A blast from the past. Former movie house; the remnants of a New York classic. This is Blender Theatre. The now music venue is the perfect mid-sized location, big enough to attract larger names and intimate enough to enjoy those artists, with a great sound system to boot. What more could a music enthusiast want? Fixer on July 24th! A mouth-wateringly dynamic rock band with enough stage presence to quench your thirst long enough to forget they actually do serve alcohol.
Bred with pure talent, the grit on NYC, and cunning lyrical content, you'll very well erase from your memory all the over-produced, pseudo-bands of the MTV generation. I had the privilege speaking to friend and frontman, Evan Saffer about the darker side of Fixer:
1. I've known Fixer for about five years now, and one of the first things that attracted me to your music was even under the cutting rock edge lay a really dark lyrical foundation. What inspires these lyrics?
The lyrics are usually some dark facet of my life or the other blokes in the band (Evan Saffer - lead vocals, Rev Swank - drums, Tommy Zamp - lead guitar, Adam James - bass). Something that I've done or been thinking about and need to vent. We're all at odds with our lives and just getting through each day. I have always been a very conflicted and passionate person. That certainly comes out in the live shows, but I think that's almost the easy part. It's easy to have a meltdown in front of people, probably why we choose anger more frequently than any other emotion. I think it's more difficult to get that emotion into the lyrics and the music when you are alone and within yourself. Probably why we're always told that our live show is much better than the album. At least we're aware of why, and always have the intention of getting it there on the actual records. A lot of what I wrote about on Before The Sun was more of a 19 year old mentality of sex, drugs, rock n roll, secrets, betrayal, and how deeply all those things affected me. I'm at a different place now, I suppose I've grown up a bit. Well, lets face it, not that much...I'm hung over as we speak. However, I'm writing now more about mortality, love, death, and mental endurance (or collapse), about change, personalities, society, celebrity, insomnia, psychosocial behavior, radical behavior, dreams vs. reality..... Love is certainly a cliche topic, however, as long as it continues to be a part of our human nature, it will never go away. We're all searching for love and I've had no shortage of experience in relationships, so I have plenty to say on that topic. I believe I've grown as a writer and I owe a lot of it to experience and also reading. I'm a junky for books and I gravitate to writers that are a bit perverse, like myself, but have a silly wit and outlook on life. I try to deliver most of those subjects with a twistof poetic glamour, edginess, and fun.
2. Who are some of your contemporaries that you draw inspiration from? Why?
Musically it's the artists that you can't stop talking about, you can't take your eyes off them when they perform, and their ability to transcend things like "hooks" and "commercial viability" and words like "modern". When you're listening to them or watching, you're not thinking any of those words. You are simply lost in the experience and enjoying yourself. Artists that evoke everything they are feeling, whether you like it or not. You don't ask yourselve if they are acting or not, because it doesn't even cross your jaded mind. You are simply involved in the experience and you love it. It's the writing as much as the performing, some of my favorites are Michael Jackson (RIP), Alice in Chains (RIP), Nirvana (RIP), Guns N Roses, Marilyn Manson, Madonna, Leonard Cohen, Eric Clapton, The Doors (RIP), Phish, The Grateful Dead (RIP)....the list goes on....you get the idea. I've always held very lofty aspirations as to my career in music. I write daily, read always.....recently I have secluded myself and barely go out. I have been in a trance of creativity and more than ever I'm trusting my feelings and thoughts. I want to get them all down without interruption or too many opinions. I find I get easily aggravated or annoyed during this period and it's really become a prolonged menstruation, only instead of blood I'm discharging music. I think that was something that I didn't do for a long time and the contemporaries mentioned above, at one time or another in their careers, made a choice to do it this way.
3. As you know, my blog concentrates primarily on a macabre aesthetic. Normally, I would just relate this to art, but as I started brainstorming about the grotesque, the genre is pretty all encompassing and can include music, literature, film, and so forth. Do you consider this term to be influential to you personally?
I'm a very graphic person, whether it's on stage or off. I get flashes of me lying on my back in some filthy bathroom in a club at god knows what hour doing things I shouldn't be doing, somewhere between deadly and deathly. Then I wake up in the middle of the night and don't go back to sleep for five hours, while my head is pounding, to write it all down. Sometimes the headache is the only evidence it wasn't a dream. How is that for macabre. I love that word, sounds like something you should eat slowly for dessert. Something sinful, probably has chocolate in it. Most of the literature and film that I use to pry forth my own inner demons are very grotesque. Writers that I can't put down: Tom Robbins, Irving Welsh, Kurt Vonnegut and films like Pans Labyrinth, Trainspotting, and American Beauty all have that sinister edge and most monstrous of human tendencies while teaching you something very important. That may come off pretentious when you read it like that, however, you never think that when you're reading these authors or watching their movies. You just say to yourself: "Yes! That's so true, that's how I want to live. That's what is truly important in life. Ok, now stop whining about how tough life is and get to it."
