The Fuse! have been turning and busting quite a few heads lately. Their chaotic live shows have left jaws dropped and bottles broken all over California. As their appearance on the great Let’s Get Rid Of L.A. compilation shows, they are one of a handful of bands that, after far too long, have made the Los Angeles punk scene exciting again. The Fisherman’s Wife, their debut album on In The Red Records, has had a polarizing effect on all who have heard it, creating as many detractors as it has fans. That’s a sure sign of them doing something right, if you ask me. Attempting to do a straight interview with a band like The Fuse! is an exercise in futility. Why try to tame them when it’s so much fun to let them go? Some attempts to keep it linear were made, but I’m sure you’ll find this interview just like their records: all over the place. At the very least, I hope it sheds some light on their motivations, politics, and sound...”The Sound Of Youth Frustration”.
F-2: Hey, at last night’s show, there was a girl who got hurt while we were playing and I just wanted to apologize in the interview. Does anybody know that girl that got hurt?
TB: I didn’t see anyone get hurt…
F-2: I think I did some spin thing with my guitar and I accidentally hit her in the face and she walked away.
F-1: Did you see it?
TB: No, but I remember when you ran straight into me and my friend with the camera.
F-2: Well, I wanna apologize to that girl in the interview…
TB: Speaking of which, the standard interview shit starts with you guys saying your names and what you do in the band. Are you gonna use your real names?
F-2: Na, man. F-1, F-2, and F-3, alphabetically by last name.
F-2:Vocals and guitar.
TB: Great, this should be fun to transcribe. How long ago did you guys start?
F-3: About 3 years ago
TB: Were you in any bands before that?
F-3: F-2 and me go back like 10 years in bands together.
F-2: Yeah. We were in your basic neighborhood punk rock bands, nothing crazy or anything. Hardcore ghetto punk rock. The kind of bands you start when you are just learning to play your instruments. Backyard circle-pit stuff. Don’t say the name of the bands, because they turned out to be a bunch of pricks.
TB: So your other stuff never left the backyard, but now you play all over L.A. How is that?
F-2: We only play like three spots in L.A. It’s really weird. L.A. still lives out this whole delusional hot spot Sunset fuckin’ Rock’N’Roll Mecca fantasy. It’s bullshit. I hate all these bands that go to L.A. to “make it”. Make what? Make yourself look stupid?
F-1: Yeah, they’re stuck in the mid-80s. The club promoters give little respect to the local bands. The sound guys are assholes…
F-2: Even the indie-rock promoters are buying into it. It’s really shitty. In L.A., nobody is a fucking music fan. What happened to music fans? People are either scamming their friend’s bar or trying to get “signed” or whatever…
TB: So are you guys an “L.A. band”?
F-2: Well, we live there, but…
F-1: No, we don’t share that mentality.
F-2: There’s this comp that just came out, Let’s Get Rid Of L.A. It’s a really good record. All those bands on there, those are the bands we play with and they share our views and stuff. I’m sure that they won’t admit it, but we’ve expressed the same level of displeasure about what’s going on.
TB: You get that sense when you listen to that record, I think.
F-1: Yeah, and we pretty much only play shows with those bands. It’s like the same show every week, only with different configurations.
F-2: It’s awesome too, because none of us sound like each other. I think it has all the makings of something. In L.A., there’s all this talent and this underdog mentality. It has the makings of something big. Well, not “big’, but…???
F-2: Yeah! It’s gonna change peoples minds about L.A.
TB: While it shouldn't be an issue at all, have you encountered any difficulties in playing around because you are Chicano?
F-3: People in LA are used to seeing Chicanos in bands. The only times we feel a little intimidated is when were on the road, in like Utah or Idaho, and you pull in to a gas station. Now I can’t tell if it’s because we’re Chicanos dressed like mod punkers, or if it’s the fact that were stumbling out of the van like Chespirito! There's a Chicano reference for ya!
F-1: We don’t see anything awkward or weird about being proud of our ethnic backgrounds and playing the type of music that we play. People do pay attention to the fact that we aren't skinny white kids, like it's either a taboo that we are breaking or some new ground that we are covering. We are a threat to those who fear diversity, fear progress and fear change. They are the ones that are going down when the shit hits the fan! Fuck 'em, let ‘em be scared!
TB: Would you say that it's a big part of your band, or something too much emphasis is placed on?
F-3: I would say it’s a big part of The Fuse! We communicate a lot in Spanish, or have these funny “Fuse-isms” that are based in the Spanish language. We will make reference to Spanish and Mexican history because it seems more real or "romantic" to us. There's this sort of raw, beautiful, primal feeling we can connect to in our Hispanic heritage. The record has a series of stories in Spanish that F-2 wrote. Some people may not want to translate these stories, but if they do they will see a connection from what the stories say to how F-2 writes lyrics for songs. It's just something that evolved from who we are, where we live, and how we grew up.
TB: Would you say your sound is born out of all the stuff you’ve mentioned about L.A. too?
