When the local quartet Fast Planet makes their live debut at the Hi-Tone Café this week, you might recognize some of the musicians onstage, but you won't have seen them in quite this format.
Three members of the band — Jared Rawlinson, Will Deshazo, and Brandon Herrington (no relation to this writer) — began playing together in the college-era band Dora more than a decade ago. That trio joined with the fourth Fast Planet member, Landon Moore — and singer Seth Hendricks — in onetime local hopefuls This Is Goodbye. Those were arty but generally conventional indie-rock bands. With the electronic-based Fast Planet, Rawlinson, Deshazo, Herrington, and Moore have 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 get exactly what we wanted and ended up working for three or four years on the EP," Deshazo says. "It 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 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 they 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, but 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," Herrington says. "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. CD copies of the album will be available at their Hi-Tone show this week, ahead of a national release next month.
This electronic album is not dance music — the utilitarian descriptive that's become synonymous with "techno" or "electronica" for most novices. It's part synth-pop, part art-rock, part stately ambient mood piece — impressive 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."
Now, the band finds itself 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 has 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. Will's neighbors probably thought, Hmm, that doesn't sound like a normal band rehearsing in a garage."
Live, Fast Planet will feature 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 the Hi-Tone," Deshazo says.
"Like the seams of the building have lights shooting out," Rawlinson jokes.
Friday, June 29th, 9 p.m.; $7