Fresno’s Steven Cash was a fan of the Cleveland art-rock metal band Mushroomhead.
He was hardcore and well-known on social media, and he was part of an online community of fans who collect the band’s signature masks. Mushroomhead is known for its wild costumes and demonic-looking headgear.
Cash’s dream was to see the band in Cleveland. He’d take eight of his friends and each would wear a different mask in homage to the band’s nine members. He had planned to make the trip when the band played the Agora Ballroom last December.
Only, he was too sick to travel.
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The Fresno native had been battling cancer for two years and was in his third round of chemotherapy and radiation.
At that show, the band took a moment to recognize Cash’s absence. They dedicated a song in his honor and urged him to continue his fight against the disease.
Cash died on Jan. 17 at the age of 24.
“I’ve never encountered a band that was this down to Earth with its fans,” says Cash’s cousin Joshua Cash.
During Cash’s battle, he received letters and recorded messages from the band. They sent a signed poster and album.
Since his death, the band has taken every chance to honor his memory both on and off stage.
Something to know about Mushroomhead: They have a special connection with their fans. Part of it is those masks.
The band gets a new set of masks for each tour, custom designed by the Ohio company Filthy Hands Co. The old masks (and others designed by the company) get auctioned off to fans like Cash for anywhere from $450 to $1,200. Some fans wear the masks to shows. Others preserve them as memorabilia — a token from each of the tours they’ve seen.
Cash collected the masks for almost four years. He’d amassed more than a dozen, including a custom mask made specifically for him. He left that mask to his cousin.
It was through his collection that Cash became friends with other fans.
After his death, the fans’ support was as strong as the band’s, Joshua Cash says. They started showing up at shows with posters that read, “In Memory of Steven Cash” or “RIP Steven Cash.” Watch enough live footage of the band and you’ll see one of the signs makes it on stage. There were handmade T-shirts and special red ribbons that read “[Expletive] cancer” that the band still wears on stage.
“It was really a countrywide thing,” says Johnny Mennell, who sings for The Family Ruin, which is on tour with Mushroomhead and saw the memorials almost nightly.
Cash’s family has received a flood of online message and Facebook requests from people who’ve never met Cash, or only knew him through that online community.
“It means the world,” Joshua Cash says, knowing there are people out there helping keep his cousin’s memory alive.
While Cash has been a fan of Mushroomhead since he started listing to metal at 14, his cousin is a more recent convert. He just got back from seeing the band in Las Vegas with his family, and he recently purchased a mask of his own.
He will be wearing it when he sees the band play Friday, April 10, at Fulton 55.
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” he says. “I have become a lifetime fan because of this.”