Frederick Dator, former lead singer of the pioneering alternative band Private Stock, has reinvented himself as the one-man band, FishBOL, and has recently released “Thermionic Emissions”, his debut record available only on vinyl format in the US where he is now based.
Those who followed the local punk rock and new wave movement of the 1980s will recall that along with The Jerks, Betrayed, Third World Chaos and many others, Private Stock was one of the regular headliners of the groundbreaking “Brave New World” concerts organized by punk impresario turned talent manager Tommy Tanchanco,
Although largely popular with the punk crowd thanks to their anthemic classic “Future Generation”, Private Stock was quite unlike their contemporaries.
Citing the rockabilly trio the Stray Cats and The Beatles as their influences, their music was actually less punk and more pop as characterized by catchy hooks, jangly guitars, and sing-along choruses.True to the band’s rockabilly styling, Dator even sported a ducktail pompadour back then.
While the band continued to play club gigs well into the ’90s and evolved into a more progressive Britpop-inspired outfit before finally disbanding, the members eventually pursued professional careers. Dator finishing his dentistry degree and practiced his profession.
That was until he decided to migrate to the US 12 years ago where he now teaches dental classes and radiography, specifically physics and math.
His passion for music, however, never really left him. Not even for a second.
“I left the country for reasons that had nothing to do with music. It was purely business. But I never really stopped writing songs even tough Private Stock isn’t active anymore, even if there was no chance of recording them. In fact, I still have about five cassettes of demos, mostly half-baked songs,” Dator revealed in an interview with InterAksyon.
So when the opportunity to record did present itself four years ago, Dator wasted no time bringing his new music to life. Now heavily influenced by electronica, he also decided to reinvent himself with a new name: FishBOL.
“Three years ago, I was driving on my way home when suddenly the word fishball came to my head. You may not be able to relate to it, but there was a Paul McCartney influence to that when he did an electronica project with Youth called The Fireman,” he continued.
“Fireman and Fishball both start with the letter F. As I pondered the idea of calling myself ‘Fishball’ I realized it will be a good name for a filipino band/artist and yes, I dearly missed that street food. So I changed the spelling from Fishball to FishBOL with Pinoy accent.”
Describing “Thermionic Emissions” as a mix of electronica and progressive rock,” Dator said his fixation with electronic music began even before he left the country.
“Even when I was still there, I already fell in love with the Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy, LCD Soundsystem, Kraftwerk, The Battles and the new Gary Numan and a whole lot more. There was a time when I considered forming an electronic band way back in ‘96 or ‘97. Later on I thought, electronica would be a perfect vehicle for my one man band dream,” he narrated.
A big fan of the indie music scene in the US, Dator said listening to bands like Of Montreal, The Flaming Lips, Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah, The Dears, The Shins, Bright Eyes, Iron and Wine, Can, Neu!, Twin Shadows and of course Brian Eno and McCartney’s The Fireman kept his dream alive.
“I later discovered that many of them are in fact, one-man bands. I thought it was something I could do as well. Around that time I was already playing bass and you may be surprised with this; that after Private Stock disbanded I took playing the guitar seriously, as in Robert Fripp and Steven Wilson seriously,” Dator confessed.
As for the album itself and its tracks, almost all of them had different back stories as some were written years before they were finally recorded.
“The title, ‘Thermionic Emissions’ is a term I came across while teaching Physics for the Radiography class. It means emitting x-rays upon leaving the machine. My songs will be like shooting x-rays—in this case, they’re like shooting sounds in your ears,” he pointed out.
“The songs ‘Fanstastic Speed’ and ‘Love’ were written while I was still with Private Stock. We even did a demo of those two songs. ‘Massive Waste of Energy’ was influenced by King Crimson and so was ‘Magnus Stimulus’ while ‘Get What You Want’ is very Kraftwerk. Of course, there will always be a Beatles influence in my songs. The songs in the album are melodic with some twists in the genre. Wait till you hear it,” he enthused.
As for releasing it initially in vinyl (a CD release is upcoming), Dator said he is a first hand witness to the emerging renaissance of the classic format.
“Vinyl is big here in the States. There is even a Record Store Day that happens twice a year here; wherein important/special edition vinyl releases come out on those days. And I do miss vinyl, there’s nothing like putting that needle on the groove,” he conceded.
So far, the album has been met with encouraging response, landing FishBOL a gig at the Hard Rock CafÈ Las Vegas Strip where he was also backed up by musicians Ethan Slaughter on bass and Dian Dimov on drums.
The independently produced recording was also picked up for distribution by Zia Records in Nevada and Arizona area and by Zoinks in Pomona, California. And yes, the album will be distributed by Middle Finger at Recto here this coming April.
FishBOL said he’s not sure if he can come home to personally promote the album, even though he very much wants to. But he’s optimistic, whether or not music fans back home remember him or his former band.
“I do hope people there will give it a chance and listen to what I have to offer,” he concluded.