By Noe Gutierrez

What do you do when little is known about a band and you want to find out what makes them tick and how their sound is developed? You call them of course. I did just that with guitarist and vocalist Mike Theophilos of the spastic reggae band TJ Nasty! emphasis on the nasty. Stationed out of Palm Springs, TJ Nasty! also has in its ranks Ian Comstock on drums and David Macias on the bass guitar as well as part-time member Bri Cherry on violin.

In order to properly quantify what spastic reggae is you must first see and hear TJ Nasty! They are performing this Friday at The Hood Bar & Pizza along with Derek Gregg’s The Hive Minds and fellow reggae ally Mikey Reyes closing out the night. If you are unable to attend you can access their self-titled EP on Sound Cloud. Specifically, listen to “Get Down Low”, an up tempo and fast paced song with groove as well as “No Job”, a song that has varied tempos, atypical beats and dance persuasion. As Theophilos states, “We want o show the valley this new reggae sound. It’s different; a new rhythm.”

TJ Nasty! is currently working on a ska/reggae/funk infused new album that will be released within the year.


Theophilos and Comstock were both reared in Palm Springs and attended Palm Springs High School listening to and playing rock music. At 14 years of age they began their own rock band. Not until they were 18 did they enter the reggae realm. Some of their influences include Tool, Incubus, Sublime and Bob Marley, of course. Theophilos admits that Modest Yahoo and his ‘Live at Stubb’s’ album has had the largest influence on him and his music.

Working full-time as a bartender at Spencer’s Restaurant in Palm Springs has brought much satisfaction to the 27 year old Theophilos. He has done so since he was 21 years old. He also enjoys skateboarding and speed boarding. You can find videos of his antics on YouTube. According to Theophilos, “I prefer fast reggae and fast skating, they complement each other.” Comstock works part-time while he attends to his higher education. Macias is relatively new to the bass guitar. Known for his vocals and percussive guitar work in Machin’, Macias has garnered praise from his fellow band members with how he embraced the challenge of tackling bass duties after their original bassist became “out-of-action”.

When not causing a raucous with TJ Nasty! both Theophilos and Macias don their colorful sheaths and perform acoustically as ‘The Green Jackets’ invading open mic nights around the valley.

TJ Nasty! has augmented the valley’s music scene with its unique twist on reggae. Theopholis shares his preference for the desert, “I like how close knit the desert is. Playing in Los Angeles as a small fish in a big pond is not as rewarding. Our limited venues allow us to perform with excellent musicians. We all play together and we play for each other. My favorite venues are the Hood Bar & Pizza; the new Hub of the Desert, the Date Shed; their sound system is amazing, and Schmidy’s is the up and comer.”

TJ Nasty! have broader sights set on their music. Theopholis delineates some goals, “We really want to try and get into some festivals. The Joshua Tree Roots Festival would be great. I wanna get out of the desert once we have a nice piece of audio as well.”

In completing our conversation Theopholis was adamant that I share with CV Weekly readers those who have supported TJ Nasty! from the beginning and those who have maintained the acoustic scene thriving. “John Delaire & Blake Williams have been the band’s strongest supporters from day one.” According to Theopholis, Symara Stone and Giselle Woo are Coachella Valley acoustic royalty.

TJ Nasty! is humble yet hungry. Take some time to listen to their songs on Sound Cloud and make an effort to catch them live this Friday night at The Hood Bar & Pizza.