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Fine Then’s local finds

John Carpenter soundtracks meet sad boy pop-punk

Fine Then would prefer you ascended via music.
Fine Then would prefer you ascended via music.

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

The album, Could It Be Magic? No, was released in February, featuring guest contributions from local talents such as Jacquie Bazinet (The Fictitious Dishes, Sleepy Hollow) and Sean Con (Bat Lords). According to Noble, “The sound references John Carpenter’s soundtrack work, sad boy pop-punk, Haircut 100-style synthpop, Jehu-esque dronery, and several points in between. The John Carpenter influence comes from his soundtrack work, especially Assault on Precinct 13, but also his more recent releases on the Sacred Bones label. The track ‘Cyphers’ is named for [actor] Charles Cyphers, who is in many of Carpenter’s greatest films. And if anyone is wondering about the rationale behind me putting on a funny voice and trying to sing some of the songs like a low-budget Marc Almond, I can only say that red wine was involved, and it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

As with his other group Slum Summer, the tracks are full of local references. “The song ‘Sir Charles Etheridge Cheese’ is inspired by an afternoon when I walked around Chollas Lake, and then the College Grove shopping center, looking at the shuttered Chuck E. Cheese and thinking about how devastatingly, hilariously desolate it seemed. There are other references here and there in the lyrics, and, since we’ve both spent 99 percent of our time over the past couple of years here in mid-city San Diego, I like to think the whole album is imbued with the feel of this place during the strange times that have befallen it.”

The pandemic shutdown allowed for other Fine Then projects as well. “There’s a weird Heaven’s Gate-influenced website and a couple of 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 have no expertise or insights. The Fine Then website was put together as it was just because Fitzy and I were so fascinated by the time capsule quality of heavensgate.com, and it seemed like a distinctive design that wouldn’t be beyond my web design skills. The website may be in poor taste I guess, but both of us find that Heaven’s Gate site — which remains up exactly as it was in March 1997, when the ‘Away Team’ took their famous final journey — incredibly fascinating, as a time capsule of both that terrifying and strange event and a time for website design that was just totally, undeniably great. As the disclaimer at the bottom notes, Fine Then does not advocate cult membership or suicide.”

The videos posted to their website include “I Saw the Light, and it Looked a Lot Like an Existential Crisis” and “Nothingness Itself (feat. Sean Con).” Notes Noble, “I’m hoping to make another video, maybe for ‘Blossoms & Blood,’ and it will certainly have psychedelic video wipes, because that’s basically the only effect I know how to use.”

As for other projects: “Slum Summer is slowly re-emerging from hibernation, and should have a new album out later this year, as well as starting up again with playing shows around town. Fitzy is always recording stuff under his Mr. Nobody and Biding Time aliases, and I don’t know if they have any plans, but I certainly hope Bat Lords will be back playing shows soon.”

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Fine Then would prefer you ascended via music.
Fine Then would prefer you ascended via music.

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

The album, Could It Be Magic? No, was released in February, featuring guest contributions from local talents such as Jacquie Bazinet (The Fictitious Dishes, Sleepy Hollow) and Sean Con (Bat Lords). According to Noble, “The sound references John Carpenter’s soundtrack work, sad boy pop-punk, Haircut 100-style synthpop, Jehu-esque dronery, and several points in between. The John Carpenter influence comes from his soundtrack work, especially Assault on Precinct 13, but also his more recent releases on the Sacred Bones label. The track ‘Cyphers’ is named for [actor] Charles Cyphers, who is in many of Carpenter’s greatest films. And if anyone is wondering about the rationale behind me putting on a funny voice and trying to sing some of the songs like a low-budget Marc Almond, I can only say that red wine was involved, and it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

As with his other group Slum Summer, the tracks are full of local references. “The song ‘Sir Charles Etheridge Cheese’ is inspired by an afternoon when I walked around Chollas Lake, and then the College Grove shopping center, looking at the shuttered Chuck E. Cheese and thinking about how devastatingly, hilariously desolate it seemed. There are other references here and there in the lyrics, and, since we’ve both spent 99 percent of our time over the past couple of years here in mid-city San Diego, I like to think the whole album is imbued with the feel of this place during the strange times that have befallen it.”

The pandemic shutdown allowed for other Fine Then projects as well. “There’s a weird Heaven’s Gate-influenced website and a couple of 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 have no expertise or insights. The Fine Then website was put together as it was just because Fitzy and I were so fascinated by the time capsule quality of heavensgate.com, and it seemed like a distinctive design that wouldn’t be beyond my web design skills. The website may be in poor taste I guess, but both of us find that Heaven’s Gate site — which remains up exactly as it was in March 1997, when the ‘Away Team’ took their famous final journey — incredibly fascinating, as a time capsule of both that terrifying and strange event and a time for website design that was just totally, undeniably great. As the disclaimer at the bottom notes, Fine Then does not advocate cult membership or suicide.”

The videos posted to their website include “I Saw the Light, and it Looked a Lot Like an Existential Crisis” and “Nothingness Itself (feat. Sean Con).” Notes Noble, “I’m hoping to make another video, maybe for ‘Blossoms & Blood,’ and it will certainly have psychedelic video wipes, because that’s basically the only effect I know how to use.”

As for other projects: “Slum Summer is slowly re-emerging from hibernation, and should have a new album out later this year, as well as starting up again with playing shows around town. Fitzy is always recording stuff under his Mr. Nobody and Biding Time aliases, and I don’t know if they have any plans, but I certainly hope Bat Lords will be back playing shows soon.”

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