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Fizzle Like a Flood:
Is it Live or is it Fizzle?

story by tim mcmahan



Lazy-i: January 27, 2004

Fizzle Like A Flood
w/Criteria, Clubs Of Branches
Jan. 30, 9 p.m.
Sokol Underground
13th and Martha
All ages

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 EP unrecognizable.

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 loud."

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.











"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."












"It would be more special if people found out about it on their own."



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."

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Published in The Omaha Reader Jan. 28, 2004. Copyright 2004 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.