4. Last year you were signed with Rikerhill Records. Since then, you've been touring pretty consistantly through the U.S.? How has that been? What process is more exciting for you creating your music, or performing it?
The tour can't be described as to the effect it has on the artistic spirit. It's something every artist should do, whether you are Kerouac or Fixer. The point is to travel, meet people, hone your craft and see what is out there so you can actually have a perspective on what you are creating. I've changed so much since the beginning, since you and I first met. Performance used to be everything to me and now it's the complete opposite. I was so eager to share that I wasn't thinking too much about the wisdom of what I was sharing. I want to think about that more now, to write that down and eventually to perform it again. However, I'll be someone evolved when that time comes. The music, the performance and the concept will all take a big step forward. As far as what I am writing now, it already has.
5. What's the idea behind your album art for 'Before the Sun'?
It was intended to convey a bit of wicked humor, which we thought represented our music. It's a ghost boy coming from a terribly dilapidated and isolated house that every nightmarish creature in the world lives in. He or she is coming back OR going to trick or treat at the house. It makes you wonder what kind of family must let their kid do such a thing. It's got an Addam's Family meets Friday the 13th vibe to it. Also, if you look closely, the ghost boy has three alien fingers on each hand so we're not exactly sure what's under the sheet. Now take that imagery and thought process and think about what the album must sound like.
6. Your video, "Tell No One", what's that all about?
The Tell No One video was intended to have a storyline depicting a young girl with dark secrets in her flawless facade. We had a custom made dress made for her, we shot her in the swimming pool with her friends, we showed her perfect boyfriend with money and fast cars and the caring parents. Behind it all there was a treacherous relationship that left her bruised physically and emotionally. We wanted to portray that duality within her character so we showed her in the perfect light and social situations as well as by herself - tormented and insecure. There is actually one seen where she has a meltdown in her room. She's an artist in fact and when we look in her room there is all this dark and twisted artwork. We shot her painting a new painting and then falling to pieces while she was thinking of her situation. She starts to flip out and paint her body, her face, her neck, use tons of paint splattered all over and start aggressively pushing the colors around the canvas and her body. That was the intention of the whole video. It also shows me in a shady warehouse all cracked out, sort of narrating the story from a desperate point of view, suffering, warning, writhing, screaming.....trying to get through to her. Then throughout the story you get montage shots of Fixer's explosive live show and the whole energy and "macabre" of the video was supposed to come together with her making the right decision to move forward at the end. However, instead of including that scene, we edited it out and left it up in the air. The video ends with just a shot of the girl still pondering what to do and we leave it all with an air of mystery. The concept of tough decisions and dark secrets is not that original, however, we tried to give it a spooky twist with losts of energy and cool shots. The meltdown scene actually has the camera doing spirals over her head while it descends upon her. It's pretty cool. Some cool tidbits on the video. The girl who stars in it is actually my cousin - Lindsey Gorfman. The house, car and pool scene were all shot at the Gorfman mansion in New Jersey (thanks to my family for hooking us up!). Some of the artwork featured in the girl's room was done by my father (www.hmsaffer.com) as well as the artist Jennifer Murray (www.jmurraystudio.com). I put together (by hand) the entire tweaked out room with all the artwork and collage work all over the walls with the help of Lindsey's family. The custom made dress in the scene with her coming down the stairs was made by Veritee Hill (www.veriteehill.com). There are a bunch of other shout outs and sweet favors that we will forever be grateful for, but those are the highlights. Go check it out now on our myspace page! www.myspace.com/fixermusic.
7. What does the artistic process look like for you?
The artistic process begins with a riff, a lyric or a phrase that sort of inspires you to keep on fleshing it out. The song starts to come together, parts are written and jammed out and then you need to step back and be self critical. This part here is really throw away....it's not working. So you go back and rewrite another version over similar music. OR you change the music and keep the same melody. I've gotten a lot better at being self critical lately. In the beginning I would get so excited just to jam a song from front to finish I was already running to the studio to record it or calling up record labels that I had a great song~! haha. In my defense though, I think that kind of urgency really helped to get Fixer on the map. It's like a kid who doesn't really know how to ski that well and sure as hell doesn't start on the bunny hill. They go head first as fast as they can down the double black diamond trail and learn pretty quickly how to survive. Now I can step back, sit with the music, and really see if it moves me a week later, a month, a year, forever. There is something I call "the campfire test". That means the song needs to be great if it were played and sang by one person on an acoustic guitar around a campfire, and everyone would still think it's amazing. If it needs all sorts of production, bells and whistles and volume to really be good, then it's not that good. That's also why I like to write in small groups or separately rather than with the full band all turned to eleven. It really allows you to analyze and feel the song at it's core. Just the chord changes, the melody, the lyrics....the song.
Check out Fixer here on Art + Culture: http://www.artandculture.com/users/3380-fixer
Photo provided by Sarah Hauser