While Alain Jourgensen was living in London, he met Ian MacKaye. MacKaye had been in Washington D.C. punk bands The Teen Idles, Minor Threat, Skewbald/Grand Union, Egg Hunt and Embrace and was on the verge of forming Fugazi, while Jourgensen was taking his band Ministry into new territory—away from the more pop sound of With Sympathy and toward the harder sound of The Land of Rape and Honey. The two found common ground both musically and politically and decided to collaborate on a project that would fuse elements of industrial music with hardcore punk.
Pailhead released the single "I Will Refuse" / "No Bunny" (released in both 7" and 12" formats) in 1987 and the 4-song EP Trait in 1988, both on the Wax Trax! record label. The CD edition of Trait also incorporates both sides of the "I Will Refuse" / "No Bunny" single. The drummer for "No Bunny" was Eric Spicer of Naked Raygun. These tracks were later re-released on Ministry's odds-and-ends compilation Side Trax.
MacKaye has never played live with the band.