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Monday, Aug. 18, 2014

Influenced: Body Futures on Genesis and Faith No More

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In Influenced, we talk to Milwaukee musicians about the artists that shaped and inspired them, both as performers and listeners.

With a lineup of current and former members of White Wrench Conservatory, The Five Mod Four and IfIHadAHifi, Body Futures are eclectic, to say the least. After spending the last two years writing and playing live, the band released their debut full length, Brand New Silhouettes, on Aug. 12 via Latest Flame Records. For this edition of Influenced, we sat down and talked with vocalist, autoharp and keyboard player Dixie Jacobs and drummer D.J. Hostettler about not one, but two of their biggest musical influences: Genesis and the equally eclectic Faith No More.


How old were you when you heard Genesis?

Dixie: I was at my first Genesis show in utero, actually. My parents went to go see them before I was born, so I have this weird hardwiring for them I think. Pretty much from the time I was born, I’ve been a fan of Genesis.

An interesting band to get into at a young age. Did some of their material seem a bit strange to you?

Dixie: I didn’t really listen to the more “out there” records of theirs until I was about 12 or 13, and by then I was listening to Nirvana and Nine Inch Nails, so it didn’t sound all that weird to me.

So did that lay the groundwork for a healthy love affair with prog rock?

Dixie: I’m not a huge prog rock fan, actually. I can’t really stand Rush, I think I have like one Yes record, but I’m hardly a “prog girl.” I think most people think that if you like Genesis that you’re a huge prog nerd, but I just happen to really like Genesis.

So even though you were listening to all the prerequisite alt-rock and grunge of the time, did your peers give you a hard time for liking a band like Genesis?

Dixie: Yeah, I’ve pretty much have always been given a hard time by my peers for being a Genesis fan, and that’s mainly due to the fact that I only have a handful of friends that like them. When I was in high school and a lot of people were into the whole California skate punk stuff like NOFX, people were just sort of confused if I were to be like “Hey, you gotta come and listen to this sweet 16 minute keyboard solo!” [laughs]

What’s your favorite record of theirs?

Dixie: It’s really hard to pick one because they were really two separate bands between the Peter Gabriel era and the Phil Collins era. I think the pinnacle of Peter Gabriel’s involvement of the band was The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, which was basically as far as he could go with the band before starting his solo career. Of the Phil Collins era, I’d probably go with Abacab.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, how do you feel about “We Can’t Dance?”

Dixie: When that record came out I was about 10, and I didn’t really have the best taste at the time, so I didn’t completely hate it, I just thought it was kind of goofy. I went to that tour in 1992 with my parents, and they played a medley of all their stuff from the ’70s, and I remember thinking that that was so much cooler than “Jesus He Knows Me,” or whatever. It felt like more of a novelty at the time. My dad turned me on to all those earlier records around then. I realized later as I got older just how shitty that album. God, I hate that album.

So I hear you’re not much of a Genesis fan?

D.J.: No, not particularly. Dixie has played me stuff that I’ve enjoyed, though. She took me to see The Musical Box performance of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, which I thought was excellent.

Dixie: Every time I go see The Musical Box I’m surrounded by a bunch of dads who give me weird looks.

Are they a “dad rock” band?

Dixie: I can’t really count too many people in my age group that are independently into Genesis. I think if anything, during the ’70s, a lot of those bands were “dude rock” bands, you know? They didn’t really have too many female fans. Now those “dudes” have grown up and had children, but they still love all those bands, so the term has changed.

Switching to you, D.J., How were you introduced to Faith No More?

D.J.: I spent a lot of my adolescence listening to hair metal, and when we got cable in 1989, I started to watch Headbanger’s Ball a lot. I saw the video for “Epic” on there in 1990, and I just didn’t get it. I was just like “why is he rapping over this? Why is there piano at the end?” etc. My best friend at the time, though, went completely nuts over it and played The Real Thing all the time. Eventually, it started to make sense. I was always looking for like obscure hair metal, like the earlier records by bands that eventually had hits, so I started wanting to hear music that wasn’t necessarily as widespread.

So when did Faith No More really click for you?

D.J.: I graduated from high school in the summer of 1992, and they had just released Angel Dust right around that time. Hearing that record really blew the doors open for me and made me think “all this other stuff you’re listening to is kinda silly, and you can probably leave that alone.” Once they really clicked for me in the sense of really understanding what they were all about, they became the greatest thing in the world to me.

Dixie: It’s interesting that it was Faith No More who did that for you as opposed to Nirvana.

Yeah, it seems like Nirvana tended to be the game changer for a lot of people around then.

D.J.: Nirvana was like the singular musical common thread for a lot of people at that time, and the hair metal kids went nuts for them. The interesting thing was that as listeners, we didn’t see them as anything more than just this cool rock band, so there wasn’t much by way of reconsidering our tastes.

So then why was it Faith No More that made you reconsider your tastes?

D.J.: They really grabbed me because they sounded like no other band I had ever heard, and even within the course of a single album, their songs had so much variety.

So what’s your favorite record of theirs?

D.J.: Easily Angel Dust. In my opinion, no one has made a record that is completely of itself as Angel Dust.

Dixie, were you familiar with Faith No More?

Dixie: I was familiar with the singles off of The Real Thing, specifically “Epic,” but it wasn’t until I met D.J. that I started to really familiarize myself with their work and really understand it.

When you formed Body Futures did you have any specific ideas in mind as to what you wanted the band to be?

Dixie: It’s funny, actually, because I remember posting on Facebook something to the effect of “Who wants to start a band that sounds like the Birthday Party?” and both D.J. and Michael Wojtasiak responded immediately. The three of us got together and we ended up writing stuff that totally didn’t sound like the Birthday Party [laugh].

Are Genesis and Faith No More bands that you both still manage to take influence from?


Dixie: I think my lyric writing has always been less straightforward and more literate, and that’s something that I’ve taken from Genesis.

D.J.: When we were mixing the Body Futures record, specifically the song “When You Had a Jaw,” I was talking about how my favorite Faith No More songs tend to consist of bunch of leads, in a way. Like you could isolate any of the things happening in the song, and it could be the song’s main focal point, and how that part of that song reminded me of that. Then Shane and I nerded about Faith No More for a while [laughs].

What have you gotten out of being fans of Faith No More and Genesis?

D.J.: It just really opened up my mind to the fact that there was so much more out there. Understanding Faith No More as being a band that set out to sound like absolutely nothing else made me appreciate that and look for that in other bands. And it’s that sort of mindset that lead me to other bands that I love, like Brainiac and Sebadoh.

Dixie: Genesis verbally taught me that its okay to be adventurous and challenging and to not necessarily feel pressured to create things that are accessible. They weren’t the typical over the top arrogant prog band, they were much more modest.

Is there any connecting point between the two acts?


D.J: The connecting point between Faith No More and Genesis for us is that they are both bands who were just so incredibly unique, especially for their time. That’s something we try to do with Body Futures—not repeat ourselves and try a lot of different things. The album has a lot of variety, but I think it’s still pretty cohesive at the same time.