The Pharmacy: Over the Counter
A chronic case of the doldrums is a common problem here in the sun starved Pacific Northwest. Even though spring is knocking at the door, you need more than a smile to be your umbrella. The blues (or grays in our case) can be treated with a variety of medicinal and non-medicinal options: happy lights, tryptophan supplements, B Karate flicks, a new Vitamix blender, and Prozac, just to name a few. However, if the aforementioned remedies don’t meet your needs, and over-the-counter drugs are simply too inconvenient, get thee to the medicinal melodies of The Pharmacy.
Founded in 2002, local Vashon boys Scott Yoder and Brendhan Bowers began applying their own musical version of island cure-alls during their freshman and junior years of high school. Known for its uber hippie vibe and renowned hacky sack exhibitions, Vashon Island is only a hop, skip, and short ferry ride from the musically rich landscape of Seattle.
“We were discovered at our high school during a mold outbreak. We played the lunchtime protest. I think a math teacher unplugged us,” says lead guitarist and vocalist Scott Yoder, on how the group was first discovered.
Notable local influences, including Nirvana, left an enviable impression on the duo at a young age, and contributed to the initial garage/punk sound that developed during the early years of the group’s rise to celebrity.
After completing their first U.S. tour in 2005, backing up Kimya Dawson of the group Moldy Peaches, the Vashon-based up-and-comers put their efforts into the studio, which resulted in the release of the Overcast Summer 7″ EP.
The addition of classically trained pianist Stefan Rubicz in 2007 advanced the band’s initial musical leanings towards garage chic to more danceable, eclectic beats, catapulting them into the hearts of Capitol Hill Block Party goers everywhere.
The levies broke from under the Western Washington trio in 2009 and uprooted their digs to New Orleans, where they recorded the LP “The Weekend,” which Seattle’s The Stranger described as “the strongest, most consistent record the band has ever made” that “continues to move even further away from their basement-punk beginnings, experimenting with a more mellow, sometimes psychedelic sound laced with sweet harmonies.”
Even more consistent is lead singer Scott Yoder’s affinity for comedy. The rapier wit of the Pharmacy’s founding member delivers his own smug version of humor when describing the unusual places the group has played since taking to both national and international tours. That includes a former Nazi bunker as well as various Evergreen State College dorm rooms – Yoder said alluding to incredible or implausible locations the Pharmacy has played (or NOT played) according to the brunette songster.
“We played a bathroom stall in Oakland a while ago where people were hanging from the stalls and breaking open glow-sticks, spraying it all over the walls.”
Yoder continues, “Our friend was naked except for a shirt and a sock, flailing his penis about.Weird vibes. I think Stefan played halfway inside the stall and took a pee between songs.”
Penis flailings and bathroom stalls don’t diminish the Pharmacy’s rise to success. The group has toured Europe three times and performed in 18 different countries.
Released in February, Dig Your Grave EP, part of Stoned and Alone (also the response from Yoder as to how he would describe the band in three words), is the trio’s most recent release. The album came to be as a result of two European tours and a stint with Daytrotter at SXSW. In fact side A of the Dig Your Grave includes two songs recorded at Jack Endino’s Soundhouse Studio a la Seattle. The tracks were produced by Brian Eggleston, the guide for a little known group called Modest Mouse.
When asked the for the three words that might describe the lads of the Pharmacy, Yoder relates their semblance to an ancient, fire-breathing god, “Cerberus, that three-headed dog that guards the underworld.”
Guarding the Pharmacy’s world on the other hand is no Olympian flame-shooter. Success and recognition have relied on location, location, location – some ingenuity, and beaucoup amounts of hard work, as well as a handful of chocolates laced with psilocybin mushrooms.
Their world is on track to collide with our North Puget Sound universe when the Pharmacy graces our presence with their Sailor hats and pastel scarves on April 6 at the Old Foundry. Bring your mobile hair straightener, your best St. John’s Bay blazer, and the keys to your parent’s luxury SUV.
For more about the band, visit www.parkthevan.com/pharmacy.