With a piano-driven sound that careens from ska beats to lush McCartneyesque ballads, Fluid Ounces arrived midway between the end of grunge and the rebirth of garage rock, completely out of step with the mid-'90s. They've remained stubbornly outside the times ever since, as singer, songwriter and piano man Seth Timbs has hewed to the unfashionably melodic mainstream pop he loves. Timbs' blend of sweet hooks and tart lyrics makes a welcome return on The Whole Shebang, the first new Fluid Ounces record in several years. The band hosts its CD release party 9 p.m. Saturday at the Murfreesboro club Wall Street. In the meantime, there are six things Seth Timbs has on his mind.
1. The story of Fluid Ounces begins in Murfreesboro and ends in arid desert wasteland. "Our story is long and rambling and a great deal of it is lost to memory due to copious amounts of legal and barely illegal drugs. In a nutshell, we started in 1994. We got signed to Spongebath Records in 1996, put out a couple of records with them...toured, etc. We left Spongebath in 1999 (the first of several acts to do so) and continued playing around Nashville for a couple of years until I moved to Los Angeles in 2002, where I still live as of now. We still play in L.A. but I (and some of the other guys) am considering moving back to Nashville in the near future where we can make left turns and both trees and grass grow naturally."
2. One classic album of studio popcraft inspired Fluid Ounces to make music. Pet Sounds, right (yawn)? "Elton John, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Because...well, that was the first record I ever remember hearing. It's very diverse and hits all the bases of pop music. I think it's hard to point to another record which does this quite as well as that record did. I still listen to it at least once a month and I still find new things to dig about it even after 30 years."
3. If you're making a mixtape for Fluid Ounces, feel free to leave off "Master and Servant." "This is a tough call but I would say that I don't care if I never hear any song by Depeche Mode ever again. I think they actually wrote some good ones but the production and delivery is so lifeless that I can't tell from hearing their renditions. I also find Shakedown Street by the Grateful Dead painful to hear."
4. Fluid Ounces likes Murfreesboro music. "Since I have been out of the area for a while, I am not as well versed on up-and-coming local bands as I should be. Like most everyone else at this point, I like the Features (are they still 'up-and-coming'?) and I like this guy named Laws Rushing. He has a band under his name and I think he still plays solo shows too. Great songs and a great voice that reminds me sometimes of Rufus Wainwright, sometimes of Jeff Buckley, and just a bit like the guy from the Hives."
5. Don't expect choirs and an orchestra on the new Fluid Ounces album. "The new record is a bit more simple in its arrangements than the previous ones. It's about half piano and half guitar based. I worked with Brian Carter, a great producer living in Murfreesboro, on this one and that alone gave it a different sound from the others. I think the songs are the strongest I have put out so far (doesn't everyone say that when their new record comes out?) but they're still my tunes so naturally they are not totally dissimilar from the old stuff."
6. Fluid Ounces participated in the television event of the century. "I did, in fact, see the finale of Friends and it was the only episode of that show that I have ever seen. I watched it because it was on in the bar and they said I couldn't watch the Michael Palin travel show on the BBC until it was over."