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In September of 2018, I asked Ashley Maiden and Zach Peach if they wanted to meet up. After just having written and released the last Sun Valley Gun Club (SVGC) record, I only had one new song, called MEGADETH TEE. To me, it was about the stuff you bring with you as you pass through life: T-Shirts, memories of your favorite dog, memories of past relationships, traumatic memories. The song felt good, but we weren't quite a band, and it was obvious to us shortly after our first practice we needed someone else to fill out the sound. Zach had played with Jacob Bradford in the great Nevada City band Ghost Pines, and Ashley and Zach and I all thought Jacob would be cool to have involved. Jacob and I got together a few times, and our playing styles fit together well. As we learned to play together now as four-piece band, and played shows over the course of the next two years we wrote and fine-tuned a group of songs that would become our first album, called MEGADETH TEE, released July 15, 2022, inspired by the words of our dear friend, poet Johnny Allen.

Is It Not Cool?

MEGADETH TEE at a 2019 band practice.


Johnny Allen and I have been continuously collaborating since about 2016, and have known each other and played in bands since high school. He often sends me prose, and I take it in whatever form and try to turn it into a song. Sometimes I end up making few changes to the lyrics, sometimes a fair amount of changes, and other times I might use only a piece of something. More than past projects, from the first thing I read I knew I needed to try to be as faithful to the spirit of the original material as I was capable. I tried. The original work is beautiful. My main addition to Johnny's themes is how I feel looking back at my life and remembering the dog and cat friends who were there with me at different stages. David Mohr contributed the lyrics for the song Rushing Lattice along those lines. According to David, "The lyric “Rushing Lattice” was about being fenced in or caged in and ultimately trying to come to peace with that feeling. ...My guess is stray cats have an unfathomable wildness that haunts them as they try to make sense of their pocket of human society. I was trying to write about the idea of caring for a creature that has no idea it is being cared for and how doing something good can be perceived as the opposite."

The Dirt Road
The Slow Death of Lung Cancer
Sending Out A Dove
I've Got Your Blood
I'm Glad You Got Out (But I Miss You)
Rushing Lattice
No Kind of God
To Feel So Small (Hello Me, It's Me Again)

Jarod Keel filmed this live version of Rushing Lattice, which is different from the studio version. This one was recorded by Zach at Dream Cabin Sounds, and mixed by Matt Thomson at Ivy League Recording in Portland, Oregon.


As I wrote more songs, Zach and I did most of the arrangement as a two piece. I don't write that quickly so this happened over the course of about a year or so, and since the band at its inception had no older material to rely on we basically had to play the new songs live, which lead to a lot of revision as we figured out what was working well, and what needed to be tighter. We worked a lot on song structure and some of the early material went through a fair amount of restructuring. We made a lot of demos around this time as well.

As the four piece iteration began to take shape in 2019, we fine tuned the earliest songs, and recorded a demo with Tim Green at Louder Studios consisting of Megadeth Tee and To Feel So Small. I think the demo versions have a cool vibe, and in some ways I like them a little more than the album versions. Something about the first time you proper record a song.

Our plan was to go back in the studio to make a full length in early 2020, but we lost time, and ended up recording basic tracks in November with Jack Shirley at The Atomic Garden Recording Studio. Some vocals, guitars, bass, and drums were recorded live as a band, no click. Drums were recorded using Glyn Johns. I completed lead vocals with Jack in early December. We dumped the recording from tape to digital, I took the tracks, and made some digital edits/ minor cleanups. Ashley and I got together in January and February with Patrick Hills at Earthtone Studios, where we did background vocals with Rachael McElhiney, who is a fantastic singer and a wonderful person. Pat's ear for harmonies is incredible, and I've wanted to work with him on an entire record for a long time. Zach and I got together at his studio and recorded some additional guitars, Rhodes, auxiliary percussion, and more background vocals with Graham Farrow Knibb, who sings and writes great songs for Zach's other band Farrow and the Peach Leaves. Jacob and I recorded some additional synths, organs, guitars, and all the final tracks. Jack and I live mixed the album at The Atomic Garden in July of 2021.


Megadeth%20Tee%20-%20Star%20Thistle%207.5%20MBJustin Butler is one of my oldest friends, and incredibly talented graphic artist who played guitar in SVGC with Ashley and me. Justin did layout and design for all of the SVGC records, and I could not think of one other person I wanted to ask to do the art. My idea was to set a take a sharp "product" photo of an item from childhood that carries some meaning. Justin actually did a mock-up of that idea with a photo of a stuffed animal bear. Both Justin and I found this version to be a little too cute and bright for the subject matter. Justin's idea was not something I'd heard of before, called Cyanotype, which is a very old printing process, using specialized paper that produces a negative of the subject matter.


The second of the Jarod Keel Live at Dream Cabin Sounds videos.