Scott Fischer is a singer/songwriter and keyboardist that leads the band called "Fischer's Flicker". They are a very popular group based out of the Chicago area and have just released their latest album entitled "Fornever and Never". It is a fine collection of songs that feature musicians as Scott states, "This is actually the "full circle" band, meaning nearly all of the members of this lineup have played in the band over the years and "found" their way back!" The nicely produced CD with prog overtones features songs of personal hardship and life experiences, and has the polish of the finest produced Steely Dan record. I recently conversed with Scott.
R.V.B. - What sparked your interested in music? Did you come from a musical family?
S.F. - My family was not musically-inclined at all. My mother liked The Beatles and Paul McCartney but she didn’t really play music around the house a lot. My father loved folk and played a lot of Cat Stevens, Harry Chapin and always listened to The Midnight Special weekly. However, in my younger days, none of that really rubbed off on me and without older siblings, I felt that I had to discover a lot of the music I first got into on my own. I was a late bloomer and started off with Van Halen’s OU812 as my first really foray into really getting sucked into rock. Those were back in the days that I was convinced that “rock was real”. It wasn’t until I stumbled into the music of Frank Zappa that I was able to see the “ugly underneath” and really get a better grasp of all of the different angles that music can offer - like turning a kaleidoscope and always getting a different result!
R.V.B. - What were some of the early songs that you tackled? Who influenced your early path and direction?
S.F. - Well, The Beatles' catalog really became my Rock Music 101 syllabus. I remember getting a fake book of theirs (which I’ve since worn out the pages on and had to pick up another copy) and *daily* going through the songs in it trying to figure out harmonies and how to play parts on different instruments that I had around the house. As far as my early path/direction goes, it was pretty much dictated by the bands I was playing in during my early days: where we would play next, what albums/artists we were listening to, what we would wear, etc.
S.F. - There was a club in town called The Thirsty Whale and we were able to play 2 sets there in an all-ages setting and the 21+ crowd. We weren’t even able to drive yet and our parents were dropping us off at the gigs and picking us up late night. I thought he was a bit ridiculous about it at the time but our drummer always had our shows video-taped. It’s fantastic that he did because I can still go back and review them all of these years later. Hilarious stuff - flashy outfits, stretch pants, *big* hair! It’s how I cut my teeth in the trade though and I feel I really learned a lot about performance then.
R.V.B. - Did you gradually mix original material into your set?
S.F. - Believe it or not, it already was mostly original material! That was where I first began learning the trade of songwriting.
R.V.B. - In 1994 you started the "Deja Voo Doo Band". Was this a planned new direction? Can you describe a little bit of how it evolved into "Babagando"?
S.F. - “Deja Voo Doo” was *definitely* a planned new direction. Nirvana brought our community grunge and it really changed how everyone started dressing, writing, acting, performing, etc. Our high school band dissolved as I was going off to college and all of this new music was really changing “the scene”. In the meantime, I was starting to get exposed to all of these other styles of bands in college, as well as my own exploration. All of the sudden, I was up to my ears in progressive rock bands and admiring the bands that didn’t commit themselves to just one genre. That really spoke to me and, as I started saying earlier, Frank Zappa took that logic and *catapulted* it even further for me! I quickly found myself buying at least one of his albums a week and, at the time, having over 60 releases - that was a *lot* to absorb! So, anyhow, “Deja Voo Doo” was just that: a band that would not sit in just one genre but, instead, cover as much ground as possible.
As far as how it evolved into “Babaganoo”: I received a cease & desist order from someone that owned the rights to the name “Deja Voo Doo” and it was very disappointing because that individual never even ended up *doing* anything with the name! I tried reasoning with him but there was no discussing it from his end. I called it a loss and we changed the band name to “PowderHouse”. That lasted a while but by the time the band was set to release another album, we decided to quickly change the band name once again to “Babaganoo”. After dissolving that band, I pursued some cover band prospects for a while and, when it was time to come back to my originals, I decided on “Fischer’s Flicker” as a means of somehow including my own name in what was quickly becoming an ever-changing sea of band monikers.
R.V.B. - With the release of "Carpe P.M. Honor Comes Only After Humility", how was the transition of going all original in the Chicago area.
R.V.B. - How did you enjoy the Zappening 2000" festival?
S.F. - If you were to tell me that I could play in a festival honoring any musician I could pick from, without hesitation I would tell you: Frank Zappa would be my choice! I was over the moon when asked to play on that festival! I’d have to think harder on just how many Zappa alumni were involved on that show but it was definitely more than half a dozen. It was so great to have something like that in the United States, let alone in Illinois - where we hail from! We basically dropped everything on our originals and just concentrated on adding Zappa material to the set. We had already been playing a few of his covers at shows but we *really* wanted to wow the audience for this show. That’s why it came as a huge disheartening shock when I was told by the promoter just weeks before the show that we were not to play any Zappa compositions as we were opening for a Zappa tribute band called Project/Object. I was in a panic. I contacted Andre Cholmondeley of P/O to plead for the ability to play some FZ tunes. He couldn’t have been cooler about it and we were able to ensure that neither of our bands would “overlap” covers on the same billing. It turned out that the promoter was the one freaked out about it and once we palavered about it, all was well (not to mention the start of a decades-long friendship between us!)
R.V.B. - When you released the "Katmandon't" record, I see it took a period of time and you used a lot of local musicians. How did you come up with that name? As the songs progressed was there a overall theme or plan or is it a basic collection of songs through the years?
