Return of the Fisher king

WARNING: The following story contains dirty words. In fact, there are a s••tload of them.

There are references to things illegal. Mentions of doing the nasty. Mockeries made of institutions considered bedrocks of society.

Get over it. Or else don’t read any further.

The following story is about rock ‘n’ roll.

Loafs and Fishers

Around town, he’s just Fisher — as in “Fisher’s playing Vincent’s.”

Fisher Meehan is king of the Vincent’s Ear set, where boys in black fingernail polish and girls held together by metal hoops and studs pound 24-ounce PBRs, and the thin fog of clove-cigarette smoke reminds you that you may not be hip enough to breathe. On most Tuesdays, Fisher’s guitar-squall howl rages on the ratty stage, beneath a half moon of Christmas lights.

He is the voice and vision behind the band DrugMoney, of which the Vincent’s Web site declares: “You should know who DrugMoney is by now.”

Until recently, the band had little identity beyond Fisher himself. But more on that in a minute.

For now, Fisher:

His favored cut-off corduroys hang low on his butt, beneath the small tire circling his middle. A 24 of PBR ($2.75, or just under 12 cents an ounce, at Vincent’s) often fills one hand; flip-flops flap on his feet. When he’s not performing, his aw-shucks goofiness can make him seem so laid back that you question his very pulse.

By any standard other than his own, he’s an unlikely rock star. But put an electric Telly in this guy’s hands, and he pulls a Clark Kent-phone booth trick.

Fisher plays guitar like he might die if he stopped; he sings like a blowing oil well. If he’s seated onstage, his dirty-soled bare feet will periodically fly up in the air. If he’s standing, shoulders slumped forward and long, sweaty hair shrouding his face, he will often bounce.

Fisher’s guitar has one eye on Seattle and the other on The Pixies, pulling shards of sweetness out of squall. What separates him finally from the bring-the-noise school is his unrepentant love of melody.

His largely self-taught playing shuns traditional single-note solos, weaving in bursts of heavy riffing and high-note drone to build on his songs’ inherent drama. In essence, the melody keeps kicking you in the head.

Fisher’s voice evokes the ghost of Cobain — a ragged, high, wounded wind. Even in a bouncy room like Vincent’s, its urgency assaults you.

Drug deal #1

Here’s the shorthand:

Fisher has not long returned from New York City, where he spent several months doing an album for Hybrid Recordings, working with big-dog producer Wharton Tiers (Sonic Youth, Helmet). The high-profile indie label has made some pretty sweet financial overtures toward the band as part of an increasingly rare two-record (with third option) deal.

Fisher left Asheville in November with original DrugMoney drummer Paul Conrad; by the time of actual recording, Conrad had been nixed.

“Paul just didn’t bring his game,” Fisher explains. “And once they start investing this much money in you, the first time you [screw] up is the last time you play.”

In need of a band for the sessions, Fisher tapped some buddies — two former members of The Blue Rags, Mike Rhodes (drums) and Bill Reynolds (bass).

MTN CTY JNK, DrugMoney’s debut, takes Fisher’s live feel and puts some spit and polish on it, without buffing out his magnetism. The album, to be released this summer, has yet to be mastered, and the planned first single (the infectious “Oregon Song”) is to be rerecorded with what is now the new band, assembled since Fisher’s been back in Asheville.

Paraphernalia

With national touring on the horizon, Fisher built a permanent new DrugMoney like a professional architect designing his own home, cutting no corners on talent: Reynolds, Tyler Ramsey (keyboards) and Jamie Stirling (drums).

Bill Reynolds:

“Undescribable,” Fisher describes him.

The two met when Fisher opened for The Blue Rags at the Grey Eagle on St. Paddy’s Day of 2001.

“Bill is the most talented f••ker ever!” Fisher declares.

When Reynolds plays, be it upright or electric, his hands seem to dance while his face explodes in a giant, open-mouthed grin.

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