There’s a man and a woman sitting outside Bluekats Coffee in Sugar House. From the parking space at the mouth of 2100 South’s curvy tangent—once home to the great novelty store Anzio’s, the Heavy Metal Shop and some wacky Pakistani phrenologists—it appears to be hip-hop/trip-hop duo FurtherMore (MC/DJ Fischer, the guy, and vocalist Lee, the lady) waiting to be interviewed. Five steps away, it’s evident they are not them. A hastily rehearsed “Sorry I’m late” speech is filed away. Maybe they’re inside.
Nope. A cursory scan reveals scattered students, assorted hipsters, a bike in repose against a trashcan, and three green chairs sitting sentient by the window, awaiting old men to occupy them. No one—save the couple outside—resembles Fischer or Lee, at least from the duo’s few photos. Not that they’d stick out. On the Salt Lake City music scene, FurtherMore has had a stealthy presence at best. And that is exactly how Fischer and Lee enter—unassumingly and almost unnoticed.
Lee, a.k.a. Pepe Chang, excuses herself to order coffee. Fischer—first name Dave—puts his lanky frame in a chair. When Lee returns, she pushes a transparent magenta folder across the table. Inside are a band bio, an advance copy of FurtherMore’s third CD, She & I (their second for indie label Tooth & Nail) and a copy of the band’s single, “Letter to Myself” (hear it at www.Further-More.com), a profoundly introspective, piano-driven track from She & I that’s been “signed” by Universal Records.
Wait a second—the song has been signed? “Yeah,” says Lee, “that’s how they do things now. They sign the song and ship it to radio.” If it sticks, she continues, they’ll sign the band and put out an entire album.
Er … congratulations?
While Fischer and Lee are pleased with the development, they’re not overly excited. They hold the single in about the same esteem as a lottery ticket or a placed bet—if it comes up lucky, great. Until then, says Lee, “We’re considering ourselves a Tooth & Nail band.” The Seattle label, best known for its Christian punk and emo bands like MxPx and The Juliana Theory, has done right by FurtherMore since releasing Fluorescent Jellyfish in 1999 (FurtherMore isn’t Christian, Fischer points out, but fits under Tooth & Nail’s ambiguous standard of positivity). She & I, says Fischer, “will be released either way.”
Perhaps it’s Fischer’s casual confidence that has kept FurtherMore relatively low-key since Fischer, late of The Numbs, and Colby Van Wagoner formed the band in the late ’90s. He prefers to skip the this-band-begat-this-band biographics, up to and including how FurtherMore went from he and Wagoner to he, Lee and DJ Jason (on Jellyfish) to just he and Lee. Though he doesn’t say as much, it’s apparent FurtherMore’s essence is its music and true for the reverse.
But then, identity comes into question, and reveals the one concern within FurtherMore (and, perhaps, the reason for their near-anonymity in SLC). Their sound checks hip-hop as done by the likes of De La Soul and The Pharcyde, drum ‘n’ bass, a dash of Beck-ish eclecticism, They Might Be Giants’ quirk and techno-pop á la Supreme Beings of Leisure. Where does a mutt like this fit in?
“We don’t really have a niche,” says Lee. “I don’t want it to sound like we think we’re so unique and original, ’cause every band says that—and they’re not [laughs].” FurtherMore, she continues, isn’t alternative enough to be alternative, and not hip-hop enough to be hip-hop. “We’re somewhere in the middle and also radio-friendly, so it turns out pop is the only place open enough. All the other areas are too clique-y.”
As it happens, the pop pantheon is a pretty good place for FurtherMore. It’s right in line with a sentiment expressed in She & I’s opening salvo, “Deliriously Cold.” Fischer, in his furious staccato rhyming, asserts that “FurtherMore is for your enjoyment.”
“We just wanna have fun doing it,” says Lee. “And we want people to have fun listening to the music.”
It’s only fitting then, that it should be popular. Eventually.