Virgin's Geraldine Fibbers Get Broader On 'Butch'

(Billboard May 31, 1997)

LOS ANGELES-- Though L.A.'s Geraldine Fibbers began life as a
group of moonlighting punk rockers playing country music, the
band moves into increasingly eclectic turf on its sophomore 
Virgin album, "Butch," set for release July 1.

Virgin senior VP of marketing Barbara Bolan notes, "[The album] 
moves around in waves ... OK, now you're in this hard aggressive 
rock place, and then you move into the more country-flavored kind 
of offerings that have always made that band so interesting. Then 
you start to move out again, and then it goes in another direction."

While "Butch" cuts a broad swath through a variety of musical
styles--from Gothic pop on "California Tuffy" to country-fried
rock on "Folks Like Me," from squalling punk on "Toybox" to 
instrumental atmospherics on "Heliotrope" and "Claudine"--it 
wasn't long ago that the Fibbers were anticipating the moves 
of many currently trendy bands with their own eccentric
readings of classic country songs.

In 1994, Carla Bozulich, then frontwoman for the confrontational 
punk-industrial unit Ethyl Meatplow, hooked up with the members 
of  local punk unit Glue for what all concerned believed would be 
an entertaining side project.

"We really didn't intend to do anything much," says singer/guitarist
Bozulich. "We really just wanted to play some country songs. We
all liked country, and we were all in bands that were doing other
stuff. Ethyl Meatplow was still together ... We were like, 'Well, 
lets play some country songs, it'll be fun.'

"Then when Ethyl Meatplow broke up and a couple other
things happened, I said, 'Well, you know, I think that everybody
in this band is really great, and we have something together, 
so let's expand what we're doing. Let's not just fuck around 
with country songs.'"

A debut 10-inch EP--recently reissued on CD with additional live
tracks as "What Part Of 'Get Thee Gone' Don't You Understand?"
by Long Beach, Calif., indie Sympathy for the Record Industry-- is
the Fibbers' lone country-punk testament; by its 1995 Virgin debut, 
"Lost Somewhere Between The Earth And My Home," the band had 
evolved beyond its genre roots into tough, highly personal terrain.

The well of influence being plumbed by the band has grown deeper, 
and even Bozulich acknowledges that this may be daunting to 
some fans.

"I think people were wondering if maybe on our second album we
would kind of figure it out, maybe, and go in one direction," she 
says with a laugh. "But it's definitely gotten more severe--the
diversity we're exploring is even more severe now."

Some of the diversification may have been sparked by a key
personnel change within the band, and more may be coming thanks 
to a recent defection.

During a marathon 1995-96 tour, founding guitarist Daniel Keenan 
was diagnosed with tendinitis and ultimately sidelined. Fortunately,
the Fibbers found a ready replacement in Nels Cline, a multitalented 
L.A. rock and jazz guitarist working at the time with tourmate Mike 
Watt's band.

"Nels really liked us a lot," Bozulich says. "Nels completed the
rest of the tours that we did, because Watt wasn't touring anymore
[in 1996]. Then when Daniel left the band, Nels became more or 
less permanent."

While Bozulich says that Cline made important contributions, such 
as the co-written title song (published, like all the group's 
material by EMI Virgin Songs Inc./Milk Pal Music [BMI]), she adds, 
"I think that a lot of the change in direction was something that 
was happening already anyway."

Although Cline is now a completely integrated member of the band, 
the Fibbers--who also include bassist William Tutton and drummer 
Kevin Fitzgerald--must now contend with the departure of violinist
 Jessy Greene, who abruptly quit the group this spring.

Bozulich says bemusedly, "We really don't understand or know why 
she left, except that she went to play in the Jayhawks, and I guess 
her boyfriend's in that band.. It could be that, or maybe she just 
likes their music better."

While the band, which is managed by Ted Gardner of Lannikan,
(NOTE: Billboard's spelling, not mine!-Anthony) is still seeking 
another fiddler to fill Greene's spot, Virgin's Bolan says that
touring will be "intrinsic" to promoting "Butch."

"We are expecting that they will be ready to go, and we'll have dates
beginning to showcase them right at street date, or certainly very
close to street date," Bolan says. "While we're not planning on doing
what you would call special showcases, we are going to focus on the
shows they'll be doing in the high-profile markets that they developed
with the first record, which would include Los Angeles, Seattle,
Portland [Ore.], San Francisco, Chicago, New York. We will have
special emphasis for those shows and bring people in to see them."

A first single has not been finalized, but Bolan says it will 
probably be "California Tuffy" or the Fibbers' spark-striking
cover of Can's krautrock classic "Yoo Doo Right." A video will
be shot for the track.

Bolan says, "Certainly we're going to focus on college radio. 
Because it's [being released in] the middle of summertime,
I suspect we'll start the record there and then do a reservicing
of it as we go into late August, just before school starts.
The focus track will most likely drop very close to street date,
and we'll be starting at commercial alternative to start."

She adds that Virgin is planning a promotional 7-inch single
of the focus track, with a contrasting number, such as "Folks
Like Me," on the flip side. (Sympathy for the Record Industry
will issue a vinyl LP version of the album for commercial

After the domestic launch of "Butch," Virgin will release the 
album internationally.

"We will have a nice profile developing for them overseas,
because we'll have a fair amount of territories releasing the
record," Bolan says. "The time frame that's being discussed
is September for European and U.K. release."

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