Fine Then Local Finds | San Diego Reader

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Well, then I’d rather you go up through the music.

Work on Fine Then’s new album began on March 16, 2020, the day of the first covid stay-at-home announcement. Hugh J. Noble (Slum Summer, Seance Weather), who co-founded the band with Andrew Fitzgerald (Bat Lords), recalls: “I was messing around on my computer and created a wacky electronic track with excerpts from a 1950s radio show that seemed to match the strange end-times feeling swirling at the time. The next day, feeling bored and trapped, I made another one, and at some point decided to keep going, making a new track every day, until the whole coronavirus thing was over. explode. Of course, like the rest of us, I had no idea we would still be dealing with this two years later.

The scrapbook, Can it be magic? No, was released in February, with guest contributions from local talent such as Jacquie Bazinet (The Fictitious Dishes, Sleepy Hollow) and Sean Con (Bat Lords). According to Noble, “The sound references the John Carpenter soundtrack, sad boy pop-punk, Haircut 100-style synthpop, Jehu-esque dronery, and several points in between. John Carpenter’s influence comes from his soundtrack work, particularly Assault on Compound 13, but also his more recent releases on the Sacred Bones label. The track ‘Cyphers’ is named after [actor] Charles Cyphers, who is in several of Carpenter’s greatest films. And if anyone wonders why I put on a funny voice and tried to sing some of the songs like a low-budget Marc Almond, I can only say that red wine was involved, and it seemed be a good idea at a time.”

As with his other group Slum Summer, the titles are full of local references. “The song ‘Sir Charles Etheridge Cheese’ is inspired by an afternoon I strolled around Chollas Lake, then the College Grove Mall, looking at the shuttered Chuck E. Cheese and thinking of desolation. devastating and hilarious as it seemed. There are other references here and there in the lyrics, and, since we’ve both spent 99% of our time over the past two years here in downtown San Diego, I like to think that the whole album is infused with the feel of this place during the strange times that have befallen there.

The pandemic shutdown also allowed for other Fine Then projects. “There’s a weird Heaven’s Gate influenced website and some DIY music videos online. I am fascinated by Heaven’s Gate, as well as our other UFO religion with a local connection, the Unarians, but I have no expertise or insight. The Fine Then website was created simply because Fitzy and I were so fascinated by the time capsule quality of skygate.com, and it seemed like a distinctive design that wouldn’t exceed my web design skills. The website may be in bad taste, I suppose, but we both find that the Heaven’s Gate site – which remains exactly as it was in March 1997, when the “Away Team” made their famous last trip – incredibly fascinating, like a time capsule of both this terrifying and weird event and a time for web design that was just totally, undeniably awesome. As the disclaimer at the bottom notes, Fine Then does not advocate cult membership or suicide.

Videos posted on their website include “I saw the light, and it felt a lot like an existential crisis” and “Nothingness Itself (feat. Sean Con)”. Noble notes, “I’m hoping to do another video, maybe for ‘Blossoms & Blood’, and there will definitely be some psychedelic video wipes, because that’s basically the only effect I know how to use.”

As for other projects: “Slum Summer is slowly coming out of hibernation and should be releasing a new album later this year, as well as starting to play shows all over town again. Fitzy is still recording stuff under his Mr. Nobody and Biding Time aliases, and I don’t know if they have any plans, but I sure hope Bat Lords comes back to play shows soon.

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