I’m rubbish with dates, but I’m guessing this would be around 1990. That’s the year I finished school and, the next day, moved to London. My best friend had quit school two years earlier and was already living in Battersea and gigging with his band which, over the next few years and with a few changes in personnel, would become The Loose Cannons and side-project Lego Johnson. I wasn’t going to university so I got a job selling advertising space on a now-defunct trade magazine called PC Week (oh, the glamour). The job put money in my pocket for the first time. I spent it on gigs and club and movies and generally had a pretty good few months.
The soundtrack to that time was provided by Prince, the Red Hot Chili Peppers (more “Mother’s Milk” than “Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik”), the Infectious Grooves and Fishbone. In a combination of luck and naivety, we found ourselves dipping in and out of the worlds these bands inhabit. My friend went AWOL for three days with Prince and his band, having blagged his way through the stage door at a gig. I found myself in the basement of a nightclub in Piccadilly with Chad Smith and Flea from the Chilis, watching someone feeding dead mice to a big lizard in a glass case. (Chad: “That’s fucking rad”.) The next night, on stage at Brixton Academy, the Chili Peppers played an obscure instrumental and name-checked us for requesting it during the lizard-feeding. That’s pretty fucking cool when you’re eighteen years old.
I saw the Infectious Grooves at the Marquee and almost, but not quite, performed my first stage dive.
And I saw Fishbone twice on one day; first playing a couple of songs in the basement of Tower Records then at the Brixton Academy that same evening. After the gig, we found ourselves sitting on the steps of the deserted venue, chatting to the drummer. To my shame I have no recollection of what we talked about.
Those days, as they say, are gone. But I was on Blip.fm recently and I stumbled across some Fishbone tracks which brought everything flooding back.
Fishbone are one of the best bands you never heard about. They’re the best live band you never saw and their shows were the best party you didn’t go to.
Fishbone is what happens when people with an incredible amount of talent get together to have fun.
Whether you like their music or not, it’s good to be exposed to excellence every once in a while.
Otherwise, you may one day find yourself “quite liking” Razorlight and that is simply not acceptable.
NOTE: Good quality clips, especially from the prime years of Fishbone, seem impossible to come by. I’ve embedded some of the better clips I could find below but, if you like what you hear, I recommend you head on over to the iTunes store and preview the albums “Truth and Soul” and “The Reality of My Surroundings”. You should also check out the Fishbone website for more info and follow the band on Twitter.