Like a Flood:
Is it Live or is it Fizzle?
story by tim mcmahan
Lazy-i: January 27, 2004
Like A Flood
w/Criteria, Clubs Of Branches
Jan. 30, 9 p.m.
13th and Martha
Want more Fizzle?
Check out the Nov.
2000 Lazy-i Interview.
It was a
living nightmare for Doug Kabourek, the singing/songwriting mastermind
behind Fizzle Like a Flood.
A perfectionist when it comes to his music, there
was nothing he could do during a recent Ranch Bowl performance that
just happened to be part of The Reader's "Road to Austin"
South by Southwest showcase.
"This is our first show," a smiling, nervous Kabourek
said on stage between songs, half-apologizing for the sound and
performance issues that made the live renditions of his new self-titled
During the first song, Kabourek's warbling voice got lost in a
buzzing sea of pounding, toneless bass, while a background recording
of organ tracks pulled from a CD faded in and out. Two songs later,
after much chatter between Kabourek and the scrambling soundman,
the background CD was audible, but the rest of the band faded in
and out, resulting in general confusion and borderline hilarity.
Though there were only about 75 people in the house, the performance
was sort of an audition in which Kabourek and his band would be
considered for recommendation to attend what is arguably the most
important music festival for indie and unsigned acts.
Finally, halfway through the sixth song, Kabourek raised the white
flag and stopped the madness, both thanking and apologizing to the
clueless audience amid a smattering of applause, while the rest
of the band slinked off stage. Looks like Austin will have to wait.
So what happened?
"Dude, it was a friggin' mystery," said Kabourek a few
days later while munching waffle fries at Petro's. Next to him were
members of his ad hoc band, guitarist Travis Sing and bassist Bobby
Carrig, quietly enjoying lunch.
"I didn't think it went so bad, but then everyone came up
to me afterward and was like, 'You couldn't hear the CD at all.'
For the first six songs all you could hear was me singing off-pitch."
He said there was some confusion between the band and the sound
guy as to the purpose of the two-channel support CD, which contains
mixes from Fizzle Like a Flood recordings minus Kabourek's vocal
tracks. One channel contains drumbeats, while the other plays a
combination of organs, noises and backing vocals.
"It's the same thing The Flaming Lips do live," Kabourek
said. "The CD is very important. We showed up at the Ranch
Bowl and didn't do a sound check, and I think the sound guy thought
the CD was just had some extra stuff that didn't need to be played
The fact is, Fizzle Like a Flood on CD has always been immensely
better than Fizzle Like a Flood on stage, mainly because Kabourek
has never figured out how to capture his multi-layered recording
style in a live setting. Just him and his guitar don't cut it. The
support CD is his stab at adding the heavenly depth of sounds found
on his recordings, but it hasn't been very successful, either. That
doesn't mean he intends to walk away from the idea.
"We're gonna try it again at Sokol Underground," Kabourek
said, referring to his CD release show Jan. 30 with Criteria and
Clubs of Branches. "If we get a sound check, it should be easier
to pull off.
"Basically, I don't like to play live. If I'm going to do
it, I have to do something that will help sell records. So far,
me playing with Travis and Bobby alone hasn't sold anything. If
the audience knew that the records have a little more to them, they
might buy them."
The irony in the face of the Ranch Bowl disaster is that Kabourek
is known to be too exacting for any band to put up with him, and
he knows it. It's also the reason that he works alone on his recordings,
meticulously laying down track after track in his tiny home studio,
then blending them together on a PC.
I don't like to play live. If I'm going to do it, I have to
do something that will help sell records."
would be more special if people found out about it on their
The results of his one-man endeavors
are nothing less than impressive and inspiring. Though he's been
tinkering in his studio for years, the first recording to garner
wider interest was 2000's Golden Sand and the Grandstand,
Kabourek's concept album set in Omaha's defunct Aksarben racetrack.
The All Music Guide called the 40-track, 10-song masterpiece
"consistently aurally engaging." Golden Sand is
scheduled to be re-released this fall by Ernest Jenning Recording
Co., the New York City label that released the stripped-down follow-up,
Flash Paper Queen [the 4-track demos].
The new self-titled EP, slated for release by Ernest Jenning Feb.10,
is a return to the multi-layered sonic grandeur of Golden Sand.
The opening cello effects and crunching disco beat of "Shutters
Open" segues into the choir-like anthem "Love the Fuck,"
a testament to Kabourek's commitment to his wife, with the too-cute
line "I would still want you / Even if I wasn't married
/ I love the fuck out of you."
That cuteness continues with "Decide to Die," which lyrically
comes off as a grim ballad suitable for inclusion on any Saddle
Creek artist's oeuvre of gloom, until you find out that lines like
"You got to hold on" are not targeted toward a
living person, but to a friend's dying cat, Miyagi, who was suffering
with what Kabourek called "kitty cancer" (Incidentally,
Mr. Miyagi survives to this day, happy and healthy). It's followed
by "Rides to Get High," not a gritty road song about illicit
drug use, but an ode to Omaha's long-gone Peony Park and its weekly
teen-dance event, Sprite Night.
Kabourek takes seemingly mundane scenes from his everyday life
and raises them to earth-shattering, heart-throbbing proportions
with his intricate, keyboard-driven sound structures that are equal
parts Pet Sounds and Flaming Lips. In a city known for its
emo-tinged, neu-folk scene, Kabourek is a true original.
Too bad his unique sound will likely remain the city's best-kept
secret. With no plans of touring, there's little hope that Fizzle
Like a Flood will capture a national ear. But that's okay with Kabourek
and his band. Carrig, who also plays in the alt-country band Anonymous
American, is busy earning a degree in Political Science from UNO,
while Sing, an accomplished author, has a day job at Brownell Talbot.
Kabourek, who seems destined for a career at Tool Barn, is content
with the occasional local show, though he wouldn't mind some national
attention. "I don't want to be in-your-face about it,"
he said. "It would be more special if people found out about
it on their own."
Published in The Omaha Reader Jan. 28, 2004.
Copyright © 2004 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.