w/ The Stores, Room 101
Thurs May 17
Here are some key elements that define the music of Garmonbozia (generalized version): Extended, spacy jams. Groovy Moog keyboard and Rhodes piano. Psychedelic harmonies that fill up a room like smoke in space. Ten- and 20-minute songs.
On paper, that sounds like my own personal hell.
In actuality, Garmonbozia is one of those rare bands that can take ideas and elements similar to those of musicians like Pink Floyd and Frank Zappa (or Stereolab and Flaming Lips), and make really beautiful, symphonically funky music, subtly piecing parts together like a collage. Their music is their own, and completely separate from any crippling nostalgia.
Garmonbozia has six members: Eric Earley and Marty Marquis (guitar, vocals), Tao Jones (drums), Drew Laughery (Rhodes), Dutch DeFuca (bass), and Erik Menteer (Moog, viola, tambourine). Eric Earley is their primary songwriter, however, and he got the idea to form the band because well because God told him to. "About a year ago, I had a really bad fever, and I hallucinated for six days. One night, I propped furniture up against the door because I thought people were trying to get in," Earley explains. "When the fever broke, I had a vision that God came to me and said 'You should start playing music.' I was studying mathematics and physics at the time, but I quit school to play music."
"I play music because I had a vision from Eric," jokes Laughery.
More elements that make up the music of Garmonbozia (specified version): On their song "Lover Leave Me," they build drama with sparkly, asymmetrical harmonies, and where most bands would just keep singing louder on the never-ending path of crescendo, they cut off with a rattlesnakey Moog twiddle. Then they start breaking glass. (Note: glass-breaking is in recordings; not guaranteed at shows.)
Garmonbozia is one of those bands that, when you're seeing them live, you are impressed at how full their sound can be. It's not until the second or third listen that you realize their music is so developed because of layers of subtleties, instead of loud amplifiers or one-dimensional bombast.
"I like the abstract incorporated into music, kind of like John Cage and the making of music from non-music. It's a collage--vocal melodies, tempo changes. The only continuity comes from self-referencing the songs," says Laughery.
Earley says, "I like to keep it so it's not messy, so that not everything is going on at once. I like orchestration." When I ask him if being schooled in math helps him to compose music, he responds, "I don't like to talk about math, because most people don't know math. When you think of math, you probably think of something totally different from what I think of, because you haven't studied it. But it's all the same thing to me. Art, philosophy, physics, music--it's all the same thing.
"But," he continues, "that's why I like having a six-piece band. It gives us the ability to put in different sounds at different times: guitar, Moog, viola"
"Chaps," Laughery interjects.
"Chaps," Earley agrees. "Buttless chaps."
Now there's the real reason Garmonbozia is great. They're jammy, yet they know when to quit jamming. They experiment, yet the structure of their music is carefully composed. And, unlike most bands that are compared to '70s AM radio favorites, they don't take themselves too seriously. Because come on. Do you think David Gilmour would wear buttless chaps?