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The Lunacy of a Three-Decade Marriage: Fishbone, March 12 at RIBCO PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Wednesday, 02 March 2011 10:14

Angelo Moore of Fishbone

Fishbone’s Angelo Moore has taken inspiration from an unlikely source: Britney Spears.

In 2007, the pop singer shaved her head. “She did that because she needed a change,” Moore said in a phone interview last week. “She probably did it because she needed to be able to look into the mirror and see a different person. And from there, if she saw that different person, she would probably perform from a different perspective, which would be a fresh and new one.

“So in my particular case, these days, I’ve been wearing a wig.”

Fishbone will be performing at RIBCO on March 12, and to appreciate Moore’s wig-wearing ways, it’s helpful to consider that the band has been around since 1979 (when Moore was in his early teens), and it hasn’t been an easy ride.

Although the funk-based ska/punk band with elements of metal has been widely influential, and although its live shows are legendary, it has never achieved the popular success of many of its successors. (Moore has said the band lived the life of the “famous but not the rich.”) The All Music Guide said Fishbone was “one of the most distinctive and eclectic alternative-rock bands of the late ’80s. With their hyperactive, self-conscious diversity, goofy sense of humor, and sharp social commentary, the group gained a sizable cult following ... .”

Saxophonist and singer Moore – he and bassist/co-founder John Norwood Fisher have been the band’s constants and main writers – said he has three wigs to keep things interesting for him after more than three decades: one blond, one black, and one salt-and-pepper. The ’do he chooses, he said, dictates his performance. He characterized the gray one as “distinguished,” for example, and “I feel like it brings a little more soul man out of me.”

The easy part for the band, he said, is playing live: “Things go well on stage.” But longer-term projects remain troublesome.

Moore said the band has been trying to put together a new studio album – its first since 2006’s Still Stuck in Your Throat – but “we’re running into ... creativity and collaboration setbacks is how I’d put it. ... We’re having difficulty collaborating. There’s no real difficulty in writing. ... We’ve been writing. We just haven’t been writing together.”

He characterized the problems as temporary – at “this point in time with this lineup” – but he admitted that as the new documentary Everyday Sunshine shows, the band has always been rife with conflict.

He said that he was surprised watching the movie – now making the festival circuit – that the band has stuck around so long. “The lunacy and the dysfunctionalism within the band is a phenomenon that is there, and sometimes it’s hard to believe that ... we can still survive and perform and still create with those particular phenomena that are in the band.”

But he said he hopes to address the problems. “Hell, we might have to go to therapy to break through it,” he said. “It’s almost like you’re constipated. You’ve got to take a laxative just to break through the shit.”

Moore said the band went through therapy once before, in the mid-1990s, when it had all its original members. “We seemed to start to scratch at the surface,” he said, but road obligations prevented the sessions from continuing. “The therapy that we were getting really didn’t get a chance to grow.”

He said he was planning to present the idea of therapy to his bandmates again, but he didn’t expect them to be receptive. “Who really likes going to therapy anyway?” he said. “But you’ve got to do it, especially if you’re in a marriage that’s either at a standstill or falling apart. ... You can’t just wish it to stay together. Sometimes you’ve got to do the work.”

Moore has compared his relationship with Fisher to a marriage (with the music being the offspring), and he said the collaborative problems with Fishbone are between the two primary creative forces “first and foremost.”

Moore admitted that he’s sometimes frustrated with how slowly things move for the band, and that he’s considered leaving Fishbone. “I have those thoughts running through my head,” he said. “It’s only gotten us to a certain level.”

Yet the music keeps him with the band, and it gives him a platform for his solo endeavors – music, comic books, and T-shirts under his Dr. Madd Vibe alter ego.

Moore compared the strife in his band to George Clinton’s Funkadelic: Both have produced good music with a considerable legacy, despite the problems within them.

And he sounded resigned, saying that conflict is “part of the DNA of Fisbhone” and “one of the driving forces.”

But he was quick to add: “If it wasn’t there, Fishbone would be able to move along a lot faster.”

Fishbone will perform on Saturday, March 12, at RIBCO (1815 Second Avenue in Rock Island). The show starts at 9:30 p.m., and the bill also includes Heatbox Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 the day of the show and are available from RIBCO.com, or at the club, Co-Op Records, and Ragged Records.


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