Meet the new Columbus supergroup led by Two Cow Garage's Shane Sweeney and Lydia Loveless bandmates Todd May and Jay Gasper

Last year, local songwriter and guitarist Todd May gave his friend Shane Sweeney of Two Cow Garage a call. May was getting together with some buddies who also happen to play alongside him in Lydia Loveless' band — drummer George Hondroulis and guitarist/pedal steel player Jay Gasper, plus May's bandmate from Fort Shame and Mooncussers, guitarist Jamey Ball.

The idea was to play music completely for fun — just to have something to do, like a poker night. Gasper and Hondroulis also play with Sweeney in Two Cow, and since the band was in between albums and tours, Sweeney signed on without hesitation, alternating between guitar and bass with May (who also occasionally swaps spots with Hondroulis and sits behind the kit).

“I had some songs, and Todd dreams songs. He's got a whole record he's made that hasn't come out. He's a genius. I just feel lucky to be playing with him,” Sweeney said recently in an interview Downtown. “Jay's songs I had never heard before. It's like Built to Spill mixed with Tom Petty. It's really awesome.”

In November, Drift Mouth's Lou Poster asked Sweeney to play a solo set at Poster's Franklin County First event at Ace of Cups. “I was like, well, might as well play as a full band because that's really fun right now, and everybody was into it,” Sweeney said.

Thus, new Columbus supergroup DEADnettles was born; the band will play alongside Drift Mouth at Rumba Cafe on Friday, Jan. 18. “There's no ego about it because we're all close friends,” Sweeney said. “There's a song from my first solo record that I've always wanted to play with a band. It's called ‘Try Again Later.' Todd started playing this Motown bass line, and that evolved into this Motown/Elvis Costello-sounding thing, which is not what I was expecting it to be.”

For Sweeney, playing in DEADnettles is also liberating. “With Two Cow, Micah [Schnabel] and I made a decision a long time ago that we were gonna do whatever the hell we wanted to do, and that we weren't going to be painted into a corner,” Sweeney said. “But the rest of it becomes calcified. Micah and I, we're the songwriters and the business leaders. There are business decisions that need to be made, and that's always a drag. … With this, there's no business to deal with. It's just the art. I can play a bunch of stuff and just be super weird with it, and nobody ever even has to hear it. It might not ever leave the rehearsal space.”

Some of it will leave that space, though. The band hopes to start recording in February.