By Dave Lichtenberg |
Little Fyodor was hatched out of the ether back in the halcyon days of the early 80’s when college buddy and future collaborator Evan Cantor read LF’s song lyrics and was taken by how they reminded him of the tortured characters in the Fyodor Dostoevsky novels LF himself had turned him onto – and christened his friend Little Fyodor on the spot! These songs were written in the stoned isolation of Fyodor’s post-college bedroom, where he put to pen the existential angst of his lost soul in the guise of minimally chorded tunes influenced by the likes of the Ramones, Pere Ubu and Jonathan Richman, in an attempt to make someone, somewhere, smile….
Cantor talked LF into joining him in a move to Colorado to find the perfect blend of urban reality and wilderness escapism for a psychedelic seeker and his morose buddy to embark on new lives making strange new music. Nestled in Boulder, they soon hooked up with guitar wiz Ed Fowler to form Walls Of Genius, releasing 30 (!) cassettes (mostly 90 minutes long!!) in three years (!!!) full of improvised noise and zaniness, selling and trading them to the burgeoning cassette networking underground and performing live while wearing the most ridiculous threads Fowler could score at his favorite seedy Denver thrift store, a fashion signature Fyodor maintains to this day. WoG made quite a splash in this era, getting called “the new sound terrorists of America” in an underground zine of the day, and then posthumously described as “funnier than hell weirdos” in the 1996 book, “Unknown Legends of Rock ‘n’ Roll”!
Yes, posthumously, heh…. Eventually, internal conflicts broke up the band (shocking, I know), and in 1986, Little Fyodor found himself wandering aimlessly on his own, and in despair through Denver’s dank and dingy alleys. But these wanderings brought him fortune when he bumped into an insolent bag lady from the Olde World who took pity on him when he helped her push her shopping cart across a muddy puddle….
This, of course, was Babushka!
Babs pulled a Casio keyboard out of someone’s garbage can and joined Fyodor in forging a performance duo juggernaut, emoting Fyodor’s sad and angry repertoire with a theatrical, daresay Vaudevillian flair. At the same time, Fyodor yanked local rock musicians into professional studios to realize his own vision of existential punk, mixing in elements of novelty and the experimental. An EP and four full lengths were released between the late 80’s and 2009, containing twisted and satirical songs which, beneath a crass and maniacal outer shell, express a deep empathy with those who most deeply experience the alienation and frustration of modern life’s insect existence. Songs like, “You Give Me Hard-On” and “Everybody’s Fucking” shared an obvious source of malcontent, while “I Want An Ugly Girl” and “Watching the Squirrels” fed Little Fyodor’s reputation for oddball quirkiness. Yet, those who truly understood called him a metaphysical protest singer exorcising his neurotic demons and speaking for outsiders everywhere. Fyodor’s impossible dream was to transform his depression into a laughing (and ROCKING) matter to entertain the masses!
The EP was called Slither and the albums were called: Beneath the Uber-Putz, Idiots Are Closer to God, Dance of the Salted Slug, and Peace Is Boring, the last of which began to feature Babushka on cranky but seductive vocals, including an original composition of hers, “The God Gripe Song.” LF & B also collaborated with local spazz-prog rockers The Inactivists on Babushka’s Naughty XXXmas Carols.
Highlights during this period included airplay on Dr. Demento’s show, touring California with sound collage culture jammers Negativland, being introduced by the Rev. Ivan Stang for a featured and frenzied slot at the Church of the Subgenius’s X-Day gathering in rural New York, joining a Subgenus traveling sideshow from Amsterdam to Berlin, getting laughed at by hipsters at Burning Man, and blowing confused yet astounded minds at Denver dives of all shapes and sizes, all while performing as a brave, but lonesome twosome. Misfits among outcasts, though they were, gr00viness was yet their destiny and a drummer and bass player were added just in time for Discriminate Audio to solicit world famous controversial character Boyd Rice to pick his favorite Fyodor tunes to release as Boyd Rice Presents the Very Best of Little Fyodor’s Greatest Hits. Popular rockers Dressy Bessy were solicited to headline the CD release to a packed house at the Bluebird Theater; a fitting reward considering their famous sister band, The Apples In Stereo, got their first booking ever when LF offered them at opening slot at Penny Lane Coffeehouse in Boulder in the 90’s. LF also inadvertently named Elephant 6 band Von Hemmling and put out the Dance of the Salted Slug as the first CD on the Elephant 6 label! LF & B went on new tours as a fearsome foursome, first with fellow rockers The Emmas through a scorched midwest to Chicago in 2005, and then with Guy In The Middle out the wild and woolly West to the coast and back in 2006….
Have band, have drama, and LF & B’s rhythm section went through some re-arrangements in short order, before a stable foundation for the madness was formed in the personages of Tricky Dick Wicket, formerly of Bunny Genghis and Mean Face and currently of Killzone, on the drums and Amadeus Tonguefingers, formerly of Dopamine Squeeze and currently of Robot Mandala, on the bass, creating the kick-ass-killer punk rock machine of Fyodor’s wettest dreams.