Thinking Fellers Union Local 282
Composing absurd-core for car-ads, a stalker named Seymour Glass and they moved to San Francisco because the climate wasn't all that on Mars. That's just the normal side to Thinking Fellers Union Local 282. I present Hugh, one of the Stinking Fellers.
Publicatiedatum: 11 december 2000
The new album would sound more hip-hop and breakbeat?!?
A joke if there ever was one. Can you tell us more about the record?
"Anne's description of the new record as hip-hop and breakbeat might be a joke.
Or it could be a calculated attempt to appeal to a younger music-buying demographic that's
not into the kind of stuff we normally churn out. More about the record... Originally, we wanted to
do something completely new, something so radically different nobody could ever possibly
have heard anything remotely like it before; something that would totally blow everybody's
minds. Fortunately, we realized very early on how tired we all were and how such an undertaking
would probably require inspiration and effort and might even entail some difficulty.
We ditched the original idea right away and settled on doing what we've always done.
Consequently, the new album has a comfortably familiar, "warmed-over" sound that's sure
to be a hit with the elderly. Our main aspiration is for at least one of the songs to end up
in a car commercial. Rock is dead, but if you watch any TV at all you'll notice car commercials
are still going strong. We're convinced that's where the future lies and this record could be
immortal if the auto makers would just give us a chance. If any of you auto makers out there
are reading this, Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 stands ready to audition at any time.
Don't worry, we're not really a union."
Any other people involved in the project?
"Just Greg Freeman. He engineered and co-produced it, as he's done on most of our records.
He did a great job and he's a great guy; one of the best people you could ever hope to meet.
Nevertheless, we treat him abominably. Nothing personal, it's just that we're very insular and
suspicious. Our attitude toward outsiders is, basically, "You are the enemy and we won't hesitate
to kill you." Greg's put up with a lot of shabby treatment from us over the years, but it's worked
out. Apparently, he thrives on adversity and mistreatment."
How will it sound? Is there a concept behind the record?
"There's no particular concept behind it. As with all our previous records, it's more or
less an arbitrary collection. Concept albums are dangerous (unless they sell cars), so we've steered
well clear of trying to tie the songs together thematically. We pretty much checked ideas at the
door on this one and just set the cruise control. Our only aim was to give the listener a smooth,
Will you tour again when the record comes out? You seem reluctant to perform outside San
Francisco or is that just the impression I have?
"Our touring days are over. Longer tours by van, anyway. We had to make a choice between
touring or making enough money to live on. We've been able to take some long weekends to go
play outside San Francisco when somebody's been willing and able to buy the plane tickets and
we've been willing and able to do it. In fact, we're flying to Chicago next week to play."
You namecheck the Sun City Girls' brothers in Admonishing The Bishops. How was it touring
"We were suspicious of them at first, naturally. But once they passed up several
obvious opportunities to kill us, slip us narcotics and take advantage of us, steal our songs,
or otherwise screw us over, we relaxed our guard somewhat and began to enjoy their company and
their weird music. When the tour was over and any potential danger had passed, we decided the
experience had been fantastic."
If you were able to pick anyone you could tour with, who/what group would you pick?
"The Beatles would be right up there. I've been listening to Beck and Flaming Lips a lot
lately and like their records too, so I'll say them."
You have a lot of side-projects going on. Hageman made a solo record, Davies did something
under the name White Shark, Are you also doing something outside the Thinking Fellers?
"I've been working on some material the last couple years and would like to put out
a solo record or two in the not-too-distant future. I've been saying that for quite a while
Your drummer Jay Paget used to play in World Of Pooh with Barbara Manning, right?
How were you able to grab him from World Of Pooh and join you? Is he still playing with Barbara?
"Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to steal Jay from World of Pooh because they
broke up before we could. That was in 1990. He did a summer tour with Barbara about five or six
years ago. I think that's the only time he's played with her since World of Pooh."
The band was formed in Iowa about 14 years ago. How did you meet up? And why did you decide
to move to San Francisco?
"The five of us in TFU's first line-up, with Paul Bergmann on drums, all knew eachother
in Iowa, but the band didn't come together until later, in California. Brian tells people the
band formed on Mars a couple hundred years ago, but that's untrue. We decided to move to San
Francisco because it's got a much milder climate than Iowa or Mars."
Who came up with the name of the band? And what's story behind the name?
"There are different theories concerning the origins of the name Thinking Fellers
Union Local 282. As you know, it's a matter of some controversy and conjecture among scholars.
Some claim it was transmitted down through the ages by devotees of an ancient Egyptian esoteric
tradition that was reputedly one of the few surviving remnants of Atlantis. Others believe it's
nothing more than the nonsensical ravings of a confused, drunken blowhard whose words were captured
for posterity entirely accidentally. Some say I was that confused, drunken blowhard, but I have
never remembered or believed that."
With a name that long, there must have been people coming up with totally different
ones or abbreviations. Are there any funny or weird ones that stick in your mind?
"Thinking Fellers is probably the most common abbreviation, which is less than ideal,
but acceptable. Some used to call us The Fellers. They have all conveniently, but mysteriously,
disappeared. It's quite uncanny. More enlightened types call us Thinking Fellers Union. TFUL 282,
TFUL, and TFU are favored by the print media. Some friends of ours early on called us Stinking
Smellers for short. Some guy bought one of our records after reading about us in Bananafish,
hated it, and wrote a poison-pen letter to Seymour Glass in which he referred to us as Thinking
Lame Assholes Local Fuck You. That's the best one, obviously."
Descriptions go from art-rock to surreal lyrics. When people hear Art-Rock, they immediately
think of snobby students obsessed with Zappa. But I always think of how funny you all are.
"Some people think Zappa's funny, too. I don't think there's much, if anything, in common
between us and him, but if people want to call his music art-rock and call ours art-rock too, I
don't think that creates a problem. It's a pretty broad, loosely-defined category. Besides,
art-rock is just one of many terms used to describe TFU over the years. We've also been called
indy rock, alternative rock, college rock, prog-rock, avant-garde, avant-noise, absurd-core, a
cross between Talking Heads and ZZ Top, Grateful Dead art-fags, art-fuck wankers... the list
goes on. Take your pick, or come up with a term of your own."
How do you write the music? Do you consciously sit down and write the music, improvise or what?
"We've never had one set method for writing songs. Some have come from one person sitting
down and developing it by themselves, then bringing it to the rest of the band. Some have come
about almost completely through improvisation, requiring minimal conscious development. Some songs
are combinations of previously worked out parts and improvised parts jammed together."
Wormed By Leonard was inspired by Nimoy's book Warmed by Love. Apart from Nimoy, are you also
influenced by other authors? Do you have any other non-musical influences?
"I don't know what my influences are. It's not like I can point to x, y and z and say
"these are my influences". It's just not that direct. It's more shadowy and nebulous and I prefer
to leave it a mystery. "
Is that Nuf Sed label still up and running? If so, what's happening, any new releases?
"No, Nuf Sed's no longer up and running. It hasn't been for at least a couple years now.
Bananafish-guy Seymour Glass has been called the unofficial TFUL282-member. How is he
involved in the band? Does he play with you guys?
"Seymour used to call himself "the Sixth Feller", which was kind of endearing at first.
Then the stalking started. Our tenuous association with him ended several years ago with a
Meer Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 op KindaMuzik: http://www.kindamuzik.net/artiest/thinking-fellers-union-local-282