Not since George Clinton, Bootsy Collins and Funkadelic company (not to mention the Sly and the Stone and the James and the Brown) has such a phenomenon of sight, sound, show, and ear-bustin' funk punk rhythms and eye-poppin' vista points has ever there been a live experience as Fishbone. While other acts left you rocked out, the Fishies kept you going higher and in a point of love-bum ecstasy - like Lemon Meringue pie and yessum master watermelon on a smoltering day. The Madd Doctor does drop kicks, back flips, stage leaps and "make's the payoff's" to the audience; all the while concocting, with a crazy whipping and twirling of the hands, a strange world of sound on the Theremin.
Recent and most unfortunate "personality conflicts" have downsized the group and left them without keyboardist/horn player Christopher Dowd and second guitar player Kendell Jones; thus somewhat lessening the orgasmic nuttsack of their musical creation. Singer, saxophone player Angelo Moore (also a poet who is featured the fine magazine you hold in your hand) says, "It's no longer a Cadillac band it's now a '63 SKE Jaguar band."
The enravishing crooner went on to describe their new album, Chimm's Chimm's Badd Ass Revenge, "I was (literally) naked in the studio. We got basic on this album, just guitars, bass guitar and horns - it's a lot more meat and potatoes. We got a little bit of ska, we got some rock steady, we got some rock n' roll and we got some funk. We got some Fishbone. It's the raw dog style.
"I added this Theremin because I know the keyboard, trombone, and other guitar are gone but there's nothing the band can do about it now. So we have to make do with what we have and forget about the past pretty much. Even though we know our listeners aren't going to forget about our past, we know there's only so much we can do with it because Chris and Kendell are no longer here. I wish I could play Everyday Sunshine and Black Flowers again but "those days are gone" just like Chris wrote in the song."
The new album continues this black band's ballistic bolshevism, with both lyrical and musical asswuppin' riotous realism - "Chimm Chimm's Badd-ass Revenge," says Moore, "is based on the concept of the outsiders and people with talent being ignored. Chimm Chimm the monkey's been neglected and after a long time he wants revenge. Just tell society they've neglected a lot of good art. Like I can't stand new cars. Cars from the 50's look more space-age than the ones from the 90's. It's like we're being jipped."
Yet Fishbone have always demonstrated against the demoralizing dip-shits of society's governmental gut-wrench. A highlight of Fishbone's Reality Of My Surroundings home video is where they make a ripping remonstration on the Los Angeles Meter Maids. "Fuck the meter maids, fuck 'em. That's just how I feel man." Yet the maids, like robots, puttered on in their pinkness.
"I haven't done that in a long time," Angelo says, "I haven't had anything to strike my fire enough. I do feel like saying "fuck all you motherfuckers" everyday but I just don't feel like going to jail. I've just been in the studio lately with Fishbone and on my own stuff too.
"I was involved in the Free Mumia campaign for a little minute. It was a good cause, if you free one man you free yourself. Because if you let a person like Mumia get executed and you let it get overlooked it can affect everybody. It's like Rodney King. If that wasn't filmed it would just give cops more license to pull over and beat up anyone they want. So you got to put your part in and not get caught up in the revolutionary "I wanna relive the 60's again" and start saying, "I'm rebel rousing and I'm in the picket lines."
Fishbone have been released from the "contractual nuttlock and guerrilla promotions" of their former label Columbia, to the slackening clasp of Rowdy records. "It was a combination of a lot of stuff," Dr. Vibe explains, "They dropped the bomb on the marketing plan and withheld promotion. During the whole Lollapalooza tour they stopped promoting the album, because they thought it was over and dead, but we were still going strong playing at Lollapalooza. So that was a big mistake right there because no one in the world outside of that tour knew we were playing."
Not to mention the commercial limitations of being "cult figures" for the past ten years, Fishbone are ready to get the breaks and the bucks colleagues Henry Rollins and Primus have already amassed, cashed, and stashed. "We want to be able to reach the mainstream but still be cult figures. It's a big problem that the powers that be with the money don't necessarily understand the music. When you listen to Frank Zappa and musicians who have real serious think music, you'd understand the concept of Fishbone because we want to cover the whole spectrum of music. But the whole world's not like that. You got a lot of separatism that holds back bands like Fishbone and others with diverse styles.
"I'm influenced by all kinds of stuff like Billy Holiday, Dextor Gordon, Flavor Coodie, Howlin' Wolfe, Gospel. I like some classical like Stravinsky's Rites Of Spring. And I've got a CD with a collection of the most scary moments in classical music like Wagner. I like Carl Stalling (the composer of Warner Bros. cartoon music) too.
"In the end of it all on the business side you always got the shysters you try to rip you off besides trying to piss you off. We were in debt for three hundred grand from Bob Green our accountant in '89. He just wasn't paying taxes after awhile. We were getting all this money and we hadn't been playing - all in the sudden the IRS were trying to get us while he left town."
And what curious contraptions can these cultural cannibals contrive in the time continuum?
"We want to stay together and keep playing. But if we could just be understood by everyone, even the one's with the money ... It's not the most important thing but it is important if you want to get past an underground level. Sometimes I feel I become really jaded just because all these poets in glossy rags are writing about this trivial shit for yuppies, and I get tired of screaming against that - "Don't you understand there's more important shit than this?" For awhile I just stopped doing a lot of poetry readings. I feel like there ain't no where to go and read my poetry because every time I go somewhere I just see a lot of weak stuff going down. So I've just been staying in the laboratory up 'til five in the morning doing my art."
There isn't much on it yet, but give the Atomic Underground A Chance