For nearly 20 years, Pataphysics singer Pat Healy has been a vital part of why you can still call Austin “weird.” Beginning in 2000 with his band The Oblong Boys, who unplugged gas station ice machines so they could plug in their synthesizers and play to the unsuspecting people filling up their tanks, Pat’s music has had a playful-but-dark edge to it.
To be specific, some might say he and a rotating series of talented groups have produced what’s called zolo music— a hyper, synthy, blips-and-blops, Zappa-obsessed, Todd Rundgren worshipping genre. Devo, Sparks, Captain Beefheart, The Fall, early XTC, and Oingo Boingo are be big influences. The Austin Chronicle once helpfully called The Oblong Boys “the city’s answer to The Residents.”
On two subsequent Christmas Days (2001 and 2002), while waiting for the Oblong record to be mixed, Pat and Chad Allen of The Oblong Boys recorded 23 songs on a 4-track in a garage at Chad’s house. They made CD’s of these songs (the label credited a band called Zom-Zoms, and the title was “Lumbomba’s Tube”) and passed them out at Oblong shows. They claimed the recordings were of “some friends who died in a fiery wreck and one of them was a pizza delivery driver and another was an encyclopedia salesman and they were in Tuba city, Arizona.” This was the birth of Zom-Zoms.
A solo project called Pataphysics eventually evolved into a band, resulting in 2008’s Take A Look Out Your Window and 2015’s breakthrough My Phone’s About To Die (on cassette). Along they way, Pataphysics developed a tremendous reputation as live act, particularly Healy, who The Austin Chronicle once compared to a fire hose. They were also banned from several venues. At their core, you have to understand, Pataphysics are a punk band. Synthesizers and bright colors don’t equal cuddly and cute.
They’ve been working hard on new material, and have recently recorded a tremendous collection of work with Paul Millar. 2019 they will release an EP as well as a new full-length on First Humans Records. More details to come soon.