I’ve got to give credit where credit is due: my brother came up with that title. I loved the play on words and it stuck in my head for years. There wasn’t necessarily an overall theme but there was definitely a transition between that album and its predecessors. I felt like I really came into a new level of maturity in my songwriting here. It wasn’t planned but it dawned on me (not until the album was near-released) that this was the first release I was making without any humorous material on it. That had always been a mainstay for me and it was surprising that none of them “made the cut” this time around. Many of the songs from this album had to do with things I was dealing with in my personal life at the moment they were written and, while it’s a somber outlook, I suppose there wasn’t a lot of humor in my life right then.
R.V.B. - On your new release "Forever and Never", I find excellent musicianship, creative writing with nicely executed hooks. How long did it take to make this album and can you briefly describe the people who helped you with this album?
Thanks! This album is actually about *half* of the songs that I wrote during a creative streak a few years back. I went through some personal hardships and, rather than sulk and grieve, I instead chose to put my emotions into something more constructive. Nearly 2 albums’ worth of material came out of it becoming “Fornever and Never” along with most of the material of our upcoming album (currently entitled “Mother of a Ship”). The songwriting came very quickly and we were able to turn out album out in just about a year. As far as the people who helped to make this album goes, they had a big part in the quick turnaround as well. This is actually the “full circle” band, meaning nearly all of the members of this lineup have played in the band over the years and “found” their way back! We have an unspoken communication with the material that is unprecedented and it’s great to be able to share so many musical experiences together over the years.
R.V.B. - The album starts with "Black Mariah" and "Dead to Me" which I thought established a porg/pop kind of sound. It also had lush vocals. Were you looking to establish this with the start of this record?
S,F. - It’s funny, when coming up with the sequencing for this album, I actually put those tracks in the front to *avoid* overwhelming listeners with the “prog-ier” material later on the album. “Black Mariah” always had an album opener feel to it from the get-go. It always came off like such an introduction piece. “Dead To Me” is an interesting dichotomy to me. I had a lot of fun introducing contradictory themes throughout this piece and I love how it starts out so cheerful (while saying “you’re dead to me” lyrically) and ends so introspective and sparse.
R.V.B. - Track 3 is the classic "Halo of Flies" by glam rocker Alice Cooper, why did you choose this song? It's not an easy song to execute but you did it very nicely.
S.F. - I’ve always loved performing covers live in my original acts over the years that no one knows. They are songs that I feel deserve more public attention and recognition but are often considered “deep cuts”. I don’t go that route to take credit for their work but rather to introduce the audience to the song for the first time *or* to perform it live for that one guy in the back that comes out of the woodwork and *freaks out* when he hears the first opening chords of the deep cut. I’ve been that guy at shows before and I *love* that moment or feeling! On this album, for the first time, I decided to do a studio representation of one of these tunes. I really liked the way it went and it’s cracked me up how some people don’t read the liner notes and say that this is their favorite track of ours. It’s such an exploratory piece - I love the mystery it exudes!
R.V.B. - It is kind of annoying when you're trying to send a letter or message to someone "lol", and you get back "brb" and "ttyl"... what happened to communication in the world? Of course I'm talking about track 4.
R.V.B. - LMFAO - you got it! Yes, texting is a whole new form of communication with a lot of strengths such as telling someone you’re running a few minutes late or that you’ve arrived somewhere but when it’s used to solve personal communication issues of a deeper nature, it’s the pits! I find myself in those situations all too often and that’s what brought about the song “Emoticons”. I’m not an anti-texter by any means but when an argument is taking place or “heavy” relationship issues, text is not the way to go! “And all that you can send back to me… is an emoticon."
R.V.B. - My personal favorite on the album is "Mrs. Rogers & the... Make Believe". It starts off with a nice tempo and flows into a Mid-East feel and then finishes off strong. Any story behind this song? Does Mrs. Rogers wear sneakers also?
S.F. - Thanks again! Hmm - well, that’s a very personal tune right there. It is where most of the angst that I was feeling during the writing process came out. It deals with infidelity, adultery, lies and deceit… in a nutshell: fun stuff! Does she wear sneakers? No - tap shoes, ha!
R.V.B. - The final songs return to the catchy pop/prog style and they are as polished as the finest "Steely Dan" recordings and they are all radio worthy. Does everyone share in the finely executed background vocals and have input into the writing process?
S.F. - Wow, “as polished as the finest SD recordings”? That’s a wonderful compliment, thanks! To answer your question: I typically come up with all of the vocal harmonies in my demos for the tracks during pre-production and, in the interest of sounding richer with the different timbres of everyone’s voicings, I have the others lay down their parts in place of my “placeholders”. As far as the writing process goes, I am always open to suggestions from others but mostly the writing is done by me and the others sculpt their colorings and solos around the written compositions.
R.V.B. - What are your plans to support the album?
S,F. - I’ll continue spending time doing interviews like these as well as promoting the album when/where I can. However, as I was getting at earlier in this interview, we will be spending a lot of time throughout the rest of this year wrapping up the *next* album that we’re hoping to release within 12-months of “Fornever and Never”! They’re not part of an overall concept or anything but due to the fact that most of the compositions were written at the same time, the next album will sort of be the “bookend” to “Fornever and Never”.
Thank you for considering answering the questions?
Interview conducted by Robert von Bernewitz
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