Daring to Tell the Truth

Over the river and through the woods with The Geraldine Fibbers
by David Peisner

The Geraldine Fibbers wouldn't tell me where their name 
came from. In fact, when I asked the question, lead singer 
Carla Bozulich snorted and sighed to let me know what 
she thought of the question, before giving me a typically 
twisted answer. "It's an anagram for the phrase 'Be her 
last grief in bed.'" Well it is, (don't bother to check. 
I did the math), but I'm not sure if I bought the 
explanation. In fact, this band, who on their debut album, 
Lost Somewhere Between The Earth and My Home, are 
so frightening in their insistence on telling the truth, 
vicious as it may be, tell enough half-truths in person 
to earn at least part of their name. They're not lying, 
just telling fibs. 

Their debut album, hailed by many as one of 1995's best 
albums has been tagged by the band themselves as "sickened 
traditional" music. It is a warped mix of raging rock 
and twisted pop, with an interest in country music that 
goes far beyond watching "Hee-Haw" reruns. Many of the 
songs are just fine until The Big Bad Wolf makes his 
appearance. And on Lost... the Wolf usually sticks around 
until the end. In Austin to play an open street party 
during the South by Southwest Music conference, Bozulich 
and Fibbers guitarist Daniel Keenan had enough time to 
throw a couple barbs, a little sarcasm and a dose of 
truth our way. 

UR: Do you listen to much country music? 

Carla Bozulich: Country music sucks, man. 

Daniel Keenan: It's a sham. We tried to get an angle on this 
whole "grunge" thing, y'know, 'cause it was getting a little 
blown. And country was like -- well, nobody does country. 
(Sits up a little) No, for me -- if I feel like I need to 
come back down to earth and relax, I put on Hank Williams 
CDs and that makes me feel really happy. And y'know, if, 
the, uh, (looks to the wood paneled ceiling for the name 
of a typically useless alternapop band), Goo Goo Dolls 
think that's stupid -- well, fuck them. They try to look 
like Nirvana, so... 

CB (interrupts): Tammy Wynette is a really important person. 

DK: Tammy Wynette rules. 

UR: What do you think about the so-called "new country?" 

CB: Oh, that's a silly question. What can you think 
about it? 

DK: Do you mean like Garth Brooks or you mean like Tarnation? 

UR: I mean like Garth Brooks and... 

DK: Garth Brooks is a smart guy. I don't care what you say 
about him, but he's pretty smart. 

CB: He's got the whole Nirvana thing down. He's taking the best from
everyone there ever was. 

DK: Jimi Hendrix, fuckin' Nirvana... 

CB: Iggy Pop. [Garth]'s got the punkest fuckin' 
(They both break down laughing) 

UR: Well, y'all lost me. 

DK: Have you ever seen one of his (Brooks') concerts? 

CB: He goes the whole nine yards. 

DK: He burns guitars. He crushes guitars. He does the 
national anthem. 

CB: He hurls cymbals into the audience. 

DK: Women cry. It's like the Beatles, Hendrix -- it's 
everything rolled into one. Fuck you if you don't like 
Garth Brooks. 

CB: At his last concert, he threw a cymbal into the concert 
like a frisbee. (Leans forward) Rumor has it that a baby's 
head was chopped off. 

DK: And y'know what? On top of it all, he's a closet 
homosexual and nobody knows about that and it's really sad. 
He's got all these balls to do all these things -- to 
fuckin' take everything from everybody and to make this 
beautiful giant- he's sold more records than Billy 
Joel -- but he can't come out of the closet. 

CB: He's got some of Billy Joel's moves too. 

DK: He IS the piano man. (Begins singing) "When you're 
five years old..." 

CB: He's taken the best element of every supersonic star ever. 

DK (in background still singing): "Captain Jack will get you high

UR: I think it's about time we move on. 

CB: He's our main inspiration. 

UR: A lot of the songs on the album that get tagged as 
"country" sound more like warped fairy tales. I'm thinking 
especially of Outside of Town, Song About Walls, and Get Thee 
Gone. They seem to have almost a sing-song quality... 

