The Fuglees come home 

Make no mistake about it: The Fuglees are a powerhouse band. Forget, for the moment, their funny material like “Crazy Girls” and “Get The Fuck Off The Stage,” and concentrate on the playing. Guitarist Erich Anderson plays heavy, 1970s-influenced guitar while drummer Tom Knapp and bassist Andy Kuhn handle the low end with verve. This is a very good group here.
The Fuglees are, from left, Erich Anderson, Tom Knapp and Andy Kuhn

Now, with the release of their second CD, Indiana, the Fuglees have made a compelling case for themselves as some of the best songwriters around. Nearly every song, whether an ode to Hoosier David Lee Roth or a love letter to the Indiana-manufactured drug Prozac, is chock full of hooks and harmonies. They’ve become well-known in the Indy music scene not only for their live shows — they were finalists in last year’s Patio/Benchmark Battle of the Bands — but also for their frequent appearances on X103’s morning show.

They’ll debut the CD Friday night with a show at the Melody Inn. NUVO talked with Anderson and Kuhn about the new disc, their ambitions for the future and the nagging question that follows the band: Are they just a comedy band?

Andy Kuhn: You know, I’ve kind of worried about that from time to time, but now I think we’ve sort of made our bed and now we have to lie in it. I think there are people who, if they see a band that writes a funny song, they immediately think that everything about them is that way. “They’re the next Weird Al or whatever.” But not every single song we do is funny, and even most of the songs that are funny, there’s genuine pain behind the humor. We just choose to express it in humor.

Anderson: That’s a kind of Inside Edition question. “Does it bother you that people just think you’re a funny band?” I’ve got to be honest, in some ways it does. I don’t want to see the skill that we put into the music ignored. Going in the other direction is the fact that I’m happy that people are listening to us. Writing music and starting a band from scratch and going to the public with it is one of the riskiest sales jobs there is. I can tell you from experience that it’s very hard to sell a band to the public. It takes a long time and it takes really good material. And it’s taken us 20 years to generate this kind of material. We just don’t want people to overlook the fact that we focus on being a good band first.

Kuhn: We play in a rock band and that’s what we do. I hope people will give us a chance and just listen to the record and not think that this can’t be rock. But I do think there are people who think that if I’m not exposing my deep inner pain to you, it’s not rock and roll. There are so many bands out there whose whole message is, “Our life is so hard. Everything sucks.” And we’re just kind of like, “Dude, you’re playing in a band. It’s gotta be pretty good. Playing in a band is fun as hell.”

NUVO: Andy, you have what a lot of people would consider a dream job.

Kuhn: Yeah. In my day job, I draw comic books for a living. I’m doing a thing for Marvel Comics now called Young Ancient One, which is kind of a 16th century Kung Fu epic. And when I get done with that, I’m going to be doing a story called Common Foe for a company called IDW. It’s kind of a World War II, Nazis-and-vampires story kind of thing. I’ve loved comics since I was a kid. When I was in high school, I met a dude who was way into comics and I kind of gravitated toward that and never looked back. There’s a surprising number of comic book artists who are musicians as well. I think it’s kind of a thing where, if you have an artistic talent, it’s how you decide to focus it. I know a lot of guys who can draw who are good musicians as well. They all seem to like the record, the ones who’ve heard it.

NUVO: Which song of yours seems to be the most popular with audiences?

Kuhn: I don’t know. I would say that “Get the F” is one that people respond to. It’s usually the last song we play and we kind of have it both ways. The people who like it, sing along with us. And the people who don’t like us sing along with it too, because they’re saying, “Get the fuck off the stage.” We were just fooling around in the practice room, and I just started singing those words. We have all played in bands that have gotten that kind of reception. I started singing those words and it became a song. Usually when we practice, we try and amuse each other. Hopefully other people enjoy it as well.

NUVO: Of course, you really hit home with a lot of people when you noted the sexual talent of unstable women (in “Crazy Girls”).

Kuhn: I would say that’s our other most requested song. After practice one night, Tom and Eric were having a discussion about different crazy women they’d gone out with, and who was the craziest. I was getting ready to leave and go home, and just as I was walking out the door, as a joke, I said, “Hey, guys, have you heard this new song that I wrote? It’s called ‘Crazy Girls Sure Can Fuck Good.’” And we all had a laugh, and a few days later I wrote the chorus and added the verse and put it together.

NUVO: Talk about why you named the album after the state.

Anderson: I wound up thinking Indiana was a good title for the album, because when I looked at the collection of songs, it seemed to be a great little comic book about where we live and who we are. And all of us have a refined sense about how to make this music. This record represents three years of pretty close collaboration between three kinds of guys [who] are exactly the same kind of smartass. It’s like I found my spiritual and philosophical brothers in Andy and Tom. When you’ve done it for a while, when you’ve taken the hits and the criticism, and you’ve proven to yourself that you’re a survivor in the business, you can come forth with confidence, because you know you can’t be hurt by anything. That’s kind of where we are. The fact that it turned out funny is a good thing, because it reflects our personality accurately and it reached out across a lot of boundaries. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone that disliked everything we did. It takes players a lot of time and work and a lot of trial and error to get to the point where the Fuglees are, in terms of just being well-matched to play with each other. These guys are guys I’d be hanging out with if I wasn’t playing with them.

WHAT: The Fuglees CD Release Show WHEN: Friday, Dec. 5 WHERE: The Melody Inn, 3826 N. Illinois St., 923-4707 ADMISSION: $5 at the door MORE INFORMATION:

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