Scott Fisher recently released new solo album, 93 Million Miles, and it’s a collection where you’ll find evidence of his appreciation for the work of Jerry Garcia and Bob Dylan as well as plenty of thought-provoking reflections on life and the state of the world. “The Right Way” asks some of the bigger questions about how to pursue a creative life us, while the very direct, “Victor or the Vanquished” suggests a degree of personal responsibility for the impact that big companies and politicians have on our country and our world.
Musically, Fisher’s new album creates a meditative tone to explore these questions, featuring Enrique Gonzales (Los Lobos) on drums, and it’s steeped in a passion for the music of the 60s, 70s, as well as analog sound, which was a priority in the Production of this album. Wildfire Music + News debuted the video for Fisher’s song “The Right Way” accompanied by an interview, and you can still find that right here. Today, we’re bringing you more of that conversation which included a discussion of vinyl records, the ideas behind “Victor or the Vanquished” and its video, the relationship dynamic among The Beatles, and how Fisher balances commercial work and personal projects like 93 Million Miles.
Hannah Means-Shannon: Something I’ve been hearing a lot throughout the pandemic is that, because of that experience, people have been listening to whole albums at once and even together. Is that something that you’d like people to do for this album, or are the songs more independent of each other?
Scott Fisher: How great, right, that people would actually hang out in someone’s living room and listen to an entire vinyl record! That like a dream. I think probably more so, with my style of music, that people might be curious about listening to the whole record. But with the whole streaming platform phenomenon, even the way that I listen, I’m guilty of quickly scrolling back and forth, not listening to a record in its entirety. I might get a little vinyl pressing on this record through a Japanese company I’m working with. That would be super-cool to have a vinyl.
HMS: That would be awesome! Have you ever done that before with any of your records?
SF: No, I’ve never done that before. It could be fun.
HMS: If you do that, you should definitely have a listening party and make everyone listen to the whole record. I’ve been lucky enough to find some record stores where I can get older, cheaper vinyl.
SF: Wait, they still have records stores? They still exist??
HMS: Yes! It’s a very reassuring phenomenon.
SF: That shows some really great values, because people who open record stores obviously aren’t doing it to get rich. I’m not making records to make money, but clearly the entire industry is out of control. But that’s the thing, when you love something, and when you’re passionate about, that’s the foundation of something.
HMS: That’s my favorite interview quote for 2021, “Clearly, the entire industry is out of control.”
SF: Things like corporate sponsorships? Don’t get me started. I was reading an article about how for the young people, “selling out”, doesn’t even mean anything anymore, because the whole point in corporate sponsorship in order to make any money. Their ideal is selling out, really. They want the Target sponsorship. Can you imagine Jerry Garcia sponsored by Nordstrom’s? Please, the dude couldn’t even fathom it.
HMS: It’s interesting, because among some artists, the ideal is to do it independently, but still achieve the same goal. So, actually, you’re right, it’s just a way of cutting out the middleman. If you could do a deal directly with Target, that would be the goal.
SF: Clearly, I’m a hypocrite, because if Target talked to me, would I say “No” to that? If I was in a different financial situation, I would. But it’s complicated. I’m not faulting Taylor Swift for her Target deal by any means.
HMS: You made a lyric video for “Victor or the Vanquished” that contrasts a lot with your video for “The Right Way” in that’s it’s rather electronic but also kind of retro. Do the songs suggest to you what you might want to do with them in terms of videos?
SF: Yes, I think so. With “The Right Way”, the travel footage was the perfect thing for the song. Funnily enough, the song “Victor or the Vanquished” was almost a throw away song that didn’t make it on the record. It’s definitely the most modern sounding song on the record. I’ve been surprised since it doesn’t seem to be as popular as “The Right Way”, but all the indie people really connected with the song. Maybe, lyrically, is feels relevant to our general societal structure, particularly in the US. It definitely has a different feel, and so that’s why the video has a neon electro kind of vibe to it.
HMS: I hope people do listen to that song because it’s really interesting. It has a feeling to it of approaching social issues and maybe a warning kind of tone about who we’re fighting and for what outcome.
SF: It’s certainly a little darker. You can get deeper into analysis on it, for sure, looking at our cronyism in capitalism in this country. Looking at the Right or at the Left, there is definitely a ruling elite class and they have a lot more in common with each other than with a blue collar person. Then, I think it’s also partly about the hypocrisy of Exxon doing commercials about caring about the environment. It’s all these companies who are now showing this concern with face-forward campaigns pretending to care about society and on the other hand are not paying their taxes and sheltering all their money overseas.
HMS: It’s a whole trend or phenomenon lately. I guess it’s been around for a while, but it seems like it’s a lot more obvious in the past few years. It’s been more in your face with the commercials, ads, and clips online where politicians or big companies are engaging in these PR campaigns to try to reframe their identity and their narrative.
SF: Absolutely. To me, it’s much more about PR. It seems like these companies are spending a lot more on the ad campaigns than they are on trying to mitigate the damage to the environment. That really was the seed of “Are you fighting for the victor or the vanquished?”, the smoke and mirrors of that.
HMS: Something that came to mind when watching your video for “The Right Way”, which uses personal footage from your travels, was that there was a music video made by The Beatles for the song “Something” with footage from inside each of the Beatles’ homes with their partners and sometimes kids. So there’s been precedent for being informal in music videos for a long time. I think it was to air on the BBC.
SF: I’ll have to watch that. I love all that stuff. Clearly, there was a giant appetite for their private lives, of course. That must have been curious, on their part, but probably very successful for the BBC. That sounds much more informal, like the Get Back footage from Peter Jackson is meant to be.
HMS: The whole idea behind the release of that footage, I think, is to present a different side of the story since the original cut of the footage presented mainly the negative side of their fighting at the time. Though, of course, there was fighting, the new cut of the footage reframes that to show the positive side of things, too.
SF: Of course there was fighting, but let’s remember that they were young men with egos, rock stars. I’m convinced that if Lennon hadn’t been tragically killed, they would have come back and made music. It all makes sense given the pressures that were on them from many angles. Young male egos are a problem in themselves.
HMS: Especially if you get a lot of talent in one room. That can be an even bigger tinder box.
SF: Oh, yes. I had a band in college with incredibly talented guys and we were always butting heads, ego-wise and creatively. But these guys, now, are my best friends, and they all work in music and entertainment. They are brilliant, but when you’re twenty years old, you just don’t have any perspective on it. I can relate to that lack of perspective.
HMS: You can probably relate to that, too, from working on Production, with big egos and personalities at times.
SF: I’ve been trying to do less of this, but back four or five years ago, I had a company with a very successful Grammy-winning Producer, and we worked with some Disney and Pop-y kids, because that’s where all the investment was. It was very challenging because you had the kids, then the managers, and the labels. Artistically, it was just so depressing, though technically speaking, it was a great learning curve for me.
HMS: I know you do TV music work, too, so I was wondering: Has there ever been a danger that all of your movement in that commercial world would kill off your desire to do your own creative projects?
SF: Maybe at one point, several years back. But now, it’s just given me more fuel to try to make stuff that I find meaning in. Even if way fewer people hear it, ultimately, in the long term, it’s meaningful. I have to be passionate about my work or, otherwise, it’s not satisfying anymore. As a younger man, it is easy not to work on your own stuff when you can make easy money and do these TV cues. I do have friends who have friends who have stopped making original music because of it, but for me, it’s actually allowed me to get back into making original music.