Throughout the DVD that accompanies Fischerspooner's debut full-length, #1, Casey Spooner sashays around in expensive designer suits and boasts a flamboyant stage presence that puts Siegfried and Roy to shame.
The documentary portions of the DVD provide a backstage look at N.Y.C.'s all-the-rage art-fashion-music collective. It's a circus of decadence. Spooner is the ringmaster, the one barking “Peeeeeeople, work with me!” like an over-indulged fashion show dictator.
Meanwhile, his partner in the electronic duo, Warren Fischer (whose wife, Karen, directed the documentary), seems to move in the shadows. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.
Recently, Fischer took 15 minutes from his fabulous toast-of-the-town life to discuss Fischerspooner's upcoming U.S. tour.
On the phone, the Los Angeles native is pure New Yorker, speaking through a nasally, hipster half-sneer with a slightly Euro, fabulous, dahling accent. He's personable, intelligent, and really fucking funny.
Before moving to New York, the studied musician was a veteran of the math-rock scene in Chicago, where he met Spooner, a performance artist. Fischer moved to New York several years ago and discovered that his old art scene friend was also in town. In 1998, they fused surnames to form an electronica duo.
It began with an impromptu performance at-where else?-Starbucks. Fischerspooner's outrageous performance of their song “Indian Cab Fever” won over the Astor Place crowd.
Only in New York.
When asked if success would've happened anywhere else, Fischer pauses thoughtfully.
“I love New York. It's a great city. The amazing thing is that it attracts so much talent. Our project is so big and has so many facets that we can exploit and pull from the huge talent that's here. More than creating a scene where people love it, it's enabled us to be able to make the thing the way we would like to.”
The “project” he refers to is more than he and Spooner. For those involved, Fischerspooner is an experiment in pop culture, incorporating music, dance, multimedia, theatrical staging and audience interaction.
While their album is quite catchy, it's nothing original (hello, Human League). In fact, Fischerspooner gets a lot of flack for their recycled, new wave synth-pop.
This isn't lost on Fischer, but he says that's the point.
“Early on, we tried to make something that was very synthetic, referencing pop culture and pop entertainment, and it seemed like synthesizers were the way to do it.”
Keyboards, like bad blazers and skinny ties, were largely relegated to cluttered closets at the close of the '80s. But seemingly every other band in the early '00s has sported old-school synthesizers and new wave fashion.
“There was a similar sonic shift from the 1976 Ted Nugent sort of vibe to the 1982 Bauhaus-Duran Duran vibe that I think is potentially happening now,” Fischer offers.
“At some point, being macho gets boring. The '70s were super macho, and the '80s weren't so macho. A lot of rock stars that everybody loved wore make-up. It was the attack of the fey.”
“Fey” is definitely what springs to mind when Spooner prowls around on stage amidst the lights and action.
But what's Fischer's role in the stage show?
“No comment,” he answers curtly.
So he really is the man behind the curtain?
“I can't talk about that,” he stresses again.
Whatever his role in the spectacle, Fischer says he doesn't take Fischerspooner too seriously. He's not a victim of what he calls “hipster malaise.”
“It's a lot of work to be bored. We're actually having a good time. It's sort of a lifestyle.”