“Fisher’s success comes from not taking themselves too seriously.”

By Jason Tanamor

If you haven’t heard of the band Fisher, you’re not alone. However, I would venture to guess that you’ve heard the band’s music at some point in your life. Ron Wasserman, one half of the band, recently chatted with me about the band’s success and music.



Q – Fisher has been around for more ten years. Yet, a lot of people have never heard of you. I first heard of the band when the album, "True North" came out. How difficult is it being an independent band that has to promote its music without the support of a major record label?

A - In some ways, by not having a major behind you, it's rather difficult to ever become truly well known so you have to lower your expectations somewhat. That being said, the advantages to having complete control over your career outweighs the problems and frustration associated with being on/with a major label as their success rate is around 1.5% total for all the bands they sign.

In our case, when we were with Universal Music, the rush of traveling all over the country doing radio, TV and live shows was a once in a lifetime experience. But their distribution was a mess. The company handling that, Valley Media, was going bankrupt in 2001 and so although we were #1 in many major radio markets, the CDs were not there and sadly iTunes had not been introduced to the world yet. We were very happy to get out of that deal.

Also, we make more that most signed bands. I guess you could say we do better than 98.5% of them. (Laughs)

Q – Your song, "I will love you" is the most downloadable song on the Internet. How did Fisher go about accomplishing this feat?

A - MP3.com had launched and I uploaded a few songs. I had created a banner ad for that site that caught a lot of eyes but ultimately people loved the song so we were getting around 18k downloads a day. This caught the attention of CNN, Time Magazine and others and so we started getting a lot of press. Doug Morris at Universal then heard the song and we literally inked the deal on Christmas Eve, at 10pm in 1999. It was quite a night.

Q – A few of the band’s songs have appeared on various television shows and commercials. How has this added to the success of the band?

A - We've actually had more than 300 placements in film, TV and commercials and it adds tremendously to the visibility of the band. Most recently our song "Beautiful Life" was used for the TLC Monday night shows. That alone brought more than 830k people into the Fisher fan base.

The reason we do so well in these areas is because our music is suited for advertising and storytelling. Also, we own everything 100% so we can agree to a deal very quickly.



Q – How do you feel about the musical landscape today?

A - I think a majority of the top stuff is shit. Whiny fricking boys all talking about the same crap. The girls are actually better but not by far. There are no more rock stars and real bands. Most of my friends are the session guys who play on all these tracks and some of them are the main voice you hear, but they obviously remain anonymous so the public will believe the illusion that the band is a real band.

What I LOVE about today’s music is the sonic quality. Everything cuts through with great power and clarity and makes nearly everything recorded prior to 1997 sound kind of weak.

Q – Not only are you two (Kathy Fisher) working professionals, but you two are also an item with a child. How do you balance the work life with the personal life?

A - Our boy is now five. We've always taken the attitude that he's along for the ride with us. Granted there are times when the schedule gets modified because he is the #1 thing in our lives but we drag him all over the world and he loves being back stage watching whatever we're doing.

Q – Do you two ever get like the Gallagher brothers from Oasis? If so, which one is Noel and which one is Liam?

A - Funny you mentioned them. We opened for them just as they were getting known. We are actually nothing like their personalities. I guess because we never took ourselves that seriously or have ever believed for a second that we are/were better than anyone else doing any other kind of work. We've always been very nice to others and to each other. There are times in the studio when I have to “push” Kathy to try a little harder but with the new CD we're working on now I haven't had to do that once. I've finally learned patience.

Q – What have you learned the most about the industry and how have you used what you’ve learned to assist in your career?

A - Honestly I've learned that nearly all label people don't have a fucking clue what they are doing. It's all luck. Imagine anyone given the chance to go sign 100 bands and out of that 100, two succeed and now you're considered a genius for “discovering” them. You simply exploit as many artists as possible until lightning strikes.

I have always been very good at observing others for their weakness or lack of ability and stepping in to make every attempt to dominate that particular “thing.” There are SO MANY ways to make a great living in the music industry but you have to be very committed (I always work seven days a week in the studio) and you must not follow what everyone is doing.

Q – Do you think had the Internet and music sharing not existed, your success would not be as great as it is?

A - Without a doubt our careers would be different but considering we already had our first really big cut in 1998 on the "Great Expectations" soundtrack and then were asked to do the Lilith Fair, perhaps we'd still be doing well. Hard to say.



Q – Is there a certain formula to composing songs?

A - No, other than to be completely and totally honest about what you’re writing about. The public can sense the truth and for example this is why rap has done so amazingly well. It's from real people, poetically speaking about their real lives. It cuts to the core.

Q – Your website says the new CD will be released in May 2009. Can you tell me a little bit about the album?

A - Because of the TLC success mentioned above, I decided it was time to do another Fisher CD so I just started writing and did not play a note of it for Kathy. Eight weeks later I delivered 13 songs. Over the following weeks we cut five. I wrote some new ones and we settled on the final 12.

The material is about our lives and what we've experienced over the last four years. Kathy's dad, who she was extremely close to, suddenly died in June 2006. The CD starts just prior to that moment. A little self discovery, a little unimportant common happiness, then the phone call that he was gone, then the suffering, then pulling out, and then regaining one's life after tragedy but forever changed. The guys who have played on it, Jimmy Paxson (Stevie Nicks), Jon Button (Sheryl Crow) Emerson Swinford and other musicians and producers have all thought this was by far our best work and are all more involved and enthusiastic that I've ever seen in the past. So, with any luck, and you really never know, we're on to something that will at the very least earn us another 5 star rating. (laughs) Who knows?

Q – What do you want to achieve with the new album?

A - To make people feel something. That's always been my #1 goal. If that happens again with this batch of songs I'll sleep at night.

Q – How do you think Fisher’s music has evolved from when you first came onto the scene?

A - We've learned to allow a little space, simplify tracks even more. Let things breathe. More dynamic production. More unexpected turns and twists.

Q – Anything you wanted to add?

A - I certainly hope I did not come off jaded at the majors or like I have a big ego. I'm pretty much a brutally honest person, especially with myself. I've really never had time to waste on kissing ass or playing politics. I'm way more of a street educated person than an intellectual, that's for sure!



BYLINE:

Jason Tanamor is the Editor of Zoiks! Online. He is also the author of the novels, "Hello Lesbian!" and "Anonymous."

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1 Comments:

Anonymous said...

Excellent interview. I've always believed quite strongly that Ron and Kathy are "regular people" with a whole lotta talent. This comes through here. Ron is just a regular guy doing (hopefully) what he loves and we're all the beneficiaries. Can't wait for the new CD and I will always remain a devoted follower.

 
 
 

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