Songs of Tragedy: The Geraldine Fibbers

by Gabe Soria with Carolyn Kellogg
Fizz, Fall 1994

The Geraldine Fibbers are, to put it quite simply, an incredible band. To 
call them a country band wouldn't be completely accurate, but it would 
also do them a disservice to just call them "pop" or "punk." They encompass 
all these things and yet go beyond them all to create their own dark and 
moody, but rocking, sound. Songs of love and hate and darkness, powerful and 
moving, are all part of the Fibbers' sound of sin. If you never thought you 
could be moved by anything of the "country" persuasion, then you've got to 
give them a listen. Made up of members of Ethyl Meatplow, Glue and others 
too fierce to mention, the Fibbers mine another territory altogether. Lead 
singer Carla's voice, along with the powerful backing of the band, creates 
a miserable yet joyful world which you find yourself wishing you could be 
part of, even though you'd probably have to kill your lover to get into it. 
The following interview was conducted at Carla and Daniel's house as most 
of us were getting drunk, so there you go. 

Fizz: So what happened?
Daniel: What happened? What happened, Carla?
Carla: What?
Fizz: You guys seemed so cheerful when you walked up. 
Carla: Oh, we picked a record label.
Fizz: You picked a record label? Wow.
Daniel: Yeah, we had a couple of choices.
Fizz: Hey, congratulations!
Daniel: We'd probably say that we feel we've picked the one that was right 
for us. (Carla laughs)
Fizz: What record label? Can you guys say?
Carla: We don't want to say it because we don't want to jinx it. They don't
even know it yet.
Daniel: Yeah, we haven't told them yet.
Fizz: But suffice it to say, you picked the right record label.
Daniel: Yeah, and they don't know it, that's the beauty of it. We're
celebrating and they're sweating.
Fizz: Make 'em sweat.
Daniel:I don't know if Fizz readers want to hear about that, but their 
[record companies] natural tendency is to exploit you and so that was 
our goal--to find a company that would do the least exploiting. I think 
that's why we're happy because I think we all knew right along that they 
were the right company; because they're really cool people. But we were 
just hoping that they would make us an offer that would be good enough 
for us to quit our day jobs and everything. 
Fizz: And they did?
Daniel: And they did.
Fizz: Right on, right on.
Daniel: So we're celebrating, and they're sweating.
Fizz: And you're smiling.
Daniel: And we're smiling. Tomorrow hopefully they'll be smiling too.
Fizz: You guys were in New York last weekend at CMJ. Can you tell us 
anything about that?
Daniel: It's a geek-fest for every college radio jock in the country to get
together with all his other counterparts and hang out and watch every band
Carla: Who can get it up to get out there. (laughter)
Daniel: It's amazing the bands that played--there were like 700 bands. 
Carla: Yeah, it's overwhelming. But we got there at the end--we got there 
on the last day--so we missed all the good shows and the ones that were 
there when we were there I didn't see. 
Kevin: I went to Small Factory and Low. 
Fizz: How did your show go over?
Carla: We had one sort of, kind of good, sort of little stuffy, kind of 
show. It was this really nice place called The Supper Club. Jeff Buckley 
was headlining and it was, well, sort of weird because it was all about 
him, I guess. And it was kind of a real classy event. It was a fun show 
but I think I was a little stiff. And the next night we had a really 
good show--a little tiny show--there wasn't anybody there. You know when 
you don't give a fuck you have a much better show sometimes. 
Daniel: Yeah, that show was a much better show. I mean, they were both good
shows, but it was fun to play New York. We played uptown and then we played
downtown. That was New York. (Peter, Carla and Daniel's roommate, walks in 
and everybody screams hello.)
Fizz: I just heard, or I was looking at the album cover, and noticed that 
Mark from Foreskin 500 did the album art. How did that come about? I didn't 
even know that Mark did that sort of stuff. 
Carla:'ll show you this thing. (shows us an ornate handmade
cassette cover) He sent me this for my birthday last year, "Happy Birthday." 
He makes theses things, this is like his trip--he makes these things for 
cassette covers. They're collages, and he made me that one because he 
knew I like country music and stuff. 
Daniel: So we took his artwork and put it on these (shows off a Fibbers
Fizz: Aw, that's pretty.
Carla: And we were making a tape and ... Hey Bill. That's Bill.
(Bill, the bassist for the Fibbers, walks in.)
Bill: I just got my car and my guitar fixed, so I'm happy. 
