Colleen Fitzpatrick, lead singer of the New York City-based power-pop quartet Eve's Plum, may not be a star yet, but she's already getting the star treatment.
"Last night we did this big show in L.A., and we shot a video," she says, "And it was a circus and a zoo, and I woke up hating the fact that I did it. There were all these cameras and lights--it was all so surreal. I was really upset about it."
While most newcomers to the music business would be thrilled to receive this much attention, the members of Eve's Plum (Fitzpatrick, bassist Theo Mack, guitarist Michael Kotch and drummer Ben Kotch) have enough potential in reserve to afford a certain smugness. For proof, look no further than their debut album, Envy, which eerily recalls the vitality and mature sensibility of seasoned pop veterans such as Blondie and the Darling Buds. Vocalist Fitzpatrick is the band's strongest asset; she can either blaze like a locomotive or croon like a diva, depending upon the emotional moment of her songs. Tracks such as the jangly "I Want It All," in which Fitzpatrick's soulful belting of the title phrase alternates with the more melodic style she uses on the verses, and "Die Like Someone," the second single (and basis for the aforementioned video), are difficult to listen to without getting the primal urge to bob your head and jump up and down. Much of the material on the album represents classic pop formula, but the band exploits it to the hilt.
Nevertheless, Fitzpatrick resents many of the comparisons made between her group and its predecessors--particularly Blondie's Deborah Harry, who co-starred with her in the film Hairspray. This social spoof of the Sixties, directed by John Waters and released in 1988, revolved around actress-turned-talk-show-host Ricki Lake, whose character dreamed of integrating a fictional American Bandstand-type dance program called The Corny Collins Show. For her part, Fitzpatrick portrayed Lake's nemesis, Amber Von Tussle, the bratty debutante daughter of Harry and Sonny Bono. The movie showcased Fitzpatrick's virtuosity as a dancer and comedienne and put her into close contact with Harry, whom she insists she admires but in no way imitates.
"I don't think my voice sounds anything like Debbie Harry's," says Fitzpatrick, who started focusing on singing in 1989. "It's not that special. Probably four out of five girls, if they sang, would sound like Debbie Harry, because that's just how people sound. I tend to think that there's just such a dearth of female, light, airy soprano gals who actually sing like women--who sing pop without being overtly feminine.
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"I like the marriage between trash and glamour, ugly and beautiful, pop and not," she continues. "And I wanted to do that with the music. When the band was starting out, we went through various stages, and sometimes I would scream a lot, and other times I would just sing, and finally I just asked myself, `Why is it that I have to do one or the other? Why can't I do both?' I'm both feminine and macho, so I don't see why I should have to downplay one side of my personality just to appease someone else. It's stupid."
Even though Envy is filled with examples of her versatility, Fitzpatrick claims to be less than satisfied with the results. "We recorded that record almost two years ago, so a lot of those songs were some of the first songs that the band wrote together," she notes. "Obviously, Michael and Benjie are very adept at their instruments; they've been playing for many years. But as a band, I see Envy as almost being too soon." She adds that being on a major label (Epic) has only added to the pressure: "We were signed after a year and two months, which was a total surprise. I would have liked to do things more slowly, because when the album was released, there was a feeling that we really hadn't earned our place yet."
Dues paid or not, Fitzpatrick and her bandmates don't seem like rock-and-roll pretenders--but that doesn't mean everyone has given them the respect they deserve. For example, Eve Plumb, whose role as down-to-earth middle sister Jan Brady on The Brady Bunch inspired the group's moniker, has yet to acknowledge her musical namesake. "We used to put her on the guest list for every gig," Fitzpatrick says. "But she shunned us."
She's the only one.
KTCL's Big Adventure, with the Pretenders, Violent Femmes, Candlebox, Dig, Paw, Marty Wilson Piper & Steve Kilbey, Frente! and Eve's Plum. 2 p.m. Saturday, June 4, Fiddler's Green, $9.33-$12.50, 290-