F/i Interview

Originally published in Spinal Jaundice #11 – 1990


Who are F/i? Fuhrers/incognito are certified moon jammin’ groove hailin’ technical and rockin Wisconsiners with a checkered history to unfold. From modest debuts kicking out garage synth heaven, F/i stemmed into a full-fledged, prolific unit. With input from the stars and amps towards your skull, there’s a lot of sounds emerging from their quarters, hitting like a sobering (or impairing) presage of destiny. Like the effect that the theme music from public TV’s “Star Hustler” program has upon weary individuals. This is music that you could even just sit down and listen to at great lengths, heavy, but with colors. Rick Franecki and the sonic armada have just completed their highly awaited follow up to the “Space Mantra” LP with their new album “Blue Star,” which is out now and certainly recommended. We just had to bring Rick in for a while.

MJ: What’s in the name? Perhaps you guys have some polemics or something?
RF: The name just sounds cool. Non-descript, non-arty, could be anything.

MJ: Over the years you’ve seemed to maintain this industrial-blues-space rock effect, do you have a penchant for rock & roll? What musics have influenced you?
RF: Yes, we do. The industrial thing was happening in the early 80’s, and speaking for myself, I really got interested in it, but after a while, it was boring, too easy. I think that scene became overloaded with too many people who just turned on the tape recorders and filled 90 minute tapes with nothing but garbage. I was never into the manifesto thing where you write a philosophical treatise on why you did what you did, who cares? The sound has to be interesting. There has to be some pulse or beat to focus on. Rock crept back into the sound again. We are influenced by 70’s German space rock, and other stuff, like Hawkwind, early Pink Floyd. The greatest music ever recorded! You get the idea. Long repetitious jams.

MJ: Let’s elaborate on the latest F/i release, “Blue Star.”
RF: “Blue Star” documents our German tour of last year, as well as committing to vinyl an embryonic version of a jam song we’ve been exploiting in concert. Our material is pretty loose, and we like to work within structures and see where they take us. A lot of our material sounds different every time we perform it. The track “Blue Star” and “Om 21” from the live side are very different, yet they come from the same structure, and end up different enough that they can be included on the same record.

MJ: Tell us about your other band that you’ve just commenced, Vocokesh.
RF: Vocokesh is a spinoff group I formed out of ex-members of F/i. I wanted to explore a few of the more industrial ideas we were working with a couple of years back. I was still friends with Jan Schober (drums) and Steve Zimmerman (electronics) and thought it’d be great to work with them again. We’ve got an LP coming out on RRR (hopefully) in March of 1991. I guess Vocokesh takes its cue from German groups like Faust. Repetition and weirdness, harsh sounds. We have a cassette out on Audiofile tapes right now.

MJ: What are some things you see that have changed with F/i, and what lies ahead?
RF: I guess the fact that we’ve evolved from an industrial noise ensemble to a space rock band. Who knows, perhaps we’ll move towards the noise again. It all depends if we remain happy with what we can do with the rock material. We don’t want to become just another ‘rock group’. One thing we’ve always done is ‘go with the flow’. If we’re interested in a particular approach, we go with it and see what type of sounds we can make. Ideas may lead us toward results that never would have occurred to us had we just sat down and planned it. You know? Intuition. Try something and see where it will take you.

MJ: Do you view yourselves as having become more proficient musically? Has natural progression aided you in disregarding more formulaic styles?
RF: I guess it’s only natural that we would get better at playing our instruments. But I don’t see where it’s really effected what F/i has done. We all knew how to play before we got involved with F/i. I feel it’s been the constant trying out of ideas that has been the most powerful evolutionary force in our music.

MJ: What other sorts of things have you been listening to lately?
RF: Again, speaking for myself, I’ve been listening to stuff 20 or 25 years old. Faust, Amon Duul, Ash Ra Tempel, Popol Vuh, Blue Cheer, Hawkwind, Can, Klaus Schultz, Conrad Schnitzler, Third Ear Band. The only current groups I like very much at the moment are Spacemen 3 and Loop, both from England.

MJ: For a good length of time you were operating the Uddersounds label. What is the status of that?
RF: Uddersounds continues to exist as a vehicle for copyrighting our work. I don’t really run a label anymore, not in the true sense. It got to be too much work. I prefer to publish cassettes through other small labels.

MJ: I’ve read a little about the ‘mystique’ surrounding your live shows. What are gigs like for you?

RF: We try to obscure ourselves on stage as much as possible. Since we’re not the most interesting guys you’d ever see! We have a light show we use, it sort of causes our physical presence to blend into the stage.