George Fryer is pissed! Pissed at Oasis! Pissed at talk shows! Pissed at clueless young punkers! Pissed at Germans! Pissed at God! Pissed at Geffen! Pissed at RCA! Pissed at commercialism! Pissed at Seattle! Pissed at Los Angeles! Pissed at Michael Jackson! Pissed at "the industry!" Pissed at being pissed! You know all of this from listening to the songs he writes, a good chunk of which feature really angry, biting lines-some of which are even political, which nobody's doing anymore. The guy seems to have majored in Spleen Venting-though he's pissed at USC, too: he dropped out back in the '80s, he says, because he had hair down to his ass at the height of the Preppie Era and couldn't handle all the stares.
But Fryer loooooves the OC Weekly so much that he generously donated "Mosh Pit," a track from his band, Peace Corp., to Localer Than Ever!, our first CD compilation (see coupon on page 28 and article on page 30).
"Mosh Pit" is a gloriously snotty commentary built around a character who's having a midlife crisis; he walks into a bar where one of those lame new punk bands is playing. Of course, he promptly gets stomped on by a bunch of inbred youths who think they invented slamming last week: "Blood and teeth on the ground/One more goon goes down/There's a thousand punks in the house tonight/Just add liquor and you got yourself a fight/ Someone threw me in just for a hoot/ Now I'm on the bottom of a Doc Marten boot."
Now we're at Fryer's Costa Mesa crib on this frigid, erection-killing weeknight to chat about the songs on Peace Corp.'s new self-titled CD (on which "Mosh Pit" originally appears) and hopefully get to the bottom of why he's so . . . well, you know.
But . . . surprise! When he answers the door, Fryer is sharply dressed; he's necktie-clad, fresh from his corporate day job. After we settle in, we see that his dining-room-counter wine rack is full of whites and reds, his Orange County Performing Arts Center mailer is stuffed into a letter holder, and his Opera Pacific ticket order form for Madame Butterfly has been put in a conspicuous "don't forget!" place.
Hmmm . . . if we didn't know better, we'd think he's a Republican or something. What the hell does he have to be pissed about? "TV news, mostly," he tells us. A few years ago, during a long streak of unemployment, he would watch the overpaid talking heads on the tube, see something that would rile him, and write a song about it. His blood pressure couldn't handle it, though, so now for enlightenment, all he watches is The Daily Show.
Peace Corp.-which also includes bassist Hanson Meyer and drummer Chris Silva-have been around since 1992, playing many, many shows, in many, many places in and out of OC. For a while, they had a regular weekly gig at the Tiki Bar and built a decent-sized following. Four cuts on a 1994 CD compilation called Coast Hwy. even earned them honest-to-God major-label interest. A guy from Geffen Records called; he got fired before anything could happen. A guy from RCA called-who also got fired before anything could happen. Frustrated, they signed to an indie label in LA, an offer that sounded too good to be true. It was.
"They went under and stopped returning our calls," Fryer seethes. "All the tapes we recorded for them were locked up in the recording studio because the label hadn't paid for them. So our first record is up there somewhere. They wanted some ridiculous amount of money for them. They're probably recorded over by now."
But some good came out of all that. Behold "A&R People," a track on their full-length album that disses just about the entire record industry, label by label: "Don't wanna be on Geffen! Don't wanna be on Warner Bros.! Don't wanna be on Sire! Don't wanna be on EMI! Don't wanna be on DreamWorks! Don't wanna be on Capitol!"
At the end, Fryer gives one of his old suitors a sweet, Sex Pistols-style kiss-off: "Goodbye, RCA/We're still here, and you're not!" (The company got swallowed up in a megamerger.)
We figure that it'd be good to let Fryer vent for a spell, so we pick out a few of his songs and give him the space to spout-songs like "Limey Wanker," an obvious Oasis dis that we love: "We compare us to John and Micker/But we ain't fit to wash their knickers/Slap on the discount-album stickers."
"They had a quote," Fryer rages, "where they said that if they were around in the '60s, it'd be the Beatles, the Stones, then them. I thought, 'Are they kidding? They'd last about 20 seconds next to Herman's Hermits!'"
"Good Morning, Senator" is an angry middle finger addressed mainly to Alan Cranston, who betrayed Fryer's vote after his involvement was uncovered in the Lincoln Savings & Loan debacle: "Check's in the mail/It's up to you now to see that bill don't fail/ You're on the payroll now."
"The older I get," Fryer growls, steam spewing from his ears, "no matter what costume they're wearing-Republican or Democrat-politicians just turn out to be the same. The people I voted for this year-Boxer and Davis-were on TV giving their congratulation speeches and doing this dance, and all I could think of was 'God, I hate white people!'"
Then there's "Art Is a Punch in the Face," with its so-true-it-hurts line, "The hits of today/Are the ads of tomorrow." This gets Fryer really wound up. "Like that 'I Believe I Can Fly' song. It was just a hit! And now it's selling long-distance! And that Verve song is selling shoes! Already!"
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A few nights later at Hogue Barmichael's, Peace Corp. are playing a midnight set. Fryer is in a porkpie hat, shades and an obnoxious plaid coat that's so ugly it makes us pissed. Live, they pump-even their pumped CD doesn't do them justice. When they get to "Mosh Pit," the unthinkable happens: two guys try to get something going, jokingly, but still-forgive them, Lord; they know not the meaning of irony. There aren't even enough people in the place to mosh; most of the crowd cut out after the Delphines left.
Buncha friggin' losers.
So we hang out and watch Fryer and Peace Corp. scream their tonsils out, jump around like rock stars, sweat like fat Elvis, and work out their rage at, oh, everything. When the set ends, Fryer is smiling, and so are we. For the first time, he doesn't seem pissed.
Peace Corp. play at DP's Night Club (formerly the Tiki Bar), 1700 Placentia Ave., Costa Mesa, (949) 548-3533. Thurs., Nov. 12, 9 p.m. $3. 21+.