Thursday, April 22, 2010

Rob Fish part III

Rob with 108 at the Burning Fight release show in Chicago, Photo: Matt Miller

Talk about the early days and memories of 108. Were you a fan of what Vic had done with his previous bands, Beyond and Inside Out? What were you hoping to do differently with 108 that you weren't doing with Ressurection?

Ressurection played a show with Worlds Collide, No Escape and Lifetime in Atlantic City. 108 had just formed and played a few songs before Worlds Collide. The first singer, although an awesome person, just wasn't good, at all. Vic and I knew one another as Shelter eventually moved to the temple I had been living in and we were roommates for some time. We had met through letters a few years prior when he wrote me based on some things I said in an interview about Karma, Krishna and all that stuff.

Anyhow the day after the show Vic called and asked me to join 108. I was apprehensive. I remember Ari, Dan Y. and Scott from Lifetime really encouraging me to do it as everyone saw the potential of the songs when we played together. There was a lot about Krishna that I really felt drawn to but parts I felt very adverse to. Still, the good outweighed the bad and as Vic was a bit of a loose cannon I felt okay about joining the band as long as he understood that I was anything but a model devotee.

A few weeks later I was in DC recording songs I had never heard. We spent an hour or so in the studio and went back to the place Vic was staying. A Swami called and I answered the phone. He began asking me when I was shaving my head and moving to the temple and I hung up and got the hell out of there. Over the next 9 months Vic convinced me that I didn't need to worry about that stuff and we planned a tour after the conclusion of the Ressurection/Lifetime US tour. I got back from tour and had no place to live and was getting more and more depressed and confused and the day I was to leave for tour I just decided I wasn't going. No phone call, letter or nothing. Real asshole move on my part but that is where I was. I showed up at their second show of the tour, in Connecticut, and it was really bad. I hitched a ride with them to a rather insane Krishna Farm in West Virginia when Vic told me he was breaking up 108 and moving to India.

A year later he was back in the US and thinking of starting 108 again. I called him and we decided to do it and that was when I sat down with Ray to resolve our shit and that was that. A few weeks later we went on a 5 1/2 month tour of the US with Shelter.

As far as Vic's other bands, I thought Beyond was amazing. I dug Inside Out too although when I had a choice of seeing Shelter/Quicksand/Inside Out in Pennsylvania, NJ and Connecticut or to drive 18 hours to Tampa to see Prong, I chose the 18 hours in the car to see Prong - so my interest in Inside Out wasn't huge. Still, I thought he was an amazing guitar player and a cool enough dude.

As far as how 108 would work with me also doing Ressurection, I think I saw them as having two different purposes. Ressurection was more emotionally expressive for me while 108 was more my way of channeling all of the questions and strange philosophical questions and dynamics I was working my way through. To me doing both bands simultaneously made complete sense.

108 in Oslo Norway, 1995, Photo: Ole Peterson

108 went through and has sort of continued to go through a lot of different line-up changes, yet you and Vic have always been a mainstay. Talk about what each of you bring to and have brought to the band, your differences, your similarities and the dynamics of your friendship and working relationship. (Ed. Note: this question was asked before Rob recently left 108).

Well early on I would say Vic and I were as much united by what we disliked about things as the common interests we held. We are very, very different personalities. Emotionally, intellectually and practically - just very different. We both dug aspects of Krishna consciousness but seemed to bond more over what we disliked about the whole Krishna movement, Shelter and other things more than anything else. I think he dug me more when he saw me yelling and cursing out Ray than for any other reason. We would do things together just to piss people off. That was our bond back then.

Today it is different. We are still very different personalities emotionally, intellectually and practically and I am not sure we could ever, or at least I could ever, articulate what our common ground is other than we are both on these strange trippy journeys that involve an attraction to Radha and Krishna. Vic is really out there and hard for me to pin down. Triv complimented the two of us very well. Triv is the craziest person I have ever met and an amazing musician. He may even make Vic look rather straight laced in most respects.


108 broke up for quite some time, but unlike most bands that break up and reunite, you guys seemed to have set out to do more than live on your past glories. You've toured a lot, you've written and recorded a lot of new material and you've made the band all about the here and now. Was this all a thought out and conscious decision when putting the band back together or is it simply the way things naturally progressed? Also, how does all the touring and band activity affect your career and family life?

Well up until 108's first show back I HATED reunions for bands that were statement or cause-specific because how often do we hold those same statements and causes true years later? We got offered shows every year, a few times for very large sums of money and I never had an interest because my heart wasn't in that space. A show for a good cause was one thing, but otherwise it felt like it would be a betrayal of myself. I remember I wrote a song about that feeling as well as the feeling towards those bands looking to recreate the 80s when I wrote a song for The Judas Factor called Boring High School Cover Band.

Anyhow, around 2005 I found myself a bit disturbed by the fact that my memories of 108 were so scarred by the emotional shit I was going through at the time and also in some respects about how people misunderstood the point of the band. Like I said earlier when I sang a 108 song in the 90s it wasn't about "you" or "them." It was about me and for me. So when we got asked to play Hellfest in 2005 I felt as if it would be good for me to take back a part of my life that was largely overshadowed by the shit I was going through at the time, and also to address my feelings in terms of how people understood 108. We were giving every penny to a cool charity and it just felt right.

Triv, Vic and I hadn't been in a room together since our last show and the next thing I knew we were in a room together and just staring at one another. As soon as we started playing it felt as if we had never stopped. Through all of the drama that unfolded around Hellfest being cancelled and us playing those two shows in its place, I still walked away feeling great about it and we all felt like we wanted to play together again - although none of us were sure it would be as 108. After months of discussion about what 108 meant to all of us individually and collectively, we decided that there was more we wanted to do with 108 and how we were understood, perceived and how that all played into who were were/are today, as well as things we wanted to express as a collective unit. The key point was that it wasn't going to be about yesterday. Songs that made sense to us today would be played, those that didn't wouldn't be played, and that it would be about continuing the evolution of 108, which is the journey of the individuals in the band and how they tie together collectively, and where it has led us to thus far and moving forward.

If we couldn't find that voice we just wouldn't do the band. We found it and that is that. If 108 was just going to be about songs we wrote in the early 90s, I never would have done it outside of the initial benefit show.

In terms of how we did it, we certainly don't have an ideal setting. We live in different parts of the world, have families, careers and all that. We did it when it makes sense and there is no pressure. We all write songs and know when something would work within the 108 dynamic and we get together once a year for two or three days to write new songs/records and play with old material. We then record and tour 3-4 weeks throughout a year. After getting back together we have recorded two LP's, toured and played throughout the US, Europe and South America.

108 in Chile, 4/20/2008, Photo: Gary Go


Anonymous said...

What has always intrigued me about 108 has been that the band's relevance has really been in how it resonated/resonates with groups of people of such varying ages. There are people who discovered them with Holyname and through countless shows with Shelter in the early 90's...people who discovered them when they got heavier, more desperate sounding in the mid 90's...people who really found the band in its resurrected form in the mid/late 00's. The band has always seemed to be in a state of growth and change.
- toby h

Anonymous said...

talk about one hell of a weird band dynamic

Anonymous said...

An 18 hour roadtrip to see Prong- this sums up the alternate universe that was the 1990s better than anything else I've ever seen.

Anonymous said...

Keep your cult out of my core.

Anonymous said...

Rob rules, this interview has been a great read so far, looking forward to more! Keep up the good work guys.

Livewire Records said...

Great stuff as usual.

Jim Pitts said...

Great to get to read about these guys.....They were after my time, so I know nothing about them.
I prefer no religion to any religion but good for them to have become so big!