Psychedelic revenge

Dion Fischer's Infinity People are as trippy as they wanna be

Infinity People play July 21, at the Park Bar (2040 Park Ave., Detroit; 313-962-2933) and July 22, at the El Club Lounge (4114 W. Vernor Hwy., Detroit; 313-841-0400).

Calling the Infinity People a band is kind of like calling a David Lynch film a "flick." It applies, but we all know that there's far more to it than that. The Infinity People are a "project," and the members refer to themselves as an "American kosmische music-freak rock revue-astral soul-spiritual-musical commune and revival." All of which doesn't really mean shit. It's just a combination of words, pieced together with the aim of sounding mystical and compelling. The description fits the Infinity People perfectly.

The project is the brainchild of former Go guitarist Dion Fischer, who decided to go his own way when the final album that the Go recorded for Sub Pop in 2003 was shelved on the grounds that it was too psychedelic. 

"The Go was never my band," Fischer says. "I played guitar with them and enjoyed years of playing with them. We toured a lot, made a really good record that never got released called Free Electricity for the Sub Pop label that they thought was a little bit too wild for their taste at the time. They were thinking a little more straight-ahead, and we made sort of a psychedelic record. In a way, I actually learned a lot from that experience, and I essentially make records for myself now. I'm making paintings, but I'm working on them with other people and they happen to be musical."

Fischer says that he formed the Infinity People with the aim of creating music that he felt belonged in his record collection next to the great music that he grew up listening to.

"I like a lot of good music and I want to make records that hold their own, that deserve a spot in my record collection," he says. "Ultimately, I want to make music with my friends and family. That's what this band is — a group of people with similar views on what music is supposed to be, what we're supposed to sound like. And not just music, but community. Not to get too deep, but everything from our pasts is mixed in there."

From the album art (which has a sort of Led Zeppelin Houses of the Holy vibe) to the drawings inside the gatefold to the music itself, the vibe of the Infinity People, if we are being kind, is mystical. The more cynical might think of it as the space- and prog-rock ramblings of acid-fueled Hawkwind fans. One suspects the truth is somewhere in the middle. 

"There's a lot more to it than just music, and it heavily intertwines with our other projects, our space," Fischer says. "People walk in and out working on different things. The Infinity People are playing record release shows in July, and then the following weekend we're all going camping together. It's all part of the same thing. It's of equal importance to us."

The Infinity People has a core lineup of Aliccia Bollig-Fischer, Ph.D. (synth, piano), Warren Defever (explorer, vocals), the Rev. Dion D. Fischer (Flying V, vocals), Dusty Jones (electric bass), Kara Meister (vocals, shaker), Scott Michalski (congas, gong), Andrea Morici (maracas, vocals), J Rowe (drums, breath), Aran Ruth (acoustics, vocals), Hitoko Sakai (drone, bells) and Ruthie Underwood (vocals, tambourine).

Other people have rolled in and out of the band, including a dog and a 6-year-old. "J's daughter wrote one of the songs on the album, called 'Leaf Flower,'" Fischer says. "She wrote that song and she doesn't necessarily appear on stage with us, but she's definitely in the band. She's 6 now. The dog — we're all animal lovers. We consider our animals important family members and part of what we do. Specifically, there was a dog named Stu that was our original bass player's dog. He was on stage with us, he came to practice, he was part of the band, and he passed away last year. The album is dedicated to him. We're donating some money to a local dog rescue in honor of Stu, based on how many we sell. He lived a long, happy life."

See, normally you might dismiss the idea of a dog being in the band as a gimmick, but Fischer talks so convincingly that it's hard not to take him at his word. Yes, of course there was a dog in the band. Obviously, he was vital.

It's totally fair to say that the Infinity People don't work like other bands. They have their own way of doing things. 

For example, "We're currently doing an EP called White Flowers," Fischer says. "Each member is writing a song called 'White Flowers' in a certain key with a couple of lyrical nods, and we'll see what each person comes up with. There'll be an EP that coincides with it called Black Kool-Aid, that's all free music that we improvise together in the basement. We're working on our second full-length album and that'll be a big rock record again, I think."

Within the band's literature are references to the "Church of the Infinite," and Fischer calls himself a reverend. There is an Eastern, chant-like feel to the record, but still, why the religious wordplay?

"There's a definite message in the music," Fischer says. "I'll leave that up to the listener. I'm not going to spell it out, but it's there. I wouldn't call it religion, but it's certainly a communal experience. Not unlike religion, or drugs. 'Reverend' is just a technical title like doctor or mister. It's just what I am."

It would appear that the beauty of the Infinity People is the group's flexibility. Fischer could bring in whomever he wants whenever he wants, and musically expand in whatever direction he sees fit.

"I'm playing with all my favorite best people," he says. "Sure, people don't always have the time to continue doing it. I don't have a list of people to replace people with because right now, it feels like the right people to play with. We don't need any more guitar players or bass players. Certainly, I've been privileged to play with most of the great local musicians in my age range, and some others like Kim Fowley and Andre Williams. People like that. It's all come about pretty naturally. It really does feel like some kind of musical alchemy when we get together. I'm not looking for anyone else. I mentioned our new bass player Dusty. I didn't know the kid three months ago, and now he's one of my best friends and easily one of the best musicians I've played with. So it all just comes natural."

The band celebrates the release of its double album, In Love with the Light, over two nights this weekend, and Fischer says that, true to form, we can expect something different each night. 

"It's something that is going to change show to show," he says. "We're doing the two record release shows. On Saturday night, you're going to get an over-the-top, rock 'n' roll, acid-freak experience. It'll be loud and fun. The next evening, we'll do a show that is acoustic, for lack of a better term. It won't be all acoustic, but we'll play the quieter songs, a few covers. It'll be a completely different experience, though we'll all be sitting there and in it together, the same. A 'sing along if you know the words' sort of situation. The next show, we might play a song on the album called 'The Serpent' that's 30 minutes long. You might get something different every time you see us."

Again, this is no ordinary band. It is something that has been building in Fischer, growing and evolving, until this unholy mess just poured out. As he says, "This is a painting that's been in my head since I was 20. I just now finally figured out how to do it."

Brett Callwood writes City Slang. Send comments to [email protected].

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