INTERVIEW: Stephanie Stevens talks with Jacksonville, FL band Pharmacose as they talk about the bands new EP. Prescription Fiction Vol. 1 and much more! - READ IT HERE
PHARMACOSE a band that has emotionally tells you a story into the world of mental illness from suffering of bipolar disorder and the side of effects of medications linked to that disorder, on the bands EP, PRESCRIPTION FICTION VOL. 1
The band hails from Jacksonville, FL and not only do they create lyrical content that relates to many suffering from these very important disorders, but they wrap a solid rock n roll vibe to the stories that not only uplifts you but sends you on a voyage of airy, vibrant and sonically elegant soundscapes.
It was a pleasure getting to deepen myself into the music on the bands newly released EP, PRESCRIPTION FICTION VOL. 1 but also getting to chat with frontman Wes Jones about the subject matter, how the rest of his band members found him and created Pharmacose, new music and other interesting things about this up n coming frontman and band.
PHARMACOSE is a pretty intense band name especially linking the words Pharmaceutical and Comatose together. What does this band name mean to you as a founder of the band?
Wes: I came up with the name when I was reflecting on my medication regimen. It had really just gotten optimized. It takes a while. They have good, cheap medicine to control the mania, but the depression is a different animal. So, for a while, I was kind of on the low end of the spectrum, and it was draining. I was resentful of my diagnosis because I just didn’t feel quite right. I started to wonder if I was always going to feel that way. Eventually things improved when the regimen got tweaked, so I started to feel a lot better.
Was it true you almost gave up on music and what moment was it that made you realize this could be an outlet to help others and how empowering has it been writing and finishing this EP PRESCRIPTION FICTION VOL. 1?
Very true. I think the diagnosis really shook my foundations. I started to feel like life was too short not to pursue something you’re passionate about. I met Lu Rubino, our producer and bassist, through a friend near the end of 2017 and we’ve been working together ever since, but it’s taken a while to get to this point. I just hope that people who are struggling listen and feel like they are not alone. Hopefully, it will inspire those people to get help if they need it.
Your story about being depressive through your life and then being diagnosed with Bi Polar disorder what can you tell people who are dealing with feelings of lost loneliness and how important is it for them to get help and any prominent first steps to do especially in this day and age?
I think that although things have come a long way with regard to stigma, the stigma is still there, and it makes the initial first step to getting help difficult, maybe even to the point where they don’t get help until they have self-harmed. Also, when you are depressed, you just don’t want to do anything. You feel hopeless, and that can impede the first step as well. I hope our music can give those people who happen to listen that initial push they need to set them on the path to treatment.
What is your background as a musician I heard you were in Chicago making music before heading to Florida. Why the state change and how do you view this band and your old band?
I grew up playing violin, playing in orchestras through college. I picked up the guitar somewhere along the way though, and violin took a backseat after I graduated. I moved to Florida from Chicago for work. I also got sick of the cold! I played with a punk band up there called Cuddle Riot, but I also did my own thing with a couple of friends. We called ourselves Harbourview. Some of the music from Harbourview has made its way to Pharmacose. Those were the songs I initially took to Lu to record.
Another interesting thing I heard about you is you’re a forensic doctor? Is this true and what has your life been like in 2020 with everything going on?
Not quite! I am a pathologist, but I do surgical pathology mostly. We examine tissue—biopsies, cancer resections, that sort of thing—under the microscope and diagnose disease. Our practice is dependent on elective surgeries, so when those got canceled, we got really slow. Basically part-time. Things have picked back up, though.
Your new EP PRESCRIPTION FICTION VOL. 1 and most recently your new video for CHECKED OUT the bands 2nd single not only talks about these important topics but in the video you visual bring it to life. How important was it for you to create a video like this?
It was important to be to give some visual imagery to the message. I don’t feel like we always have to talk about mental illness, but I think it’s definitely part of our roots. So, I think to try to bring that to life in a video was an important step for us. I think it adds more to the message.
It seems the artwork for singles and the EP is a pretty loud cry to your outlook on the issues. Who does the artwork for you and what do you hope fans and people in general walk away with everything to do with the band?
I thought it was important to keep things consistent with our message, at least for this cycle of songs. All our artwork is done by our friend Buster O’Connor. I basically give him free reign. I don’t like to impinge creatively on others. That especially includes Lu, Kevin Horne (our lead guitarist) and Albert Cruz (our drummer). I hope that the art just adds to the message, and listeners are encouraged to get help, should they need it.
With everything about the music and your story that is being brought to life through the songs you also have grouped together a bunch of talented musicians to form PHARMACOSE. How did you all meet and what was the biggest gem you found in each member to make them a fit into this band?
I mentioned earlier how I got together with Lu. For a while it was just us. We were in the studio when we could be, but we had to work nights and weekends mostly, so it took a lot of time to get things down. Lu has known Albert for years, and we initially used him just to track drums, but there came a point where we wanted to get a live act going, so he joined. Albert comes from a progressive rock background, so he adds some technicality to our playing. I think he has put together some interesting parts that add a lot of musicality to our music. I later found Kevin on Craigslist, and he’s been with us ever since. Kevin comes from more of a metal background, and I love it. He gives us an edge that I think we need, given our subject matter. For whatever reason, sometimes we I write something, it can end up being a little softer than what I had originally meant. I think Kevin’s background gives it the push it needs to sound a bit harder.
One song that truly stood out for me on the record was I KEEP DREAMING OF THE SUN. what inspired this song and how easy was the creative process to get this song finished?
We recorded that song about the same time I came up with the name Pharmacose, so it sort of represents the headspace I mentioned earlier about coming up with the name of the band. Whereas the song “The Clearing” ends up sounding a little more optimistic, I Keep Dreaming of the Sun is more on the pessimistic side. It’s the yin and yang. It comes from an angry and resentful set of emotions that I think are only natural. For me, the optimism has won out, but there are always those residual negative emotions that you have to take in stride. That song was also the first song we wrote and recorded as a band, so I think it has a unique vibe to it. It sounds a little metal, but the verse is a little on the lighter side; it illustrates the diversity of our music backgrounds.
Since this EP is a Vol. 1 do you have creative ideas already for either another EP or a full-length album and if so, do you feel the music and vibe will stay pretty true to what we hear on this disc?
Part 2 is done! We will release our first single, “Does It Matter?” from Part 2 on 7/3, so it’s coming soon! I think you’ll hear a similar vibe in the music, but in contrast with Part 1, Part 2 speaks to what I went through more indirectly. For instance, our first two singles deal more with relationships, both distant past and more recent past. There is also “Smash,” which is a little more abstract. It deals more with some interesting metaphysical ideas that I’ve come across.
Lastly, anything new on the horizon for PHARMACOSE with more releases or videos or live stream stuff happening and where can people buy or stay up to date with your band?
I mentioned that we will start releasing songs for Part 2 in July. We’ll release that EP in the fall, and toward the end of the year we are going to put Parts 1 and 2 together to complete the full record. We’ll also add some bonus tracks to it. Our second video, for “The Clearing,” just came out 6/9 also. So, we have a lot of material coming out and we are writing more material for next year as well! People can check us out on Facebook and Instagram for news and to stay current!
Look here for the newest releases and news in the Rock, Metal and Alternative genres!