Little Fyodor on the angst and alienation behind his band's sound
Little Fyodor and Babushka are still insanely catchy after all these years.
Little Fyodor started playing out live at the end of 1985, around the same time that the legendary experimental band he was in, Walls of Genius, was winding down. For the first two years, Little Fyodor (aka Dave Lichtenberg) was a solo act; his partner, Babushka, came on board in 1987, and they played as a duo until 2002, when they decided to put together a full band, which now consists of Dave Colberg from Robot Mandala on bass and Tricky Dick Wikkit, who used to be in Bunny Genghis, on drums.
Nearly a decade later, the band is putting out a 21-track tribute album to Little Fyodor, with contributions from Boyd Rice, the Voodoo Organist, Ralph Gean and many others. We recently spoke with Fyodor about how angst has fueled his unique brand of misanthropic yet insanely catchy punk.
Westword: Your music is often considered very avant-garde, but really, it sounds like where punk rock should have gone before it got a lot more codified.
Little Fyodor: Even though I come out of a very experimental kind of background, I also feel like I'm carrying on in this teen-angst pop tradition of people like Alice Cooper and the Who. That's what punk originally meant to me. It was sort of like teenage angst. Lydia Lunch, Jonathan Richman — that was all about just being pissed off when you're growing up and trying to make sense of it all.
What has fueled your angst in the past, and what does so today?
My lack of social skills was the main mover of my alienation. It was a combination of that and not having any idea what kind of career I was going to have. And not having anything close to a sex life. Those were major movers in what made me feel alienated and made me want to try to make sense of my place in the universe. Now I just see it as a bunch of mundane crap that you have to deal with. If I make a joke amidst three people and they laugh, I pat myself on the back for a week.
"That Was a Mistake" was written partly in response to having felt I said stupid things at a party. There are times when I can socialize well, it seems. I have no lack of words in an interview where I'm talking about myself. That's how I relate to the Dostoyevsky character from Notes From Underground.
One of the things he says near the beginning is, "I never have much to say, except when it's about myself, and so I shall talk about myself." I can talk about all my foibles and shit like that. But that gets boring, so that's why I started doing Little Fyodor, to entertain people talking about my problems instead of boring them about it.
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