Greetings from Landalu: A Few Months of an E-mail Interview with Dirty Bill of Federation-X By Bradley

Aug 05, 2002

I first heard of Federation-X (Fed-X) from a sticker in an alleyway down in Alabama. It was about a year 'til I got to know them a little. They were playing a show in Auburn, Alabama at the 316 East Glenn house. The band that was on tour with them - their lead singer/guitar player had only one leg. I believe the story was that he was on tour and the van or car had a flat, he got out to change the tire, and was hit by another car. At least that's what I remember being told. I could be wrong. I also can't remember their name. What I do remember is drinking beer with them and Fed-X until the sun came up, at which point we continued to drink beer and eat raw homegrown tomatoes and salt, compliments of Auburn's local sweetheart.

There were conversations centered around comic books and music. All in all, it was a damned fine time. I don't think there are any bands like Fed-X anywhere out there. It's not possible. They're down and dirty, creepy and smooth, with two four string guitars, and sound guys trying to get them to turn down. They tear it up. I'm about to go see them now. They're playing in L.A. today with a lengthy tour to follow.

Where the hell is Landalu? Hell if I know. It's just one of the whacked-out titles for e-mails that Bill has sent me over the years. A few others titles include Monkey Snot, Mustard Brains, and Pig Wristwatches as in Watches for Pigs. I'm not sure what these mean, but his older e-mails are full of stuff like that. So read on and see if you can educate yourself!

(This interview was done over a period of months via e-mail between Dirty Bill and myself. Enjoy.)

Yeah, let's do one by internet. That would be easiest. I'm in Brooklyn right now for a while and we aren't touring again 'til July, so you can just send it to me and we'll complete it and send it back. How's everything going in Tinsel Town? -Bill

I've been sick down here with some Tinsel Town germs. I think I caught them this weekend at the Bronson Canyon halfpipe/ditch of Daggers lore. Brooklyn? What are you doing up there? By the way, if it's all right with you, instead of sending you a whole bunch of questions, we can just email them back and forth. I think it'll be more relaxed that way. Maybe Ben and Beau can get in on it. I'll use what we write as the interview. I'll organize it a little and take out shit that don't make sense - fix misspellings like "brookland" and shit of that type. How's that? From the land of the $9 roll. -Brad

That sounds good. As per your question, I'm just "hangin" as they say, 'til I gotta go back to Bellingham to practice and get ready for upcoming toury doos. -Bill

Greetings from Sycamore Ave! It's been a few weeks. Are you still in NYC? Bill, people have been asking me if I'm interviewing Federal Express. Although, abbreviated, Federation X (Fed-X) is different from FedEx, they still sound the same. Are you affiliated with the global delivery giant? Do you consider yourselves global delivery giants? If so, what would be your rate on shipping six big-breasted, beer-drinking, red head girls to the U.S. from some remote European village? -Brad

I'm gonna be in NYC for a ten more days and then S.F. for a week and then home. We've got three tours coming up this summer. -Bill

Three tours this summer, I see... But first, what about FedEx? Has any confusion ever arisen? Are you enemies? Now for more tour stuff. I hear you're going to Spain? (Go ahead and elaborate on this.) Do you hope to fall in love with some Spanish rebel chick? I am assuming that Spain is one of the three tours you mentioned. What would be the other two? Where are they taking you, when, with who, and whatnot? -Brad

Hey Bradley, Zeke on the west coast, late June. U.S. Cherry Valence, 400 Blows, Bad Wizard, Catheters, July 14th through August 29th. European tour: September 10th through 25th. Will send dates later. Would love to do an interview with you if you would like to as well. Please send questions and we'll get this bitch together. Love, -Bill

Bill, Maybe I wasn't clear. My plan was to use these e-mails as the interview. Since I can't be there face to face to talk with you, I figured that the e-mails would be more interesting. So I've been saving all of these to a word file. Got me? This way I thought it might keep some of the spontaneity that comes with a face to face interview. So, my son, these are the questions. This is the interview. So if this is all straight and cool with you, what you e-mail back to me - as I think of brilliant questions - will be it. From the land of possums and TVTs. -Brad

