Fishbone’s Not Wasting Time (And Neither Should You)

Fishbone Photo by Pablo Mathiason, courtesy of Grandstand Media
If time is an ongoing, continuous marathon through the past, present and future, then Fishbone is high stepping its way through the race. The iconic band, which formed in Los Angeles in 1979 and is best known for its wild mashup of ska, punk, funk, metal, reggae and soul (whew), returns to Houston this weekend with new music and as support for George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic.

The band’s very busy front man, Angelo Moore, discussed the group’s latest album, it’s first new music in nine years. Over dozens of years, Fishbone’s had dozens of band members but the new record brings together a group that most closely resembles Fishbone 1.0. Their latest is a self-titled EP of five songs released in May.

“The new Fishbone EP is released by Fat Mike’s Bottles to the Ground and we put it together while we were going through our reinvention period,” Moore said. “The band came back together after being apart, we were on hiatus I guess. The band took a hiatus and the pandemic was that, you know. Everybody was apprehensive to do anything because of the pandemic, which forced us to take a hiatus.”

That time made us all feel some kind of way and the way it made Moore and company feel was reflective about our fleeting time here. The band continues to gain new fans, something that’s sure to continue by teaming with NOFX’s Fat Mike for new music on an upstart imprint of the Fat Wreck Chords label. We asked Moore to consider a track or two from Fishbone’s complete discography that new listeners should know, the ones that feel informative about the band. There’s “Party at Ground Zero,” “Bonin’ in the Boneyard,” “V.T.T.L.O.F.D.G.F.” which are all amongst the band’s greatest hits. We mention “Cholly” as a favorite and it evokes a knowing laugh from Moore.

“Yeah! That’s the jam, right?” he said.

The tracks Moore focused on says a lot about the band’s present mindset. They’re both songs from the new EP.

“One of them is called ‘All We Have is Now,’ which is the single, and we’ve got a video to it. Basically, its saying don’t procrastinate. Do it now, whatever it is that you feel is going to enhance your life and your being as an individual. You have to do it now and not wait, yeah. So that’s one.

“And then we have ‘Cubicle,’ which is about being stuck in a 9-to-5 job scenario and breaking out of that. So, you’re stuck in a cubicle with a desk and an anchor and a handcuff with a boss who really ain’t got your best interest at heart,” he said, and views the song as instructive for “how to overcome that if you’re stuck in that life.”

Moore’s a creative soul, what folks used to call a renaissance man, a person who can do all things if he will. In his time, he’s been a musician, a poet, a visual artist, an actor and a consummate salesman of all his brands. But has he ever been a pencil-pusher at a desk job?

“Naw, I’ve never had to face it, but a couple of the guys in the band have, so that’s where we were able to write it from,” he said.

We asked Moore what he and Fat Mike and George Clinton all have in common. They seem to make up very different corners of an artistic triangle. Moore contemplated for a second and kept his answer simple.

“One thing we do have in common is the music, that’s for sure,” he said and suggested that the three of them are part of “one nation, under a groove. Getting down, just for the funk of it. Yeah.”

All are influential, too. NOFX and P-Funk and Fishbone have inspired many great music acts that followed. Of those Fishbone has affected, Moore counted, “Gwen Stefani. The (Red Hot) Chili Peppers. Who the fuck else? God, man, there’s so many. (Skatune Network’s) Jer, this guy named Jer that was opening up for us on the road a couple of years ago. He’s got some Fishbone-ass typed shit going on.
“I’m not really looking at who’s being inspired by who out there because I guess I’ve got my horse blinders on and my attention directed at my own shit,” Moore laughed. “It’s hard enough keeping your own stuff afloat. But I know there are people out there being inspired by Fishbone and I’m thankful.”

He’s also busy, not content to rest on past success or let the numbered days pass idly.

“Well, I’ve got two other solo projects that have really been bringing me a lot of joy. One is called Dr. MadVibe and the Missing Links and that’s a seven-piece band and we play all of my arrangements and a couple of other songs from a couple of other artists in the group,” he said, and noted he plays organ, sax and theremin in that band. Dr. MadVibe has a double album on the way and pre-orders for the record start in September.

“And then I’ve got this other project which is more like dance music — electronic dance music, funk, hip hop, disco ball type of thing — and it’s called The Brand New Step.”

“I’ve got this thing called Dr. MadVibe’s Underground Contraband Railroad and it’s where I sell all of my shirts, my shampoo, shea butter, soap, body oil and all my CDs, DVDs, everything,” he added. “I’m almost finished with a commercial I’m going to be putting out there letting everybody know what I got.”

No matter the project, Moore’s steps are ever forward.

“Man, you can’t waste any time because time is limited,” he emphasized. “All we have is now, shit. All we’ve got is now and don’t let nobody stop you.”

Fishbone, with George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, Sunday August 6 at House of Blues, 1204 Caroline. Doors at 7 p.m. for this all ages show. $45-$75.
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Jesse’s been writing for the Houston Press since 2013. His work has appeared elsewhere, notably on the desk of the English teacher of his high school girlfriend, Tish. The teacher recognized Jesse’s writing and gave Tish a failing grade for the essay. Tish and Jesse celebrated their 33rd anniversary as a couple in October.