About a year ago, Regan Farquhar sat in The Casbah Cafe drinking mint tea. He poked at his cake like it represented everything about his latest Busdriver album, Jhelli Beam.
He'd been eating it since he was fifteen years old and it just wasn't as appetizing to him anymore. As if the cosmos heard his sigh, the Mae Shi came into his life and then broke up, leaving some talented musicians wandering the concrete jungle looking for new playmates. Farquhar and Mae Shi founder Jeff Byron started jamming, and suddenly Farquhar found himself joining the L.A. DiY scene in a band called Physical Forms. Now they've got a split 7-inch coming out in November with Deerhoof, Farquhar's long-standing pals.
While Busdriver vacations in France or some vowel fueled imaginary place with Nocando, his alterego Regan Farquhar is working the L.A. underground with Physical Forms. Here's an interview and an mp3 to download.
How did you end up in Physical Forms?
Regan Farquhar: Jeff Byron, one of the founding members of the Mae Shi, a year ago we started hanging out and wanted to do some songs together. I played a few shows with the Mae Shi. I'm a huge fan. He's a very confident producer, composer, musician, boundless. I went to his house and recorded and sang. It kind of rebooted my approach to recording and songwriting. I became fond of him just for that.
Where did the other guys come in?
We got to the point where we were kind of a band but we needed members. So we recruited Kevin Lenhart, the drummer from Division Day and Little Ones. We welcomed him into the Physical Forms world. All the members are buddies from other bands of the scene. We have two drummers because the songs are very drum intensive. Marcus Savino used to be in Mae Shi briefly but was dropped, he was fired. But he's in our band! He's different from Kevin. He's more technical, more tight, flashy. it's one of the greatest things, having two drummers with distinct voices. He has been in Bad Dudes and Silver Daggers, along with Marty Sataman, our manic little keyboard guy. Marty also played with Boom Bip and so did Jeff. A couple Mondays ago we had our first show. We did it to solidify for the band, for our own selves, that we exist. I think it went really well. We had a ton of fuck ups.
You mentioned to me a year ago that you were looking for an opportunity like this. Isn't this something that's been on your mind for a while as the next step?
The thing with Physical Forms is that it's the most honest disclosure of musical ideas, the most honest form for that is what I was looking for. A place where I can expound on and experience ideas. These guys are all talented. OK, there are a lot of talented people out there but what's unique about us is that there's so much fun and exuberance that runs through our music. Our efforts are boundless. No one is half-in. I think the nature of the band and the songs can't happen with people putting in half the effort. The songs require 110 percent. At the core we're a power pop band with a little bit of prog here and there.
Did you dress up the guys in your clothes for your band photo?
No, that was planned! That was a jokey joke plan. I bought Jeff a shirt but that's it.
Does the band have a plan?
There's no big plan, but there's a lot of effort. We're going to play more and we're looking for the right show. Everyone's been in bands and I'm a control freak. I want to find the right approach to how we do L.A. We're going to play in the DiY scene. We built a giant midi-controller. It's a 6 panel 6 button thing. It's a big board with Frisbees. You press the Frisbees and they light up and the sound happens.
What does the DiY scene mean to you?
There's a slight difference between that and the indie scene. There's a different spirit in the DiY audience and artists. I would like to think there's a tiny bit less pretense and a more visceral connection to music for audience and artist. There's less of the standoffishness that defines certain indie bands and shows. I don't feel that way with the DiY people. At Pehrspace when we played, kids were moshing and freaking out. I say kids because they're probably just out of the cage. That felt way more DiY than shows I normally play. I think that's kind of at the nucleus of the band. Everything is in-house. There's contrivance in most bands but we don't have those things and I don't think we're going to acquire them soon. We're going balls deep into these songs.
Catch Phyiscal Forms on October 23 at Echoplex and November 4 at The Smell.
Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.