By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
She was terrified. But what a voice. You can hear it even on early tapes, in full cry, raw but melody-capable. Without tunefulness being the point. A melody can be just pretty. Or it can be a doorway.
Here’s the way the teenage Bozulich was thinking: When the Go-Go’s (pre-fame) came to play at her high school, she organized a mini-protest against the “new-wave bimbos.” And she felt like a strange combination: conspicuous and invisible.
“Some of those girls at my high school, if they were gonna whip me in the face one more time with their stupid long blond hair, I was just gonna blow the whole joint up. They didn’t know I was even there. Some girls are just so oblivious, because it’s just them and their iridescent pink lipstick.”
When Bozulich formed Ethyl Meatplow with Biff Sanders and John Napier in 1988, there was nothing blond about it, and nothing generic. It was punk, it was tech, it was noise, it was theater — all at the same time. She was surprised when people eventually came to want this kind of fist in the face. Today, she reaps even bigger giggles from the royalty checks she still gets for the “Smokin’ on the Devil’s Johnson” video, which was featured on Beavis & Butt-head compilations and The Real World.
The twistedly rocking Fibbers, signed to Virgin in 1993 on the strength of a five-song demo — “three of them were George Jones songs” — turned out to be a bonanza of creative control and financial continuity. It was virtually the last new band to be treated as adults by a major label. “As soon as they did these deals with us, the whole bottom fell out. Everybody started getting fired left and right if they even whispered under their desk about any kind of creative music.”
So Bozulich continues to live in the house she bought with her Virgin earnings, though the Fibbers haven’t been a unit since 1998. She feels like she’s got the best job: “Even the ugliest, smelliest, crappiest studio in the world, y’know, it’s thrilling, it’s a fucking privilege.” She likes to drive around the city and just look at the weird buildings and crematory-urn hood ornaments and abandoned baby strollers. She likes to go to the dump and be with the old refrigerators. Interviewed by Sex & Guts magazine, she talked about . . . her garden. She’s been keeping a level of sanity for a long time. Asked if it was a special occasion when she had that cat cartoon tattooed on her shoulder, she says, “Yep. Quitting drugs. And needing to have a needle stuck in me, really badly.”
But stable? Predictable? Don’t think so. On the one hand, Bozulich says, “I’m a drag queen. I can out-man anybody, even in a dress.” Later, it’s “I’m tired of being in control. I’m tired of being the man. I want to be the chick. I want to be a girlie.”
Carla Bozulich and band (www.carlabozulich.com) playRed Headed Stranger and more at Spaceland on Saturday, November 15; the bill also features the Nels Cline & Christopher Garcia duo, and songwriter Noe Venable’s group.