>>How did The Fuses originally come together? What inspired the name?
You have to excuse me. It’s 1:20am and I’ve just cycled back from band rehearsal for this Brakes & Duels support tour. Shellshocked and contented I will try my best to shake my memory into action, I may ramble, stop me if you’ve heard this all before etc...
The Fuses came together in about 1993 [addendum taken from s/tf website: Please note that s/tf formed not in 1993 but 2003. Stuffy was heavily sedated at the time and under the influence of Neil Sedaka.] Jon & Jen Fuse have been in from the start, we are pretty much the stable line up but as with all bands there has to be a rogue instrument, like the dicky fourth wheel on a shopping trolley. With us it’s the Keyboards.
First we had Stevie Fuse who went of to tour the world, then Doc Fuse who chose academia and a quiet life (wisely) over transit life, Chopper Fuse played on the new album but has since gone on to a career in writing music for TV. Now we have Lucy Fuse and I think she’s in for the long haul. She is probably the most committed out of all of us and often the instigator of pro-activity. 2006 - The classic line-up. Seriously though it’s never felt more like stuffy/the fuses than it does now. If any of them left the band I’d call it a day coz I wouldn’t want to do this band with anyone else.
>Please introduce yourself and your Fuses? What qualities do you each bring to the band?
I’m stuffy, I play the drums and sing most of the lead vocals. I also write a majority of the material. I bring the band together to play them – if that’s a quality then that’s mine.
Jen Fuse is lead guitar and is doing more lead vocals these days. Her voice has made a grown man cry. It wasn’t me I hasten to add. Jen’s guitars make the fuses songs the same way that The Flamming Lips aren’t the same without Ronaldo or the way that Greg Saunier drumming immortalizes Deerhoof. (Am I sounding pretentious? As I said it’s early in the morning.) My 2nd favourite Guitarist is Bic Hayes (formerly of Dark Star/Levitation) she’s my 1st.
Jon Fuse plays bass and sings Bvs (somewhat reluctantly). He runs a studio by day and often drops sessions in favour of working on band projects, we owe him a lot & about a kerjillion pounds in studio hours. He brings stability to the band, every note he plays you could set your watch by which is important when I’m your drummer.
Lucy Fuse is our newest member. She plays the Phillicorda, Rhodes piano and Mono Synth and sings Bvs. She brings so much enthusiasm to the band and is an incredibly intuitive musician. She brings a musical version of the Suffolk countryside to our polluted south London pawnshop noise.
>Why should people buy your new LP?
Because they’ve heard it and think it’s ace or seen us live and think we’re ace and want to hear more. I wouldn’t want them to waste their money if they felt it wasn’t their cup of tea. What an odd question.
>For someone exploring Stuffy/The Fuses for the first time, what one fact about you should they know before they start?
English bands should sing in English accents so we do. No transatlantic, seudo-american dropping of h’s, d’s or reshaping of the letter r – I am very proud of this fact.
>Are Stuffy/The Fuses relevant?
Yes, I think so. I don’t think any other band sounds like us and we don’t sound like any other band – arrogant as that sounds. People in the press say we sound like XTC crossed with Shellac but only because they are two influences I bandy about to save them a bit of time. We don’t sound like either really, we sound like stuffy/the fuses.
>What inspires you musically?
A great song inspires me. A fantastic noise inspires me. Seeing a fantastic band and getting home at 3am inspired to stay up all night writing despite having to be up at 7 to go work at some job you hate on no sleep. That’s getting your priorities right.
>What motivates you to do music?
I don’t know, I’ve never wanted to do anything else. I’m very lucky now that I make my living from music outside of s/tf. But there was never any other option. I’m stubborn enough that I had to make it happen somehow. I also have a supportive network of friends and family; only one of whom suggest I give it all up to become and insurance clerk.
>You have appeared in a number of bands from time to time. I saw you drumming twice with Cardiacs a couple of years ago. Are you keen then to try new things musically?
I’m keen to try all things musically. I was once a piss poor viola player in the Stonleigh Youth Orchestra and got to play Shostakovich 5 & Saint Saene’s Organ Symphony. I used to ruin the Surrey Youth Big Band. As you can see I like a bit of variety.
Cardiacs was great for me. The 14 year old me who’s first ever gig was Cardiacs was in heaven. Tim Smith is one of our musical heritages great-unsung heroes as is Bill Drake their old keyboardist. They are not an immediate or wide appeal band, never have been, never will be but their place in history is assured.
>Do you plan to collaborate with others?
