Fischerspooner: Working day and night
It’s been an interesting year for New York City’s infamous art-pop duo Fischerspooner. Earlier in the year the duo of Casey Spooner and Warren Fischer re-emerged from the studio-limbo to release Entertainment, a triumphant disc of their signature stylized electro. It’s their first record since 2005’s much-maligned Odyssey, which despite being full of great ideas, languished as the electroclash wave crashed around them, and found them still in prime form.
Following the album’s release and the pair’s triumphant return, Fischerspooner copped a verbal blow from former label boss, James Palumbo of Ministry Of Sound, who launched a spectacularly public diatribe against the duo, calling them a “gay performance band” and describing their music as “rubbish”.
With such a salacious attack at the band, when ITM caught up with the Spooner half of the duo, Casey, for an interview about their upcoming appearance at Melbourne’s Beck’s Rumpus Room, we were hesitant to push the issue too far. Fortunately though, Spooner was all too keen to speak out about the band’s beef with Ministry Of Sound (or the other way ‘round as Spooner insists), revealing that Fischerspooner’s side of the story differed greatly from that of Palumbo’s.
“I remember reading that story about James’ quote on your site and I was really shocked by it. Let me explain it for you guys, because I really want to put it straight. We were not like that at all. We didn’t demand anything that James Palumbo said we did (like that we must fly on a Concord and that we had to stay in Claridges. We didn’t want anything from Ministry! But they were really trying hard to seduce us. At the time we were doing really well with our gallery and performances so we weren’t even thinking about music until all these record labels started chasing us trying to sign us. We turned everybody down and just said ‘no’ to it all. One morning I got a call from my lawyer and he told me that Ministry really wanted us to come over to England and they wanted to fly us over on a Concord. A Concord! I was like ‘well fuck yeah’! Why would you turn that down? So they booked all of that in an attempt to win us over. They did it, not us. And when we got there I personally booked and paid for our room at Claridges, it had nothing to do with Ministry Of Sound.”
That’s interesting to hear your side of it. It sounds like James Palumbo’s got a pretty distorted view of what happened, doesn’t it?
“Well that’s the thing, I don’t know he can suggest that we demanded anything from Ministry Of Sound. It wasn’t like that at all. We went over there with all the intention of telling them we weren’t interested in signing with them. I was really just in it for the free Concrod flight! And besides, I didn’t want to sign with Ministry Of Sound anyway, it was this trashy, Ibiza-disco label that had no connection to our scene. But when we met James Palumbo, I think we were won over, because, I’ll say this about James, he is fucking crazy. He was so insane and cool, not like anyone else in the music business that we’d met who were all serious and really corporate. James was saying how he wanted us to do the Millenium Dome and he wanted to have a giant inflatable penis on the Thames. And it was that wild craziness that got us in the end, I’d say.”
So you signed with Ministry and what came next?
“Well they built things up to be really big and they wanted to make us seem like this huge band that would be a turning point for Ministry Of Sound to move from putting out dance singles to being this label that was about artists making big albums. At the time, we didn’t even have a manager so I was personally in contact with those people everyday and it seemed like we were poised to do all these really huge things then all of a sudden they stopped returning my phone calls. I got a message from one of the Ministry people who said a whole bunch of new staff were all leaving and the label was dissolving.”
Wait, so that was it? What happened to everything?
“I think about it and I still have no idea. And it disappoints me. We get blamed for everything like it was our fault, but really it was Ministry who destroyed us. They were the decadent and excessive ones and that just destroyed us.”
Since leaving Ministry you guys went onto sign with EMI and have now started your own label, FS Studios for the new album. Has being independent meant you’ve had to cut back on some of the more lavish parts of the Fischerspooner experience?
“It doesn’t matter if it’s with Gigolo, Ministry Of Sound, Capitol or on our own, the workload is always the same. Like, we are involved in everything; we choose all the art, we do all the photos, we hire the graphic designers and I write the fucking liner notes for every record.”
You guys spent so long making Entertainment and you always invest so much into your live shows, is it on the mark to call you guys perfectionists?
“Yeah that’s absolutely the case. That’s the only way we’d have it, really. We’re involved in everything that we do and we put ourselves into that process. There’s a lot that people don’t see, so they think that when we haven’t released a new album in two years that we must be dead. That’s not the case, we could be working on any number of things, it could be a new live performance or a play.”
What are you working on right now?
“We’re going to playing a shoe at the Guggenheim soon, so we’re just getting everything with that ready to go.”
The Guggenheim? That’s amazing, how’s the process coming for that?
“Well it’s been a bit tricky actually, because the people at the museum are, well, they’re museum people. They don’t quite get what we do, you know? It’s kind of like they think we’ll just show up with an amp and just play, but there’s so much that goes into it. We’ve got to work out every single thing ahead of time, from the set list, to where we’ll set up the mini-dressing room, and we’ve also got to figure out how we’ll play there, because it’s this amazing building and that means that the sound will need to be very precise in there. So there’s a lot of work to do! It doesn’t end!”