May 12th, 2011 | Interviews

Photography by Ward Robinson

The Fancy Space People are led by No-Ra Keyes (of the Centimeters) and D’on Bolles (of the Germs, Celebrity Skin and 60 million more) and currently include X-Orb-X, Bri-On, Shonn, Saratonin, guest Earthling Paul Roessler, and DAN-NEE. But they’re truly led by space aliens who direct No-Ra and D’on to deploy glitter rock toward the total fancification of Earth. Their self-titled EP is out now, thanks in part to Billy Corgan. This interview by Dan Collins and Chris Ziegler.

Author John Keel warns that extraterrestrials always screw over the Earthlings they use for these kinds of projects. What steps have you taken to prevent being screwed?
No-Ra Keyes (vocals): We’re busy screwing Earth people right now!
Don Bolles (guitar/vocals/synths/etc.): I don’t know why I always get those missions!
How did you find the actual people in Fancy Space People?
DB: It’s an all-volunteer force! It’s like emergence theory. But it’s emergence reality. Like Bri-On. He came to Ding-A-Ling every time. We didn’t wanna try him out—‘What if he’s bad? He’s our friend! We’d lose a friend and a customer!’ We’d had other drummers, and after every show Bri-On would say, ‘That guy’s alright, but I could do that ten times as good, seriously …’ No-Ra said, ‘Bri-On, I like you—I don’t want you to be in the machine that is Fancy Space People!’
NK: When Bri-On used to come to Club Ding-A-Ling—we’d write bulletins and tell people to wear weird outfits, and no one ever did it except Bri-On. He’d come with like a plate taped to his head cuz we told him to, and just be sitting at the bar. So I was afraid to put him in the band!
How did the Psychedelic Furs’ Mars Williams play teeth on your album?
DB: It’s like when Frank Zappa played a bicycle on ‘The Steve Allen Show.’ He’s invisible—did you know?
Do people always think he’s late to things? ‘Where’s Mars?’
DB: And always some smart-ass points to the sky—‘It’s right there.’
What human body part do you want to record next?
DB: Our leaders are sensitive about us talking about probing human bodies. That’s not a good subject.
Your former bass player was subsumed by invisible psychic creatures called ‘mojos,’ which then attacked you. How do you fight off psychic attack?
NK: I got rid of them by climbing a mountain in the Angeles National Forest. I read Psychic Self-Defense by Dion Fortune and it said the only way to get rid of these things is to climb a mountain. And wash all your clothes.
You talk about ‘parasites’ in your title track—are those the same as mojos?
DB: The parasites are the humans. We always thought there was a battle between good and evil going on. The good aliens wanna depopulate Earth in a good way and the bad ones wanna depopulate the planet by having the humans continue to indulge all their worst qualities and ruin their own planet so no life can enjoy it again, except maybe some vile insectoid thing. It’s kinda creepy!
What’s the good way to depopulate Earth?
DB: Getting everyone to move up to another vibrational dimension. Or to physically leave the planet and colonize elsewhere. We explore these themes in a lot of our stuff, and themes that relate to these things in literature and culture on Earth. Like the ‘Frankenstein’ song we have—what are we trying to say? It doesn’t sound like some cosmic space message of world-altering import to me, but who are we to say? The beings have been right so far—right down the line. They told us how to make the songs good. And they ended up good! I hate most songs—I hate most music! But these are good songs. I’m happy to put my name on them. I can’t honestly say we sat down and made them, but I’m proud to say they’re ours. We already know what the next album is gonna be called—Xxenogensis 2. And the next is gonna be Castle Sounds of the Electrical West. That’s us getting back to our roots. And the next one is Back to Monolith. It’ll have us all cavorting like naked apes on the cover while a glittering monolith comes out of a ruptured planet.
You once soloed note for note over tons of garbage 70s rock I was DJ-ing. Does it pain your mind to be so polluted with garbage 70s rock?
DB: Not as long as you got competing vibrations to cancel that out. You can actually mutate any of these vibrational patterns once you get them in your brain.
Does this make your listeners especially pliant and obedient?
DB: They pretty much are pliant and obedient enough for our liking. That’s all we require. They listen and the message just gets to ’em—we’ve done our job.
What’s the most pleasant way your mind was ever controlled?
DB: Everything I do with Fancy Space People is … great! My mind … isn’t actually … controlled by anything else that I don’t … voluntarily … want … it … to … be … controlled by. Whoa! Wait a minute … what time is it?
So what commands should we await?
DB: It’s already been thoroughly implanted. The guitar solo will actually reboot your entire operating system. See, the space brothers concocted their language from snippets of pop songs—that’s why it sounds like stuff from the 70s, 60s and 90s. Cuz it takes a long time to get their planet. No-Ra and I had it pointed out to us by the space brothers— the songs most popular on the radio contain the most retardedly infantile onomatopoeia. ‘Ooh ooh!’ ‘She loves you, yeah yeah yeah!’ ‘Tweedle-ee-eedle-ee-dee!’ What the hell? We were at Norm’s in Huntington Park—home of Slayer, where we record—and listening to the radio, sure enough they were right. Every song had some dumbass onomatopoeia that was the hook. It was revelatory. It’s like glitter-rock baby talk! The closest thing we got to a universal language. We were like, ‘What are the denim-wearing beardmen gonna think of this thing?’ They made these smirky sounds. ‘We got it taken care of.’ And they were right
