Fishboy

Fishboy Session - April 2011

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This Session
Violitionist Sessions

Session Date: February 9, 2011
Posting Date: April 11, 2011
Artist Hometown: Denton, TX
Links: YoFishboy.com, Facebook, ClassicCreeps.com
Recorded by: Michael Briggs

Allen Moss, Victor
Alberto Simmons
Taqueria Girl
Eric Michener, aka Fishboy, has been an icon in the Denton music scene since he released his album Little D (dedicated to Denton, of course) in 2005. That was five years into his musical career, which began as a bedroom project but turned into a four-piece band after Michener moved to Denton.

Michener picks the cream of Denton’s musical crop to join his revolving lineup .Past members, some of whom have since moved away, include John Clardy (Tera Melos), Winston Reed Chapman (Bosque Brown, The Baptist Generals), Drew Erickson (Roy G and the Biv), and Justin Lloyd (Little Birds).

The band currently consists of Adam “Sweatpants” Avramescu (who provides keys, horns, percussion, and energetic dance moves), Ryan Williams (on bass, also from The Baptist Generals, Dust Congress and a long list of local bands), and Tommy Garcia.

Fishboy’s influences from quirky pop ala Daniel Johnston and the Elephant Six Collective (with an emphasis on Olivia Tremor Control) to rock operas, and now British-Invasion-era rock (The Kinks, The Who, etc.). Known for his signature, child-like drawing style and online comic series, Michener includes his own artwork with each album he creates. He took his work to a new level when he made a miniature comic book to accompany 2007’s state-pride-laced rock opera Albatross: How We Tried and Failed to Save the State of Texas with the Power of Rock and Roll.

Classic Creeps, Fishboy’s upcoming album (to be released April 19), also has a comic book companion. Like Albatross, the songs on Creeps detail an intricate storyline, this time one focusing on specific characters whose lives (and songs) are interconnected.

On this session, Michener talks about Classic Creeps, the inspirations behind his online comics, and writing jingles. He also plays solo, acoustic versions of “Allen Moss, Victor” and “Alberto Moss”, both from Classic Creeps, and “Taqueria Girl”, from Albatross.
- Jesseca Bagherpour

3 QUESTIONS
ONE: You have a new album called Classic Creeps coming out in April. Can you tell us a little bit about the record and the concept behind it?
Eric Michener: Oh boy! I’m going to try to do this without rambling…the concept is that there are ten standard Fishboy-type pop songs…man, this sounds so dumb already, let me start over. The concept is…is that actually typing out what I’m saying?
MB: No, those are my questions.
EM: Ok! So, the concept is that there are ten pop songs and they’re all about a different person, and each song talks about that person’s life or something about that person, and within that song it’ll name drop the person who is the subject of the next song. So, someone from song one talks about song two, song two talks about song three, or the person in song three, and it goes on like that for the whole album, and then it loops back around—song ten talks about song one—and on top of that it develops into a narrative story, using the characters as a basis. And all of the names start with the letter A, and I did that because…I don’t know why I did that. I just keep thinking of a robot typing this out! [Laughs] They all start with A and they’re in alphabetical order. And yeah, I did that—yeah, I’m not going to go any further, go ahead.
TWO: You make comics and post them on your blog at yofishboy.com almost every day. What is the relationship of your songwriting to the comics, if any, and do the comics influence the songwriting at all, or the other way around?
Eric Michener: Usually not. I don’t really write songs about my personal life. But I really like that, when you do write a song about your personal life, you’ve got that memory. I worked a really crazy job for a few years, and when I left that job, I realized that I didn’t write anything down. And I’ve lost a bunch of those memories. It was like tons and tons of stories just kind of lost, and so I do the comic thing so that I can keep funny memories.
MB: So the comics are actual, personal stories? Things that really happened?
EM: Yes, it’s all autobiographical. It’s usually what happened that week. Sometimes, I’ll fall behind and I’ll be writing and doing stuff from a few weeks back. Sometimes a comic will be a story someone told me, but I usually put myself into the comic, listening to that, or sometimes it’ll be me remembering something that happened years ago. But it’s all autobiographical, and it’s just because I don’t write autobiographical songs…and it also helps me do at least one creative thing every day. Yeah, and it keeps me busy, I guess. And, I don’t have the Facebook, so, to keep family updated. “Here’s what’s going on! I don’t want to be on Facebook, so here you go!”
THREE: A while back, you wrote music for a McDonald’s commercial. How did that come about? How do you feel about it now, and do you have plans to do anything like that in the future?
Eric Michener: Our old bass player Justin [Lloyd] had worked for the advertising company who works for McDonalds, and someone who worked there remembered his band, and was like “Hey, will you guys write a song for this?” And we’re like, “Sure, why not?” Because it was like the easiest thing ever. It’s almost like they were throwing money at us. We spent like 20 minutes writing a couple different 30 second songs, and we sent them the garage band demos and they’re like ‘Ok, sure, we like this one.’ The next thing we know, a couple weeks go by, and they’re like “Ok, you need to come in and do vocals.” The vocals that we had written were all just me saying verbs, like ‘running playing laughing singing.’ Almost making fun of like, you know, their…I wasn’t really making fun of it. Justin said, like, “Don’t really sing about food. That’s not what they want. Just sing happy things!” So, it’s just a bunch of random verbs, and so…anyway, I’m rambling. The next thing I know, we’re in the studio, and an entire studio session band has recorded the entire thing for us. So we’re like, “Wow, so we didn’t play any of this stuff?”
MB: How did you feel about that?
EM: Oh, it was great! And then I did lyrics—they cut the verb lyrics—and they were like “Let’s do a take where you’re just saying “La La La.” So, I did that, and they put it in for 30 seconds. So, basically, we got paid for recording a garage band demo for 20 minutes and then me going in and singing ‘la la la,’ and having everyone else do the work. So, in that case, yes, I would definitely do that specific situation again, because, I don’t know, it was very nice and I got a nice check out of it. I don’t know what my answer would be if there was any other sort of situation.
MB: So, that’s not something that you’re going to pursue, as far as trying to make commercial music or promotions or jingles or—
EM: I mean, I honestly felt like an amateur in front of the studio guys. Like, they were thinking “Oh man, we could have done this! We could have written this 30 second song! Why is this guy in here?” It felt really weird, like, “Why am I in here?” I know you don’t really need my voice singing ‘la la la’ and you probably could have written this thing—this 30 second, three chord pop thing for…you know, you probably could have done that. So, yes, I would pursue it. If anyone is out there, and they want me to do that, I will gladly do it again! It was a great experience. You know, I probably wouldn’t change my lyrics to talk about food or anything, but probably anything other than that, I would be willing to take someone’s money to put my songs to the public. Yes.
Fishboy drew a comic about his experience recording a Violitionist Session: