Spit Fire, Save Matches
Fishbone's Dr. Madd Vibe prescribes poetry and activism
By Steven Tweddell

It only takes one guy.

One guy to ruin everybody else's good time.

Angelo Moore, Fishbone's singer/saxophonist, recalled one such guy during a recent tour stop in Columbus with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Stone Temple Pilots.

Moore remembered how the man wouldn't leave it alone, yelling at the all-black L.A. band, flipping them off and shouting "nigger this, nigger that."

Fortunately for that man and others like him, there is a doctor in the house: Moore's poet/spoken word/artist alter ego Dr. Madd Vibe.

As Dr. Madd Vibe, Moore is on the road with the rest of the Spitfire Tour, a non-profit line-up of musicians, actors, and activists speaking out on global affairs (and stopping off in Lexington).

Spewing poetry with his sax around his neck, Moore will speak about racism. And he's got plenty to say.

"You'd be surprised," Moore said of his run-ins with racism. "You would think that it would have gotten better, but Columbus was just a reminder. It was kind of crazy...He wouldn't stop."

"Too much reality is pushed away," he says. "People want to come home from work and just sit in front of the television."

Though he admits that the racial tension at Fishbone or Dr. Madd Vibe shows is rarely as bad as it was in Columbus, he also says that there's always one in every crowd.

And the crowd he really can't stand is the music business people. Moore sees a lot wrong with the way things are run, with the powers that be and their control over what people buy, over what gets the financial backing.

Of his rock 'n' roll contemporaries he says, "You look at the Chili Peppers who started out when we started out and they're rich, and we're still like we were 20 years ago."

Sour grapes?

Maybe. However, Moore doesn't hesitate to offer good words about both the Chili Peppers and STP, "They're as cool and as down-to-earth as ever." And he seems sincere. There's not a hint of bitterness to his voice when he talks about Anthony Kiedis et al. He saves his ill feelings for the powers that be.

"What the record business is trying to do is make artists into what is going to sell the most records," he says. "Non-threatening music.

"If Fishbone chose to play R&B and hip-hop," he says, "we'd be rich as fuck right now." Moore spelled it out: hip-hop for the black performers. Rock 'n' roll for the whites.

Since the band formed nearly 20 years ago, Fishbone has been tyring to meld styles. Borrowing from Parliament/Funkadelic before them, they took the funk a bit farther by adding elements of punk, thrash, and ska.

Moore thinks the music has been too out of the ordinary to impress most record executives, who love categories.

Music is just a small aspect of a larger problem, though.

As for the solution, Moore says, LEARN. "People just have to try to understand each other," he says. " They don't even have to like the person, just understand."

And then, unafraid to point out the obvious, he adds,"We're all here on earth, not going anywhere. Gravity's holding us down. Might as well learn."

Moore's diatribes don't stop at racism though. Marriage. Divorce. Cost of living. Fatherhood. The hypocrisy of the drug war. It's all there.

"Here's one," he says. " You can't buy weed at a liquor store or a coffee shop, but you can go out and buy Jack Daniels and a gun. That doesn't make any sense."

You want another one? "Think about this: when you look at the dollar bill, who's on there, a white man.

"Just think if the dollar bills had different color faces on the bills," he says, then we'd really be living up to our claim of melting pot, land of the free.

Although he's not the happiest guy around, he's coping. "Anything that weighs heavy on my mind," he says, "I write about it. Use the pen not a gun."

But in the face of so much misery, why is he always smiling?

"Why am I smiling?" he asks, and it doesn't take him long to answer. "Because I'm crazy. You've gotta be."

The Spitfire Tour hits UK's Memorial Coliseum Wednesday, September 20. Doors open at 7pm, show is at 8pm. $5 students. $7 general public. 257-TICS for information and tickets.