Fleshpeddlers
(Originally appeared in Probemusic, September 2001)

Disco Song bursts into life, a filtered dataflow screech crushed by a huge bass and spluttering beats and, erm, a guitar solo. This is not disco but, crucially, it is a song. Welcome to Falling Into A Dream, the latest self-produced Fleshpeddlers album. Like the last one, Disposable Pop Songs, it's a bewildering mess of early hip hop rhythms, synth pop and rock music. Remember when Duran Duran covered Public Enemy? Well this is like ABC, Nick Heyward and the Tubeway Army remaking King of Rock. The Fleshpeddlers are Todd Millenacker, Kris Verplank and Scott Woodford and, according to Kris, their beginnings were hardly auspicious: "Todd and Scott were neighbourhood buds and Todd used to use Scott for his Sega. I met Todd at a high school battle of the bands, where we both liked a band that everybody thought sucked."

They used a drum machine from the start. Todd: "I’ve always played with a drum machine, mostly because I like the precision. The hip hop rhythms just kind of evolved naturally. As I acquired more drum machines and samplers, the rhythms I programmed just got more complicated." So the band aren't hip hop fans? Kris: "Todd and I don’t listen to much hip hop. Scott does somewhat - I know this because I found a Sir-Mix-A-Lot CD in his car the other day - but he’d never admit to it." What about the drum'n'bass on Disco Song? "I like the rhythms of drum and bass, but I don’t really listen to too much of it."

It takes a special kind of talent to write songs filled with sounds you're not particularly fond of and have them come out as good as this, even if there is an air of the Frankenstein about them. Kris defends their approach, "most of our songs start out as pop tunes and then we work on them until they start to sound like us. We all pull the songs in different directions, but most of the time we all agree on what’s best for the song. I guess we have Todd to thank for the 'Frankenstein' nature of our sound. Literally, Todd won’t let the song go until there are at least 50 tracks of noise on a tune."

Fifty tracks of noise? That'd be why reviewers are having a hard time - check the band's website out for some hilarious comparisons. Todd: "It’s funny that people hear elements of bands as diverse as The Cure, Devo, Beck, Gary Numan, NIN, Weezer, Sunny Day Real Estate, & RUN DMC." Run DMC? Ridiculous, The Fleshpeddlers are the only band walking this way.

8136 Rhode Island Circle South, Bloomington, MN 55438, USA www.fleshpeddlersmusic.com, fleshpeddlers@juno.com


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