Jeff Byron of Physical Forms
Hey Jeff, Happy New Year! Thanks so much for taking the time out to talk.
Physical Forms are a pretty new outfit, give us a brief history of who you are and how you got together.
A couple of years ago, after the Mae Shi quit touring, I was on a mission to find musicians, composers, and vocalists that were as committed as I was. I worked with many, but no one could match Regan’s ambition, work ethic, and devotion. Everyone else in the band were friends of ours. People we’ve known or played with for a long time. Marcus toured with the Mae Shi, Marty I went to highschool with, and Jay is my roommate. So it more or less just fell into place.
If you had to sum up your sound in three words, what would they be?
I think every composer and musician hates this question. Or they should, if they have a love for their music that they don’t think of in adjectives or descriptions. It’s much easier for someone hearing some music to come up with quick answers, but even then it depends on whether they analyzing the music or speaking casually about it (maybe it’s different for people who dance rather than just listen…I don’t know!) So far there’s been a few interesting point of view of our music. Many people say it sounds poppy, fun, and even simple (mostly musicians), while other people say it sounds complicated, proggy, and deliberate. Sometimes when first coming up with a song idea i literally just mash my fingers on a keyboard and then sculpt it into something, so you could say we are both haphazard and calculated at the same time. What I would WANT people to think is that we are fun, yet interesting and engaging. However, I don’t think we are considering this too much when we are in the trenches of writing.
You all come from various musical accomplishments (including Regan Farquhar who is better known as rap artist Busdriver.) How did you match up all your different styles?
Probably the most incongruous match-up was between me and Regan, but it was actually he and I who exchanged the idea.
You introduced us to “The Sound Glovener” in your live show in November, any more stage-worthy DIY instruments in the pipeline?
Oh yes! Many many instruments. We have another instrument that we call “Big Buttons” that was our attempt to build a giant light-up music and sound trigger. It is still incomplete and only works as an aesthetic light-up display on stage. It is big though, 2/3rds the size of the biggest stage we’ve played on so far. We have some other priorities over finishing it (like putting the record out), Right now I’m working on a synthesizer that outputs scrambled video using the sound which we might use for projections as well as a keyboard. I could go on and on…
Your song “Wax On” is pretty epic. What is the writing process like?
To be honest, I first came up with this idea intending it to be a Mae Shi song. My brother, Tim Byron (Mae Shi alumn) wrote the lyrics for it. This song sprung from the aforementioned “keyboard-mash” technique. The music takes many turns after its conception, of course. It needs to be filtered through the other members as well as elaborated by them. At least this is how things have happened so far. Who knows what will change.
You released a split 7” with Deerhoof late last year, can we expect any more collaborations?
I hope so! We are looking at a split with No Babies, a band that just toured the UK last year.
Who/what are you listening to at the moment?
Nothing! As an occupational composer I spend so much my working on music that I appreciate silence or just listening to the sounds around me.
What can we expect from Physical Forms in 2012?
A full length record. A new video. I’m not sure what else, hopefully some shows out of town if not a tour. We are putting so many resources into fund raising for the record that we are even neglecting rehearsals. We are looking at doing a self release, since good labels are few and far between these days, and many are scraping by already.
Interview by Alexandra Sewell