Pete Biasi has a rock and roll resume a mile long. Most notable is his Minneapolis band Signal To Trust, who, like the Sun City Girls, R. Stevie Moore or Furries, have a small, but rabid fan base. The blonde, shaggy-haired bass player with the muppet-like, party animal aura, shows up at many shows, in many tour vans and on many records throughout the Midwest.
His latest act, the stripped down rock and roll duo The Low Forms, will be playing Gabe’s on Sunday, Sept. 8 with Brooks Strause and The Gory Details and wildcard space jammers Tjutjuna. It should be another sublime Sunday night show.
Biasi has spent quite a bit of time in Iowa City, playing shows with his balls-to-the-wall metal duo (and sometimes trio) Total Fucking Blood, recording with local, political giants ft (the Shadow Government) or William Elliott Whitmore, or just playing cheap, blasted electronic music with his minimalist dance project Raw Space. He’s an active guy.
Biasi’s home base had been Minneapolis for many years, a thriving music town that we’ve seen many Iowa City musicians migrate to lately (see the LV’s Xerox feature for one example). But, to take a job working with special needs kids, Biasi moved to the seaport city of Duluth, Minnesota, on the shore of Lake Superior. In what he described as his “lake house” in Duluth, Biasi wrote a large number of songs that he wasn’t able to share with his various, former bandmates back in Minneapolis. In order to cultivate them into arrangements with a band, Biasi had to reach out and form a new band set in his new town.
In 2010 Biasi met drummer Dave Frankenfeld, and they began to finish and arrange the pop and rock songs he had been working on. Biasi settled with a duo and the two began to tour.
“A two-piece is a challenge, but it’s easier to be as active as you like,” said Biasi. “It’s really about being practical. We can fit in the van. When we get a hotel room, we don’t have to share a bed cause we’re old shits. And musically, it’s about getting the most out of the resources you have.”
In a small departure from Biasi’s previous projects, The Low Forms has a simpler rock and roll feel than his older acts.
“I cringe every time I say it, but it’s pop punk,” explained Biasi. “There’s melody and harmonies that you can follow along to. It’s fairly simple in how it’s put together. They’re fun songs, stripped down rock and roll.”
The Low Forms have been through Iowa City before, their first show was in 2010 at the now-defunct White Lightning Wherehouse as the headlining act for Jarrett Mitchell’s sensational, “T.V. Party”-influenced variety show, “The Whether Report.”
An unreleased ditty from The Low Forms:
Anticipation was high for the Low Forms set, and their return was filled with a primal rock and roll energy. They are simple pop in the way that the Ramones or the Dictators were simple pop, and they have that “leather gloves” working class punk style as well. But before their set, while hanging around in the alley, several people lamented that they weren’t going to see Biasi’s other band, Total Fucking Blood (TFB). It’s an age-old struggle: the solo musician trying out his exciting, new project to an audience that craves his exciting, old project. And, it’s an adage Biasi is aware of.
“You can’t hold it against an audience for thinking that. But, it is a challenge for booking shows,” said Biasi. “Even to work up the confidence just to do something, it takes more guts on my part to do something different and do it well. But that makes it fun and drives me to do it.
“I wish TFB could play all the time, but we can’t. So I have to find these other ways to prove my understanding of music and what I want to get across with music. All the projects are a means to that end. Whether it’s based on my old reputation, it’s still their opinion of me, and I doubly appreciate it.”
Biasi explained that The Low Forms are venturing south this September to play the ICT Fest in Wichita, Kansas, a festival put on partly by Dan Davis of the Ricky Fitts, who is the super-talented younger brother of the late Matt Davis from Ten Grand. Many Iowa City bands have played the eclectic festival throughout their ten year history, including Slut River this year.
On their stop through Iowa City, The Low Forms will play their show at Gabe’s on Sept. 8 and then spend a day at Flat Black Studios, recording a couple songs for an upcoming 7” series.
Biasi’s plans include recording a series of singles at different studios around the Midwest and then compile them into a full-length LP at some point.
The first single, a co-release 7” between Big Action Records in Minneapolis and Biasi’s own Tectonic Plates label is “at the plant right now,” out should be out in October, according to Biasi. Look for it in the record reviews section of Little Village this fall.