Debuting this summer, the electronic-pop band Fast Planet created something new on the local music scene out of something old.
Three members of the band — Jared Rawlinson, Will Deshazo, and Brandon Herrington — first began playing together in the college-era band Dora more than a decade ago. And that trio joined with the fourth Fast Planet member Landon Moore — and singer Seth Hendricks — in one-time local hopefuls This is Goodbye, a band that had its heyday in the middle of the past decade.
Those were arty but generally conventional indie-rock bands. With the electronic-based Fast Planet, Rawlinson, Deshazo, Herrington, and Moore decided to reinvent themselves.
This is Goodbye played its last show in 2010, a “reunion” gig of sorts inspired by the use of songs from its 2006 EP Shapes & Numbers in the local film Daylight Fades.
“This is Goodbye was given a whole lot of opportunity with a lot of really talented people, but we couldn’t really get exactly what we wanted and ended up working for three or four years on the EP,” says Deshazo. “It just burned us all out.”
“[Deshazo and Moore] were already writing music like this, on a small scale, as This is Goodbye was winding down,” Rawlinson says. “We all knew we weren’t going to do that anymore. A couple of weeks later [the four of us] got together and started experimenting.”
Deshazo, always a keyboard player, and Moore, typically a bass player, were experimenting with electronic music in duo form, using a grid-like device called a Monome and Ableton Live software. Initially they thought of doing an instrumental project, and then thought about inviting different local artists to do guest vocals, but ultimately brought old bandmates Rawlinson and Herrington on board.
“I think I was obligated by default to be a part of it,” Herrington says with a laugh.
“We had a few rehearsals where we tried to continue playing our instruments and then one of us just said, ‘Let’s try doing everything electronic,’” Rawlinson, the drummer in the earlier bands, remembers. “Let’s just go and be uncomfortable doing something we don’t necessarily know how to do yet.”
Only Herrington, who plays guitar, is sticking to his traditional instrument, and he’s exploring new territory in Fast Planet as a lead singer.
“I sang backup in This is Goodbye, but I had never been on lead vocals,” says Herrington. “That was an experiment too. They said, ‘Why don’t you try to throw some vocals on this?’ and I sat down and wrote some scratch lyrics. By the end of the night we were throwing down vocals. We got excited thinking this could actually be a band thing.”
The nascent band recorded their debut album, Jes, in a makeshift backroom studio at Deshazo’s Cordova house and gave it a soft, Internet-only release in February, before having an official release this summer.
This electronic album is not dance music — the utilitarian descriptive that became synonymous with “techno” or “electronica” for most novices. It’s part synth-pop, part art-rock, part stately ambient mood piece — an impressive piece of work for a group of musicians who had never done anything quite like it before.
“The whole album was definitely a learning process,” Deshazo says. “We started from zero. The test of what we learned was that by the end of it we had an album. It morphed about five times throughout the process until we ended up with the album that we had.”
But then the band found themselves in the odd spot of having a completed album without having ever played a live show.
“We got the record down and we were like, ‘All right! Now how are we going to do this live?’” Moore says. “And the exact same process started over completely. I brought my bass in, Jared brought his drums in.”
“Within about 30 minutes we’d scrapped both of those instruments,” Rawlinson says with a laugh.
With the album done, the band spent a few months in Deshazo’s garage, figuring out how to reproduce their sound on the stage.
“It’s funny because we’re nothing like a garage-rock band,” Moore says. “His neighbors probably thought, ‘Hmm, that doesn’t sound like a normal band rehearsing in a garage.’”
Live, Fast Planet features Herrington on guitar and lead vocals, Deshazo and Moore on multiple keyboards and other gadgets geared up to play a legion of sounds, and Rawlinson as a DJ/conductor of sorts, managing the musical flow. They’ve also devised a light show.
“We hope it’s too big for [small clubs],” Deshazo says.
“Like the seams of the building have lights shooting out,” Rawlinson jokes.