The Geraldine Fibbers

by Michele Amabile
(SMUG Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 6 - 1997)

Thanks to Mademoiselle Rachel for transcribing the article and sending the picture to scan!

Carla phtographed at SXSW 1996

Nothing annoys Carla Bozulich more than the word "cowpunk," which has been used more than enough to describe her band, the Geraldine Fibbers. And frankly, the singer is sick of it.

"That is such a stupid, fucking phrase to begin with," Bozulich says. "Is it laziness, or is it being misinformed? There might have been a time for about five minutes where that phrase didn't sound trite and stupid. But that time is long gone. There is nothing at all on this album that is remotely 'cowpunk.'"

Bozulich is anything but boring; her tenure in her previous band Ethyl Meatplow is a testament to that. The Fibbers' blend of violin, country and general sonic assaults is hard to define, though critics have been trying since their 1995 debut full length Lost Somewhere Between The Earth and My Home. On their latest effort Butch, a mesmerizing anomaly that explores both anger and introspection, Bozulich handles guitar, bass, organ and glockenspiel duties, which makes instrumentals like "Heliotrope" take on otherworldly dimensions. Plus, you can't beat the twisted lyrics unassumingly delivered by the jilted sounding Bozulich. In "California Tuffy," she sings "I'll be alone forever/you will never get my heart." Straighter to the point, in "I Killed the Cuckoo" she punches, "I can see it in the tea leaves/you're fucked." In "Toybox," she explains, "In time, I'll grow to big and old to help you with your strange hurt. But right now, I'm a school girl learning what I was put on this earth for." Her lyrics speak to the confused adolescent in everyone, but Bozulich categorizes it another way.

"It's kind of like a diary entry, isn't it?" she says. "It's funny, because I never kept a diary."

Bozulich is in a relatively good mood. The band has begun touring in support of Butch, and the initial critical reviews have been positive. Her demeanor is admirable considering her band has dealt with two major line-up changes before and after the recording of the album. Although drummer Kevin Fitzgerald and bassist William Tutton remained, violinist and viola player Jessy Greene left for a career in the No Depression genre, playing for the likes of Golden Smog and the Jayhawks. Jessica Moss and Leyna Marika P. will alternate as touring violinists. Talking to Bozulich, one gets the feeling she is not quite over Greene's departure.

"Jessy quit after we recorded the album, and we were thrilled," she says, sarcasm dripping form he voice. "She left to play with the Jayhawks. She wanted to play more conventional music. It just didn't interest her anymore. I tried to treat her like a queen, or a princess. But I'm a gentleman, I try to make all girls feel fancy." Her voice breaks off. It's almost as if she doesn't have an explanation, and she doesn't want to talk about it anymore.

What is easier for Bozulich to discuss is the new guy in the band, journeyman guitarist Nels Cline who possesses a resume of musical accomplishments including scoring films and playing with Thurston Moore, Wayne Kramer and fIREHOSE, as well as contributing to the Fibbers' "What Part of Get Thee Gone Don't You Understand?". Bozulich and Cline met while working together on Mike Watt's opus, Ball Hog? Or Tugboat?, and hit it off immediately.

"Nels took no convincing to join the band," she said. "We were bound for this. We were destined. We just flopped into place without trying at all. His joining was like snapping a little piece of the puzzle together."

Almost blushing, Cline responds, "Working with Carla is great. I love her voice, and I love her lyrics. She fulfills something in my life, musically."

Accomplished but humble, Cline recalls his life as a starving musician. "It's kind of embarrassing that they put that list of my recordings together; you can't even find any of those records," he laughs. "I am pretty unknown in this country, and that resume means I've been doing this forever. I'm the old guy."

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