Not currently. Open to offers, anything to avoid real work. I have mentioned to a few people that I’d like to try writing partnerships. I’ve only ever written on my own so it would be interesting to see how one would write with a 3rd party. I used to be quite stubborn about parts, getting people to play what I wanted but The Fuses always come up with better parts so I’m far more lenient these days – how big of me.
>Any ideal collaborators?
Someone who know the secret to a great chorus.
I’d quite like to have ago with Chris T-T, I’ve recently done some Bvs for him and our voices are eerily similar. Barry Dobbin formerly of Clor, we have a similar approach but he’s a little more adventurous than I and he knows how to get away with it. Kim Deal would be ace, Pod by the breeders was a huge influence on my musical development.
>On a Stuffy/the fuses curated festival bill, who else would play?
Apart from those mentioned above…
Future of Left (my current fave band)
Electric Soft Parade
The Meat Train
The Broken Family Band
Get Rapeman to reform for one show.
Volcano Suns to reform also.
…and the bastards who stole our van paraded naked whilst slowly working teaspoons up their backsides.
This could go on all night you know. Probably missed out the best ones.
>Has a musical event/musician changed your life? If so, how? Or describe a musical epiphany you have had.
I formed a band in 2000 whilst living in Japan with a bunch of ex-pat musicians. We were awful, really bad, we knew it. The guitarist was so bad he had to play drums and I had to take over guitar duties. That made me realise that for most of my career I’d played with exceptionally good musicians. I feel lucky I still do.
>What other future plans do you have for gigs and recordings?
We are about to go on tour for two weeks as guests of Brakes, then DUELS. Two bands we respect hugely and have gone out on a limb by inviting us along. We will finish up the year by recording a radio session at the BBC for Mark Lamarr. Hopefully a legitimate full-length release of our Albini recorded album, Angels Are Ace, is not to far off. A split single release with Fake DIY is in the offing and hopefully more touring in the spring.
>What do you consider your best achievements in music?
Angels Are Ace is definitely up there. I don’t listen to Join Me Or Die very often, I pick holes in it, I wince every few bars on some tunes. This album I put on for pleasure not pain, it’s one of my favourites.
>What are your ambitions?
Jon, Jen and I always talk about the fact we hope we’ll be playing music together well into old age. Be that stuffy/the fuses, a string quartet or whatever. We have all the songs for albums 3 & 4 already; I hope we make lots of very good albums. The day we go, I’m not enjoying this anymore or we feel we’ve run our course we’ll start something else.
>What does ‘success’ mean to you?
Having achievements you are proud of whether or not they have found critical acclaim or financial reward. Mind you those things do smack of success also.
>What makes you cry?
Things that shouldn’t make a big man cry. If something like terms of endearment is on or even a run of the mill schmaltzy flick where someone dies I cry like a small boy lost in a forest. Pathetic.
>What makes you smile?
Lots of things including my camp little cat, my beautiful baby niece and my long-suffering partner.
>What, with regards the UK music scene, upsets you?
Nothing really. It’s all good. I’d rather people listened to music than not.
I suppose it upsets me when I see young bands getting caught up in all the trappings of major labels and huge sums of money without there being some kind of mentoring system in place for them. That poor chap from Keane shouldn’t be in a drying out hostel at his age, I really feel for him, nobody there to say “it’s ok, I’m here if you need me”. Mind you, I wouldn’t have signed them.
All popstars should be like Ricky Wilson of the Kaiser Chiefs; he’s the happiest most together pop star I’ve ever seen. Down to earth, having the time of his life and can’t believe he gets paid to go “waaaaoooooooooooooh!” a lot.
>What, with regards the UK music scene, delights you?
People like Tim Perry of the Independent who runs the Windmill in Brixton. Loves music, believes in paying bands and does it 7 nights a week.
People like Fonda 500, Billy Childish, The Fall, Andy Falkous, The Scaramanga Six – artists with persistence, resilience and courage who’ll still be making excellent records 10 years after they die.
In this time of 3minute attention spans, the fact the kids all still want to play music.
…and we have all the best bands.
>What’s better, singles, LPS or downloads? Why so?
Singles – for the tracks that are too quirky/awkward for the LP
Lps – for the long haul listening pleasure.
Downloads – for the musical buffet experience.
>What are you passionate about in life, apart from music?
People I like. Christmas.
>What is/was your favourite book, and why?
John Pilger’s Heroes: It re-affirmed my disgust with the reality of the capitalist west and made me aware of my social responsibilities once again. Dirty, rotten, commie that I am.
>Any other words of wisdom for VP readers?
Don’t reveal your political affiliations in an interview about music. You may alienate the Daily Mail reading half of your fan base.
Night night Stuffy! Thanks. Skif.