About the Band:
Pharmacose is a collaborative alternative rock project hailing from Jacksonville, FL. The project– a portmanteau of “pharmaceutical” and “comatose” –began as a collaborative effort between Jones and producer and bassist Lucio Rubino. Frequent collaborators include drummer Albert Cruz and guitarist Kevin Horne, who also round out their live act. They have previously released material under the name Digital Array.
Jones, a Memphis native, formed Pharmacose in 2017 with producer Lu Rubino shortly after moving to Jacksonville to pursue new career opportunities. Rubino, a veteran producer and bassist, has worked with Paramore, Storyside B, and The Showdown, among many others. Their creative process was chiefly inspired by Jones, a medical doctor, and his past struggles with mental illness.
Drawing on such themes as reintegration to life in the wake of acute mental health episodes and the side effects of psychiatric medication, Pharmacose wields its brand of rock to let those suffering from mental illness know that they are not alone. The group hopes to empower people to seek help, push through, and move from isolation toward connection.
What brought the band together?
I had kind of bottomed out after a manic episode I had several years ago. I’ve been a musician all my life, having grown up playing the violin and later bass and guitar. Before I moved to Jacksonville, I was in a band in Chicago and had written a fair amount of music. The good that came out of the episode is that it taught me that I really need to seize the day, so I decided to record the songs. A mutual friend put me in contact with Lu, our producer, and he and I have been working together ever since. We eventually recruited Albert and Kevin, who played on the record and are part of our live act.
How was the name selected?
It’s a combination of pharmaceutical and comatose. It represents how I felt as I was getting my life back together. My medicine cocktail hadn’t been optimized. I wasn’t manic, and I wasn’t necessarily depressed, but I also didn’t great. I just felt in limbo. So I started thinking about that and came up with that name.
What are your musical influences? What albums had the biggest impact on your music and life so far?
The album that got me playing guitar was Jar of Flies by Alice in Chains. A hard rock/grunge band that recorded an acoustic album sounds like it wouldn’t be great, but to me it’s their best work. Another big one for me is Deloused in the Comatorium by The Mars Volta. Awesome music, and I’m a sucker for concept albums. The Downward Spiral is another big one. I love the combination of synths and rock. The album we’re about to release, Prescription Fiction, doesn’t have a ton of synths, but I’ve been incorporating more synths into the stuff that’s coming out after this album, digital and analog.
What was the first song that you recorded? Why did you choose THAT song? What was the inspiration through mastering experience?
The first song we recorded as Pharmacose was Checked Out. As I mentioned, I had a pretty bad manic episode in 2017, and after that, I was really trying to reboot myself. “Checked Out” is about how I felt during that time in my life. My medication regimen hadn’t been optimized, so I wasn’t feeling bad, but I wasn’t feeling very good either. I had isolated myself, mostly playing video games. By this point, Lu and I had done a fair amount of songs together for Digital Array, the predecessor to Pharmacose, but we wanted to try something different. Lu and I wrote and recorded it in one session. I didn’t bring anything specific to record that day. I had a musical idea, and Lu and I just took it and kept expanding on it. While he was working on the bridge, I had started to write the lyrics and I wasn’t sure where they were going. During a break, Lu and I were chatting, and he used the phrase “checked out” while we were talking about how I had been feeling, and I jumped on that idea and finished writing the lyrics. “Checked Out” is about escapism, be it through video games or social media, and avoiding the real world. And that’s kind of what I did during the early days after that episode.
Talk about your most recent release: name, style, date, etc.
Smash was just released on 1/28. The music for it has been written for a very long time, but I just had not gotten around to recording it with Lu until a couple of years ago. When I was trying to decide what to write the lyrics about, I felt that we had done a lot on mental health, so I wanted to branch out a bit. I have always been interested in what I call the “fun conspiracy theories,” notably things such as UFOs, ancient aliens, the Mothman, etc. I wanted to explore that interest some more. I came to realize that reading about those subjects made me feel very isolated since it’s not a mainstream way of thinking. It made me a bit sad to think that. It made me wonder how many people were knowledgeable in this area but took this information to the grave because no one was interested in hearing about it. These realizations were the literal “smash.” The irony is that now I feel a bit more justified due to all the information about UFOs that came out over the summer. I suppose that the sentiment this song conveys is a bit dated now with all this crazy footage being released, but I think the feelings of isolation are legitimate. I’m by no means saying that I think aliens are here and the Mothman exists, but I think we should be open to the notion that the normal person has no idea about what’s really going on. There’s another reason why I wanted to go down this path, but I’ll talk more about that in March.
What new bands are you listening to right now? How did you find them (inspire fans to look deeper)?
It’s bad to say, but I don’t know how many new bands I’ve found lately. I’ve been spending so much time in my studio lately working on the stuff that’s coming out later in the year that I haven’t really focused on looking. Lately, I’ve only been listening to Spotify playlists on my way to train. I need to be better about that.
What’s on the horizon?
Our LP, Prescription Fiction, comes out 2/18 on all streaming platforms. We’ll have another single coming with that release called Pretty Porcelain. I’m really excited about that. But directly after that in March, we’ll start releasing new music monthly for the foreseeable future. Several songs are already done, but we still have work to do. That’s one of the reasons we don’t really have any live shows planned for this album release. There’s something else coming also to go with this new music, but I’ll talk more about that in March. More to come!