The band was formed by lead guitarist Jason Tarka in 1993 along with Billy Mayer (drums), Paul Callaway (lead vocals), Steve Stasny (guitar), and Jeff Tarka (bass) rounding out the initial, classic line-up. Jim Hillegonds (bass) joined for the second half of band's existence. Mailbox, as local fans call them, was a talented group of teenagers who started playing in sort of a garage (the Tarka family homes’ basement). They all met each other in High School, with Jason Tarka and Billy Mayer starting the band. They soon added Paul Callaway, and brought in Steve Stasny. All they needed was a bassist, so Jason’s brother Jeff jumped in. First incarnation was a band called Squelch. While learning Metallica and Judas Priest songs, music took a major turn. Grunge came roaring out with the onset of Nirvana (band). Soon, this was the new music.
Local Mailbox performances became a social event, creating a frenzy not seen in a long time. Hundreds of kids followed Mailbox from show to show. Because of ages of the fans and the members, they booked local venues such as the Musician's Guild in Hammond, Indiana, the American Legion in Highland, Indiana and the Am-Vets Hall in Whiting, Indiana. The band started writing and performing their own songs. Their first song Just Askin' was chosen to be included on a CD compilation of local acts.
Due to the overwhelming fan base, record stores and coffee houses booked Mailbox to play in parking lots. Hammond, Indiana’s Woodmar Mall security couldn’t handle the band's massive teen following when they jammed into the record store for their "release party" for their first cassette EP. The congestion brought shopping mall to a standstill. "Mailboxmania" had been born.
After signing a deal with Tony Nicoletto (a part-time drummer for The Turtles), and KNG Records, the song Just Askin was included on the Album Rock Network CD compilation, Rock Tune Up #136 (July 1995), along with other notable acts, such as Filter (band), Vince Neil and The Presidents of the United States of America (band). Just Askin played in light radio rotation in 75 markets. A second song Rise Seven Times was included on another Album Rock Network compilation Tune Up #151 (June 1996) with Nada Surf, The Verve Pipe and Tripping Daisy.
After playing local gigs, the band released their first, four song, self-titled cassette, which sold more than 2000 copies in the south Chicago-region. The band was gaining momentum, selling T-shirts, and opening for national acts, such as Warren Zevon, Electric Light Orchestra, Survivor (band) and Poi Dog Pondering.
In 1996, Jason and Jeff Tarka left the band. Jim Hillegonds replaced Jeff as the band's bassist. Jef Moll filled in on lead guitars for a few summer concerts. Now as a four piece, they continued touring midwestern college campuses, Chicago club scene and performing at prestige establishments, such as Chicago's Double Door, the Riviera Theater and Merrillville, Indiana'a Star Plaza Theatre. The band soon began recording what would become their first full-length album, Highland, released independenly. The album was a mix of both creativity and experimentalism, citing a George Martin-like production with no-holds-barred.
Alison's Mailbox played their last show on April 14, 1999, and disbanded shortly later.
After the band disbanded, Billy Mayer went on to form many band projects; the techno progressive Dope Sick, Southern Rock group Soul Pride, and as of 2015, Brothers and Wine. Steve Stasny formed Fivestar Deluxe. Jim Hillegonds formed the AC/DC tribute band Bonfire of Chicago. Jef Moll pursued a career in music production and engineering, working for Slash (musician) and bands like Chevelle (band) and Alter Bridge.
In September 2013, the band was asked to contribute two songs to a new, independent film. A horror/comedy, Billy Club (film). Released in Oct 2013, Just Askin' and The Feminine Song were used as songs playing on the radio in a couple of scenes. Film was released on DVD in Nov. 2014.Paul E. Callaway III - Lead vocals/guitars (1993–1999)
Jason Tarka - Lead guitars (1993–1996)
Billy Mayer - Drums/percussion (1993–1999)
Steve Stasny - Guitars (1993-1999)
Jeff Tarka - Bass (1993–1996)
Jim Hillegonds - Bass (1996–1999)
Jef Moll - Lead guitars (1996)
Phil Carmen - percussion (1996–1999)
Neil Burkdoll - Keyboards (1997)
Highland (July 3, 1997)
Bootleg (Jan 14, 1998)
Live @ the Star Plaza (April 19, 2003)
Alison's Mailbox - cassette, Label: KNG Records (March 4, 1995)
no name - Fanclub only cassette (1996)
Best of The Region, Rock - 95 - Label: Blue Star, (May 26, 1995) = Just Askin'
Tune Up Rock 136 - Label: The Album Network, (July 25, 1995) Track 14 = Just Askin'
Tune Up Rock 151 - Label: The Album Network, (June 21, 1996) Track 11 =Rise Seven Times