They went from New College kids to shrunken old heads from the Sarasota rock scene.
And they did it in the space of two albums.
Josh Scheibel and Caegan Quimby, vocalists and songwriters for Physical Plant, embarked on a brief musical exile during the pandemic that allowed them to hone their gear. They emerged with a veteran rhythm section with ties to several other local Sarasota bands, and they are currently celebrating the August release of their second album, “Hot Future” which refers to climate change but also perhaps to their own musical trajectory.
“We’re older now,” says Quimby, who started Physical factory as part of an independent study project at New College. “We are of the age of the bands – maybe older – who asked us to do concerts at the time.
“Things can happen here. But we have to make them happen.”
Scheibel, a graduate of Southeast High School, has been playing bars in Manatee County since before he was allowed to drink. The guitarist estimates he played over 100 shows as part of Magic Tree Conspiracy, a classic rock cover band, by the time he arrived at New College. Then he met Quimby in first grade and they quickly became friends.
The couple began working on music together and immediately recognized that they had a great working partnership, and they credit one of their teachers, Steve Miles, for not only recognizing and encouraging their talent, but also for giving them many opportunities to perform in public.
“It was one of the most interesting things at New College,” Scheibel says. “They saw we had a working rock band and said, ‘OK, well, let’s use it. We were able to play with people from the orchestra. We have to write for the people in the orchestra. We had all these very interesting performance opportunities that happened thanks to New Music New College.
But it wasn’t just their schooling; Scheibel and Quimby also say that the indie rock scene in Sarasota from around 2010 to 2015 was incredibly productive and nurturing. There were a lot of good bands in the area at the time, and many of them gave the young Physical Plant the opportunity to open up for them.
The band’s new drummer, Michael Murphy, formerly played in Equines and Cats in the Basement, and young Scheibel and Quimby first met him as a promoter who offered them their first gigs. Dave Cornicelli, their new bassist, once played in Hail Dale and Umbrella Cult, and he brings versatility as he can also play drums.
But more than their musical abilities, Murphy and Cornicelli bring a new attitude to the band.
“Caegan and I are both classic perfectionists and overthinkers,” Scheibel says. “It’s nice to have someone in the room who has a ‘do it’ attitude. It’s nice to hear that because between the two of us, we’ll just talk, talk, talk.
At this point, they are excited to play music again.
They would like to point out that their former bassist, Dave Baker, has not left the band. He’s just entered a new phase in his life as a father, and they’re moving forward with their old music and new stuff.
Scheibel and Quimby have spent the pandemic rehearsing in pairs with a drum machine, and their partnership has only been strengthened by their commitment to each other.
“I’m going to keep doing it whether I get paid or not,” Quimby says. “So we never doubted that we were going to keep doing something. But every time the programming dissolves, it’s very anxiety-provoking.
“We always tried to have faith, just to write more songs.”
How do they write songs? Do they sit together at the piano and collaborate? Not really.
Scheibel says he’s more of a perfectionist and often doesn’t bring a song to the band, it’s a completely finished product. But Quimby is a prolific songwriter with a backlog of material just waiting to be brought to the band.
Interestingly, while they write songs separately, they seem to largely share the same taste.
“When we disagree, it’s usually quite relevant. There’s a reason we disagree,” Scheibel says. “About 95% of the time, we like the same things. But sticking points are usually something worth unraveling.
“When we’re the closest to an argument,” Quimby says, “it’s because we’re both wrong.”
The duo get together once a week, on Wednesdays, to tighten up musically and prepare for their full Sunday rehearsals, which usually see them strive to stay tight on their current material.
And they scour the local scene and look for places to play. They’re going to play a gig at the Ringling Underground in November, and they say it would be nice to go back to their New College roots and play there again.
But when they look at the local scene, they realize that it’s a tough environment for them and for other bands like them. Most bars, Scheibel says, don’t want to hire a band that plays original music.
“We’re going to book a cover band that will keep people here all night,” he says of the bar owner’s perspective. “We have to cater to the demographics that are going to come out and keep the place in business. It’s just business. As someone from what I like to call the Margaritaville circuit, I get it. That’s what I came to do.
Scheibel, who moonlights as a guitar teacher, says he saw one of his freshman classmates at a recent concert, and he stresses how lucky he is to be able to do what he does. loves in his hometown.
The next step – the Hot Future, if you will – sees Physical Plant not only making their own music, but also going down the parallel path of finding gigs for themselves and other bands around them.
Their debut album, What’s Laid Down, came out in 2018, and four years later they’re a completely different band.
They have enough material for a third album; and maybe a fourth, if you count the songs Quimby has yet to bring to the band. Best of all, they’re in no rush. They are determined to see this thing for the long haul.
“They say you have your whole life to write your first album and a few years to write your second. But that’s not really a problem for us,” says Scheibel. “We always have 10 new tracks. we will join them.”
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