The LA band Fishbone has been together in one configuration or another for twenty-five years. The band has currently had their history committed to film in the documentary Everyday Fishbone: The Story of Fishbone. Nowadays, the band only features two original members but they show no signs of slowing down.
On a day off from performing, bassist and founding member Norwood Fisher gave me his take on the band’s longevity, their life story caught on film and his love of surfing!
David Carr: Norwood tell me about the band’s current tour right now. It seems as though you are following the film this fall as it makes its way to different film festivals. Is this the case? Are you playing shows in conjunction with the showing of the film?
Norwood Fisher: Not exactly. The documentary is doing the film festival circuit. We are trying to follow it wherever it goes but it takes money and a budget to get us all out to a place to do a show, with the film. It really depends on the budget the festival has, and if they can get us out to a venue. In LA it was me, Walter Kibby and Chris Dowd getting together to perform. At another festival it was just me and Angelo. In New York the Black Rock Coalition and CMJ were able to have the whole band out in New York City.
David: So overall, what is your impression of the documentary? Did it capture the true story of the band?
Norwood: It’s tough for me to judge it. It’s my life! Overall I think the film is fairly accurate. It’s only a small sliver of my life but they got my complete words and thoughts.
David: The film really details the friendship you have with Angelo Moore. With all the ups and downs you both have had, what has kept your friendship in tact? What keeps you both moving forward to do Fishbone?
Norwood: Even in the worst of times I have seen the bigger picture and the bigger context! I have not had to have any other job except to be a musician. I make music for a living! I appreciate Angelo’s talent. That along with a self awareness has helped us through the tougher moments. I am self aware of a legacy we have and I am proud of it. The other part of it is, I feel as if this band is providing a service that no one else out there can provide! Bad Brains still tours. They still do shows and I am thankful that they are still out there but if they stopped touring there would be a musical void left, and I don’t think we could fill it. It’s the same thing with us. If we don’t keep going and keep on doing this type of thing, no one else is going to do it. It also has to do with me just being a fan of music. This is about the joy of making music.
David: Has the documentary forced you to think about Fishbone’s legacy? Has it forced you to take a look at the band’s past?
Norwood: I have always looked back and had an appreciation for our past. We talk to our fans about the past all the time. It really puts things into perspective. Perception can really be a motherfucker! There are times when Angelo will talk about how we should have become bigger, we should have been huge. I mean really, we got a lot further than a lot of other bands around us. There were frustrations but even with those frustrations we were able to have some major achievements.
David: One of the great aspects of this film is that it has gotten the original members of Fishbone to reconnect. What was it like to reunite with your original guitar player Kendall Jones?
Norwood: It was great! In the film he got on stage with us and played guitar at this small club in Berkley. At one of the film festivals, he watched the film and partied down with us. We ended up playing a show at the festival and during the encore someone came up to me and said Kendall wants to get on stage but he did not want to play guitar. He wanted to sing lead on “Party at Ground Zero”. It was a great time! It was an amazingly good feeling! I am glad we have been able to reconnect like this. I mean, how many folks don’t ever have the chance to reconnect with a good friend from the past? I am glad we stuck it out. I am very glad this is happening.
David: The inevitable question now is, how likely is the possibility of a Fishbone reunion with the original members?
Norwood: That’s the conversation we having. In the big picture at this juncture right now it’s a possibility but it’s not at the forefront of our minds. Right now we are just enjoying the reconnection of the friendships we had. It would be nice but for now the goal is to keep the reconnection going and to keep the conversation going and see what happens.
David: At the screening in LA during the question and answer portion, someone asked the likelihood of not only a reunion but a tour featuring Fishbone, Living Colour and Bad Brains. What are your thoughts on that?
Norwood: Well it would be nice! HA! All three bands communicate with each other. We are always talking to each other. All of us have a mutual admiration society going on! I think we all want to do it. It really comes down to some folks feeling that we should do it when all three bands have new music out.
David: Speaking of new music, Is Fishbone getting ready to go back into the studio anytime soon?
Norwood: The song writing process has begun. We are currently writing and looking at new ways and different aspects of getting our music out to people. At this point we are thinking maybe we don’t have to write a full album. Maybe we can do two or three songs and put them out on iTunes.
David: So you are going to take advantage of technology this time around?
Norwood: Yeah we definitely are. As creative people if we have three songs that we feel strongly about then we should take advantage of the fact that with something like iTunes, we can drop those songs and let them go out to folks. We can express to folks where the band is musically, at that moment. It really works to our advantage. We can release two songs in December and then another three songs in February. We can keep the conversation going with our fans and it’s immediate.
David: Let’s shift gears a bit and chat about a non-musical aspect of the documentary. How long have you been surfing? How did you get started?
Norwood: Flea gave me my first surfboard about ten years ago. He just thought that I would love it. I had gone snowboarding with him a few times so he just assumed I would also like surfing and he was right. I remember the first time he took me out it was just me and him. Then we saw another surfer paddling out and that guy turned out to be Eric Avery from Jane’s Addiction. That was my introduction to the sport and it was a great moment for me to be out there with those guys for my first time. My daughter is now in surf camp. I took her out surfing a few days ago because it has been so damn hot!
David: I had to opportunity to chat with your original keyboard player Chris Dowd. I asked him the same question I am gong to ask you now. Can you pinpoint one moment in the band’s career when you said to yourself, “ok now we have arrived!” What’s one moment that sticks out for you as a defining moment for this band?
Norwood: It had to be the 1994 Lollapalooza. We were one of the featured headliners that year and Perry asked us to do it. We were playing in front of 50,000 people every day on that tour. When that kabuki drape dropped and we had that huge mechanical fishbone hanging above us and we were on stage — yeah that was some real rock god shit! HA!
David: Norwood it’s been a pleasure to chat with you. I wish you much luck with both the original Fishbone and Fishbone 2.0.!
Norwood: HA! Thanks man!