The first time you hear Fishbone, it might just stop you dead in your tracks. It’s not necessarily just the music, but also - perhaps especially - about what that music conveys. Rage at injustice, a positive mental attitude aimed towards a better world, frustration that we can’t get to it fast enough, and a need to express all of that with complete freedom. Now is not the time to play nice and fit in - now is the time to speak up. Now is the time for action. That, to us, is what the music of Fishbone is about, and why it’s still relevant today.
It’s almost impossible to describe with any kind of accuracy what they actually sound like - it’s almost like a combination of every socially conscious type of music we’ve cared about, from the Seventies on: funk, reggae, the British fusion of ska and punk known as two-tone, heavy metal, even shades of progressive rock... the list goes on.
It was just one of many ways in which they, an all-black band, broke down barriers - between genres, between scenes, between races. They did this in their own way, from the sheer force of their will - and seeing them do this was, and continues to be, incredibly inspiring. And the crazy thing about their music is that it sounds completely natural when you hear it - it never feels forced.
Even as Fishbone’s sound has evolved since their founding in 1979, what’s always been instantly identifiable is their no-holds barred attitude, and their incredibly precise way of talking about issues like racism, poverty, and being out of place in a world that doesn’t feel built for you. And to be honest, that’s what makes them really important to us here at Noah. When you’re frustrated by the way the world works and feel alienated from those who seem to have all the power, hearing someone sing something like, “You’ll never look the way I feel, you’ll never feel the look in my eyes,” packs a pretty heavy punch - a universe of truth packed into one sentence.
Musically, they had chops for days. They became friends with fellow rule-breaking bands in Los Angeles, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Psi Com - the band that would become Jane’s Addiction. To hear it told, there was never any doubt to any of those bands who were the better musicians - Fishbone had it walking away.
They quickly made their reputation on their musicianship, the voice they found during the Reagan Eighties, and an incredible live act featuring spontaneous jump kicks and back flips - all the energy of a mosh pit on a stage. And they quickly caught the attention of some of the leading voices of their generation: The Beasties Boys invited them to tour with them for “Licensed to Ill,” Spike Lee directed the video to “Sunless Saturday,” and even as we write this, they’re opening for funk legend George Clinton. They all heard something in Fishbone’s music that caught their attention, and we invite you to discover that for yourself, and what it might mean to you.
This collection honors Fishbone’s commitment to following their own path, and their relentless pursuit of giving truth to power - no matter what.
View the full Noah x Fishbone editorial, now on the Noah Blog.