A Conversation with Robert Fisher of WGC
Puremusic: How's your day going out there?
Robert Fisher: Well, it's not bad so far, actually. I've managed to get something accomplished this morning, which is always a good sign.
PM: Really, what was that?
RF: Oh, this morning I've been dealing with publishing, trying to change some titles from one publisher to another because the publisher that originally put them in did it wrong and [laughs] that's a relatively complicated thing to get into.
PM: It really is. Yeah, that's a very sticky wicket, indeed. And so how did you accomplish that? Was it a matter of paperwork to the extreme, or...?
RF: It was more just some gentle talking on the telephone.
PM: Oh, it was telephonic.
RF: And then a few e-mails.
PM: Right, the art of gentle artistic persuasion. Well, you've got the voice for it.
RF: That's nice of you to say.
PM: I asked our mutual friend [and Robert's publicist] Cary Baker, "Is he a soft-spoken fellow, then, or is he on the agro side?" He said, "Oh, no, no. He's a thoughtful and soft-spoken person."
RF: I feel very lucky to have Cary in our corner. So many journalists that I've talked to have commented on how much they like what Cary does and how he does it--and how it's such a useful thing when you're faced with that stack of forty CDs that comes in every month. It's so helpful to have a Cary because you know that there's a consistent element there that says there's a quality behind it. You know if he says, "Listen to that," there's a fairly good bet that there's a reason to listen to it.
PM: Precisely. Because even for a webzine--I mean, we've gotten respectable now, and we've been around for three years, but--it's not forty, it's closer to eighty CDs that come every month.
RF: Well, there you go.
PM: And so it's a real puzzle sometimes. And Cary will say, for instance, "Frank, have you listened to Willard Grant Conspiracy?" And I said, "No, I'm sorry. Why am I supposed to?" And he said, "Well, sit down and let me tell you, my man." It's like, "I told you to. As if that wasn't enough, I have to tell you why? Okay, I'll tell you why."
RF: You're in Nashville, right?
RF: Do you know my friend Paige La Grone?
PM: Well, I do, as a matter of fact, and I've a question about her, actually, because I find Paige La Grone to be a most fascinating person. [She is the driving female energy behind the maverick Catamount Records, quite an outfit. The company, I mean...]
RF: Yeah, most of us do. She's sort of an electrical storm of a woman.
PM: She's really unusual. I met her one time, oh, some months back now. Maybe it was the most of a year ago. And I'd read an article in the Scene, a local music rag here, that she'd written about Gillian Welch.
RF: Yeah, that was a great article.
PM: Holy geez! It tore my head right off, it was so good. I mean, I was just pacing around the house going, "Who is this chick? I can't believe this!"
PM: Then I was in the market a few days hence and a friend of mine said, "Well, there's your Paige La Grone right there."
PM: So I strolled right up and introduced myself, and did not see her again until a recent show. And she's the e-mail queen.
PM: Her e-mails are--
RF: They're great, aren't they?
PM: Oh, they put everyone else's cyber writing to shame.
RF: I know. She's amazing, actually, yeah.
PM: And so she sent out one of her Catamount epistles about some show going on. I showed up at the show, and once she recognized me without a hat on, she invited me to sit with her and Eric Babcock [her husband and Catamount co-founder]. And what nice people they are.
RF: They are, yeah. Which show was it? Was it the Tom House show?
PM: It was, indeed. It was the Tom House show, with a youngin' band called--
RF: Barn Burning?
PM: Barn Burning, right.
RF: Yeah, I produced their record. [Weatheredbound, on Catamount]
PM: Oh, wow! Now I'm sorry I could not stay for that show, and it was just Tom I really had come to see.
RF: Yeah, Tom is amazing.
PM: I had another show to go to.
RF: Well, if you get a chance you should check out Weatheredbound. It's a really good record. And they are a young band, but there's a vision there that I don't find in most young bands that I work with.
PM: I saw them sound check and found their texture compelling. And I was sitting with them at the table, and they seemed like nice folks. I wanted to talk to the violinist, because she seemed a cut apart, but I didn't get to speak with her.
RF: Yeah, actually on the record, we used a viola, and it's a beautifully textured record. I really like Anthony Loftredio's songwriting a lot. It reminds me a bit of Kurt Wagner's [Lambchop] stuff in some ways, that kind of stream of consciousness storytelling aspect that I think Kurt does really well. I think Anthony has a similar sort of lyrical bent, so it's definitely a record worth listening to.
PM: Well, especially now that I've heard that you did that record, I'll listen to it--because I feel like you're a friend of mine now after listening to your record as much as I have these last few days.
RF: Oh, that's really nice of you to say. Thank you.
PM: Yeah, it's not often I'll go that far. But when someone gives that much of themselves in a record, well, you get to the end of it and whether or not the songs have literally been about them, they've given so much of themselves in the compositions that you're acquainted with the artist by that time.
RF: Yeah, I know exactly what you mean by that. It's a great compliment, thank you. continue