Band History written by Patrick

One of the great and more unappreciated bands to rise out of Washington, DC's "Revolution Summer" period, Gray Matter was formed in 1984 by long time friends Geoff Turner (vocals/guitar), Mark Haggerty (guitar), Steve Niles (bass), and Dante Ferrando (drums). Haggerty and Ferrando had most recently been founding members of Iron Cross, for whom Steve Niles had roadied. The band played catchy punk that is best documented on their first two releases. The first, the Food For Thought LP, was originally issued on R&B Records in 1985 and co-produced by Ian MacKaye and Bert Quieroz (the "B" in R&B Records). The LP was named after a restaurant that Dante Ferrando's father owned which frequently hosted shows. The band recorded a follow-up EP, Take It Back in late '85 for Dischord. This was also produced by Ian MacKaye. Soon after, Mark Haggerty left the group to attend school in New Zealand. Jon Kirstchen, the younger brother of Faith bassist Chris Bald, was recruited to take over on guitar, but the new line-up never quite clicked and the group broke up in the spring of 1986.

The group virtually reformed that year, though. In early 1986, Ian MacKaye and Jeff Nelson had recorded together in a project called Egg Hunt. Contemplating the idea of turning Egg Hunt into a full-time band, MacKaye invited Turner and Niles to jam. The project didn't work out, but Jeff Nelson, who had never met the members of Gray Matter before, hit it off with Turner and Niles, whose pop leanings were probably more in line with Nelson's tastes than MacKaye's. Nelson, Turner, and Niles soon formed 3 with Mark Haggerty, who had returned from New Zealand (Dante Ferrando was playing drums in Ignition at that time). The name apparently originated when Jeff Nelson was asked how many people were in his new band and forgot to count himself.

Gray Matter, like most of the Revolution Summer bands, had been short-lived and didn't tour. However, many members of those deceased bands quickly re-grouped to form touring acts. Unlike their counterparts, 3 didn't get far beyond the DC area, due, at least in part, to Steve Niles dedication to the small comic book company, Arcane Comix, that he ran out of his apartment. 3 called it quits in 1988, shortly before the release of their LP, Dark Days Coming.

Jeff Nelson and Jeff Turner continued to play in a few bands over the years, including Wonderama and Senator Flux, neither of which would record for Dischord Records, which Nelson, ironically, co-owned.

Gray Matter reformed briefly in the 1990 to record another LP, Thog, for Dischord, and tour. Dischord would also reissue the long out of print Food for Thought LP in 1990 (as well as combining it on one CD with Take It Back). Gray Matter called it quits permanently in 1993.

Today, Geoff Turner co-owns WGNS studios on DC, where he had recorded and produced a number of bands. He has also continued to perform with acts like New Wet Kojak. Dante Ferrando co-owns the Black Cat club in DC. Mark Haggerty played with Severin in the mid-'90s. Steve Niles relocated to Los Angeles and continues work in the comic book industry. 3 drummer Jeff Nelson retired from active performing in 1992 and recently relocated to Ohio but still continues to co-own Dischord Records, as well as being sole owner of another label, Adult Swim. In late 2003, Gray Matter reunited for a gig to celebrate the Black Cat's 10th anniversary.



TAKE IT BACK 12" (Dischord, 1986)

GRAY MATTER 2x7" (WGNS, 1991)

THOG LP (Dischord, 1992)

GRAY MATTER/SEVERIN split 7" (Dischord, 1992)


FOOD FOR THOUGHT CD (Dischord, 1990 - includes the Take It Back 12")


ALIVE AND KICKING 7" (WGNS/Metrozine, 1985)

20 YEARS OF DISCHORD 3CD box set (Dischord, 2002)



DARK DAYS COMING LP (Dischord, 1989)


STATE OF THE UNION LP (Dischord, 1989)

20 YEARS OF DISCHORD 3CD box set (Dischord, 2002)

This site revolves around Steve Niles' endevours in the comic book world, but it also sells Gray Matter releases.