Cincinnati's archetypal Indie scene is rich in talented signer/songwriters who develop a sound that fits the mold of the college radio play lists and artsy venues that embrace such acts. Once a band achieves "Alternative" status, their options remain limited at best, just short of a characteristic sound. This idea likely stems from the common musical interests of a band's members, but can be overcome by a wide array of inspiration and flexibility of genre.
Such is the case with locals Fisher Effect. Sam Schutte, vocalist, guitarist and trumpeter for the band, brings his lyrics and musical ideas to his counterparts who then build upon the basic ideas and bring life to artistically arranged, brainy songs. The band — also consisting of guitarist Matt Brady, bassist Mike Wolf, sax and flugelhorn player Tom Herbort, Mike Cloppert on trombone and Brian Hauk on drums — comes across initially as a Ska band on their demo CD, with heavy horn accompaniment and fast-paced compositions like, "Carcinogen," "Lee Press-On Girl" and "Terrible Things." What sets them apart from the average Ska band is the occasional fat, distorted guitar part, as well as Schutte's wittily mocking lyrics like, "Your love is like a carcinogen baby/It's killin' me slowly everyday now/Your love is like a carcinogen baby/It's almost enough to turn me gay now."
To bring light to their concepts as a band, I asked about their lyrics, band name and strong Ska influence.
CityBeat: Fisher Effect's lyrics seem to have a bitter theme regarding relationships gone bad — essentially, boy meets girl, girl turns out to be a flake, boy drops girl like a bad habit. How do your lyrics differ from others with the same general premise?
Sam Schutte: When I write lyrics, I try to come up with an unusual way of describing familiar situations. So rather than singing about a relationship gone sour in the usual ways, I write a song about a girl that treats her guy so bad that she's actually giving him cancer. One of my favorite lines in that song ("Carcinogen") is "It's like there's asbestos in the walls when you just won't return my calls." Not something you hear every day! In another song, rather than saying, "This girl is really full of herself," I say, "She's as fake as a Lee Press-On Nail." In general, the lyrics are real light-hearted — they're not looking to hurt anyone, they're just trying to put some humor on a situation most of us are all too familiar with.
CB: You guys claim influence from bands like Sublime and Bob Marley, but also bands such as They Might Be Giants, Tom Waits and Phish. Given your heavy Ska sound, how have your more eclectic and Indie influences come through in your original music?
SS: The three songs on our demo do have a Ska sound to them, but a lot of our songs I'd say are more Skalternative — we've got lots of acoustic songs, and Funk/Rock/Jazz songs, too. I'd say that Sublime and Marley affect our songs because our whole approach to music is that it should make you feel good while still saying something. Marley was very political, and we've got quite a few political songs, too. Some of the other groups — like They Might Be Giants — really affect the lyrics in that we've got that whole Nerd Rock thing going. Some of our newer songs are more musically eclectic as well. Improv is also fundamental to our sound, so a lot of the Jazz greats are big heroes of ours.
CB: OK, what's the inside joke about your name? It seems like it's always some idiosyncratic laugh that occurred at some point between members of the band, or it's completely by accident, thus becoming an inside joke. What's your story?
SS: We don't really like telling people what our band name means, because it's a pretty dorky term. If you feel like learning more about global economics, I'd encourage you to look it up. But I can tell you that the reason we chose the name was because some hot girl suggested it to us. But that's OK — we figure we're more than just a name.
Fisher Effect (while a dorky term — or an attractive girl's future claim to fame) are one of the local music scene's up-and-coming acts that is definitely worth checking out.
For more on FISHER EFFECT, visit them on the Web at fishereffect.com. And be sure to look at their impressive collection of hoes.