Chicago popster Kevin Tihista was born in Walnut Creek, CA, picking up the guitar in the seventh grade after drawing his initial musical inspiration from childhood heroes Kiss. After high school, he worked a series of odd jobs before 1989, when a friend who had moved to the Chicago suburb of Naperville called Tihista to ask him to join the band he was forming; a week later, he relocated to the Midwest, arriving on his 21st birthday. Although the group, dubbed Maus, would prove short-lived, Tihista's next vehicle, the grunge combo Wood, became a staple of the Chicago club circuit. In 1993, he finally moved to the city proper, just in time to join former-Rights of the Accused frontman Wes Kidd's new project, emo-rockers Triple Fast Action. With Tihista moving over to bass, TFA issued a handful of indie-label singles before signing to Capitol to issue 1996's Broadcaster. The group soon found itself a casualty of major-label purging, however, and landed with indie Deep Elm to release 1997's Cattlemen Don't before dissolving the following year.
After contributing a few songs to the ill-fated third Veruca Salt LP Resolver, Tihista -- reportedly with some 300 unrecorded songs completed -- finally succumbed to pressure from his girlfriend to begin mounting a solo career, and began cutting tracks in the basement studio of neighbor Ellis Clark. With former TFA bandmate Kidd now serving as his manager, Tihista's demo was passed to Wyndham Wallace, founder of the British indie Easy Tiger, which earlier released material by fellow Chicago pop act the Webb Brothers to considerable notice; his debut solo single, "Lose the Dress," appeared on Easy Tiger in October 2000, followed in June 2001 by a self-titled six-song EP on Rough Trade. Signing in the U.S. to the Atlantic subsidiary Division One, Tihista and backing band Red Terror issued Don't Breathe a Word -- a fantastic collection of heartbreaking, Beatlesque pop gems -- that September. When Atlantic closed Division One in late 2001, early the following year Tihista signed to Parasol to reissue Don't Breathe a Word, a short time later releasing the companion set Judo. ~ Jason Ankeny