Kevin:This is your guitar, Bill? It's hot, Jesus Christ!
Carla:(continuing her story) So I was getting the [Glue] seven-inch cover 
made, and I just thought of it because we needed a cover for our 
Geraldine Fibbers tape, and I stuck it on the Xerox machine at the 
last minute and there it was--a thousand of them. Color Xerox. And we 
liked it so much. 
(PJ, the Fibbers' road manager walks in.)
PJ: Hey!
Fizz: Hi!
Carla: we asked him if he would make a collage for the ten-inch cover, and 
he made a whole other collage.
Fizz: It's pretty.
Carla: It's really beautiful.
Fizz: Tell us about your new car!
Bill: I just bought this Volkswagen bus--flat white. It's got a rebuilt 
engine. It has less than 15,000 miles on it. I got it for less than $2000. 
It drives great. I'm just happy, just totally stoked. The guy told me that 
if I ever want to sell it, he wants to buy it back. So that's kind of 
insurance. Fizz: So why'd he sell it?
Bill: He's young and married and he had to get a car for his wife, so this 
was just his personal thing. He collects cars.
(We all start talking about guitars and Carla's t-shirt, which says...)
Fizz: just a while ago, somebody said that line, "Ancient Chinese Secret." 
I hadn't heard it in ten years and I fell over laughing.
Carla: They were a band from Norman, Oklahoma. When Ethyl Meatplow was on 
tour with Steel Pole Bathtub we played a few shows with them, and they were 
just these really great guys. They weren't even from Norman, they were from 
a little town near Norman, Oklahoma, and they had a milk truck they had 
gotten from somebody. They were like, "We don't have any money or any food, 
and we're not getting paid for any shows, but we just can't stay home 
anymore! Will you feed us?" We really liked them a lot. 
Fizz: Why is that the strangest bands always come from the smallest towns?
Actually, it makes perfect sense.
Bill: It's insular. There's no one to tell you that you're pretentious or 
Fizz: Where are you from, Kevin?
Kevin: Fairbanks, Alaska.
Fizz: So would you be from the smallest town of all the people in the 
Kevin: No, it's about 40,000-50,000 people.
Daniel: Yeah, he wins hands down.
Bill: I'm from the Buffalo area, which is a college town. I'm from Kenmore, 
the northern suburb, where all the bands come from.
Fizz: What do you have to say for yourself, P.J.?
P.J.: For myself? I'm very happy for the Fibbers, and I love them. 
Kevin: We're her favorite band ever.
P.J:I'd even say that if they weren't my friends. 
Bill: I had a dream about PJ the other night. She morphed into a man with a
real hairy chest in the dream. 
Fizz: This has to be the obligatory dumb question, I have to ask this 
Daniel: What is it?
Fizz: You know what it's going to be.
Kevin: I bet I could think of a dumber one.
Carla: "Where'd you get the name?"
Fizz: I've gotta know.
Carla: The name.
Kevin: I'll give the obligatory dumb answer!
Carla: Oh man!
Kevin: It's a secret.
Fizz: Ancient Chinese secret! Move on...I thought I could give it a shot. 
Oh well. So...what's the biggest lie you ever told?
Carla: Lie!
Fizz: Or the one that got you in the most trouble.
Bill: I can answer this one. The best lie I ever told at was when I was 
four. My sister and I had just gotten turtles, the ones that just die 
after about 4 days, the ones they sold at K-Mart. And so I was concerned 
that the turtles wouldn't eat in their little plexiglas bowl, so I force 
fed one of the turtles. They were identical, and it turned out that it 
was my sister's. She could tell them apart--she was older than me. And so 
I accidentally pushed it head into its body and killed it. I didn't really 
panic about it, it's just that its head wouldn't come out, I was four, 
I didn't know about death or anything like that. And then at dinner that 
night everyone was real somber, and my sister sat across from me. 
She was crying. My mother goes, "Billy, do you know what happened to 
Cathy's turtle?" And I'm all, "What do you mean?" And she says, "Cathy's 
turtle died. Do you know what happened to it?" And I realized, "Oh no, 
I killed it!" So I told the whole family that I was taking the turtle 
for a walk up on the roof of our house and a bumble bee came along and 
I was four so I'm like,"...and then, and then, a great big bumble bee 
came along and he stung him on the nose and he took off! I was just like, 
I believed it myself. So my mother, my father, and my two other sisters 
broke out laughing and the one sister whose turtle it was got upset 
because she wasn't getting the sympathy she deserved because she was 
the one who had lost a pet. That was probably the best lie. And I didn't 
get in a scrape of troube for it. It proved to me that if you make people
laugh you can get away with anything.
