Top Scrub goes pro on new album

Local indie-rock quartet featuring members of Souther and Honey Spikes hopes to increase the world's unit of happiness by at least one

Joel Oliphint
Columbus Alive
Top Scrub

On Feb. 28, 2020, Top Scrub played a show at Dirty Dungarees celebrating the release of the local indie-rock act’s debut self-titled EP. Two weeks later, everything shut down due to the spread of the coronavirus. 

The gig was important to the band, but the timing of it made it even more memorable. “A lot of my friends who aren't musicians, that was the last show that they attended before the pandemic,” said guitarist Patrick Mahoney in a recent Zoom chat with his bandmates: singer/guitarist Tim Dignan, drummer Jack Lynch (Souther) and bassist Stuart Maxwell (Honey Spikes).  

Dignan, a Worthington native, has been writing songs since his teen years, playing in various bands in high school and at Ohio University. After graduating and returning to Columbus, Dignan teamed up with Lynch and former bassist Andy Sullivan (Turtle Island), who recorded Top Scrub’s first EP in the bandmates’ apartments. For Top Scrub’s recently released follow-up album, Top Scrub Deluxe, the rock quartet decided to forego the DIY approach and record in a professional studio with Jeremy Steckel of Revelator Sound. 

During recording sessions over the Fourth of July weekend last year, the Top Scrub bandmates said Steckel played the role of producer, offering insights and suggestions that the band welcomed. “I always have trouble finishing songs. I come with four different guitar parts, or sometimes 15 different guitar parts, depending on the song," Dignan said. "I was really bad at figuring out how I want to structure it, so I was very open and happy to get that assistance." 

“[Steckel] really taught us a pop sensibility,” Mahoney said.  

Some of the songs on Deluxe go back a number of years, while others, like “For Now” and “You Should Know,” are more recent. Regardless of the place and time, Dignan said he sticks to a fairly literal method of lyric-writing. On "For Now," for instance, when singing about “carving forward nice and slowly,” Dignan, an outdoors enthusiast, is describing the act of longboarding.  

Just like Dignan’s outdoor exploits, rehearsing and recording together has helped keep the Top Scrub bandmates sane during the pandemic. They even got to perform for cameras recently at a private home in Cleveland; the video is due for release on Feb. 27.

In the future, the four friends see Top Scrub becoming even more collaborative. But most importantly, they hope listeners enjoy the band as much as they do.  

“We want to increase the world's unit of happiness by at least one,” Mahoney said, laughing.