Sleazy, If Not Satanic

Alexis Fleisig of Girls Against Boys

Interview by Darren Kerr

"Yeah, I like that. I like that angle. I'm not sure how completely satanic we are but... [laughs] Definitely full of corruption I think. We're working on it"

I'm talking to Girls Against Boys (aka GVSB) drummer Alexis Fleisig, who's on the phone from Houston, about some of the things that the colourful British press have written about the band. He has just answered my question of how he likes their music being described as "Satan lent them these tunes."

'Satanic' is definitely not the word I would use to describe their music. But 'slinky,' 'sleazy,' 'suave'... now we're talking. GVSB (Fleisig, singer/guitarist Scott Macleod, bassist Johnny Temple, and keyboardist/second bass player Eli Janney) have created their own mystique, the V-Lux lifestyle, which includes "a lot of mayhem. A lot of darkness. A lot of random events that have no explanation as well as a lot of glamor and glitz. That's the intended V-Lux lifestyle"

GVSB threw large 'House of GVSB' parties in Minneapolis while they recorded their new Geffen CD, Freak*on*ica. These soirees attracted such notorious guests as Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against the Machine, and the Wu-Tang Clan, just to name a few. They also took the show on the proverbial road.

"Each place is different. Sometimes they're really insane. Sometimes they're really low-key. We had a great one in Dublin that went until really late. We all hit the dance floor and we were all shakin' it down. We played in Atlanta and we had a little House of GVSB and they had this bizarre foam party. You ever heard of a foam party? They take this room and cover it with plastic and fill it with about six to eight feet of foam. It's like soap suds and stuff. You go out into this stuff and dance and they have all these strobe lights going. It's just this big disco dance party going on. It was really fucked up."

The band have also just finished filming a club scene for the movie 200 Cigarettes, which stars reinvented grunge diva Courtney Love, as well as newest teen temptress Christina Ricci. The scene was shot at Coney Island High, the semi-legendary punk rock hangout in New York's East Village. "It was great. It was really fun. We were in this weird weird situation where there was lots of people dressed up as punks, or real punks. I'm not quite sure yet. Some of them were real punks and some were just fakers but there were tons of them in this weird dark club and you felt like you were in 1980 or something."

"Everybody was really clean, you know, instead of being really dirty [laughs], all pressed pants and bright and shiny. One of the really weird things was to get up on stage and play our instruments. They play the track and you sort of play along to it, and everybody's supposed to jump around and slamdance or pogo I guess, and, um, no one was allowed to make any noise [laughs]. It's like two hundred people and us all jumping around going totally insane with like only the sound of clothes rustling and feet hitting the floor and stuff. It was totally surreal. It was really funny."

So did our heroes get to spend any time with the former Mrs. Cobain? "We got to meet Christina Ricci and Casey Affleck but Courtney wasn't there." What about Christina Ricci? Did the 'it' band get to meet the 'it' girl? "Definitely. She's everywhere. We did this Conan O'Brien show a while ago and she was on it. We keep crossing paths."

Freak*on*ica is chock full of catchphrases for a Sega generation weaned on advertising slogans. "Yeah, Scott's really getting into American pop culture sort of. When you hear advertising there's always strong language. Everything is so concise and like targeted. It's totally amazing. He's getting really into demographics and taking things out of context and twisting them around, seeing what he can come up with."

Well I know that the sexplayer is still alive and bumpin' and a grindin' but what about the double bass guitar overload of past albums? Is that gone for good?

"There's only one song on this album that has double bass. I think we'll probably do more of that in the future. We just like to mix it around and Eli got this new sort of weird sampler thing which had a lot of weird built-in sounds that he could manipulate, so we just started working off those sounds. It was the same thing with Venus Lux, you know, Eli got a bass and we just started messing around with that and came up with a bunch of songs based around the bass, and this one's based around this other thing."

In the song "One Firecracker," from the new CD, singer Scott Macleod sings "Disneyland, NYC/ Ya got Mickey Mouse/ Ya got pornography right". He's singing about the Disneyfication of Times Square, the once bad core of the Big Apple. The chickenhawks are being usurped by Huey, Dewey and Louie. Ratso Rizzo's ghost has to share the corner with Goofy. Seka and Nina Hartley get their asses kicked by newest poster girl Mulan. What the fuck is the world coming to?

"It's really just a strange transition where the city has made big deals with Disney to try to come in and spruce up the whole neighborhood. It's gone from being this crazy Broadway theatre district thing where I'm sure there was just lots of prostitution and insanity back in the twenties and forties. Then it went downhill in the fifties and the sixties, almost mostly abandoned in the seventies and then just turned into this insane crime area with lots of drugs and prostitution and everything."

"It's had its different stages of its limelight, you know, like being the most famous deer area in the world. Then becoming the most drug ridden, pornographic place, and now it's getting cleaned up for this weird Mickey Mouse sort of huge corporate mega mall thing. It's this strange juxtaposition of drugs, pornography, and crime with like this wholesome family Mickey Mouse sort of thing [laughs]. So it's just really strange to watch it happen. It's like the Hercules parade or something with a bunch of prostitutes like side by side. It's all one form of business or another."

Speaking of business, does the band feel any disdain for the radio stations who are just discovering them even though they have been making lethal GVSB rock music for almost a decade? "Oh yes, we always think that. Every one of our songs is a major hit and I'm surprised no one's picked up on it yet. [Laughs] It's good to hear it on the radio. I always didn't think that our music was very poppy or anything, didn't really fit into radio formats too well, but I've heard it on the radio a few times and I think sounds pretty good actually, compared to everything else."

So, what is GVSB's sexiest album? "I think this album's pretty sexy. There's a lot of rump shaking music on this album. We have a lot of, um, I think the beats and grooves are very constant on this, sort of not as interrupted as before. We keep it more steady or something. It's what we're striving for more these days."

People going to see the GVSB shows will be lucky buggers indeed because the truly wicked Buffalo Daughter are playing quite a few dates with the dapper ones, including here in Vancouver this weekend. "It's worked out really well so far. They're all really nice and we've become big fans of theirs and watch them every night. They're really great actually.

"We have other bands going out with us like Stanford Prison Experiment who we've toured with a bunch before. They're really fun to be with and we're gonna take this band Distortion Felix out. They're from L.A. as well. I think they might be playing Vancouver actually [they are]. We're pretty excited. We just did a tour of Europe and we wanted to take the Delta 72. I think that would've been a great bill but they ended up canceling at the very last minute because their keyboard player left I guess. That was really disappointing not to have that tour happen. "

I'll give Fleisig the last word which just happens to be about the ridiculousness of radio format labels. "I think it's funny that we're actually doing well at radio now. It's funny because we've never really done well at radio. And we seem to be played on classic rock radio a lot more than alternative rock radio. Alternative radio isn't interested in us, which I think is funny, because classic rock is well, classic rock. It's been in your life your whole life or whatever. It's always been the granddaddy of music or something... "

Girls Against Boys, Buffalo Daughter and Distortion Felix play the Starfish Room, here in Vancouver, on Monday, August 3rd, 1998. What a way to end a stat holiday!!

First published in Drop-D Magazine on July 29, 1998

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