My New Band – Pico Farad

Posted on: January 1st, 2018 by Gretchen Phillips No Comments

An amazing thing has happened: I have a new band. Well, newish. I guess we’re really more than a year old, but you internet folks might not know of our existence. Let me tell you a little bit about it, shall I?

I have been working really hard to get my pretty vast archives into good order, and to get them placed into institutions where they can be perused much more easily than they can be when they’re all cloistered up in my house. I mean, you don’t have access to them, and there might be stuff in there that you’d like to see. Stuff like old posters, old press and even lots of video footage of live performances thru the years.

I had amazing help from a wonderful Houstonian going to Smith who came to Austin for two weeks and worked her butt off to beautifully catalogue my stuff. We have a common interest in Russian music and a common chip on our shoulder about some folks not understanding that there have always been queer artists, activists and vibrant queer life in Texas. Really. All my love goes out to the great Sarah Orsak!

But then I needed to get some Austin folks to help me still after Sarah left. So, Lauren Walker from the Harry Ransom Center was recommended to me. We’re also a perfect fit and we were able to finish my stuff up for Cornell. Right on!

And also, Lauren mentioned to me one day that she plays music, too. Cool, I said. Let’s jam sometime. Well, I wasn’t prepared for just what kind of music Lauren lays down. I don’t really know how to describe it…she pulses and texturizes her sweet little cheapo Yamaha thru lots of effects and it’s so damn listenable. For the sake of mobility, I just brought my Baby Taylor and a $5 plywood SilverTone amp I bought at a garage sale over to her place. Plus, of course, I also brought a bunch of pedals. Lauren and I started jamming and droning and making lots of slow builds. It was/is mesmerizing to get to be inside it. We’d get on a roll and then easily 20 or 30 minutes would have gone by. I freaking love it.

At the end of our first jam I made a joke that what we’re doing is cool, but it needs one more element…something incongruent…something to maybe hang your hat on…how about classic country songs? Why not drone awhile and then I’ll sing a country song and Lauren may or may not play along in the same key? So then we tried that and we love it. We’ve had a few shows, mostly at Cheer Up Charlie’s. Our goal is to do durational performance art. So, we like to play without any break for the amount of time allotted. Once we played for two hours straight. And Thor Harris sat right there on the floor of the club upright without any backing for his back and watched the whole two hours! I love that guy.

Doing this band is helping me stretch out time and structure on the other music I’m doing, too. Why do things the way I always have? I want to change stuff up. I want to constantly be growing.

I thought that playing in a band with a woman half my age would mean that she would be all web-savvy and post stuff about how great we are all the time. WRONG! Lauren is not into social media. Good for her. So that leaves it up to me, the old lady, and we know how reticent I can be to share over the internet. But Lauren did set us up a page on SoundCloud that has a few of our iPhone recordings from some rehearsals. We also recorded more formally over at Rob Halverson’s studio. That was great. We did 4 songs and the total recording is, like, 69 minutes. But once I listen to the whole thing I just want more! So, I want to record another 60+ minutes worth and then we’ll release it. So, in the meantime…please enjoy the SoundCloud. And come see us if you live in Austin. We’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but there are some folks who really enjoy what we’re serving up.

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