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Mark Biagio Discusses The Fismits' Latest Single 'Halen' and Its Heartfelt Tribute to Live Jimi Presley

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Echoes of the Past, Melodies of the Present: Mark Biagio Opens Up About the Emotional Journey Behind The Fismits' 'Halen' and Its Poignant Tribute

By Underground Press

Published Tuesday, 04 June 2024 09:01

In the pulsating heart of South Africa's music scene, The Fismits are poised to make waves once again with their latest single, 'Halen'. We caught up with Mark Biagio, the creative force behind The Fismits, to delve deeper into the genesis of 'Halen', its poignant tribute to Live Jimi Presley, and the band's enduring legacy.

'Halen' serves as a tribute to the late Marc 'Presley' Feltham of Live Jimi Presley. Can you share the personal significance of this track and your connection to Marc and the band?

"Back then we all grew up listening to Barney Simon, Live Jimi Presley was one of the bands who’s demoes were being played. So, they were in the next league so to speak, compared to my band at the time. I enjoyed their originality, aggressive indie guitars, so I was a fan. A few years later a friend of mine (Leon) and I were recording his band in the studio, and we decided that it will be a great idea to do our own compilation of unsigned bands called Soda Sex Fountain. I suggested that to give the album 'cred', we would need a band like Live Jimi Presley. So, Leon, the networker that he is, found them and convinced them to record. So, I got to record and co-produce them, shared the stage with them many times and worked with Marc producing Soda Sex 2 a year or two later. Halen was a track recorded in 94 for Soda Sex 1, but Marc didn’t like his vocal. I was quite upset then that it was binned, and more so later as they didn’t put it on their 'best of'".

The decision to release 'Halen' after many years is remarkable. What drove you to ensure this song saw the light of day, especially considering its history and the passing of Marc 'Presley' Feltham?

"It’s just a good song that should have been released. I decided Ill cover it. I made that decision back in 2017 when my demo version was first recorded, although I listened to it often, and wanted to finish it, Marc’s passing was like the 'should-a could-a would-a you idiot' moment. I decided to not procrastinate anymore."

Live Jimi Presley was known for their defiance of norms and engagement with socio-political issues. How does 'Halen' carry forward this legacy, and what message do you hope it imparts to listeners?

"Ya, I don’t like to tamper with message and interpretation. I think the listener should decide what he wants from a song. I think if someone wants to delve further and unpack the theme, the music, the era – what a pleasure, but if not, enjoy the song for whatever reason."

Could you walk us through the creative process behind 'Halen'? How did you blend the original spirit of Live Jimi Presley with The Fismits' unique sound?

"Its difficult to describe, cause its simple. I sat down, worked out the chords and the key suited my voice. Bonus. I then found a groove using my drum machine and fumbled into a riff. I grabbed the mic and put down the guitar and voice with the drum machine. All I knew at that point was that I wanted a double time punk ending. When I decided to finish it, the creative process is the same with any track. Record, listen, evaluate, try something different, listen, evaluate, rinse, wash, recycle. There is no intent to blend or strategy as such, to quote Neil You, you 'follow the song'. That’s what you do when you listen back a day later or in another environment. It always sounds great the minute you do it and you are on a high – but the next day is often different. So, it was sounding “Fismitsy”, then I drastically shortened the song as I felt the longer it went the more it tended to a bad 'cock' rock song and LIVE JIMI PRESLEY were very much against that kind of thing. Marc loved to shout 'Harder! Faster!' at a band on stage when he was getting bored with their performance. I had that in the back of my mind, no self-nostalgic stuff here Mr B. Then at that another point I decided to anti solo the solo, I said to myself, what would Marc play?"

'Halen' is set to resonate with audiences old and new. What do you hope listeners take away from this track, both musically and thematically?

"Same answer as the message and interpretation question before. Like the track, checkout other Live Jimi Presley tracks, Fismits tracks, stay in touch, like, follow, support."

Reflecting on your journey with The Fismits, how has the band evolved since its inception in 2016, and what role does 'Halen' play in shaping its trajectory?

"I think the Fismits has evolved and is evolving. It started out as a band of misfits that could not find a lead singer. However quickly there was a revolving door on the members in the band, due to life, work, moving countries, covid, blah, blah, blah. I think the sound has changed in that line, from an unconfident collaborative effort trying to find itself to a more confident single Fismit who knows who he is. I don’t see it changing for a while. ‘Halen’ is the first act in this singular chapter."

As a musician deeply entrenched in the South African music scene, how do you see the landscape evolving, and where do you envision The Fismits fitting into this evolving narrative?

"I don’t know if there is a scene as such. There are a lot of bands and projects out there. I don’t think there is a scene, and I’m not the only old fart saying that. I’ve listened to quite a few podcasts lately and it seems we are all feeling like, something is missing. I purposely said, ‘old fart’, because maybe we are just too old to see the scene, which would not surprise me and my Clicks reading glasses. I have something to say, always will, so it would be cool, to be able to contribute to a narrative if it fitted."

Beyond 'Halen', what can fans expect from The Fismits in the near future? Are there any upcoming projects or collaborations on the horizon?

'Yes, there are new releases and mixes getting done as I type. So, for sure. Would also be great to phone up Nielle and Arthur and say we have a few good shows coming up lads – are ya in? Depends on demand really."

 Looking back at your musical career, what have been some of the most memorable moments or milestones for you, personally and professionally?

"The first gig in 1990, the first time I got played on the radio, in 1991. The first time I sung in front of an audience 2011! Playing Oppikoppi and Grahamstown was memorable. Doing sound at Womad, touring, recording and/or working with African greats Hugh Masekela, Jona Gwangwa, Oliver Mtukudzi, Steve Dyer, Prophets of the City and many more. Bootstrapping the Soda Sex Fountain albums was scarily great, I mean I was live mixing bands in the kitchen at Wings Beat Bar and my mix was airing live on 5FM! Who has the “kahoonas” to do that, we were invincible at 23, and I suppose you need to be."

Lastly, what message would you like to share with your fans as they eagerly await the release of 'Halen' on Friday, June 7, 2024?

"Hope you enjoy the track, if you do, put it on repeat and tell your mates."

As we eagerly anticipate the release of 'Halen' on Friday, June 7, 2024, Mark Biagio's insights offer a glimpse into the soul of The Fismits and the profound impact of their music. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Mark and The Fismits for sharing their journey and invite readers to immerse themselves in the sonic tapestry of 'Halen', a tribute that transcends time and pays homage to a musical legacy that continues to inspire. Don't forget to stream 'Halen' and experience the magic for yourself.

Updated on:
>> Wednesday, 05 June 2024 08:30

South Africa, Fismits, Halen, Live Jimi Presley, The Fismits, Mark Biagio

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Mark Biagio

Mark Biagio


The Fistmits - Halen

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About 'Helen'

'Halen' by The Fismits is a poignant tribute to Marc 'Presley' Feltham of Live Jimi Presley, blending indie guitars with a heartfelt homage.