Long live rock, I need it every night

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Where Are They Now: Fun Lovin' Criminals

I was listening to my iPod device tonight, when the song "Fun Lovin' Criminal" came by. I like this song, and I liked a few of the other songs that came from this same album - Come Find Yourself (pictured right). I know Jimbromski enjoys these guys too; I've heard him say it publicly on several occasions. By the time he's done reading this post, however, I doubt he'd ever admit to it again.
I searched for the band's website, and after being confused by all the shouts outs to the great people of Northwest Europe, I came across the band's bio. I found it to be a long story better left unwritten. But here is the story of Fun Lovin' Criminals.

Fun Lovin' Criminals was formed in 1993 when Huey found himself behind the bar at New York's Limelight where he met Fast, who was working in the bowels of the club. Fast was already in a band at this point - he and F-L-C's first drummer Steve-O had formed a techno group. Meanwhile, Huey was spending a lot of time playing blues guitar and soon started writing tunes with Fast. Huey and Fast recruited Steve-O to drum, and the Fun Lovin' Criminals were formed. The three became roommates and ended up jamming together in their apartment and writing songs until they had enough material to convince the Limelight's manager to let them play a gig at the club.

Their sixth performance was seen by the head of A&R for EMI America who passed them a business card and asked them to give him a call. EMI had soon booked them into a studio
for a two-week recording session. However, the band finished all their recording inside of five days and spent the rest of the studio time running up a huge alcohol and food bill and waiting for EMI to wake up to what was going on.

Instead, two years later, EMI released their debut album Come Find You
rself, which spawned the hit singles The Fun Lovin' Criminal, King of New York and the UK number 1, Scooby Snacks. The Fun Lovin' Criminal is the band's self professed 'redneck hip hop song', an introduction to the ways of F-L-C, and a good musical overview, containing funky guitar riffs, trumpets, harmonicas, a catchy bass line (the latter three all played by Fast). King of New York shows a slightly more political side to the trio, with calls to 'Free John Gotti' while reserving the story-telling rapping for Huey.

The band made us wait two whole years for the follow up to Come Find Yourself, 100%
Colombian. This was a natural progression for the trio, with the album being a little more calmed down, and jazzy, but still retaining Rock n, Roll in the form of Korean Bodega, and Huey claims that Southside is their 'Heavy Metal anthem'. The first single to be taken off the album was Love Unlimited, a tribute to the late, legendary Barry White, who introduced Huey to the ways of women, and how they suddenly became 'the most beautiful things on God's green earth'. The next single was Big Night Out - a musical masterpiece, with the song split up into a rap half, with a sample from Tom Petty's 'American Girl', and a rock half, with an interpolation of the Marshall Tucker Bands' 'Can't You See'.

Somewhere between the release of the singles Big Night Out and Korean Bodega, drummer Steve-O "went a little crazy and departed to Peru," in the words of Huey. He was replaced by the incredibly talented, and just as crazy, drummer Mackie. Having played around the world in the likes of The Cro-mags, Bad Brains and (no really) Charles and Eddie, Mackie brought his trademark style and air of mystery to the band - as well as his amazing skills behind the kit.

With their first two albums, F-L-C created a refreshing, unique, and thoroughly brilliant sound, combining hip-hop and jazz rhythms with more traditional rock techniques. F-L-C created a brand new style that other bands, such as Everlast, Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit, have drawn upon for their inspiration, using the same mixture of beats, rapping and guitar to achieve a new style of music. But what sets the F-L-C aside from these bands is their ability to make a credible piece of modern rock music out of styles and instruments that were perhaps previously considered boring.

With the release of a 'payin for Christmas gifts album' in the guise of Mimosa, recorded in part on the island of Maui, Hawaii, Fun Lovin' Criminals took their New York vibe to the next stage. Huey explains, "It's a collection we put together cos' we needed to make some money for Christmas! If Celine Dion can do it, we can do it too! We kept getting asked on our internet sites where people could get this stuff and rather than direct them to a load of old singles that people are asking silly money for, we figured we,d do some again in a new style. Mimosa is a relaxed version of what we do, with a couple of new things on there too." Releasing a lounge album at this stage in their career must have seeme
d crazy to the record company but the band assured fans it was a temporary stylistic change and that they would be back in the new year with a full on Fun Lovin' Criminals album.

The certainly didn't disappoint and in 2001 they released the amazing Loco. Opening track Where The Bums Go was meant to wake people up and shake the lounge label well and truly off from the F-L-C name. A punky, shouty rock track about a catburger joint in New York where homeless people eat, it has become a staple of their live shows. Loco also spawned the hits Loco (featuring what is possibly the most politically incorrect video in history), Bump (with Jodie Kidd starring as "the finest girl of [Huey's] life") and Run Daddy Run.
The record label, against advisement from the band, released a best of collection called Bag of Hits in 2002, which crashed into the UK charts at number 5. The second disc of the best of included a compilation of rare and hard to find remixes from the ten years of the Criminals. Prior to the release of Bag of Hits, F-L-C also released Love Ya Back, a DVD featuring all their promo videos up to the end of Mimosa, their film debut - the classic Maui Homicide 2000
- and lots of tour footage.
In 2003 the band released Welcome To Poppy's. Featuring 'old skool' F-L-C tracks like You Got A Problem, Got Our Love, live favourite Baby, the single Too Hot and also Lost It All. With a video starring Neil Morrissey as a pimp daddy on a casino bus, this is one of the greats in the FLC catalogue. About the time of Welcome To Poppy’s the band joined forces with yet another new drummer: Frank the Rhythm Man. The third in an impressive line of drummers T.R.M. is a UK native hailing from Leicester where he has received much notoriety for his work in many bands. Rhythm Man is a great new addition to the band and slaughtered his debut UK gig at Meltdown. He’s blazin’ and we couldn’t do it without him. After four albums proper, one 'lounge' album, a DVD and a top 5 best of package, the band return with the latest offering: Livin' In The City. What the Fun Lovin' Criminals are trying to say is that they still mean business and business is still very cool.

It's been over 13 years fellas. I think it's time to give it a rest.


Jimbromski said...

There's an FLC song on the Scarface video game soundtrack, it's not bad. They're like the Dandy Warhols and various other bands, for some reason they're way bigger in Europe than they are here.

Jumbo Slice said...

Can't say I ever liked those guys, but I never listened to a whole album. The fact they use words like "amazing", "masterpiece" and "brilliant" to describe their music is a stretch. They should stick w/ words like "songs", "ditties", or "horseshit".