F-2: Of course! It’s a product of our surroundings. You internalize your surroundings and you make ‘em part of who you are. We DO sound like the dirty, run-down streets that we come from. And it’s great! There’s something about the immigrant communities we’re from. Everybody is always hustling around and moving. Our music, no matter how grim and brutal, I think there is still a glimmer of hope and romanticism in.
TB: I’d say there more than a glimmer of romanticism…
F-2: Yeah! We have a song that is about planning armed resistance, but in the same chorus, it cuts to a guy kissing his girl goodbye and there’s blood on her lips. Weird stuff…Images of a young Fidel Castro with one of his lovers in an apartment, both pointing Magnums into the wall.
TB: Even with all that, it’s still pretty rough sounding though…
F-2: The songs all have this unrest, like something is always about to happen, but we try to include those romantic elements in the lyrics. It’s like basic human necessity. You don’t have to play 50 million changes and riffs to be an artsy punk band. You can incorporate those complexities into how you tell a story with the music and the mood. Seems like people don’t really bother putting that stuff in anymore, but I love it. Bands like Television and Modern Lovers really paid attention to how the music and the story worked together. Songwriting has taken a big shit lately.
TB: On the back of your record, there’s also all that stuff about “getting drunk off of the blood of the corpse” and…
F-2: “Weapons become instruments of peace” and all that.
TB: Yeah! That was pretty revealing to me. Your records and live show aren’t exactly easy to get through. For lack of a better word, there’s violence there, both on record and live. I’m assuming that all ties into what you wrote and how you present it, right?
F-1: Yeah, it’s primal and raw. And it’s us. Like sometimes, we’ll have really shitty days at home or work, and we’ll have a show and it’s an outlet.
F-2: One of the best things, I think, is that there are parts of the show that we all feel really angry and frustrated, but the song will shift to one of the romantic things, like the narrator having a recollection of an affair or whatever, and everything slows down. A lot happens to me when we play shows.
TB: It seems to me that a lot of your lyrics are equally applicable to both your political beliefs and your ideas about music, like you could interpret them either way. I’m thinking the same could be said for when you are chanting for revolution in your songs. Like it’s social, but musical too.
F-2: Of course! That’s the beauty of it. People gave Pete Townsend a lot of shit for trying to over-intellectualize Rock’N’Roll, but I think there are a lot of intellectual aspects in it. A lot of our stuff has a socialist slant, but I’ve never taken a political class in college or anything. I had to learn that shit when I was little because of the way I grew up.
F-1: We catch a lot of flack because people say that stuff is all a gimmick, like fuckin’ International Noise Conspiracy or something. That pisses us off. I think we see that struggle first hand where we live. It seems like they use it as a marketing tool.
F-2: Every time they come to L.A., it’s all sloganeering. Put your fucking book away! It’s not for you. What happened to fucking activists going to a community to fucking be a part of it? It’s fucking lame. “We have a $3000 guarantee at our show. We have a vegan fucking deli tray that costs more than the opening bands get paid. But we’re socialists!” Fuck you, man.
TB: HAHA! What would you guys say about the reaction to your live performances?
F-3: Really positive actually…No complaints so far.
TB: Nobody has come up saying “Fuck You!” for hitting them or anything?
F-1: No. Actually, quite the opposite! For some reason, I don’t know if they’re like super masochists or something, but people come up to us all excited if we rough them up!
F-3: It’s human nature. I think they understand that it’s not intentional. It’s just part of our show…
F-2: It’s like last night with that girl. I think they know that we are sincere. The people last night probably saw me grab the drinks out of their hands and throw them against the wall and stuff, but I came right back and let them know how much I appreciate them for being there. There’s a sincere connection between the audience and us when we play. Our shows are like a 20-minute party that just got way out of control.
F-1: And its fun! It’s like wresting with your little brother! We’re all family, it’s good.
TB: Speaking for myself and other people I’ve talked to regarding your records, it seems like your sound isn’t exactly easy to describe. No two people say the same thing, which I find interesting. Care to offer any descriptions of your own? How would you describe your sound?
F-2: The way I see it, and this will either clear things up or muddy it up even more, is that there is a strong emphasis on the songwriting aspect. We’re using whatever is contemporary and now and filtering it through what we like.
F-1: We get compared to The Fall a lot.
TB: People have mentioned that to me too, but I think that probably has to do with the fact that you are confrontational, but not in some stupid, bonehead way.
F-1: Yeah. Or that “Crass Meets The Who” thing.
F-2: That’s fucking strange!
TB: For me, just so you can totally fucking hate me, I think you guys are a soul band.
F-1: That’s fucking perfect!
F-2:People give us a hard time about that part too. Like people talk shit because of the suits and the mod thing and call us pretty punks and stuff, not real mod music. I’m thinking that if The Jam or The Who had heard Black Flag or Fugazi records, they would’ve incorporated that shit immediately! Why can’t we do it? It’s still around for us…
CONTACT INFO: firstname.lastname@example.org
Interview By Mitch Cardwell
Photos by Mark Murrmann
(Don't tell anyone, but this interview originally appeared in the pages of MRR!)
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