The Truth About the Fibbers

Carla Bozulich talks about integrity, barbering and the Geraldine Fibbers.

Butch is better, because Bozulich's influences aren't as easy to spot. "California Tuffy," with its martial riffing and light-fingered verses, may remind those with long memories of the Gun Club or Rank and File, but "Toy Box" is an aural threat of the kind Chrissie Hynde hasn't managed since the first Pretenders album; "I Killed the Cuckoo" is a riot of scratchy guitars and twisted vocal harmonies; "Swim Back to Me" is a raw-boned, venomous ballad; "Arrow to My Drunken Eye" is disturbing chamber rock whose melody is outlined by the dark tones of cello, viola, celeste and acoustic bass; and "You Doo Right" is, of all things, a cover of a Can song that finds the Fibbers and Ethyl Meatplow on something like common ground. Homogeneous it's not, but that's one of the reasons the disc is intriguing. Whereas most Nineties albums taste the same from beginning to end, Butch offers up a plethora of flavors.

Bozulich didn't consciously plan to make such an eclectic album, but she didn't shy away from the challenge, either. "I think that it's always possible to do something very diverse," she comments. "Everybody agreed that we shouldn't limit ourselves. But there are a lot of good reasons why people don't do this anymore--the good reasons being that people don't have the attention span that they used to have in the Seventies, when album-oriented rock and roll was expected of an artist. Today that's no longer true. Now it's expected that you have a consistent sound--that you have a song, and then after that you have a bunch of songs that are trying to be that song." She pauses. "Actually, that's being generous, because what's really expected is that you don't even have a song. You have a song that sounds like another band that has already had a song. But I just decided not to impose any limitations like that on us. I felt like we were responsible enough to basically babysit ourselves."

The song that exemplifies Bozulich's bravado is "Trashman in Furs," a tune she wrote as a tribute to Jim Reva, a former dancer with Ethyl Meatplow who died of AIDS. The number's words swing back and forth between heartbreak ("Death is a spinster, mortally whacking the funny boys 'til they're not laughing anymore") and hope ("I'm ridin' ridin' ridin' to a place with no pain no tears no art no ears no cars no need for you to cry for me"). And musically, Bozulich points out, "I consider it to be a departure from our regular sound. Basically, I wrote it from the perspective of what I thought Jim might like. I tried to make it be not too sad. I tried to make it be about some of the things he said when he was dying--some of which are sad, but some of which are a little bit upbeat for a song that's about someone who's dying. And I asked Nels to play the guitar solo a certain way, because I thought that Jim would like it. I tried to put a little of him across."

The ferocity with which Bozulich tackles such chores is palpable, but she does not want to be known only for her aptitude at conveying anguish. "I don't associate our music with pain," she says. "I associate it more with a really intense desire to communicate something real. But I think there's a lot of dark humor in the music that people tend to gloss over or skip altogether." An example? "Well, there's a line in 'Toy Box' that says, 'I fucked my first fruit today. Lousy lay.' I think that's pretty funny."

Virgin, the company to which the Geraldine Fibbers are signed, isn't promoting Bozulich as America's most underrated stand-up comic, but it's hard to say what the future will bring. After all, the firm's representatives have pretty much confessed that they don't have the slightest clue how to convince the public at large to give the band a chance.

"We were a little freaked out on our first album by the fact that our record company said they couldn't get any of our songs on the radio because they were too long," Bozulich divulges. "And I think we considered that, at least subconsciously, because a lot of the new songs are shorter. But they still can't get our songs on the radio.

"I love all these songs, and I think they were meant to be the lengths that they are," she goes on. "But I'm never going to consider anything like that ever again, you can mark my words. I regret it, because I'm a proud person--and I'm proud to say that I generally just do art the way that it's supposed to be done."

In other words, Bozulich is going to write the songs she's going to write, and if none of them have the slightest thing in common, that's jake by her. After all, that's the way she does everything else. "I cut hair different every time," she says. "Sometimes I use the buzzer, sometimes I use the scissors. You never know." She chuckles. "I'm not even consistent from a hair perspective, am I?"

The Geraldine Fibbers, with the Uphill Gardeners. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, September 20, the Snake Pit, 608 E. 13th Ave., $8, 830-TIXS or 831-1234. The Legendary Pink Dots, with the Geraldine Fibbers, Twilight Circus Dub Soundsystem and the Silverman. 8 p.m. Saturday, September 20, Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax, $10-$12, 830-

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