The Best Revenge of Fischerspooner

The art-pop provocateurs create an animated video exclusively for Dazed Digital to celebrate the release of new album, ‘Entertainment’

Music Incoming
Photography by Dusan Reljin, Styling by Nicola For
Photography by Dusan Reljin, Styling by Nicola Formichetti
Like a bunch of Cirque Du Soleil punks, Fischerspooner burst onto the scene at the turn of the century in a riot of glitter and excess. You could trace a direct line from Warhol’s acolytes to Warren Fischer and Casey Spooner’s band of freaks who mixed art and commerce in a subversive way, confounding and delighting critics in equal measure. And with their monster hit, ‘Emerge’ they produced the only stone-cold classic of the much-maligned electroclash genre. With it’s mantra of “feels good, looks good, sounds good too” and the push-pull dynamics that erupt in a berserk climax; nearly 10 years on, the song still sounds unstoppable. On their sophomore effort ‘Odyssey’, Spooner collaborated with people as disparate as hit-makers Linda Perry and Susan Sontag. Although the resultant album was a fantastic if sprawling mess, the band dynamics by then were so fractured; leading Spooner to seek refuge in acting with the famed Wooster Group in New York.

His stint with Wooster Group slowly reignited Spooner’s love of performing and his return to the Fischerspooner project. They started recording with producer Jeff Saltzman over a 2 year period in a carriage house in Brooklyn, miles away from the flashy studios of yore. A messy split with their major label, Capitol led to the release of new album, ‘Entertainment’ on their own FS label (and Lo Recordings in UK) out in May. Perhaps because of its protracted genesis, ‘Entertainment’ sounds strangely disconnected to modern dance music today. Propulsive lead single, ‘The Best Revenge’ is the highlight and there are still flashes of brilliance, in the coruscating pile-up of synths of ‘We Are Electric’ and slowed-down beats of ‘Money Can Dance’; but it’s difficult to get your head around much of the cold electronics on display here.

But it was easy to get excited about Fischerspooner all over again when the Kabuki-meets-space-travel- inspired images of their album cover was debuted on the internet earlier in the year, a collaboration between Spooner and Dazed’s creative director, Nicola Formichetti who styled the shoot. Moreover, it’s good to have Casey Spooner back, who remains a genuine pop provocateur with an interesting point-of-view.  Much like their early shows were Bollywood extravaganzas staged in art galleries, their new stage show, promises an exciting spectacle once again poised between performance art and live gig.

Dazed Digital: It’s been 3 years since ‘Odyssey’. A lot of people wonder what you’ve been doing between albums
Casey Spooner: I returned to the stage – that’s where I come from. I was in an experimental theatre company for years. That’s where I started and my original intent with Fischerspooner was to bring theatrical ideas to a pop performance.
By the time it came to rehearsals for ‘Odyssey’, I was really frustrated and unhappy. It was a really miserable experience working on that record. I didn’t know I would ever work with Warren again. I put together the entire touring show and he only went to rehearsal only once. He finished the record and I didn’t talk to him. I felt I didn’t achieve what I wanted with the show till it was the last performance.

DD: How did you challenge yourself on this record?
Casey Spooner: I only wrote 7 songs for the first record and I lived on those 7 songs from 1998 to 2003!  When it came to writing ‘Odyssey’, it was like “I don’t know. I only wrote 7 songs and they were written 4 years ago!” With this record, I generated more songs than I ever did which was a different kind of approach.
Usually I would write from a visual point of view or performance. I would have an image library for a song so when I’m writing I would try and describe the images. When I started this record, I didn’t have any visual point of view. I was fully immersed in Shakespeare so I was more connected to language in a way.

DD: Do you create a new persona with each album?
Casey Spooner: I guess so. I never know what it is until I get deeper into it. The first record was very punk, I was very angry and yelling at people. So it was like an aggro lip-synch. ‘Odyssey’ was more subdued and sedate…
But Odyssey has “We Need A War” (written by Susan Sontag, it was a trenchant swipe at George Bush) which is not sedate. 