Are you ever worried you’ll do too well and be regarded as glitter gods by primitive Earthlings?
DB: I used to worry till it started happening—now we’re into it.
I noticed your space masters directed you to use parts from Linda Perhacs and the MC5 in one of your songs. What other alchemical combinations of primitive rock ‘n’ roll have they suggested?
DB: We just do what strikes their fancy. Usually they’re right. We have other songs we haven’t done in the set yet. They’ve been having us go for a more succinct approach. We have an anthem for Fancy Space People—well, not an anthem. I don’t think we expect anyone to sing it at fancy sporting events.
If you had to be tragically killed during a fancy sporting event, how would you wanna go?
DB: Curling. It just seems a very manly way to die. Or chess. Getting a brain aneurysm while paying three-dimensional chess. You could explode like Scanners.
The late great Matty Luv says that guitar solos have been found by the state of California to transmit venereal disease. Are your guitar solos catching?
DB: We’ve found you can transmit all sorts of things. We transmit—as I’ve been coming to understand more and more—almost as many messages to the people of Earth through the guitar solos than the actual lyrical content. Maybe even more! Glitter rock is the universal Earth language. It did a lot better than Esperanto. Esperanto, for any of your readers who don’t know, was at one time proposed as the universal language everyone would learn besides their own, instead of some imperialistic pig language being imposed on everybody. What happened to Esperanto is very simple—it’s sort of like what happened to the music business. It’s just excess shit nobody needs. The word for ‘fork’ in Esperanto is ‘forko.’ I rest its case. And it needs some rest, too. Glitter rock has taken over and rightfully so.
No-Ra, the Centimeters are one of the few bands to ever play a mental institution—
NK: Our experience playing in a mental institution? It was a princess party, so we got there and there were all these castles and pink balloons. We had a song called ‘I Am Insane.’ It was very melodic, and I found that people in institutions only respond to things with beats.
DB: They loved Celebrity Skin when we played Camarillo!
Did they pay you anything?
DB: They paid us pretty well! They’re crazy!
NK: And there was cake at the end. I never desire to play a mental institution again, but I did play an old folks home and we really hurt the old people because their hearing aids were breaking down the whole time we were playing.
Don, after the great Dr. Bronner’s Soap wrongful arrest trial, did you end up with more money than you lost being in jail?
DB: That enabled us to make some of our initial recordings, and enabled us to begin our record, which now … exists.
Is that a sustainable business model?
DB: We’ve got a song—speaking of products—that’s just WAITING to be picked up by Nissan!
NK: About Dr. Bronner—I always felt them helping us helped them too!
DB: They sold more soap than ever! When I went to tour the factory, the workers stopped and cheered! ‘We just got an order for more soap than we’ve ever sold! We never got anything like that before!’
NK: Because Don told the L.A. Times he had the skin of a 15-year-old.
DB: The complexion of a 15-year-old! ‘Germ Busted for Soap’ said the headline. And the next one was, ‘Germ Free!’
Who is your least favorite Germ?
Bri-On (drums): Don.
DB: I was gonna say besides me!
What’s the best record Billy Corgan owns?
DB: Fancy Space People. He’ll sit there with an acoustic guitar and you think he’s just acting like he’s playing because there’s a record on, and then you realize he’s really playing all that—it’s kind of humbling.
NK: He’s really good at advice. He’ll come out of nowhere.
DB: Oh yeah! The major thing he said about our record production—he came in the studio and listened to ‘Pleiadian Youth’ and said, ‘You know what? This has to sound like Kiss’ Destroyer.’ And we all went, ‘Oh—the man is right.’ We kinda knew that, but we couldn’t put it in such a succinct sentence.
Do you feel the spirit of Sky Saxon even more in your music now than when he was alive?
NK: I believe he’s part of the Fancy Space People in a way. It was from his memorial show that Don left his cymbals behind, and that’s how we met Billy.
DB: And I sang half that stuff. Billy was like, ‘Toooo hard!’ I was like, ‘This is great! I’m hearing this famous guy sing backups for me on a Sky Saxon song off a paper with lyrics on it in front of millions of people!’ Sky was a weird guy—he was like a teenage rock star till the end.
NK: A rebelder. Rebellious elder. Don is a rebelder, Kim Fowley is a rebelder, Sky—I don’t think Sky and Kim got along.
DB: You can only fit so many rebelders.
Who is the most obvious extraterrestrial you ever met at a show?
NK: I asked David Liebe Hart if there were any space aliens at Club Ding-A-Ling and he said, ‘No, but I have noticed an Omegan woman there.’ They’re the enemies of the Korendians, which David Liebe Hart is. ‘A large blonde woman—definitely Omegan.’ So I asked her and she immediately responded, ‘Honey, you didn’t know that? The little green men come and get me every night!’