FARMER DAVE SCHER may be better known to you from the string of excellent bands he’s both been in and collaborated with down the years.
He was a member of the brilliant West Coast country-psych outfit Beachwood Sparks, who took on Sade’s “By Your Side” and completely won (and actually chaps, while we’re here, could we have a vinyl reissue of Once We Trees, pretty please? Thank you).
When that band fragmented, he took up with Jimi Hey for one brilliant, self-titled album of the sweetest psych delirium as All Night Radio (my money is on MGMT having paid very close attention to the possibilities outlined by this cracker – oh yeah: vinyl? That too).
He’s also worked with Will Oldham, Kurt Vile, Chris Robinson, Interpol, Jenny Lewis, *catches breath … hell, even Elvis Costello and Animal Collective – his skills are mucho in demand.
After a little time away from being the guiding light to a musical project, here at Backseat Mafia we’re pleased to say 2021 is already looking a whole damn sight brighter as he returns with his first outing proper in a decade: Farmer Dave & The Wizards of The West’s eponymous album.
We reviewed it here Monday gone and were pleased to conclude: “Dave Scher & The Wizards Of The West packs an awful lot of psychedelic flavour and fun. Afrobeat, surf rock, funk, straight psych, country psych, jazz, shoegaze, are all blended together and allowed to steep and seep through a lovely record with at least three of four moments of proper excellence and a lot of red-eyed, 1am lava lamp big-grinned fun besides. It’s good to see him back.”
He’s someone we’ve loved through many incarnations down the years, and we just knew he would have excellent music taste; so we dropped in for some almonds and to ask him about about the soundtrack to his life.
BACKSEAT MAFIA: Why hello Dave, and may I say it’s a pleasure to ‘meet;’ you. Been loving the new album; Once We Were Trees helped get me through a messy-as breakup. Amazing record.
FARMER DAVE: It’s funny you say that, Chris. The Once We Were Trees record was made while three out of the four of us in the band were in the process of breaking up with our girlfriends … it was very tough!
Thanks for bringing us the soundtrack to your life. First off: What’s the track that influenced you to start making music?
Dinosaur Jr., “The Wagon”. My East Coast skater cousins first played Green Mind for me … it bridged the classic “untouchable” rock records with the local bands I loved; total bridge album. And it was so great to record the second Beachwood Sparks record at J’s [Mascis] house years later!
A tour bus favourite?
“Highway Star”, by Deep Purple.
A Saturday night tune?
The Rolling Stones “I Don’t Know Why”, from Metamorphosis.
And a Sunday morning record?
By Sunday AM, my Gemini side has kicked in and “that one classic album” multiplies like tribbles … Babylon, by Dr. John; Alice Coltrane: anything! The A side of Tomita’s Snowflakes Are Dancing; Mort Garson’s Mother Earth’s Plantasia; and I love Billie Eilish … .
The first record you ever bought?
“Forever Live and Die” 45rpm single, by OMD!
The cover version you would love to play?
“Break My Stride” by Matthew Wilder. I think I can, I think I can
The best cover version of all time?
The Ramones, “What A Wonderful World”.
Your musical discovery of lockdown?
Solo Lindsay Buckingham. Lost magic. “Don’t Look Down”. Credit to Benji, our guitarist and my deep friend!
And your musical rediscovery of lockdown?
Energetic music I liked when I was young … Beastie Boys, Porno for Pyros.
The best song I’ve written?
‘It might be “Surf Out Sunset”.
The best cover of your music?
“Feel Me Baby”, by Joel Jerome.
The song that you remember most from your childhood?
“Right Down The Line”, by Gerry Rafferty. Apparently, I refused to leave my baby car seat if it was playing on the radio!
My favourite track made by friends?
Cass McCombs, “All Over the World”. Welcome to Coo Coo Laaaaaan
And how about a track by a band that should’ve been bigger?
Dwight Twilley, “Looking for the Magic”; “We Come Back”, by Delta.
Your guilty pleasure?
“Puttin’ On the Ritz”, by Taco … vindicated especially because the ending is super zooted … melted, it slays! Plus he can actually tap dance. Also, Britney Spears.
What’s the record in your parents’ collection that attracted attention?
ABBA, Greatest Hits; Neil Diamond, The Jazz Singer.
The record I’ll have at my funeral?
Weird Al Yankovich, “One More Minute”.
The words of this song inspire me?
“Nature Boy”, by eden ahbez.
What’s the best record ever?
The Golden Record playing on the Voyager satellite hurtling through space, with that spooky blues song, “Dark Was The Night” by Blind Willie McTell on it.
The record that makes you sad?
Nick Drake, “Way To Blue”.
The song that gets you on the dancefloor?
Can’s “I Want More” and “Apache”, by The Incredible Bongo Band.
The best record you’ve ever written or recorded?
Thus far, probably All Night Radio’s Spirit Stereo Frequency, but the new Farmer Dave and the Wizards of the West we’re about to record now is going to be tops … watch!
Dave; thank you so much.
Farmer Dave & The Wizards of the West’s self-titled debut album is out now on Big Potato Records on digital download, CD, limited black vinyl and limited chrome blue vinyl with art print; all formats are available over at the label’s Bandcamp page now.