Paleface is an archetypal musician's musician, the kind of fiercely talented guy whose friends all go on to surpass him in fame but never stop singing his praises. Known as one of the originators of so-called "anti-folk," he got his musical start more than 20 years ago thanks to a friendship with the legendarily reclusive performer Daniel Johnston. The confluence of bold names in his life goes from there. Shortly after, he took up a shared New York apartment with a then-unknown Beck and became a fixture on the city's open-mic scene. Not long after that, he was snapped up for a management deal with Danny Fields, who had famously shepherded the Ramones to stardom. And by 1991, Paleface had a deal with Polydor.
But what should have been a rising-star-type story turned into one of broken promises, major-label bungling, and substance abuse to deal with it all. But, lifestyle change in tow, in the early '00s, Paleface hit the New York circuit again, forming friendships with emerging acts like the Moldy Peaches and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. This helped fortify his fan base and also his creative output. Since 2000, he's released at least one and sometimes two solo records a year (except for an album-less 2007). In 2008, he relocated to Concord, North Carolina, to collaborate with performer Monica "Mo" Samalot. They continue to tour and record together, playing dark, Waitsian Americana with Paleface on harmonica, guitar, and banjo and Samalot on drums and backing vocals.