This might sound like a joke, but in Rochester, it's actually the beginning of a Doctors in Helicopters gig. The duo will be playing at Kinney Creek Brewery on Friday night, from 7 to 10 p.m.
Besides being a neuroscientist, Matt Fogarty is a singer and guitarist. He first met biomedical engineer Obaid Khurram, also a singer and guitarist, at a conference.
“Matt left the horrible sunny weather in Australia to come work at Mayo in the same lab in which I was doing my doctoral work,” Khurram said. The pair worked together between 2016 and 2018.
The musical duo Doctors in Helicopters launched when Fogarty began “surreptitiously” wearing band T-shirts to Mayo. That helped Fogarty and Khurram realize their musical kinship.
When Fogarty wasn’t busy trying to figure out the fundamental cause of various brain disorders, and Khurram wasn’t learning how people and other animals coordinate muscles to do different activities, they found time to make music together.
The duo got their musical start in 2017. They played a gig at Café Steam in June that year, then landed another at TEDx Zumbro River. They took their name from an adaptation of a lyric in the Oasis song “Supersonic.”
Since then, Fogarty and Khurram have thought several times that they’d played their last gig together.
“We’ve played multiple shows marketed as the ‘final DiH performance’ — so there goes our credibility,” Khurram said.
From 2018 to 2020, Khurram was working in Chicago, but they had a reunion gig in 2019. Now — for a time, at least — both are back in Rochester and ready to make some music.
Fogarty said people should come to the DiH show at Kinney Creek because their music is “unquestionably better than silence.” Khurram pointed out that by coming to the show, you are not only supporting a local band, but also a local business that needs patronage in these tough times.
Fogarty and Khurram took the time to answer a couple questions for 507 readers.
How would you describe your music?
Fogarty: Our general sound, but particularly the oeuvre of our original material, consists of a nebulously defined recipe: two parts the Summers of Love (both '67 and '89), one part the progressive end of dad rock, one dollop of the melodic undercurrent of post-punk, and a dash of subverting musical norms — the latter mostly a result of my technical limitations.
Khurram: I think we’ve described our music in the past as “songs your mum likes and your dad wants to play the air guitar to,” and that’s honestly not too far off in 2021. We do covers from bands like Radiohead, The Smiths, Oasis, The Beatles, The Stone Roses, Death Cab for Cutie, The National, and others. … The motif of the original music is a longing for undoing parts of the past, amalgamated with the recognition that time will always be the one truly non-renewable resource — something like the concept of "saudade" in Portuguese.
What's your favorite song to perform as a band?
Fogarty: Definitely an original, “J.,” whose simple name belies its three-act-play nature. Incidentally, listening to it is not only cheaper than a night at the theater, but also over far sooner. Thrifty and practical entertainment for the masses.
Khurram: I think for me, the favorite to perform for some time now has been a song that I wrote in 2017 called “Elizabeth,” which is about how I met my soon-to-be wife. It’s sort of got all the elements that generally make up a DiH song, and is pretty indicative of the varied influences we have.
If you go
What: Doctors in Helicopters
When: 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19
Where: Kinney Creek Brewery, 1016 7th St. NW, Rochester