Wed April 23, Showbox, 8 pm, $20 adv/$22 DOS.
Fischerspooner vocalist Casey Spooner is the sort of devilishly handsome, brilliantly enigmatic frontman audiences either adore or despise. During interviews, he habitually drops contentious pull quotes ("I hate Randy Newman") and references celebrity friends (P. Diddy). All this glossy, Page Six-style smack talk helps snowball Fischerspooner's fame--and would be eminently detestable if not for his populist, danceable electro music and overblown live shows. Overblown? Check that. Try totally overblown.
Spooner is the creative director, head of PR, and sometime ringleader of the Brooklyn-based art-and-music collective Fischerspooner. Warren Fischer, owner of the other patronymic in the band's portmanteau name, plays Spooner's Bernie Taupin. Together the two are known for their arty performances that, depending on the venue, can incorporate more than 20 backup dancers, guest vocalists, and a guy who vomits glitter. Attending an evening with Fischerspooner means experiencing the absolute antithesis of "stripped back." The troupe's revealing costume design, makeup, choreography, and salvos of sweat and attitude have more in common with a Las Vegas floorshow than they do with the stadium metal that typified '80s hairspray excess. Fischerspooner's art direction is all their own, and has seen them dressed up like horny werewolves, sexy dictators, and erotic aliens.
Their debut record, #1, finally distributed stateside by Capitol this past March, spawned vocodored treats like "Emerge," a European club hit that encapsulates Spooner's ethos. When he sings, "Looks good... feels good... looks good, too," Spooner seems to be saying that there's no point in looking beyond the meld of music and performance because it's all right there, in the band's aggressive nudity and confrontational stage tactics. Their self-promotion, genuinely remarkable performances, and quirky, kitschy record won over New York's gallery crowd before the Strokes played their first shaggy-haired show at the Mercury Lounge. More recently, Fischerspooner were lauded at Miami's Winter Music Conference, where they won "Best Remix" for their work on Australian pop tart Kylie Minogue's "Come Into My World." It is, as Spooner notes, their only remix.
"Well, Kylie and I aren't talking right now," Spooner says dryly. "Nothing happened. You know how these things are. Sometimes you're up and sometimes you're down. At the moment, we're in the middle of the road. She's sweet. She's short. Actually, that was the major problem. When we were performing together on Top of the Pops, it was like pedophilia. I'm not particularly big, and standing next to her was like a joke. I looked like a giant."
He's a quick wit, but takes his job seriously, as does his partner. The two met at the University of Chicago in the early '90s. Spooner's interests in video and performance art were well matched by Fischer's skills as a classically trained musician, and after they moved to New York, work soon began in earnest. They played their apocryphal Astor Place Starbucks show (which, incidentally, is also the venue where Andrew W. K. began public life), and drew friends and other artists into the fold. Their art-world connections befriended them to New York gallerist Jeffrey Deitch, who works on shows with the troupe at a practice/gallery space in Williamsburg----the abandoned warehouse that's now Fischerspooner World Headquarters. "It's so much fun," Spooner says. "I'd call it ecstatically exhausting. Most people don't realize how hard it is to sing and dance at the same time--it's like manifesting math. There's this tension between the structure of the performance and wanting to have it evolve. I'm intuitively moving toward fucking it off. We're going on our first tour and we're just going to let it happen. I'm looking at this as a think tank. After 21 days on the road and only two days in a hotel, something's going to evolve, and not just the odor. By the end, you'll smell the rock 'n' roll."
Meanwhile, Spooner plans on propagating his own legend. He's doing well. "I got a 17-passenger stretch Hummer in Miami," he says with poker-faced aplomb. "It was me, P. Diddy----or 'the Dids,' as I call him----DJ Hell, and James Murphy [of New York rock label DFA] going skinny-dipping. Before we got into the car, James told me that he didn't know whether to love me or loathe me. I said, 'It's simple: Loathe me before we get into the limo, love me when we're inside, and loathe me again when you get out.' How hard is that?"