Little Fyodor Interview

Originally published in Spinal Jaundice #8 – 1989

MJ: Okay, the inevitable question, what led to the disjointing of Walls of Genius and what releases did they create? Do you think what you’re doing now is similar?
LF: Walls Of Genius released 30 cassettes in 3 years, and were about to embark on recording a record in a professional studio when Evan Cantor, the head moron, lost interest. I decided not to try to keep it going without him for both practical and ethical reasons. Evan had contributed a good half of our material and did all the artwork and promotional stuff and owned the core of the home recording equipment we were most used to using. I thought it was possible to carry on but it would have had to be a lot different. And I just didn’t think it would be right, even though I resented that Evan broke up the band the way he did and when he did. The third member of Walls of Genius, Ed Fowler, was resigned to WoG being finished, although he didn’t like it either, so with all my own reservations there was no point to try to convince him otherwise…Okay you may be wondering WHY Evan lost interest. Well I dunno if I can do justice to that issue without providing a detailed biography and pathological profile of Evan. Maybe he was scared of success. That’s probably part of it. Most people say, “Aha!!!” when I tell ‘em that he met his wife-to-be right before chucking up the band, but that’s not necessarily the whole story. Seems to me now that he was just never prepared to make WoG more than a passing phase in his life, even though he took it so seriously and ambitiously at the time. Maybe BECAUSE he took it so seriously, he always had a tough time dealing with the myriad of difficulties that inevitably befall the struggling musician, like for instance, he’d take good reviews for granted and then bum out over bad reviews for weeks. He complained a lot about other underground musicians and about all we had to go through etc…etc…even though he made it harder on himself by doing more than necessary. Now he’s devoting more of his time to his love of the great outdoors – no coincidence that on his first date with his wife-to-be they went skiing. The main similarity between WoG and Little Fyodor solo is – INSANITY!!! Or another way to say it is – MANIA!!! Low-brow, unpretentious, daring to be called a ridiculous jerk…but Little Fyodor is more focused on my personal, twisted point of view. I like to think my music has a lot of variety, but WoG had even more, WoG did anything and everything, whatever the fuck we felt like. Or at least that’s what I thought we were doing. Evan may not have wanted to do avant-garde as much as he was doing it. He seemed to feel obligated, like it was expected of him as an underground musician, and he had to be underground since he couldn’t make it above ground and he also seemed to think it was hip, maybe cause The Grateful Dead started out that way, although he also did like early punk. But mainly he liked folk music and silliness, although he had us make more serious tapes than usual (as in, less silly) just to appeal to specific distributors. Like he was selling out for twenty bucks! And then, it wouldn’t even work and he’d be all resentful towards the whole underground. I think it’s important to do what you want to do even for ‘success’ cause success requires endurance and sticking with it through the tough times. And how are you going to keep at it when nothing’s going right if it’s not even what you really want to do?

MJ: Maybe you can tell the uninitiated about your latest LP, “Beneath The Uber-Putz?”
LF: “Beneath The Uber-Putz” is a collection of songs that I wrote mostly several years ago when I was depressed most of the time due to being very horny and sexually unsuccessful, not being able to relate to anyone, and not knowing what my life was about. Or who knows what the reasons were, but I was sure as fuck depressed. So I started writing these songs and that gave me something for my life to be about. Too bad it took me so long to record the songs – they may have been more ‘real’ had I done ‘em around when I wrote them. I still think the sentiments in these songs and the songs themselves are the root of my soul, even if I’m not quite so depressed anymore. I get pretty morose and surly, still, but usually not so deeply depressed. But back to the record, the music is mostly influenced by early punk but a lot more eccentric.

MJ: What records/tapes do you have available?

LF: I’m selling “Beneath The Uber-Putz” and so is the label Small Tools Tradition. I’ve also got a few copies of my seven-incher, “Slither” left. I’m currently working on a release by some friends and myself – we’re The Miracle. It’s all improvised and very different from my solo stuff. And it’s released on tape.

MJ: Are you planning some touring dates?
LF: Planning on going to San Francisco in September to do a show or two, as well as a lot of hanging out and sightseeing. Don’t know when I’ll play in the area again. Until I put out another record, I mainly want to play at shows that other people are putting on rather than put on shows myself, for the time being. I mean I’ll HELP, I just don’t want to be the one who makes it happen for a little while.

MJ: What types of music do you find enjoyable locally and not?
LF: I like a whole shitload of stuff, both weird and not. Avant-garde and homemade underground are the areas I’m most interested in and anxious to delve further into, but I’m not above putting on some be-bop or bluegrass with dinner.

MJ: I’ve read some press about you, like being a ‘bookworm’…does any literature interact with creating a piece? Any writers you feel inspired by?
LF: Wish I were more of a bookworm nowadays. But being busy and lazy have kept me from reading much lately. And the last few books I’ve started bored me. But reading Dostoevsky’s “Notes From The Underground” was probably the most important event in my life. With hearing The Ramones “Leave Home” a close second. A lot of my ideas in my songs are my own re-interpretation of the philosophies of Dostoevsky and Nietzsche as they related to my own experiences. My lyrical style is highly influenced by the writing of Nathaniel West, whose style is similar to The Ramones’…minimal and concise, saying a lot with a few words, being funny and making twisted social observations both at the same time.

MJ: Can experimental/industrial be assessed do you think?

LF: Assessed a fine? I bet it’s been tried! Yeah, sure, experimental/industrial is an art form just like any other, sometimes it’s very spontaneous and off-the-cuff, without a whole lot of thought, sometimes it’s blatantly pretentious. Either way it’s still art. Everything’s art if you want it to be. So says I…

MJ: Do you plan to continue your radio program locally for a while and the compilations of live radio guests?
LF: I feel I have a moral obligation to continue my radio program and I plan to keep doing it until I either leave the area or lose all interest in the show’s purpose – to provide an outlet for the insects of society. Or maybe until I find someone who was equally interested in playing weird and obscure music but who had more energy. I’m a bit drained after 7 years (and counting) of doing late-night radio…I’d like to keep having live guests and doing compilations of the performances, I need to start finding more weird folks to play.

MJ: Do you think your material is at all in the same vein as something like Ritual Tension or something similar?
LF: Uh, duh, who are Ritual Tension?

MJ: Have you gotten successful response since the release of your LP?
LF: The last time I performed (did it as a duo with Babushka), I sold two records!!! So that was real successful!!! All three performances I’ve done since the LP release have been pretty well-received, but I have yet to turn the audience onto a mass of stupefied convulsions, so I still have my work cut out for me.

MJ: Are you in stereo where available?

LF: Only when reprocessed.

MJ: How do you feel about America’s latest election?
LF: I’m not gonna complain how stupid people are cause that’s too clichéd. And besides, the Republicans had a few things going for them. Inflation was down, although it’s rising again, as is its cyclical nature. Unemployment was low, thanks no doubt to the low minimum wage. And we even won a war – against 40 Cubans. The Democratic slimeball wasn’t very inspiring either. Although I lament the missed opportunity of a card-carrying member of the ACLU being President since civil liberties is my highest priority, personally. I’m even tempted by the Libertarians, but I’m suspicious of anyone too idealtistic. Idealists too often rationalize what they see so that they think they see what they expect to see.

MJ: Any other artists you feel have successfully created something in terms of the style in which you perform?
LF: What IS the style in which I perform? What is ‘successful’? I like Wild Man Fisher and Half Japanese and Pere Ubu…

MJ: Any last comments?

LF: Uh, well, no. Who’s the friggin’ interviewer anyway? Well, thanks, and anyone of you who has six bucks should by my record. You won’t be disappointed.