Friday, February 4, 2011

Interview with Kirk Fisher - Buzzov-en

(Buzzov-en at The Hideaway in Johnson City, Tennessee 2/2/11. Nate Hall photo.)

Years before I actually met him, I heard all kinds of wild stories about Kirk Fisher – most of them true or at least close to some truth. I knew about Buzzov-en - the addictions, the hell-raising, the depravity. When I actually met Kirk in Chicago at the load-in for our first show with Neurosis, I thought some guy from NC had tagged along in our van and I just hadn’t noticed – not out of the realm of possibility. When I heard his voice, I knew he was from NC. He had that unmistakably drawl and tone, something familiar about him. The dreads were gone, he was clean cut and wearing a baseball hat, and I thought he looked like a younger Levon Helm. I really like Kirk, I have always been comfortable around him. I admire his determination and his toughness. We once did a show with K-Lloyd (his solo project) and he rode the bus from the hospital straight to the gig, and played with the tag on his wrist. Say what you will about him, he is a survivor. Don’t get me wrong, he’s got the devil in his eyes and he is the first to admit it. And if I tried to depict him as respectable and decent he would laugh at me, and so would everyone else. But he has made - and continues to make - some of the best heavy music ever to come out of the south. Thanks Kirk, keep on going.

1- Can you tell the story about the black Les Paul? Or at least what you remember about trying to pawn in with blood and crusty stuff all over it? I still get a kick out of that.

Yeah actually I put that guitar up for collateral in Atlanta for an 8-ball of coke and eventually went on to Texas without getting it and two years later when we played Atlanta on the At A Loss tour the dude showed up with the guitar and said he couldn’t get any pawn shop or anyone to buy it because it was caked in blood and just beat all to hell. So I gladly paid for the 8-ball I’d consumed two years prior to get the guitar back ,which was just fucking awesome. Well, later on as I fell back into bad old habits I was trying to pawn it in Wilmington and no one even wanted to touch, it let alone give a loan for it. Well eventually one place knowing who I was just to make look like the hopeless junkie I was at that moment gave me a $50 loan for it and of course I never went and got it, so lost it again. Sucks man, I loved that guitar.

(Vintage photo of Kirk with the crusty black Les Paul.)

2-How are the Buzzov-en shows coming along? It still hurts me that we had to turn down playing that first reunion show.
They are actually going pretty well. Turnout has been good and people seem to be surprised we actually are pulling it off and sounding as tight as we do. Yeah, I would have liked for you guys to have played that show as well.

3-What is in your current guitar rig? I noticed an old Gibson Sonex in some of your recent pictures.
Well actually, I have a First Act Lola that I got endorsed by them, but I’ve been playing the Sonex because it gets more of the tone I like. It’s actually Sleepy’ s  guitar but I’m planning to pick one up ASAP, cause I think they sound as good as the (Les Paul) Studios I used to play, and they’re fucking durable. Im having Emperor build me some cabs and actually I’m kind of using different heads right now. This tour coming up I’m gonna be using a Sunn Coliseum and I think for live gigs we’re gonna go with running all Sunn gear, which as you know Dixie ‘s already been using for some time now.

4-If money was not a factor, what kind of rig would you put together?
I used to have a Boogie50 caliber and then I would run in stereo into that and either a Marshall or Laney master volume using the Metal Zone pedal to get the dirtier sound, and the Boogie provided the tone. Having John (Hopkins), our permanent soundman/TM now though we really don’t need all that shit. So like I said I wanna get another 50 caliber, but I think live were gonna go with all using the solid state Sunn heads. They’re road warriors and we ran a whole backline of that in Baltimore and everyone agreed that sound-wise it was the best. We were renting gear on that tour, so each night was something different.

