It’s hard for me to write about music objectively, as so much of it is inherently subjective and emotionally charged, so apologies if at times I tend to stray into some slightly non-journalistic phrase turning. Like here, listening to some Fetchin’ Bones. This may be a band you casually flirted with, but we had a solid four year relationship (1985 – 1990) and while it didn’t really end, it did drift apart, until a hot live release, like a one night stand, about a year ago, and then recently the music has been sliding back into my life. Certain times call for certain sounds, right?
So yeah — maybe it was a one-sided relationship — it’s not like they sat around for hours listening to me — but still, this is stirring up some emotions; so bear with me.
“…And don’t talk about the airwaves
‘Cause I can’t hold back the tears
All the bands that could save your life
You will never hear…”
-Actionslacks, “This Damn Nation”
Let’s start with Dead Band Rockin’ from 2007. More people need to hear this. I could say that about a lot of bands, but still … listen!
Even if you were to hear these songs for the very first time, taking a break from your normal and more current hip and overhyped “alternative” “indie” bands – you would be thrown into a rough and raw experience that still manages to feel right now. No apologies, this is rock ‘n’ roll. It winds you up, shakes you down, and gets you moving.
Sure, there are definitely some ties to bands of the past —perhaps you’re thinking something like, “This is kinda cool, I hear a little Grunge Girl influence here, though maybe a little more down South styled. There’s some nice hints of that jangle pop — like R.E.M mixing with some Paisley Underground vibe, but you also get some real groovin’ kinda alternative funky numbers wrapping around the slower songs. Everything fits together and flows.” And, “They have a pretty good live sound too. I could hear them playing alongside some early Jane’s Addiction.”
The thing is; you could be thinking that, and that’s fine, but the best part of this band is the fact that they were doing all of this before all of that. Their first LP, Cabin Flounder, came out in 1985 – three years before Nothing’s Shocking hit, three years before the first L7 album, and Hole’s Pretty on the Inside hit in 1991, two years after the “last” Fetchin’ Bones album, Monster. And don’t you dare forget about Bad Pumpkin in 1986 and Galaxy 500 in 1987. That’s four full-length full-on chaotic melodic grunge rock twang punk metal pop albums that hit and killed the indie radio waves before all the little kiddies got their first taste of mainstream alternative via Nirvana’s 1991 Nevermind. Meanwhile, on another wavelength, R.E.M. was doing things like Life’s Rich Pageant, Document, and Green. Camper Van Beethoven hit with Telephone Free Landslide Victory and their 1986 Self-Titled LP. The Replacements gave us Tim and Pleased to Meet Me (and while I write this, though the music is feeling still fresh and young — I am feeling a little old.
Realizing the first time I heard “Here Comes A Regular” was over 32 years ago is kinda freaky. Although that ain’t as bad as the forty years it’s been since Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life appeared. Interestingly enough, all these bands: Iggy, the Replacements, Camper Van, R.E.M., L7, Nirvana, etc., can be tied to them Fetchin’ Bones.
From inspirations and influences to fans and followers, the music of this band draws upon all of them and then hits somewhere perfectly in the middle of the world that was living left-of-the-dial. Ironically enough, I think their “alternativity” is one of the main reasons this band remains slightly hidden from sonic view. It’s not that they weren’t good enough to break into the mainstream, it’s not that they didn’t have the right style or sound or vision; it’s more like this band is alternative. And by that I mean as an alternative to the mainstream. While other bands rose up and moved higher in the charts, became known worldwide, were labeled and sold as alternative, Fetchin’ Bones, whether they wanted to or not, in my mind, defined the word. They weren’t grunge, they weren’t jangle, they weren’t pop, they weren’t country Americana metal funk, or punk, but they held a little bit of it all.
And this band lives in a special place within my musical world. When I was listening, where I was listening, who I was listening with. This band will always have strong ties to a handful of other bands; The Donner Party, The Cat Heads, The Dream Syndicate, Tex & The Horseheads, The Flesheaters, Divine Horsemen, Sister Double Happiness, and the Gun Club, To name a few. I know, It’s a little California-centric and Fetchin’ Bones has North Carolina origins, I share these sounds, similar and otherwise, with some seriously deep memories.
And speaking of the jangle, as I think I did, the producer on the first three Fetchin albums was Don Dixon – who also worked with bands like Dumptruck, the Smithereens, R.E.M., and was a big part in creating the whole Jangle Pop genre. There is definite jangle going on, but thrown in with that straight-on rock, and a little twists of a whole lot more. They manage to move from the best bar band you’ve ever seen, to the most melodic beautiful pop, to hard edged alternativity without missing a beat.
Yeah. I love this band. I’ve got 2 copies of Cabin Flounder and Bad Pumpkin on vinyl, ‘cause my first copies got overplayed. I have Monster on cassette, and of course the Galaxy 500 is always making its moves with me.
The song “Deep Blue” has made it on to so many mixtapes, and one of the best parts of the (amazing) film “A Matter Of Degrees” was seeing Fetchin’ Bones brilliant and Live. There’s a lot to love about that movie, but Fetchin’ Bones makes it even better.
I even had a nice t-shirt that I wore to pieces. Just a multi-colored logo, but it seriously disintegrated and I don’t think I will ever find another. I still look, though.
Right Now, it’s almost 2018.
It’s been almost Thirty Years since the bands last studio album. Thirty Years, and listening to these songs I feel part of myself moving back in time, and the rest moving with the band forwards. These songs are very attached to the time in which they are written for me, but they still sound just as relevant and rocking right now. A hard line to walk along, but this band manages quite nicely.
On the live recording things are going great.
“We’re going to rock it like it’s 1989 tonight … oh yeah … I seen a lot of you motherfuckers back in the day…” Hope Nicholls shouts out between songs, and you know she’s not lying.
They are still there, the fans. Some new faces, sure, but this band holds on to the friends they’ve made, and yeah. Still holding.