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Dollars to Pounds: Fixers

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Oxford quintet Fixers played their first show two years ago. They performed Christmas covers, wore Santa hats and singer Jack Goldstein’s mom handed out festive home-baked goods. From the ashes of various local bands singer Goldstein (second from right), Roo Bhasin, Michael Thompson, Christopher Dawson and Jason Warner formed Fixers, who sound like the exact midpoint between Animal Collective and the Beach Boys: sparkly, exuberant and bright. If you need evidence of this check out the video for “Majesties Ranch”, the lead song from their Goddess Of Imperial Mercy EP (out on December 5).

About a year ago there was some talk about Fixers being part of Oxford music/art collective Blessing Force whose ranks include the excellent Chad Valley, Trophy Wife, Pet Moon and members of Foals, amongst others. Before they even realized it, Fixers found themselves grouped in with this crew, but they've since bowed out of the association because, although say they’re friends with many of BF, they didn’t really feel an affinity with the collective.

Read my conversation with Goldstein below, where you can also find a mix made by the singer entitled All The Wild is My Child #2. It kicks off with Britney Spears giggling at the pronunciation of a Japanese fan’s name.


Download: The Fixers' All The Wild is My Child #2 Mix

Your debut album is finally coming out next year (on Vertigo). What’s the most personal song on it? “Amsterdam”. Not that it has any personal connotation in its lyrics, it’s just because it reeks of the naiveté we had when we were a new band, before we had a record deal. I went through a big change. I used to play music as a teenager and I stopped for ages. I used to weigh like 19 stone [roughly 266lbs] and I went on a massive crash diet and started pricking my ears up to new music. I never really left my house and I started drip-feeding myself little bits of the outside world and “Amsterdam” was one of first songs that we wrote. It reminds me of the Cocteau Twins and it has this underlying foreboding that I’m really into at the moment.

How did you lose all the weight? I stopped eating bread and pasta and I took stock. It wasn’t that hard really because I used to eat so much food.

I was going to have an argument with you about your song “Evil Carbs,” because I love carbs, I think they get a bad rep. But perhaps I shouldn’t go down that path. The title is just tongue-in-cheek! It’s quite funny because we’re all quite picky about what we eat, in no short part because I used to be crazy about it. Ironically because everyone’s jumped on the band wagon I kind of rebel against it. Jason in particular is so prissy about what he eats that it antagonizes me, so just to spite him I eat badly now.

When did you become obsessed with Brian Wilson? When I was 18 I was given a bootleg of “Smile” and I’d heard about it from a tutor in college. I thought it was the greatest thing I’d heard in my entire life. Particularly the 14-minute version of “Heroes and Villains,” I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to play it to everyone and I wanted to make music like that and then I had to go and get everything else Brian Wilson had ever made. I introduced the rest of the band to the Love You album which is the record Brian Wilson came back to The Beach Boys for in 1977. It’s one of those outsider records. It surprises me that it hasn’t been reissued. Knowing Brian Wilson there must be so many great outtakes that are so hard to find.

Besides Brian Wilson do you have any other obsessions. Musical or otherwise? I have idiosyncrasies, but I guess everyone does. When you have different colored bits of pavement I usually like to land on them with my left foot first. I try to do that. Also if I accidentally start counting in my head, which I sometimes do if I get bored, or if I’m tapping my feet I have to count how many times I do it and make sure it lands on an even number. I don’t know if it’s healthy but I like doing it.

What about Tom Cruise? He did become an obsession. I find him funny, but I genuinely think he’s a great actor. Everyone’s always like, “I hate Tom Cruise” and it’s like, Why? “Because he’s a Scientologist.” Really? Is that the only reason? “No it’s because he’s an idiot!” But he’s a brilliant actor. Eyes Wide Shut is one of my favorite films of all time.

And Scientology? It’s fascinating. Funnily enough I went back to my parents house today and in the mail there was something from the Hubbard Foundation of Dianetics. If you buy one book from them they will forever send you stuff. My girlfriend went in there ages ago and got shown some creepy movie from the '70s, when John Travolta was still young and had a normal face. She got a big freaked out. I was really interested in it, but now I just find it scary. But with stuff that’s that scary and idiotic comes a level of humor.

You took the name for your song “Iron Deer Dream” from a Sylvia Plath poem. I never meet guys who admit liking Plath. More often she seems to strike a chord with women. There’s such a sadness in all of her poetry and The Bell Jar that it’s applicable to anyone. I know what you’re saying, but I think it’s more that it’s hard to maintain a love for something like that when you’re not in the space to relate to it. I think people have a problem with that whereas I don’t. I love reading her stuff and doing so is one of those great ways of getting back into a really emotional space even if you don’t necessarily want to. Beyond the age of 18 I think people perhaps don’t relate to her stuff that much. But it’s so beautiful and again foreboding which is really what I’m in love with at the moment. Our album is quite naïve and innocent sounding. That’s a reaction to the fact that Roo and I used to be in a punk band and that’s okay. To have any emotion that is that strong is great.

All The Wild is My Child tracklsit:
Britney Spears, Laughing
Clams Casino, Illest Alive
Lou Bond, Let Me Into Your Life
Ty Segall, Goodbye Bread
Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Jello & Juggernauts
Washed Out, Eyes be Closed
Arthur Russell, Thats Us/Wild Combination
Smog, Mother of the World
Blur, Caramel
Psychedelic Horseshi, Making Out

Posted: November 26, 2011
Dollars to Pounds: Fixers