You summon that heavy-metal-but-high-ballin’ sound of Deep Purple circa Machine Head, cover it with sweet thick-fug mysterioso, swell up the organ, and top off with a commanding female wailing through astral planes and supreme beings and insistent metaphysics. That’s Pharlee, San Diego’s newest heavy rock supergroup.
- Wednesday, May 15, 2019, 8 p.m.
1903 S. Coast Highway,
This conglomerate, celebrating their self-titled debut record May 15 at the Pour House Oceanside with LOOM and DJ Lexicon Devil, calls itself “psychedelic speed rock,” and with props to Purple, they also count Motörhead, Judas Priest, and even Betty Davis as influences.
“Damn, that sounds pretty good,” chuckles singer Macarena Rivera at the assemblage of influences above.
“I guess our sound has a really good blend of the fast metal sound we love, but gets some of our bluesy psychedelic background intertwined.”
Pharlee consists of guitarist Justin “Figgy” Figueroa (Harsh Toke, Arctic), bassist Dylan Donavan (Sacri Monti), Zach Oakley (guitarist for Joy and Volcano, covering drums here), Garrett Lekas (Operation Mindblow) on the keys, and Rivera on lead vocals and astral tropes.
“I’m also in another band called the Budrows,” recounts Rivera, “that’s actually how I met Figgy. I was like, maybe 17 or 18? We were playing Death Match at SXSW and so was Harsh Toke. We reconnected a few years later and he told me he wanted to start a band.”
“He had this guy moving down from Portland, Jooce [who now plays in Petyr and Warish] to drum and Dylan [from Sacri Monti] to play bass, and I’d sing. We always wanted a key player, so later on Garrett joined us and Zach started drumming with us as well.”
Early tracks such as “Ethereal Woman” and “Creeping Hour” find the band in full-on chemical-storm mode, Rivera keeping a lid on things, just barely, as the instrumental quartet fulminates, concusses, and belches thick but fast solos. The intro “Warning,” however, finds a few acoustic axes out of their cases, for a cooler take which melds Zeppelin’s “The Battle of Evermore” with Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan.”
Regarding the distinctive moniker with its distinct spelling. “Originally we called ourselves the Writ,” Rivera explains. “But, that was dumb. I think it was our friend Rowan who brought up Pharlee. Everyone was in a heavy Chris Farley movie phase. Kinda started as a joke, and then it stuck.”