The Geraldine Fibbers

by Mat Smith
(NME, October 18 1997)

Some folk have peculiar pre-performance routines. Newcastle defender Stuart Pearce famously psyches up for football matches by listening to the Sex Pistols. Eternal have a prayer meeting. Jimi Hendrix dropped acid... Geraldine Fibbers driving force, Carla Bozulich, erm, checks her pants.

"Most people don't know this, but I have a whole thing that happens to me every night when we play that's really intense and involves having to wear a maxi-pad," Carla reveals over a crackling transatlantic link. "If you see me singing and screaming really hard, you can pretty much assume something is going on which is very intense. It's kind of understood that we don't talk about it in the band--'Don't mention to Carla that she wet her pants'!"

That's a lot of pants since the Fibbers' inception. The first time this LA based five-piece--Will Tutton (bass), Kevin Fitzgerald (drums), Leyna Marika P (violinist) and Nels Cline (guitar) complete the line-up- visited these shores with their mini-album 'Get Thee Gone', they were a ramshackle country outfit. A Reading appearance two years ago for the follow-up, 'Lost Somewhere Between The Earth and My Home', confirmed the country pretensions, but also hinted they'd been drinking from the same poisoned chalice as Nick Cave.

Now, a transformation of sorts is complete. Their newly born 'Butch' LP is a musically varied and compelling collection of oblique, brutalised, and occasionally beautiful tales from a place where fervour flirts with madness.

According to Carla, it's closer in spirit (if not execution) to sandpaper underpants-wearing types like Casper Brotzmann and Einsturzende Neubauten. She's not wrong, of course, only telling half the story. Sure enough, when 'Butch' rages hard--as it does on 'Toybox' and their cover of Can's 'You Doo Right'--it's an ear-bleedingly intense experience. But when it snuggles up close, like on the skewed nursery rhymes of 'Heliotrope' and 'Claudine', it's sublime.

All this moody beauty barely conceals a mournful undercurrent. 'Trashman In Furs' and the title track were inspired by the AIDS-related death of Jim Reva, the dancer with Carla's former band, the much mentioned but seldom seen Ethyl Meatplow.

"Right to the end he died trying to make the process of dying seem beautiful and almost fun," says Carla. "I know that sounds sick, but it's true and I tried to convey it when I wrote the songs."

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