Fizz: Anybody else have a lie?
Daniel: I made a false fire call when I was about eight. I called the fire
department and told them that there was a big fire. And then I went over to
somebody's house, and my parent's started chasing me down, I was all, "I 
didn't do it, I didn't do it!" And they're like, "Well, come home anyway." 
I went there and the chief of the fire department was there at the house, 
and he's got htis little tape recorder. And it's me giving the false 
(everybody laughs)
Carla: What I wouldn't give for that tape right now.
Daniel: I just sat there, I don't know if I cried or if I ran to my room or
whatever, but they threatened me, "You'll go to an all-boys school.!" That 
was a bad lie.
Bill: Where I grew up it was Father Baker's--that's where they sent all the
recalcitrant youth.
Fizz: It's not good to lie, kids. Tell the truth always.
Carla: I can't think of a lie that would be interesting at all.
Fizz: Well, what's the most horrible injury you've received?
Carla: Injury?
Kevin: You know what? Let's just go for it, let's just talk about gross 
Carla: Let's see...aside from self-inflicted. I would say falling out of a 
tree when I was ten years old. I had been hanging from somebody's feet, 
and we were swinging and it was real fun and when he dropped I fell, and 
I broke my arm in five places. I had a big cast and I was just starting 
to learn to play drums and I never learned how to play drums. I stopped. 
Fizz: Your life could have gone in a completely different direction.
Carla: It would have had a whole other twist. The thing that I remember 
the most about that, I remember looking at my arm because it was like this 
(makes diagonal type direction) and thinking, that reminds me of this 
fish my sister had--it had a broken tail--and I remember lying on the 
ground in shock, looking at my arm and thinking, "That looks just like 
the fish's tail..." And I still remember. I still associate the fish's 
tail with the broken arm. That's all. It's not interesting, but it's mine, 
Kevin: I've never broken a bone.
Bill: I've broken bones, but they weren't ugly.
Kevin: I've had some good bicycle accidents. I still have a huge scar on 
my shoulder from just eating shit so bad. It was like hamburger.
Daniel: I got into a fight with a freshman. This an embarrassing, as well 
as broken bone story. I was a senior in high school, and I got into a 
fight with one of the freshmen about something stupid--about being a 
big bully--an I punched him twice in the stomach. Well, the first time 
I hit him, I hit his giant belt buckle, and I broke these bones in my 
hand. I was like, "Ahhhhh!"
Kevin: I hope he started kicking you.
Carla: I have a good story where you learn an instant moral lesson. That's 
a story like that, where you're so moded...
Fizz: Moded! I haven't heard anyone use that in a long time. Moded corroded.
Carla: When I was 16, I was walking down the street--me and my punker
friends--and there were these cheerleading bimbo girls walking on the other
side of the street. We were walking like we were really cool, we were 
listening to our music and stuff, whatever it was. And I, like, pulled away 
from the group, and I was going, "Ha ha! Look at you! Look at your stupid 
hair! Look at your stupid white cowboy boots! You people are stupid! You 
people are really stupid!" And I was walking--strutting--right? And I 
walked smack into a pole. It totally flattened me and gave me a bloody 
nose right there on the spot. And everyone was just standing there, 
laughing at me.
Daniel: You were a punker though. That was cool.
Fizz: What'd you do after you got up? Did you still flip them off, or...
Bill: I meant to do that.
Daniel: When she came to, nobody was around.
Carla: It was great, though, because it's not good to just never 
works: don't try to think you're cool.
Bill: I have the most queasy injury story. I was on my way to see Alice 
Cooper when I was just out of high school--four days after graduation. 
Anyhow, we're all crammed in my friend's dad's car, like eight of us in the
back seat, five in the front and four in the glove compartment. I felt 
this really, really shar, sharp, sharp, sharp--underline that six 
times--pain in my groin. Like right in the gonad, as they say. And I 
was like, "OW!" and we were traveling far to go to the concert. This 
wasn't "Oh, drop me off, I have to go to the hospital, I have an 
emergency here." It was "Oh, shit, what do I do now? We're like an hour 
away from home." So we saw the concert--we saw Alice Cooper and I didn't 
pay attention--got home, investigated the wound area. There was nothing
abnormal except this really sharp pain. Eighteen months went by (laughter) 
I did nothing for 18 months except totally stress out. This was my first 
year of college...