Okay, now I got ya. Didn't get that. -Bill

Bill, Yeah, it sounded funny answering the questions, like you were getting pissed or something. You where like, "Why the hell are you wasting my time? Let's get on with it!" About to go to Vegas, operating under code name: Mits and Tits. I'll get back with you later. -Brad

(Notice the time lapse)

Bradley, are we still doing that interview? -Bill

Bill, it has taken a while, and thanks to you keeping on my ass. I do have a couple of questions for you. In the world of what, by many, is considered the forefront of rock or punk or what have you, there is the "re-emergence" of the "broke-down" sound, a.k.a. bands with no bass player, a la White Stripes, Jucifer, Soledad Bros, and the Immortal Lee County Killers - that is only a few. Some might even say that Federation-X falls into that category. When people see you on stage with two guitars and a drummer - lot of times they see only two guitars - there is something more going on there. Not just with Beau on drums, but it's not just two guitars. What is the set up you've got working there? Not what your "rig" is but.... you know what I'm asking. Rubbing the sleep from my eyes. -Brad

Bradley, well, in regards to your question, I've had some weird experiences with people where they didn't believe that we didn't have a bass - people that had just got done watching the show even -that could see or should have been able to see the instrumental structure of the band. I don't know what this means, but it's just something that worked out that way. Ben plays guitar and Beau plays drums. When they asked me to play with them I showed up with a guitar 'cause that is what I played. The weirdest thing was that I showed up with a guitar with four strings on it, 'cause a couple years previously I had broken the two smallest gauged strings on my guitar while I was going to college at Evergreen in Olympia and had never replaced them, and I hadn't really seen Ben or Beau in years. When I first showed up to practice, Ben had a guitar with four strings on it. We thought it was weird and took it as a sign. So we played, wrote, and started playing shows. About three months later was when we noticed that we didn't have a bass player, 'cause we never decided anything in regards to line up or the completeness of the band. We just got excited and it ended up that by the time we took a look at it, it had already been kind of randomly decided. -Bill

Bill, So Fed-X's set up came about by chance? That fits my idea of ya'll, not that ya'll are random, and nothing is thought out, but more like ya'll got this sort of "flow" with you. Like, things most people would worry about, or see as something going wrong, with ya'll they are taken for what they are and put to use. Maybe I'm getting too philosophical on you. It was seeing ya'll playing in L.A. at the Knitting Factory and at the Troubadour with You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead a night after you'd been playing house shows and bar-b-I'd. Things seemed to be happening, good or bad, and ya'll was taking them as they came. Anyway... What about the hacksaw fiddle, or is it hacksaw bow? That's one of your inventions, right? -Brad

Yeah, the hacksaw of sound. It's basically a metal bow strung with guitar strings that a friend and I made out of a drape hanger that we painted and fitted with steel braces and tuning pegs on one end. It's basically for making noise and having fun with. As far as the flow thing goes, I think that just comes from wanting to do something with a limited number of options at your disposal so you just go with the best one available to you, or you just end up using the one (answer, tool, etc.) that is the most readily available to you.

Like touring in the Impala - we did, like, four tours in that Impala, a few of them U.S. tours, 'cause it was the only car we had. After a few tours we thought about getting a van but it was mostly because we thought it would be more safe. The Impala was a very strong runner, but it definitely overheated a lot, and certainly had not been designed for what we were using it for. All this considered, sometimes I still wish we were touring in the Impala. It has a blown transmission now, and is only suitable for in town travel. -Bill

The Impala - is that the car that's on the cover of your Estrus full length, American Folk Horror? -Brad

No, our Impala is painted gold right now and is a 1977 model with a bunch of dents and stickers and our name spray painted on the side. That car on the album is one we found out in the woods around Bellingham that had been sitting there for probably about twenty years. It was really cool 'cause it was practically part of the earth again, all grown together with the plant life and such. On some parts of the car it was hard to tell which was car and which was forest. -Bill

To Bill, so now you have the Fed-X van. I suppose it's running fine? I know you've got a tour coming up - Spain, and the U.S. How's that looking? You told me once before, but it lacked the luster that is normally present in your writing. So we'll try it again. Tour - what, when, were, and with whom? -Brad

