Barbecuing with Forms in Flux
The band talks new album while eating al dente greens and wieners
As we sit around a picnic table in Crackbaby’s Oak Park backyard, his dog, Charlie, a muscular beast that looks like a healthy blend between a Rottweiler and Danny Bonaduce, gnaws on my hand like it’s a slab of jerky. And it feels as if the charming little creature won’t stop until he hits bone. “He’s playing,” Crackbaby swears, but the last time I trusted someone named Crackbaby was, hmm, let’s see: never.
Forms in Flux, the band—Crackbaby (vocals, keys, samples), Longshanks (bass), Non (emcee), Kilowgramz (emcee), DeMan (drums, samples), DJ Filth (turntables) and Leroy Brown (guitar)—guzzles beer at an alarming rate while chatting about their previous work, their new direction and, with so many musicians contributing to one group, how they manage not to sound like a total clusterfuck.
Ironically, when asked the latter question, everybody answers all at once. It sounds like this: “Blagowalgowahlsapractice.” What they mean is that they practice a lot, listen to each other and then figure out how to make a cohesive sound using all of their talents. And they’ve done a great job. From what I’ve heard so far from their forthcoming album, I Plead the FIF, they’ve managed to channel their talents into a consistent, unique sound.
Forms in Flux’s old vibe was electronica—murky, industrial beats; harsh synths; downcast vocals. At times it was cluttered and might have made a listener either (a) do tons of Ecstasy or (b) go mentally insane. And the old FIF was definitely more rave than rock. But the new tracks from FIF manage to blend styles seamlessly, and the band, which has been around since 1999, seems to have finally gelled into a comfort zone.
“I guess it’s like a hip-hop jazz fusion,” says Longshanks as he sits back in his chair, waiting for the hot dogs to cook.
“It’s pretty much, like, kind of electronic. It’s hard to describe,” says Crackbaby, who’s manning the ’cue, making sure the asparagus are al dente. He’s right: It’s not easy to determine sound (or al dente, for that matter). FIF’s style draws heavily from rock, hip-hop and drum-n-bass, which lends to a unique but familiar finished product. “The beats are dark. Leroy’s guitar is more like surf or rockabilly instead of chiga-chiga-chiga,” Crackbaby says.
Longshanks says that unlike their previous five electronic-heavy albums (Past Insanity and Beyond, Party On! Earth, Baby vs. Dragon, The Hits, and The Remixes), the latest will feature live instruments on every track. It’ll definitely be different, he assures.
And while the band members are busy with other music projects, FIF seems to be their main gig. For instance, emcee Kilowgramz lends his voice to Gangreen, Fettimeans and Dollaz&Centz. DeMan plays in the Spank Me Naughty Project. Non is in the underground hip-hop group Tribe of Levi, and so is DJ Filth, who at the moment is—how can I put this?—“zoned out.” The only way you know he’s not dead is that every now and then he gulps his cold brew, then returns to his hazy world.
Later, it’s pitch black. The candles Crackbaby put on the table are burning down, there’s no more beer, the hot dogs—some undercooked, some overcooked—are gone, the hard-ass asparagus is a thing of the past. My hand, bright pink from being chomped on by “’Roid Rage” Charlie, is aching from writing in the dark. And before we know it, the night is over. But as I leave there’s a new excitement in my belly for I Plead the FIF. With so many styles coming together, so many strange musicians and artists who have been muddling around the Sacramento scene for so long, and songs produced by Riq Roq (The Federation, E-40, Tupac), it really has to be good.
A guy named Crackbaby says so.