Seth Faergolzia is a whimsical wrangler of beautiful chaos. He is essentially genre-less and hard to categorize. Even he is beguiled by his open-minded, multi-pronged attack.
The leader of 23 Psaegz, a loop painter (recording vocal loops while painting at the same time), a solo artist, and a disciple of the profoundly odd, Faergolzia added yet another tentacle to his toolbox to deal with a deluge of material and inspiration: Multibird, a free-wheeling, at times abstract rock quartet.
But before we go and try to understand Multibird, we have to understand Seth Faergolzia and how he compartmentalizes his various projects. 23 Psaegz is a large band (anywhere from nine to 19 members) that's been going for roughly six or seven years in Rochester. "It was formed to perform and record my puppet opera," Faergolzia says. "And it sort of turned into a band."
Multibird consists of 23 Psaegz's members Dominic Marini on drums; guitarist Shaun Jones; and bassist Stan Martinelli. The two bands aren't identical, but they mirror each other, especially when it comes to Faergolzia's quirk.
"I think it started two years ago," Faergolzia says of Multibird. "It was sort of a side project for 23 Psaegz." Faergolzia had other projects that needed tending. He was working on a 100 songs project and wanted a band that better served his needs with a more straight-ahead rock 'n' roll aesthetic of bass, guitar, and drums.
"I just needed to churn them out, sort of," Faergolzia says. "So I wrote 100 songs in four months and produced 50 of them over the course of the following year. So I guess Multibird was like a recording team."
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There is a difference between the two endeavors: 23 Psaegz has somewhat of a revolving door policy, welcoming musicians of all disciplines and stripes — it has a five-piece wind section and a lot of singers — Multibird, though, is strictly a quartet.
Whereas 23 Psaegz is downright orchestral, Multibird is more of a tight rock band adhering to traditional instrumentation. But it's the weirdness at the heart of it all that keeps you guessing. Multibird is a smirk's mating call.
"Our bass player once described it as conventional instruments playing unconventional music," Faergolzia says.
Multibird has been in the studio, but it is currently in a holding pattern due to finances. The album's been in the works for two years now, according to Faergolzia. Multibird has worked with John Kilgore Sound and Recording in New York City, Faergolzia says, "and we've also recorded here at Black Dog with Multibird and 23 Psaegz. It's kind of like two albums in the works simultaneously."
There is consistency in Faergolzia's chaos and creativity. That's because, the man knows what he wants. "I worked for an artist a long time ago, named Donald Baechler. He and I would sit and have conversations and he'd never make statements. He would only ask me questions. He asked me once, 'Do you want to be a pop star or an art star?' I said, 'Both.'"
And the man did just that — both — at the 2017 Rochester Fringe Festival, combining music as a sort of fractured doo wop by singing through a loop pedal, while he painting an abstract piece of art. You could see the music; you could hear the colors.
"I like all forms of art," Faergolzia says. "I like mixing them. I realized that whenever I was painting I was singing."
Faergolzia just got back from a month-long solo Europe tour, and now, he says, he is dividing his time between Multibird in the studio and the puppet opera.
"My priority, now that this tour is over is putting up this puppet opera," he says. "And that is really an extensive project. I think I'm going to release it in two- or three-minute webisodes because it's an hour and a half long."
Though Faergolzia is the figurehead of these disparate sights and sounds — he sings with a dramatic epiglottal push that punctuates his plaintive tenor — he says quality is the one common thread he strives for. That and confounding his audience, like the fan that approached him in Germany a few weeks back.
"He said: 'I've been coming to see you for 10 years and I still don't get what you're doing.'"