Mary Timony’s solo career came into being after the demise of Helium. While she played solo shows before and during Helium’s time as a band, it wasn’t until 1999 that she began showcasing her solo material. Teaming up with Christina Files on drums, the two started playing shows in early 1999, with the setlist consisting of almost all new material, which would appear on the album Mountains.
Christina and Mary would play in this stripped down format for the next year, touring for Mountains in 2000. Promoting the album included dates in Europe, where the two would open for their friends Sleater-Kinney once again. Carrie Brownstein would join Mary onstage for second guitar on songs such as “Superball”. This pair would play the first Ladyfest (again with Carrie B appearing on a couple of songs) as well as a handful of dates after that to close out 2000.
In 2001, Christina and Mary would tour in early February, this time with a bass player named Jeff Goddard to fill out their sound. Jeff would also appear on the Golden Dove, as well as the tours that followed for the album. Also joining these tours was Amy Dominguez, a cellist (and bass player), and Al Weatherhead, who worked on the recording of the Golden Dove, on keyboards.
2002 and 2003 involved more touring for the Golden Dove, including a lengthy European tour in 2003. However after that European tour, the setlist and band changed configuration again as it was stripped down to Mary and Devin Ocampo, with Amy Domingues also appearing on bass or cello. New songs started popping up, focusing more on guitar and less on the instrumentation that was found on the Golden Dove.
2005 saw the release of Ex Hex on Lookout! Records, which was a departure in record label and sound from the previous record. The songs are unmistakably Timony songs, but recorded and backed with drums that were different than most other Timony recordings. The prog leanings were still there though, popping up most notably on “Backwards/Forwards” the final track to Ex Hex. 2005 also lead Timony and Ocampo across the country touring a great deal. In comparison the touring of 2006 was not as plentiful as 2005, but the setlist did include new material that would later be released on 2007’s the Shapes We Make.
Mary and her band did tour some for the Shapes We Make, but not as steadily as they did for Ex Hex. Mary was accompanied by Joe Wong on drums and Chad Molter on bass for most of these shows, though Devin Ocampo appears on the recording. This also marked the first time that “the Mary Timony Band” was used for the record titling, even though t-shirts used that title as far back as the Mountains record.
2008 was very quiet in Timony-land as the band played just a handful of shows. This is probably around the time Soft Power was beginning to brew, and Mary has mentioned in more than a few interviews that she was a bit burned out on writing alone and a little defeated by her last US tour.