DD: Dance music has changed so much since ‘Odyssey’. How do you see Fischerspooner fit or not fit into that?
Casey Spooner: The great thing right now is that there’s none of those discussions. With the first record, we completed it and then gave to various people to remix. There was no strategizing, we just did our work, we did it ourselves and people would take what we gave them.
For me the whole ‘Odyssey’ thing was backward. I wasn’t happy with any of the imaging, music videos…it felt like I got in the system and I didn’t know what was wrong. I felt like I had everything I needed and I couldn’t work as well. There were lots of discussions about whether we were rock or dance or pop.
There were none of that with this record. It was like, “I like that song”. I get so much more creative work done not shackled to a major corporation. Nowadays everyone knows we’re paying for it ourselves, we don’t have any money, we may never make any money so everyone’s involved for the right reasons.

DD: How’s your working relationship with Warren now?
Casey Spooner: Much better. This has been an album of healing!

DD: What do you make of ‘Emerge’ now? Is it an albatross or are you proud you made this classic song?
Casey Spooner: It’s kinda both. I love it, it’s so crazy, it’s cool. It’s amazing that this song has this life. And that’s what’s so beautiful and exciting and one of the reasons why I wanted to return to music was that it’s this universal language that can cross all cultures, time and space. It’s a really rare art form that can reach and translate to so many people. It’s cool but I’m so tired of discussing how to perform it live. It’s got to the point where I just want to play the CD!

DD: Why does the world need a new Fischerspooner record?
Casey Spooner: I don’t know why anybody needs it. I don’t really think about that. It’s about what I wanna do. I’m really having fun between working for Wooster Group and countering it with the visceral, instantaneous qualities that the Fischerspooner project has.

DD: I loved your early shows set in places like Deitch Galleries where you could never tell if it was performance art or a live gig. How is the new stage show shaping up?
Casey Spooner: Oh boy! We’re back to experimental that’s for sure. We started working on the show 2 years ago. We’re working with Vanessa Walters who choreographed the entire show. We did a big casting and got 6 dancers. As Hamlet was winding down, we asked the Wooster Group if they would consult on the next show. We re-scored the choreography using video so it slips in and out of time, trying to find ways of using dance and pop music.

DD: Let’s talk about the album images. The concept was Kabuki meets space travel?
Casey Spooner: With the last show, the image was very romantic and neo-classical. I like the idea of taking historical references and literally superimposing them over Rock n’ Roll.
With this album, I wanted to create a world of style where you couldn’t really decipher what the sources were. I first started with having garments based on a sauna suit. They were non-descript, no gender, no references, zero. The Wooster Group brought in Japanese references, initially for us to copy the movement. Warren wanted to use a documentary about the space program in the Sixties. Then we started borrowing from Mark Twain – that’s where the straw boater comes in. All these themes connect and they connect to the music as well. It was a new, interesting way to frame music.

DD: What’s been your greatest fashion extravaganza of late?
Casey Spooner: I’m working on it right now!  It’s all for the show – I’m working with people like Gareth Pugh, Romain Kremer, Nasir Mazhar. In a perfect world I would have so many costume changes I wouldn’t have the same outfit twice. I’m setting this thing up where things will constantly be made and shipped in and added to the show. It gives us the flexibility to add stuff and take stuff away and let us be constantly reinventing the show.

 ‘Entertainment’ is released on 4 May on Lo Recordings. Fischerspooner play the Neon Noise Project May 1st. Tickets available to buy here.

Casey Spooner and Warren Fischer created an animated video especially for Dazed Digita

You need to have the Macromedia Flash plugin installed to be able to play this video.

Credits
Concept Casey Spooner, Warren Fischer, Music Fischerspooner - The Best Revenge (Alex Gopher Retaliation Remix), Photograher Dusan Reljin, Photographic Assistants Yoo Sun, Javier Villegas, Joshua Zucker
Post Production DTouch, Fashion Direction Nicola Formichetti, Fashion Assistants K8 Hardy, Sam Voltage, Anna Trevelyan
Clothing Elise Fife-Martinelli, Romain Kremer, Alexander McQueen, KTZ
Hats Nasir Mazhar, Lite Brite Neon
Animator Daniel Spangler, Editorial/Post Production bunkernewyork.com

More: Music Incoming
More Music