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Crooked Fingers roll with the punches

"Crooked FIngers"-Eric Bachman, former frontman for Archers of Loaf, brings his new-ish band Crooked FIngers and their appropriately bent take on the American songwriting tradition to Club Congress on April 14.
By Michael Petitti
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, April 7, 2005
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Dignity and Shame is the name of Chapel Hill indie rockers Crooked Fingers' fifth album, packed with Spanish instrumentation and brilliant songwriting.

"Dignity" and "shame" are also respective qualifiers for Eric Bachmann (guitarist/vocalist) and a group of thieving Canadians who recently robbed the band's van.

"The minute it happened I called the cops and I called the insurance company," Bachmann said. "They only took about $1,000 worth of stuff and the window cost about $250 to fix. It's a pain in the ass, but it's over now."

If Bachmann seems too easygoing about such things as robbery and stolen gear, there is a reason. He's used to setbacks, including starting over again after disbanding his seminal indie rock band Archers of Loaf in 1998, and being fired from scoring a major motion picture.

"I had an opportunity to work with the budget of a Hollywood film," Bachmann said. "I turned in some things that the director loved and the cast liked, but then the producer heard it and told me they wanted something more like Michael Bolton and Mary J. Blige and I was like, 'Why the fuck did you hire me?'"

Despite the bad experience, Bachmann did score a film (2003's baseball thriller "Ball of Wax"), as well as a few shorts, and hopes to do more work with film in the future.

"I love movies," Bachmann said. "I would love to be part of the process. The whole idea of service is really appealing to me. It's not about your ego; it's about what's going to make this scene work the best."

Crooked Fingers is a transition, for Bachmann, from Archers of Loaf's distorted guitar rock and dark lyrics to more earthy instrumentation and, well, dark(er) lyrics.

However, for Bachmann the move was completely natural.

"I don't think I consciously did (anything)," Bachmann said. "I always think art is about doing not thinking, and after you've done a bunch of stuff you can use the thinking part of your brain to edit all the crap out."

Bachmann's kind of matter-over-mind approach to making music directly translates into his songwriting. For Bachmann, the process of songwriting is a task that's never forced.

"It's not something I have a consistent way of doing," Bachmann said. "I think it's really important to always feel inspired. The minute it feels like work - I'm talking about the songwriting - I mean getting your shit stolen and having to deal with it is work, but the minute the creative side of it becomes work I would probably just stop."

With such a prolific outpouring, it's no wonder Dignity and Shame was, at one point, set to be a double album. That is, until Bachmann put it up to the Golden Rule.

"If you're gonna do a double album, it better be better than All Things Must Pass (George Harrison)," Bachmann said. "I'm proud of it and a lot of the songs we took away I'm glad we did because I've rewritten them, but then there are a couple of them we should've kept on. It's hard to gauge. You'll never know, and I'll go to my grave not knowing."

With such attention to details, it's no wonder Bachmann became more involved with turning the knobs as a producer.

Aside from co-producing Dignity and Shame, he has also stepped behind the board for Saddle Creek's leading ladies, Azure Ray.

"The best thing about producing is that you get to see how someone else's musical brain works and that can teach you a lot," Bachmann said. "It (producing Azure Ray) has presented things to me in a really feminine way and I think that helped me hear things less violently or in a less macho fashion."

Despite any female influences, Bachmann keeps an optimistically masculine sense towards the future of Crooked Fingers, particularly the possibility of mainstream success.

"It would be an honor if that were ever to happen," Bachmann said. "I would like to think that I would be able to help the world out as opposed to being a whiny fuck."

Crooked Fingers play at 9 p.m. Wednesday at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Dolorean and Solace Bros open the show, tickets are $7 advance, and $9 day of the 21+ show.

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