Oh, to be Casey Spooner. Dressing up in costumes that would make any theater geek or drag queen drown in her own drool, delivering a jaw-dropping spectacle night after night to a sea of amazed Fischerspooner fans at clubs and unique venues across the world...what a life. And it's not just eccentricity emanating from the singer/artist's every pore—there's that stubborn paste of fake blood, industrial-strength costume glitter, and champagne mixing in there, too. Imagine the skin-care regimen.
Despite this, Spooner somehow remains fresh-faced and has emerged, much like Warhol did, as a gay icon of the New York art and music scene. Spooner and producer Warren Fischer's first album, #1, featuring their gloriously dichotomous trashy/glam electro-pop, slinked onto the scene in 2001, with Spooner sneering, "Looks good/Sounds good/Feels good, tooooo." In 2005, Fischerspooner delivered Odyssey, their last album for Capitol before the label fell, which caused its creators' strained working relationship to come within a millimeter of its life. But through newfound independence (and help from the Killers' producer Jeff Saltzman), the duo healed and soldiered on with their first independent release, this month's Entertainment—a mirror to their matured selves. City Pages recently called up Spooner to discuss the duality of his rock-star life and the near breakup of his band, and we were pleasantly surprised by his calming Georgia accent and good-natured Southern charm.
City Pages: Did Fischerspooner really start out as a TV pilot?
Casey Spooner: Yep. Warren and his wife were working with this production company that did television commercials, and they asked him to produce a pitch for a TV show. I stepped in as creative director, but Warren was kind of having a nervous breakdown a couple months later and basically stopped making music. I thought he was a great musician and was just scared of being trapped in a commercial world making lame TV spots for "Crayola Sleepover Club"—which he did direct—so I said, let's take the footage from the pitch that we shot that didn't go anywhere and compose music for it. It morphed into a completely different thing and we abandoned the film project, leading to the first Fischerspooner performance at Starbucks.
CP: I can picture John Mayer starting out at Starbucks. Not so much you.
Spooner: It was very weird. There were these guys that were NYU students and the management encouraged them to program grassroots local stuff. I just liked how wrong it was. You know that moment where crass consumerism meets an avant-garde sensibility? That was really the first equation [of Fischerspooner] and has always been the foundation—putting unlikely things into these commercial realms.
CP: What is the dominant Fischerspooner flavor?
Spooner: Glossy irreverence. Shamelessly arty.
CP: Do you object to being called a gay icon?
Spooner: I hate that word, "icon"! It's so dated, it's like "diva." I was drawn to New York and drawn to its cult heroes. If I can be part of their legacy, that's a dream come true.
CP: Let's add you to the list of the many gay icons coming from the South.
Spooner: Yeah, it's a little strange, I know. We just played a show in Atlanta, where I remembered there's two kinds of Southerners: One, they're either incredibly conservative, or two, they're incredibly eccentric, like Flannery O'Connor.
CP: What is the craziest thing you've ever done on stage?
Sponer: There was a moment in Vancouver when I just lost it—it was not a proud moment. This guy hit me square in the head with a big fat Canadian coin. I told him I was going to kill him and to come to the front of the stage, and he was so drunk, he did. I had so much adrenaline in me that I lined him up and punched him straight in the jaw and then threw him back in the crowd and just started playing again.
CP: Don't mess with the F.S.! Well, with you, anyway—Warren seems so quiet. What's your relationship like?
Spooner: Warren's and my creative relationship unraveled [while making] Odyssey. When the record was done, we just stopped talking. I was not happy and we weren't sure we would work together again. I was like, I can't believe I'm caught in this bullshit cliché. I had to throw my arms up and walk away from the whole thing and just let Warren finish [the production]. We started working together 10 years ago and were unemployed; now we both have families. We spend time together, but it's not like these long, endless, wasteful days of youth. We're invested in our music in a different way [and] have very specific jurisdictions in the project—I tend to have final say over the performance and he has final say over the album. There comes a point where I have to accept his decision-making and vice versa.
CP: You'd hate to have two Caseys instead and end up sounding like Nelson or Milli Vanilli. What's the weirdest gift you've ever received from a fan?
Spooner: The most disturbing "gift" from a fan was a URL to an amateur amputation blog.
CP: Did you reply?
Spooner: Heeeeell no! Hell no. I'm not going to reply to an amputation email! I'm not that crazy.
For a FREE mp3 from the new album, visit blogs.citypages.com/gimmenoise. FISCHERSPOONER play on FRIDAY, MAY 29, at FIRST AVENUE; 612.332.1775