Decadent Nutmeg 

Fishbone spices up new three-song EP

Who: Fishbone

Where: Garfinkel’s

When: April 2

Rap-based musicians Fishbone have always been resistant to description.

But bassist Norwood Fisher has always been sure about one thing: he was meant to play bass guitar.

"A lot of people call it when they see me, they just know I’m a bass player," he exclaims.

"When people do what they’re supposed to, they give off a vibe. I feel like I stepped into it and I was brought here to do this," he says.

Fisher was just six, when he asked for his first guitar. His description of playing the instrument lets you feel the vibe.

"Playing bass rattles the nads in your brain and your butt – you could stand still and play that deep sound, and something still resonates on your body."

Fishbone has been resonating with listeners for 20 years. The L.A. band cross-pollinates their sound, serving up anything from "hyper-kinetic vocals" to "pungent servings of joyful, eclectic noise" in their musical kitchen.

The lineup for the band is John Steward on drums and percussion, Angelo Christopher Moore on lead vocals and sax, Walter ‘Dirty Walt’ Kibby II on trumpet, and Spacey T on guitar.

The band is handy with words, judging by the lengthy titles to their songs. But pinning down the Fishbone style is another matter. Marketing executives had trouble packaging their style. Rap, jazz, ska, funk – there was no label for the multi-dimensional sound.

"They called us alternative in the end, but we didn’t like that so we thought we could make our own style (descriptions) ourselves," says Fisher.

Fans are stumped when you ask them to describe what they hear in Fishbone and even band members can’t pin down exactly the right words to describe their music.

Until the 1992 L.A. riots following the Rodney King verdict.

When Fisher rang from San Diego to check on a friend in L.A. just before a show, the friend’s assessment of the situation was "everyone’s going nutmeg!"

The term stuck, and the "nutmeg" factor emerged as a "beautiful thing that emerged out of something bad happening."

The Friendliest Psychosis of All is the title for their first EP released on their own label, Nuttsactor 5. The three-song EP is a follow up after The Psychotic Friends Network on Hollywood Records.

Track one, A Friendly Psychosis, was the product of an afternoon tea.

"Me and Les Claypool jammed after drinking mushroom tea. We played all day and recorded all night," Fisher laughs.

That track also features Primus, Buckethead, Blowfly (Clarence Reid’s X-rated alter ego), and Weapon of Choice’s Mega*nut. As well, J.Ro of the Tha Liks and P.Funk All-Stars’ George Clinton play on the track.

Let Dem Hoe’s Fight pt.2 is a musical recreation of a scene from a lap dance club in Atlanta. Women were fighting each other gladiator-style in a fighting ring, as lap dancers entertained the room. Fisher says the atmosphere was reminiscent of a scene from the ancient Roman era, and hence the song.

Fishbone’s musical mission may sometimes be dirty with its rappish delights and other beats, but dirty is a relative term. And Fisher adds: "It’s good to wallow in it every once in a while."

Track three, x-Cuze me Dr. Madd Vibe, House Call Pull-ease, is one, long, improv session. The track features Dr. Madd Vibe, Angelo Moore’s alter ego.

Female rappers Nebula and Medusa are also guests on the new album.

At this point in their career, Fishbone has played with a diverse set of musicians including contemporary jazz musician Branford Marsalis.

"A lot of the stuff we do is from chasing around people that were big influences for us – instead of getting autographs, we work with them," Fisher says.

He cites working with Clinton (Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow, 1970) as a top highlight in the band’s history. A collaboration with Spike Lee for the video Sunless Saturday was another memorable project.

Fishbone goes back in history for influences. Moore’s father played with the original Cab Calloway band.

"The root of the whole Fishbone genre is that we’re connected to everything, from old ’60s Redd Fox stuff, those old Richard Prior records that your parents kept hidden but you knew where they were," Fisher laughs.

"You know, we just go with what feels good."

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