5-You seem to enjoy a wide variety of music. Most people that listen to Buzzov-en probably wouldn’t think you would listen to Richard Buckner or Allison Krause. Can you talk a little about some of these influences/interests?
Yeah to be honest I primarily listen to outlaw country and acts like you just mentioned. I still listen to some heavy stuff, but very rarely. I love doing Buzzoven again, but my passion is in doing my K.lloyd stuff,  and after years now of practicing and finding my groove with it I think maybe it could have some potential to get more noticed - especially with Buzzoven going again. I’m turning 42 this year and I’m burnt on the whole heavy hardcore shit. I love playing it but it’s no challenge like with K.lloyd. It’s really hard to play alone and actually sing, etc. Of course there’s the skills that go with doing the heavy shit too, but I really feel doing K.lloyd is forcing me to really practice and tap into an uncomfortable zone, which for me is a good thing.

6-Who has great guitar tone?
I’ve always thought Pepper and Woody during COC Deliverance -era had like the best fucking tone man. And of course Buzz from the Melvins, I’ve always dug his sounds.

7-What was the gnarliest show you ever played?
Probably CBGBs when we were headlining a Sunday hardcore matinee and David Byrne was playing the night shift and they told us we had 10 minutes to play and be off the stage, so i just started wrecking everything - including a burgundy Les Paul Studio I had at the time, which I had to play the rest of the tour with a c-clamp on the headstock.

8-USX once slept in a house with a partially burned roof in January. And one might have been where they filmed Gummo, seriously scary and smelly. What is the worst house you ever crashed in?
Man we stayed in so many dumps I couldn’t even begin to remember the details. One time us and Eyehategod both stayed in a one-bedroom apartment in Knoxville and she had like 6 cats too. Ten people all in this tiny apartment. We just stayed up and drank and I think Mike Williams kept telling the girl he was gonna microwave her cats. He was joking of course but i think she was really scared.

9-You once told me you were thinking of writing a book about your Buzzov-en years. Are you still thinking about that?
Yeah I’m definitely doing the book thing. I’ve gone back to documenting current stuff, so I don’t know how it will ever really come out but it’s something I still plan to do.

10-What are your plans for the K-Lloyd stuff?
I’ve been doing shows alone here and there between the Buzzoven tours. I’m actually going to open like five of the 12 Buzzoven gigs this tour, doing it cause I still don’t think that anyone really realizes it’s me. So hopefully through Buzzoven I can get at least five or six people to come out. Still trying to find a label to release the "Pure Pain Blues" album that I did with all the guys(primarily Jimmy Bower)backing me under the name K.lloyd and the Disciples. Hopefully by this summer I’ll have a deal secured to make a new album, which is what I need to do. Then I plan to tour my ass off with that, probably with just a second guitar player until I can build enough to be able to bring a full backing band. Until then I’ll keep jumping Greyhound and going to do shows wherever by myself.

(Kirk playing solo as K-Lloyd. Nate Hall photo.)

11-What books do you enjoy?
I’ve been into reading a lot of memoirs lately, of different musicians who also deal with addiction. Other than that I’ve always been into horror and a lot of the Anne Rice vampire series, but haven’t had time to read much lately

12-What is your favorite unknown band?
I don’t know. I’m heavily into this artist William Elliot Whitmore, who is not unknown but definitely not as recognized as I think he should be. He’s amazing man, plays by himself and he’s a dude that was in punk bands in Iowa and just started doing solo stuff. I just can’t get enough of his music right now.

13-Any plans to record a new Buzzov-en record?
Yes, we are going to do a new album but it will be later in the year before we can start, because we are doing things so that Weedeater can keep up their regular schedule. With their new release coming out this month Dixie is going to be touring nonstop with all the Buzzoven Europe stuff and then doing all the touring to support (Weedeater’s) new cd. We’ve already worked on a couple songs though, so hopefully by the fall maybe well be at least writing and looking at being in the studio before the end of the year. Which is fine cause while Weedeatear is out I’ll be doing my K.lloyd shows and hopefully (be) in the studio by this summer.
Buzzov-en is now on tour. Check their routing at


  1. Pretty cool interview Kirk/ I am proud of you man. Mel. and Dave

  2. Very late comment here.... but, when they played in Knoxville around 1993 w/Eyehategod Kirk broke a beer bottle over his head and threw in in the air. It hit me slicing my neck open, and bled pretty good. I still have a nice scar and story to go with it.