Daniel: Was the pain present during this whole time?
Bill: The pain was lessened greatly, but I didn't know what was going on. 
It was more like. "What happened? That wasn't normal! That wasn't part of
puberty! That wasn't part of nothing! What happened?" I just didn't know. 
I wasn't facing up to it. Finally, an adult friend was like "Why are you so
stressed out? What's wrong with you" and I had heard him talking, about a
urologist and I said--I was 19, right! Picture this--"you have a urologist?
Make me an appoitment." So he called my house, said that he had gotten me 
an appointment with the urologist. I went to the guy and he told me I 
suffered from a testicular torsion, meaning that my left testicle has 
twisted aroun itself on the blood supply such that it killed itself, 
it suffocated itself. And that was the pain. Therefore, I had to 
undergo surgery to sew the right one in place.
Fizz: Wait, so you have no more left testicle?
Bill: Yeah, it's gone, for many years now.
Kevin: One-Ball Bill! One Ball bill! Wooooh!
Bill: That's what my dad said. I told you that, didn't I?
Kevin: No you didn't.
Bill: Yes, I did because that's exactly what my dad said.
Daniel: Oh my god that is so funny.
Carla: You're not my only friend with one missing. I have a friend who burst
his in a motocycle accident.
Bill: Yeah, I've met a couple people since then. The right one is sewn in
Fizz: So are you a cyclops now?
Kevin: I've got two healthy gonads.
(everybody starts trading more injury stories)
Carla: I got bit on the ass once by a dog. Now I get bitten by spiders on 
the ass all the time.
Fizz: Let's talk about country music! People are going to think that that's
weird in Fizz, a "punk rock" magazine, but a lot of people don't realize 
how fucking cool it is.
Daniel: We do a lot of music besides country. The thing about us is we're 
not afraid to play country music. It's not like we think people are going 
to think we're not cool, if they think we're not cool, whatever.
(We start discussing music full of pathos and come to opera)
Kevin: Country is the music of the common man. All the shist they [country
singers] talk about basically has to do with the drudgery of life. That's 
what makes it so tragic, because life's tragic. 
Daniel: It's cool because it's kind of the music that brought us all 
together, and that's why it's special to us, because we all love country 
music and we'll always plays it. If we write punk songs--which we will--and 
pop songs, that's great. But we'll always want to play country.
(Carla lets out a terrific belch)
Kevin: B-R-R-R-R-R-P!
Fizz:We should drop a few names so people will go try and check this stuff 
out. A lot of people are buying that new Johnny Cash album...(tape ends 
and conversation picks up later...)
Kevin: Garth Brooks is like arena rock. He's smashing his guitar and I'm 
like, "What the fuck are you smashing you guitar for?"
Daniel: People love it. People get drunk, they pay 40 bucks and want to see
Kevin: OK, Let's drop some names.
Daniel: George Jones.Tammy Wynette. 
Carla: The most purest, most beautiful, sweetest, strongest kick-ass voice.
Daniel: Bobbie Gentry
Bill: John Cash.
Kevin: Louvin Brothers.
Fizz: Hank Williams.
Bill: Not Junior.
Kevin: Bob Wills.
Kevin: Jimmie Dale Gilmore--did a single with a Mudhoney [on Sub Pop].
Fizz: Hopefully a lot of people are hearing that.
Bill: Mickey Newberry.
Fizz: Junior Walker.
Kevin: Dottie West, Conway Twitty.
Carla: Kitty Wells.
Fizz: Old Dolly Parton.
Carla: I lvoe Dolly. I love Dolly Parton in the 80s.
Fizz: Patsy Cline.
Kevin: Any of the tragedy queens from between the 50s to the mid-70s.
Daniel: The Carter Family.
Bill:David Allen Coe.
Kevin:Willie Nelson. If you like Willie Nelson, you gotta listen to Hank 
Snow, an old time Grand Ol Opry guy who Willie Nelson lifted his vocal 
delivery from. Hank Snow.
Daniel: There's some fightin words, buddy! Willie Nelson don't steal nothin
from nobody!
Kevin:I have an album by Hank Snow called Songs of Tragedy. The cover is 
simply a noose. How much mor tragic can you get?
(Conservation breaks down, and we decide to call it a night, but not before
Carla offers her last words)
Carla: Go Team Fucker!

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