CB: Well, Song About Walls is straight-up Skynyrd. 

(I shake my head and Carla breaks out laughing.) 

DK: Y'know what the problem is. We're a retarded pop band. we can't
figure out the last hook that will really drive it home, so we get all
these great little things to get it started and then we lose it and it
turns into this big mess at the end. 

CB: And we get it all done and we realize that we forgot to put 
a chorus in the song. (Pause) But you're right -- folk tales. 
[I] like to tell 'em. 

UR: The liner notes actually look like an old fashioned 
fairy tale book. 

CB: It's set up after a really old copy of Alice in Wonderland 
that I have. It's the same font. It's laid out the same way 
as that book. 

DK: And if I don't mind saying, "Thank you Smashing Pumpkins for
stealing that idea on your record." They're on our same label (Virgin)
and they stole it, and they're fuckers. And I don't mind saying it...
They stole it and they think they're so righteous. I hate them. 

UR: Hallelujah. Pass the gravy. 

CB (laughing): Get down. 

DK: They saw our record come out. They saw what we did and 
they fuckin' stole it and they fuckin' stole it and fuckin' 
did their whole artwork around what we did. And that really 
sucks. They are lame. And you can print that- I don't care. 
Tell Billy to call me. (Leans into the tape recorder) Call me, baby. 

(Carla is giggling uncontrollably on the other couch.) 

UR: Careful, he might. 

DK: Are you kidding me? He won't call me. He cancelled a show 
in Japan because it didn't sell out. Talk about fuckin' losin' 
perspective. It's about music -- not how many people show up. 
Whatever. But we won't have that problem.  

UR: Why not? 

DK: Because we'll play in front of two people. 

CB: Because we don't expect anyone to show up. We're always 
shocked when anybody comes. 

DK: It's about plugging your guitar in and making connections 
amongst ourselves, not how many people see us play. [But] for 
a band that basically doesn't sell records and you don't hear 
about very much, people go out of their way to see us sometimes, 
which I think is kind of admirable. 

UR: Careers like that usually last longer. 

DK: I don't think this band is going to break up any time soon. 

CB: Let's just knock on wood, shall we. 

UR: If felt that the album, Lost Somewhere Between The Earth 
and My Home... 

CB (slowly): L-S-B-T-E-A-M-H, for short. 

UR: Exactly. I felt like it was emotionally very "to the 
point." It was direct and devastating. I was wondering if it 
was as draining to make as it seemed it would have been? 

DK: It was extremely draining. I can tell you this much. There 
were many times when personally I wasn't sure if it was what 
I wanted to do [because] it was so draining. And there were 
times when we in the studio and people were hacking at 
instruments, they were so pissed off. A lot of songs just 
bring that out. For example, Dragon Lady, which was already 
an emotional song 'cause Carla was so pissed at me. "I'm so 
sick and tired of your bullshit" is basically the theme. 
(Carla is laughing.) And so she wrote the lyrics and they
were there and by the time we got to the studio, we kind of 
had it down. It was the last song we wrote. But the day we 
recorded it, some bad news came on the phone. 

CB: The minute we recorded it. The minute I was about to 
sing the words I found out a friend of mine was dead. And 
the producer was like, "Well, go sing the song." 

DK: And if you really listen to the song you can hear it. 
Because it's the best performance I've ever heard her give 
on a song, period... [When] she came in (from the studio) 
she was shaking. 

(Carla laughs uncomfortably) 

DK: I think the record took a lot out of everybody. 

UR: Finally, I wanted to know what you thought of the whole 
SXSW convention. 

DK: I think it's a great idea. 

CB (looks at him, incredulous): Why? 

DK: Well, personally, any excuse to go have a few beers, 
listen to some music, watch a bunch of people get crazy -- it's 
good with me. I mean, is there a deeper reason why we're here 
on this planet? 

Probably not, but I wouldn't have expected a band that sounds 
dead-serious on record to live by such a flippant philosophy. 
Just goes to show that you never know where the truth might hit 
you from. 

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