Singer/guitarist Neil Mauney is currently in three bands — the alt-country outfit Pullman Strike, indie rock trio Late Bloomer and his solo project Family Friend. But the two most memorable gigs he's played happened years ago when the now 28-year-old was in high school playing with a metalcore band.
"God, we were terrible, but we loved it. We thought it was the coolest shit ever," Mauney says. "Considering we only played four or five shows, two of them were really memorable. The first — we were playing this weird battle of the bands at some church. Our singer would spin the microphone — like the Taking Back Sunday guy does — and the microphone flew off and knocked a hole into the ceiling. The church wasn't very happy. They told us we could never play there again, but we didn't expect to anyway."
While he still listens to some of the same music, Mauney has grown past those inexperienced early days. He often feels that he's spread a little thin while juggling the schedules of two bands and a solo outfit, but he loves playing, so he's not going to complain about it. (He'll only complain about going to a data-entry day job to help pay the bills.) Earlier this month, Pullman Strike held a CD release party for its second album, Silver Lining. Mauney expects Family Friend's debut to be released in the next month or two while Late Bloomer hopes to have an album out this fall.
With the potential for three albums in one year, Mauney's abilities as a musician and songwriter will be on full display in 2015.
"My solo stuff allows me to be a little bit more laid-back. If I want to do something, all I have to worry about is me," Mauney says. "Pullman Strike allows me to do the singer/songwriter thing but with a band of other people who bring stuff to it. Late Bloomer allows me to be loud and play around on the guitar a little bit more instead of sticking to one real sound. I'm able to take it wherever I want to take it, really."
Mauney started playing guitar as a teenager, when his mom bought him a cheap $100 guitar. Soon enough, he was part of that bad metal band. He helped form Pullman Strike in 2010, this after a few other forays, including a stint with a band called Nation with fellow Pullman Strike member Evan Stepp. Late Bloomer came together for its first show in 2012.
Family Friend offers a different listen. Mauney's first official solo album, a self-titled release, is mostly just him and an acoustic guitar, with the addition of Geoff White on banjo and fiddle.
"It's a lot more stripped down," Mauney says. "It's drastically different from Late Bloomer — much more simple. Some of the songs were written a long time ago and some were written just before I recorded it last summer. I've been wanting to [release a solo album] for a while, but didn't have the time. I finally made the time instead of just talking about it."
For a guy who's balancing three different projects, Mauney says he's never missed a show and "usually remembers band practice." Luckily, Late Bloomer and Pullman Strike have set practice days during the week and share a Google calendar so that any gigs don't overlap.
As for that second memorable show? Mauney's first band was playing at SK Netcafe (now Crown Station Pub). As the band members were jumping around on stage, Mauney's guitar headstock accidently hit the bass player in the head. They finished the song, but there was blood running down the bass player's face, and he started complaining of lightheadedness. Luckily, they were only blocks away from a hospital.
These days, shows can be memorable for a different reason. With three bands and a whole lot of music, there are other challenges Mauney has to worry about while on stage.
"The [Pullman Strike CD release party] was great — it was really fun," Mauney says. "I remembered all my lyrics."