Fixers: 'I feel incredibly creative right now'

Oxford band Fixers write so many songs they used to give them away for free. Now they're having to slow down a bit

Fixers are preoccupied by the passage of time: by their inability to keep pace with it, by the way their current situation – with an album recorded but half a year from release – leaves them stranded, by the way it can shape fates. "It could be," suggests singer/keyboard player Jack Goldstein, "that the success of the most successful musicians could be down to the fact they move at the right pace." He ponders one of his heroes, someone who never saw success in his own lifetime. "Arthur Russell is an incredible example of someone who moved so quickly that success was never going to see him."

Goldstein and guitarist Roo Bhasin often return to the issue of music that is new to their fans already seeming old to the band. "Talking about the future, for us, is talking about the past," Goldstein muses. "I feel incredibly creative right now, like making a bunch of songs, but I have to not think about when those songs are ever going to see the light of day, because we've just recorded a bunch of songs and they're not going to see the light of day for another six months."

It's an odd situation for Fixers, who generated excitement by putting their music – lush, faintly psychedelic pop songs full of rich and sometimes unsettling harmony singing, reminiscent of Smile-era Beach Boys – on to the web for anyone to hear. Signing to a major label, Vertigo, put paid to that. "That's one of the things we learned quite quickly after we signed," Bhasin says, "that you can't just do everything you want to do, when you want to do it. But that's part of the responsibility that comes with signing to a label, any label."

They have to find other ways, then, to keep people on their toes. That's what they've managed with their new single, Swimmhaus Johannesburg, which eschews the sunshine pop for sleek and streamlined house. Does that mean the Brian Wilson sound was a red herring? "I like the way you use the term red herring," Bhasin says with a smile. "It wasn't meant to be that way, but we do want people to realise we're not headed down one particular path."

"I didn't even think it was that different," Goldstein adds. "The people who have embraced us because of that Beach Boys thing – that's fundamentally what we do. We're not trying to push them away, but you do have to expose people to everything you want to do."

"It's hard to do that before you have an album, because you're just giving people little snippets," Bhasin says. "You want them to understand as much about you as they can, which is why we decided to put that out."

Fixers' last single, the EP Here Comes 2001 So Let's All Head for the Sun, fit more squarely into the Beach Boys template (and when it was released in the spring, Goldstein was already worrying about it being "very stale"). It was also a sign of Fixers' restlessness – it was the culmination of a fascination with UFO religions and cults. "I always find it interesting when something's really reviled and people don't like it but they don't really know anything about it," Goldstein says. I always think: why is it so bad?" He picks up the example of Scientology. "I know why it's so bad, because I went and found out about it," he says. "We went to the Church of Scientology in Liverpool Street and it was pretty scary. We got put on an E-Meter – it's like a cheap, plastic lie detector. They didn't seem to work on me. I actually felt for the Scientology lady – she was falling flat on her face."

Do they have a current fixation?

"Yes, definitely," Bhasin replies.

"Nu-metal," Goldstein says.

And, in unison: "Life Is Peachy, by Korn."

Are downtuned guitars and grumbles about miserable childhoods the future of Fixers, then? "The future in our heads," Goldstein wonders, dreamily. "I don't think we've really discussed that."

• Swimmhaus Johannesburg is released on Monday on Vertigo.


Michael Hann

The GuardianTramp

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