Snopes on 45
Everything you wanted to know about the delightful downtown pop combo known as FM Knives
Rumor: The FM Knives are a teenage boy band from Okinawa.
False. None of them are teenagers, and they’re not from Okinawa. The FM Knives are a spring-loaded pop band with a healthy dose of Brit-punk circa 1977-1979, from good ol’ d-town Sacramento. Unfortunately, the “boy band” sobriquet is a cross they have to bear.
Rumor: FM Knives got their start while the members were serving time at Pelican Bay State Prison for a variety of criminal activities including racketeering, mail fraud and intimidation of a government witness.
False. “It all started one night in the drive-through at the In-N-Out Burger in Davis,” clarifies FM Knives guitarist Chris Woodhouse. The other three-quarters of the band—bassist Zack Olson, drummer Ed Carroll and singer/wordmonger Jason Patrone—had formed an Undertones cover band to play at an annual Halloween shindig, and it was at this show that Woodhouse, impressed by Patrone’s throat motions, asked him to front a group. They’ve all played in a cubic ton of local combos: Nar, Groovie Ghoulies, Los Huevos, Caboose and Karate Party, to name a few. In fact, Patrone and Carroll are currently members of the equally sonic Pretty Girls.
Rumor: The “FM” in the name FM Knives has satanic origins.
False. The “Father Mephisto” allegations have hounded the band since its inception. According to the Knives, the name is random and means nothing. Also, the gentleman on the cover of their new CD, Useless and Modern (Moo-La-La Records), is not Aleister Crowley. It’s just some goofy yet somewhat coy Frenchman.
Rumor: The FM Knives’ tour was an unmitigated disaster.
False. Their recent 10-day West Coast jaunt was a complete success, according to band members. Even in Portland, a tough audience for Sacramento acts, the shows went over better than expected.
“We got to drink for free at this club in S.F.,” Patrone exclaims.
“Yeah, for us, that’s like worth, what … $9,000?” Woodhouse says after tallying the amount in his head. The Knives have been invited to Chicago to play, and another mini-tour is in the works. But, for now, they’re concentrating on writing new songs, and they have no shows planned until October.
Rumor: The FM Knives might cover the Perry Como song “Catch a Falling Star.”
True. “I always wanted to cover that. It’s all worked out. Fast and everything,” Carroll says, in complete seriousness. Live, they cover “Two Swords” by the English Beat and “Everybody’s Gonna Be Happy” by the Kinks. But if each member had his druthers, you would hear some Paul Collins’ Beat, Warsaw (Joy Division’s earlier incarnation), “Friday Night, Saturday Morning” by the Specials, “One More Time” by Joe Jackson and any number of Kinks songs.
Rumor: The FM Knives have a CD out called Useless and Modern, and it sucks the various reproductive organs of barnyard animals.
False. If anything, Useless and Modern is a bona fide pop gem. The Knives were able to capture the live mania of one of their shows, in large part because of Woodhouse’s wonderfully raw, upfront engineering, a perfect mix of garage immediacy and pop clarity of vision and intent. From the opening track, “I Live Alone,” Woodhouse’s guitar stutter is held back in the chutes, waiting to be released from captivity. When it finally comes, it’s positively liberating. Check out “The Man From O.S.I.” as it lurches into existence, its insistent hook doubled by Patrone’s great vocals and lyrics, with the rhythm section of Olson and Carroll holding it all together and letting it fall apart in all the right places. You can hear bits of the Undertones, Subway Sect, the Damned, Buzzcocks and Stiff Little Fingers; fans of early Brit-punk and hard pop are going to wear this CD down to powder. Also keep your eyes peeled for the band’s upcoming three-song 7”, featuring the enigma-wrapped-in-a-puzzle tune “Cassavetes vs. the Money-Go-Round.”
Rumor: The FM Knives. They don’t make ’em like that anymore.
True. Sad but true.