- Gavin Baker - guitar
- Hywell Dinsdale - bass
- Howard Monk - drums
- Kevin Penney - bass (left 2002)
Kevin Penney was enlisted, along with Hywell Dinsdale. Both were to play bass, with Hywell occasionally playing guitar. Hywell responded to an ad in a record store, and Kev knew Howard anyhow. Rehearsals got under way, the songs took shape and the arrangements became more refined. Above all the band became a band, playing not as four individuals but as one small fictional boy. In 1998 Mahonie released two records both 7" singles: 'Hoon' and 'Whistling Sam'/'On The Brink'. A lot of gigs were played, mainly in London but this soon changed. Mahonie supported Arab Strap at the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Ganger in Glasgow and Edinburgh. They then went on a short Fierce Panda-sponsored tour of the UK with Seafood and Tiny Too in November.
In 1999 Mahonie released a debut album The Big Dig through Too Pure records. This drew on a myriad of influences and people sat up and took notice. These are the same people that had become stupefied by homegrown rock music that was becoming generic and unimaginative. With strong support from press, radio and the ever-increasing fanbase (presumably for the same reason) Mahonie became a strong young man who was ready to take on whatever came his way. He also coveted his neighbour's mandolin. So what did? Well in 1999 a Peel Session and a Student Broadcast Network were recorded as well as a live session for Sean Hughes' show. A UK tour with Hefner was embarked upon, as was a Euro tour with Bows and Laika later that same year. There was also time to release an EP and a couple of singles. Things were moving along apace into 2000 and another tour, this time embracing mainland Europe, ensued. People laughed, people cried and people argued all in the name of rock n' roll. It was around this time that Too Pure decided that perhaps Billy was a bad influence and insisted that they parted company - "musical differences: they were musically diffident," said a source close to Billy. One man's poison is another's medicine, as Southern Records found out, releasing What Becomes Before in 2001. The band are joined by the trumpeter Ian Watson on some songs.