On the Scene with Patrick Fleming

Erin Randolph

ER: When was Bi-Fi Records born, and what inspired you and the other guys to start it?

PF: It was born in June of 1999 when we released Canadian Wheat Lords album “Johnny Appleseed and the Broken Time Machine.” It was something that me and Aaron Hefley talked over e-mail about, and he asked me to come to Ames to start the label. We both had the same aspirations in music. They’ve changed a little bit since then.

ER: What are your music aspirations now?

PF: To have Bi-Fi take off as an indie record label and be nationally known. And to promote the bands around here that deserve to be exposed to other outlets and not just Ames and/or Des Moines.

ER: If Bi-Fi could put out any band’s album you wanted, dead or alive, what band would you choose?

PF: The Beatles, just because they are the greatest band of all time. But I would love to release “Smile” by the Beach Boys because it never got released and it never got finished because Brian Wilson went insane. It was the masterpiece they were working on after they released “Pet Sounds.” It’s never been released as a whole, but 5 or 6 bootlegs have been made that just have songs from it or sessions from it.

ER: What does music mean to you?

PF: I guess I’ll have to go with a quote on this one: “Soft, silly music is meaningful magical.” That is from Jeff Magnum of Neutral Milk Hotel, and it’s true. I guess I take more from it than most people do.

ER: What bands have you been in, and which is or was the most fun?

PF: I’ve been in The Canadian Wheat Lords, Pookey Bleum and Poison Control Center. They’re all fun for their own reasons. Wheat Lords were just out to pretty much shock people and be stupid, and we were. Pookey is fun because I don’t have to do anything but jump around and work off other people’s talent. Poison is the most fun because it’s what I always dreamed about, like having all your friends in a band and playing ’60s-inspired pop.

ER: Why does Poison Control Center wear green? Is that your favorite color?

PF: Yes, green is my favorite color. We invented colors, and this is our favorite right now. Actually, Poison Control Center didn’t invent colors – the Kaleidoscope Kids did. Sometimes we play the Kaleidoscope Kids because they are our idols, but we could never be as cool as them.

ER: What do you do for fun?

PF: I go record shopping and listen to music. I don’t really do anything for fun. My job is fun – sitting and recording bands and stuff like that. I also go to shows.

ER: Where do you see yourselves in 10 years?

PF: Just getting finished with a sound check at some dingy club in eastern San Francisco on a Tuesday night, opening for the Circulatory System on a West Coast tour in Poison Control Center, probably.

Hopefully Bi-Fi will be the career. That’s what I want to do – just play shows. If that was my career, that would be ideal. But real musicians have day jobs. That’s what I’ve heard.

ER: Do you collect anything? What is your favorite piece that you’ve collected?

PF: Records. I collect music memorabilia. I have to have the first pressing of things or I get really upset. My favorite is probably a tie between Ben Fold’s piano wire, Billy Corgan’s guitar pick, and, this is kind of gross, but I have Lauren Carter from Elf Power’s clarinet reed.

ER: Who are your favorite local bands?

PF: In no particular order, King Kong’s Dick, Why Make Clocks, Frankenixon, Keepers of the Carpet, and Duck and Cover’s drummer’s side project. And there’s a lot of great bands on their way up, like Far Cry, Woe Jilliams and the Chickens, the band.

ER: What is the best concert you’ve ever been to?

PF: The Flaming Lips’ “Soft Bulletin” tour. I saw it three times. Puppets, confetti and fake blood all in one show. I should have seen them four times on the tour.

I saw it in Minneapolis twice and Iowa City once. They toured for that for a year and a half, and in the two years it’s been out they’ve only sold 65,000 copies, and it’s literally one the best albums ever made. I feel really sorry for them. It’s literally gorgeous.

I hope Warner Brothers gives them lots of money.

ER: What else would you like to say?

PF: Ames is a really awesome town, and I hope that people can support the good things that are going in Ames like the Maintenance Shop and KURE, and all the bands that are out trying to play.