dan at some point (some “you’re not committed enough” bullshit, I think). Then we added people and for a while it was a really fun, heavier gloomy band. We had Ryan Cook (later to become an awesome tattoo artist and frontman of Illusionaut), Tracy Prince (Ginsu Wives, and a shitload of other projects), and Trey Massingill. We made another cassette with them, re-recording a couple of the songs from the first cassette and … Ryan and Tracy were bringing some great ideas into the pool so the songwriting grew by leaps and bounds. Those were some of my favorite live shows I’ve ever played.
People came and went. T.J. had some major life changes and had to leave. At that point … and I love those guys, I have no bad memories of them … but at that point it had stopped being fun. Also, and probably more significantly, I’d become friends with Jeff Bourns and I’d also truly discovered the music of David Bowie and immersed myself in indie rock.
Later on, in the bio for Ailment, I said something shitty about T.J. and understandably he stopped by to talk to me about it. I was an absolute asshole to him and kicked him out of my house.
I had the good sense in a couple years to make amends and admit that I was a very wrong asshole and I’m happy to say we have kept in touch.
I talk to Dan on Twitter occasionally and Ryan and I have chatted a couple times. One of Tracy’s bands played with Shortwave Dahlia in 2007 and then I didn’t hear from him much after that.
As first bands go, I could not have had a better start.
- 1995 – Taming the Screw (cassette)
- 1996 – Your Very Own Memory of A Head (cassette)