A Couple of Questions with Joe Sumner of Fiction Plane
ALSO: Fiction Plane was featured in our The Best Albums You've (Probably) Never Heard feature.
For those just learning about Everything Will Never Be OK now, can you give a nutshell summary of your career prior to its release?
My name is Joe. I’m the lead singer, bass player, and principal
songwriter in Fiction Plane…and this is my story. IN
THE YEAR 2000…we were a four-piece rock band playing every month at
the King’s Head pub in London. The line up was simple enough – two
guitars (myself and Seton Daunt), bass (Dan Brown), and drums (Olly
Taylor) – but the music was another matter. Our set ranged from light-hearted
funky reggae to hardcore dirge-metal, but nobody seemed to mind, as
the place was packed out every time we showed up. After demo-ing a
few songs, including “Everything Will Never Be OK,” we decided that
we were good enough to be a massive worldwide band of superstars, so
we booked some gigs in America, flew over, and drove
around the place in a borrowed car. We didn’t set the world alight,
but we did get enough interest to land a deal with MCA Records the
following year. We went to L.A. to make the biggest album of all time.
Do you have any anecdotes about the recording of the album?
We recorded this album pretty much live in the studio to
get a raw feel. Strangely, it sounds almost completely
the opposite. The producer, David Kahne, was a total pop guy, very
shy in public but a fantastically perverted orator in the studio. The
whole scenario was a mass of contradictions. We were an English band
with no American following, making an album on a major label famous
for punk-pop, which we hated. We recorded at Henson Studios in sunny
L.A. It was such a fun time for all of us that it did feel a little
strange to sing these songs full of deeply depressing lyrics. The whole
thing felt like a party celebrating the darker side of life in a positive
way. Does that make sense?
Did you expect it to have a better commercial reception than it did?
Oh, yes. We had our whole record company jumping up and down over this CD. One guy was almost crying when we wouldn’t give him an un-mastered copy in advance, and our manager was predicting sales in the millions. Bruce Springsteen himself heard the CD and called up Jimmy Iovine to say that it was the best thing he’d heard for years. We were all stressing out about how we would deal with the fame and worried about “selling out.” We toured in a car for 3 months, stinking like stank never stank before. The day the record was released, we played a gig in a record store in Texas at 3 in the afternoon. There was a guy cooking up weenies on a barbecue, 2 guys from the label, our manager, and a couple of people who I guess worked in the store. And I think there was a dog outside. A few weeks later, almost the entire staff of MCA was fired or reshuffled, leaving us with just one ally, who sadly died shortly thereafter. The new boss waffled rubbish at us and shelved the project. He later turned up on “The Ashlee Simpson Show.” Honestly, the man’s an arse!
Are you pleased to find that it still maintains enough of a following to make its way into this piece?
Ever so much! We always believed in the album. Of course,
we’d all like to be millionaires by now, but the simple
fact that our art is still affecting people really means something.
What are you doing now?
We are about to go into the studio to make a new album. We’d been kept waiting by our label for a long time so we’ve now moved to the smaller Bieler Bros label and everything’s is gonna get done in a flash…like LIGHTNIN’, brotha! We’re now a 3 piece band, and we’re ready to make the second biggest album of all time and then tour the States in the summer. Coming at you like a bag of snakes, etcetera.
Check out Fiction Plane's official site for more info.