Thursday, July 10, 2014

Don't Bite Your Strangetunge


No one deserves accolades more than perhaps Strangetunge. Bringing decades, real decades, of musical ability to the forefront, they have recently released their third full-length CD titled Tunge In Cheek following-up How About Some Strangetunge? (2011) and 2008s On The Edge that was originally released under the band name Talken Tungs. I asked Strangetungs front man, David M. Fischer to answer a few questions and thankfully, he obliged.

Tung In Cheek is for listeners that don’t mind turning on the local classic rock station every now and then/ Strangetung takes it to a newer level, especially with Tunge In Cheek… Imagine front men Van Morrison and Dave Thomas (Pere Ubu) with more of the ‘new’ pub rock styling of classic and contemporary rock backing them up. As maybe a lost Rocket to The Tombs release  is maybe the best jumping-off point that I can start with.

One of the greatest wonders I have since my introduction of Strangetunge into my music rotation is why isn’t these guys playing more local shows? As a musical community I feel as if this band could work nicely into almost any show of any greater scale. You can learn from bands like BPA, Mudlarks, Wolverton Bros. and Strangetunge. This band deserves your ears, respect and attention. Thanks

Questions by Shawn Abnoxious 
Answers by David M. Fischer

David inform the desperate readers of THWART who you and Strangetunge are.

We are rock band that plays original songs with a wide range or influences.

That sounds pretty 'company break-room safe'... Can Thwart get the unabridged answer? Line-up, band history... Ect

Oh sure, we pretty much play what we like, write what we like, do what we like.  We started back in the late 80's playing a few parties and gigs and recording on this small 4-track recorder.  The band included me, Chris Basham, Jack Bryd and this short, cool drummer named Little Jimmy.  We played together for three or four years and then went on and started living regular workaday lives.  We got back together about 12 yrs ago, ferociously recording music with the advent of DAWs.  We had the same members except Little Jimmy and added and subtracted over time Tony Mann on drums, Don Stephens and the late Robby Elkins.  Tim Crawford, also with Haymarket Riot plays drums now with Alan Thornbury on guitar. We have released three CDs since 2009, On the Edge, How 'bout Some Strangetunge? And Tunge In Cheek to international indifference which is exactly what we were going for.  We have a received some notice and do have a small but going fan base.  We just wrapped an EP that include the last bass parts recorded by Robby Elkins.  We wrote a song for him too which the EP is named after, "Rest Easy, Brother".  It's different than most of our work which is, of course, what we go for sometimes.  Also, I have a solo EP coming out in about a month, followed by a full CD a couple of months after.

How is it continuing after Robby's passing? How different does it feel?

It's really weird.  It kinda took the drive out of us.  We wanted to do this EP for him and we want to continue but it's hard to get your bearings after this kind of tragedy.  I think its like losing one of your limbs, you're depressed, you try to do things the way you used to but it's not the same.  You have to find a new way.  That's where we're at.

So this last effort was a sort of a 'clearing'?

I guess you can say that. We have some other songs we have worked on but there isn't really a clear direction at this time.

Being without 'direction' seems scary on different levels. Does it scare you?

There is always a little fear of the unknown.  I don't want to see things fall apart after all we have invested.  I don't think it will but it will be different. We just don't know how right now.

Getting scarier and scarier. Where, mostly, would you say Strangetunge plays?

The last show Strangetunge played was in January of this year at Southgate House.  It was our Winter Rock'n'Roll Party.  Mike Grimm, the drummer from The Tempers filled in on bass.  We haven't discussed playing another show.  There will probably be one in early fall.  I will be playing a couple of times before then in some pick up bands.

Wow. It sounds like Strangetunge is coming to an end? Is it?

A couple of the fellas don't want to play out much anymore and the other three are itching to play.  You may see some variation of Strangetunge out there with some of the members.  Bride of Strangetunge or something like that.  Will it end?  Who knows what tomorrow brings.

What do you think of the current Cincinnati scene?

Well, I think there are a lot of exciting things going on.  Lots of great bands and some of the nicest people you could know.  Then, there are a few; I said a few, that are just indifferent to fellow musicians.  They are on their own trip but you have that everywhere.  I am wary of festivals that are built on the backs of musicians with their submission monies only to be slowly eased out of festivals so that bigger national acts can come to town.  Wouldn't it be nice if a big music festival could start somewhere and always and forever be 100% local music.  As for local music I have found that 80% of the music I buy are local bands.  I love a lot of them.  There are hundreds of absolutely fascinating and talented local musicians.  It is a world unto itself.

Has Strangetunge stark belief in highlighting original music helped or hurt you in the long run? I'm sure Strangetunge could do well playing covers at some bar right?

Well, there a lot of local bands that play original with only a couple of covers here and there.  Yes, if we were a covers only band we would probably make more money playing parties and shit but we were never about that.  Since, the time we started it was about our songs.  The band was the vehicle for our songs to be heard.  I think we would be more successful if we had continued as a band through the 1990s but rather than starting families and working for larger companies sucking at the corporate breast.  Our demographic is older and just doesn't go out to see shows like they used to.  We have had some younger people come out and see us and they usually like us and dance some.  One time we did a cover of Georgia Satellites "Keep Your Hands to Yourself" and this young couple thought it was a great original song of ours.

I'm part of that old contingent you mentioned... So what's your version of success? This is one of my favorite questions to ask.
In a musical sense it's to play our music, have people come to the shows and have people come up after a show or even later and say I love that song.  That's happened with songs Crazy Mavis On Speed, Hot Like Alice and Boogie Queen (Disco Fail) and maybe a couple others.  That it is always a kick and makes you feel successful as a band or artist.

What do you want people to know about your newest release?

That it is probably the most personal Strangetunge release to date.  It deals with the loss of a friend and bandmate and gives three songs that he had recently performed on, one of those he created the initial music for and he is playing the instrument he loved the most.  It's ironic that the song was entitled "Walking Dead" but life is full of ironies, isn't it?

Yes, it is... Life, essentially, is one hard fucker after another. We think we win, but really, we lose. It's not how well you surf the waves when they're high, but how you handle it when it's low, when shit is bad and tugging on every thread of your existence. Any last words for those who read this?

Yeah, Support Local Music.

Strangetunge RIYL: Classic Rock, Mudlarks, Buffalo Killers
Tunge In Cheek MFJD: “All The Happy People”