If you go
What: Major Powers & The Lo-Fi Symphony
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
Where: McMenamins Old St. Francis School, 700 N.W. Bond St., Bend
Contact: www.mcmenamins.com or 541-382-5174
If Ben Folds, Weezer and the surviving members of Queen were to gather somehow and form a supergroup, it might sound something like Major Powers & The Lo-Fi Symphony, a Bay Area power-pop trio playing Wednesday at McMenamins Old St. Francis School, the band’s first trip to Bend (see “If you go”).
The three — brothers Kevin (guitar) and Dylan Gautschi (drums) and Nicholas “Nick” Jarvis Powers (piano) — grew up in the East Bay town of Crockett, Calif., and range from their late 20s to early 30s.
“We’re old guys, for the rock industry. We don’t care. We charge on,” said Powers, who writes the songs. He describes Crockett as a “meth-addled, dying factory town,” but also one with a fun historical fact: Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong went to their high school, albeit before their time (they’re not that old).
Over the years, Powers and the Gautschi brothers played in different bands; they began marshaling forces about three years ago when their contemporaries moved on.
“Through the attrition … we were like the last three standing,” Powers said. “You know, like as people either figure out that they suck or they shift focus. Whatever it is, people drop out of the game, and … I was writing new songs for a new project, and we all just kind of got together.”
Actually, Powers and drummer Dylan were already collaborating as The Terrible Two, and when Kevin moved back to California after living in France for a while, they added him on guitar and the Lo-Fi Symphony was born.
If you mention Queen and Weezer as sounding like they could be among MP&TLFS’s influences, Powers will not disagree.
“You pretty much nailed it,” he said. “Kevin probably likes (Queen) the most.”
The self-taught pianist counts among his influences Disney movies, musicals and ’90s rock, “kind of all smashed together … it kind of comes out the other end,” Powers said. “We’ve had a lot of reviews with Queen comparisons. While we’re definitely influenced by them, I like to think Queen was probably influenced by the same s--t. What were Brian May and Freddy Mercury listening to? Certainly (they were) listening to classical music and what rock bands were doing before them. I mean, jeez, they were probably listening to jazz and Django Reinhardt.”
Other than the mentioned influences, Powers was not exactly a geeked-out music consumer growing up.
“I never bought records,” he said. “I mean, I love music. I played piano a lot and listened to my dad’s records.”
Attention aspiring screenwriters: The way Powers acquired and learned to play piano could be fodder for a moving Hallmark movie.
“We did not have a lot of money growing up,” he said. “I was interested in piano … and my mom was a cleaning lady. My dad was — I’m piling on — but my dad was in prison. We weren’t doing great.
“My mom cleaned a family’s house for a whole summer for their piano. She got me it. Before I had a piano, she started me on some lessons, and she drew a piano on a piece of cardboard for me. I mean, it didn’t totally count as practice, but I would sort of try to figure out fingering.”
Powers took a few lessons at age 8 or 9, but he was in a class with 13-year-olds. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, these, like, grownups,’” he said. He quit, and instead started trying to learn “what note went with what chord” on his own.
Needless to say, he figured it all out. For those who want a preview of what’s in store Wednesday you can preview six songs from the band’s 13-song debut at lofisymphony.com/music. And if you like it, you’re welcome to download the whole album.
“Maybe it’s kind of, unconsciously, my way of giving back for having pirated plenty of stuff myself,” Powers said. “This is my way of being a pirate with a conscience. We probably lost a few grand or something from offering it for free, but people do donate pretty frequently.”
Once you have some familiarity with Lo-Fi Symphony’s stuff, get ready to rock on Wednesday. But don’t expect them to wear jumpsuits.
“That’s where the Queen comparisons stop,” Powers said. “We don’t wear jumpsuits and dance around the stage. I sit at a piano, Kevin stands at a mic … and Dylan just has a wonderful face, and it’s fun to watch him behind the drums.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0349, firstname.lastname@example.org