May 21, 2017

About Us

The Trash Cats: A History

Matt was born in the Twin Ports area of Duluth, MN. One of those rare birds who moved away to the Twin Cities and came back, he’s in love with the lake, and gets irritated when he lives in flatlands.

By best recollection, he started piano lessons at age 6, which marks 2017 as his 30 year anniversary hunched over a keyboard. He spend some time performing in his early twenties, but really came into it when his old classmate Breanne Tepler invited him to record on her debut album.

Front Porch Sinners Logo
Click to learn more about Breanne Marie and the Front Porch Sinners


Sean, on the other hand, has the more typical Duluth story. Born and raised in St. Paul where he began playing saxophone at age 12, Sean moved to Duluth in 2001 to pursue a degree in music at The University of Minnesota – Duluth.

It didn’t go great

Turns out that while invaluable lessons were learned in the fields of performance and theory, this was not the correct path for Sean. Thankfully some lifelong friends were made at that time and bands were formed. Jams were had, bands broke up, people moved and more bands were formed.

Probably the most notable of these bands was one called Gallus that enjoyed some local success. This is where our heroes paths begin to cross.

Gallus Logo
Click here to learn more about Gallus


Sean and our friend Kent Paulson were thinking about starting a rock band after their beloved Gallus separated. After a bit of jamming, they wanted piano… not being able to think of anyone, Sean eventually thought to himself, “wait! I know a guy.”

Matt was invited to become a founding member in what was to become Songs of Shipwreck, a five piece rock band that specialized in filling in the cracks of what every member had always wanted to do.

Eventually, it became evident that trying to line up the schedules of five working class guys in their thirties was like herding blind sheep, and Matt and Sean discovered that they could play a few more gigs than the others. After playing as a duo for Kent’s marriage to Ally Flaherty, they became the Trash Cats.

And they played, and played, and played, and it was never work.

Trash Cats Twin Ports

Matt is the happy husband to Olivia Sjelin, and their girls Koren and Persephone. June 10th 2017 will be Persephone’s first Trash Cats show.

Sean and his wife/writing partner, Jess, live in the hills of Duluth. Jess has many of her lyrics used in Trash Cats songs including Velcro Shoes, Save Death and Curiosity. They live with their dog Giles and their nieces are frequent guests of the home.