Well, I don't know what kind of "luster" you're looking for but we have a U.S. tour that starts with the Capital Hill block party in Seattle on July 14th and runs through to a show in Bellingham at the 3b at the end of August. The first three weeks, we're touring with 400 Blows, a hell of a band, from L.A., who we are very excited to be touring with, a show in Texas with the Country Teasers, and one with Judah Bauer's band, 20 Miles. Then we do the southeast, and then we meet up with Cherry Valence for three weeks to do the northeast, north, and northwest, some of those shows are with the Catheters, and some with the Dishes as well. Eight days after we get back, we go to Spain to play five shows with the Bellrays. Then we go to France and the U.K. to play shows with the Grips, a rock'n'roll band from Nottingham. That's about the short and skinny of it. Peace. -Bill

So are Beau and Ben ready? Where are they at right now and what's up with Molasses Manifesto (their record company)? How is it going? Any new releases for Fed-X or anything planned with Molasses Manifesto? -Brad

Bradley, yeah, I'd say Ben and Beau are ready. Ben is smoking pot, drinking, and hanging out with his friends, and Beau is pursuing a promising career in model building. Our next record will be on Estrus. We're gonna' record it this winter and it will be out late spring next year I suspect. As far as Molasses Manifesto goes, we've been so busy touring lately and doing personal traveling that not much time or energy has been invested in that direction. We are, however, doing a repress of the Fed-X/Fleshies split that we put out last year. We just repressed the first Fed-X on colored vinyl, and I'm sure through the next year more projects will emerge. -Bill

Bill, I remember, before I ever met ya'll, I saw one of the Fed-X stickers in one of the only alleyways in Auburn, Alabama. I stopped to look at it. I didn't know it was for a band. I didn't know what the fuck it was. I was confused. I walked on and later that night I went to a show. There was a keg in front of the bass drum while the band played. If someone wanted beer, they had to wait in line right in front of the band, which was ya'll. Everyone was really packed in and drunk. That's when that sticker in the alleyway got a little meaning. But ever since then I've wanted to know; where did the name Federation-X come from? And, ah... does the abbreviated Fed-X ever cause confusion with you and the global delivery giant Federal Express (FedEx)? Are you arch rivals? -Brad

Yeah, we (Fed-X) have a lot of legal problems with said global shipping giant, Fed Ex. In fact, we are knee deep in litigative procedures with them now. They are very trite and nit picky. Personally, I think they are just jealous 'cause we make so much more money than them. It's a common problem when your pullin' down the ones and fives like we are.

As far as the name Federation-X, it is a very unglamorous story. Here it goes. We were playing our second show at a sports bar in Yakima, Washington - which is a town in the middle of Washington's plains desert where I am from and which occupies most of the State - for a few friends and the guy at the door who we begged for the show from a whole couple of hours in advance. Finally, he told us we could do it, but that we needed a name, and not only did he want a name, but he wanted flyers. Why? I do not know, considering we were pretty much just gonna set up and play. So, anyway, Ben and Beau went to Ted Mac's laser quick copies on 40th Street to make some flyers and coincidentally make up a band name.

I stayed behind to figure out an amp problem, because the night before playing our first show, we broke into a house that was owned by the band. Somebody's dad had just died and the bank repossessed, as they are occasion to do. Anyway, as we were leaving, one of the power cords got caught underneath the tire of the Impala and got ripped off. It was out of commission. To remedy the problem, I went with a friend to steal his brother's guitar head out of his room while he was gone, and then the motherfucker showed up to the show. We didn't want him to kick our asses, so we played the show with a jacket hung over the head, and then tried to get him to go to the party so we had time to return it. The pooper wanted to go home so we had to bail super fast and return before he got there, which we did. But as Ben and Beau were at the copy store, they saw a sign in the window proclaiming that they were "Fed X capable," just a mistype on part of the copy store for a sign/large ass sticker they had made, and that's how they got the name. They stole the sticker (it was like a foot long and six inches high) and we played with it on Beau's bass drum for years, until it finally disintegrated. -Bill

Some time at the beginning of July 2002
Bill, What about musical influences? What does Fed-X feed upon? -Brad

Musical influences? I can't answer for Ben and beau, but I've been reading the shit out of The Count of Monte Christo lately. -Bill

Contact Bradley direct: [email protected]