Two million dollar Fischerspooner fiasco.


Let me start this post by stating I really like the band Fischerspooner. Their album titled “#1” (iTunes link) was not only brilliant but it arrived on the scene at the exact right time. The lyrics were smart and the production was wicked creative. All that said it was clear to everyone I knew that this was going to be a one album band. I know they have released other material but the concensus of my friends was, “Once they live in the hyped zone a bit they won’t be able to do anything else all that worthwhile music wise.”. You know how it goes right? The followup album is always the most difficult to write. Add drugs and sex into the deal (the other ingredients to Rock n Roll) who has time to sit in the studio?

“Do you know them? They were a gay performance band from New York and they were the hottest thing of the time and a bidding war erupted around them, which was taken to ridiculous levels by an East Coast Jewish American lawyer…” – James Palumbo

What amazes me is that Ministry of Sound’s cofounder James Palumbo was so blind. Apparently they decided to plunk down 2 million to get the exclusive on Fischerspooner. My friend, UK music journalist Jonty Skrufff ( has a juicy interview with Palumbo well worth reading just for the laugh. Check it out: click here

Is that quote above by James a bit offensive? My favorite FS song? Their Wire cover of The 15th: iTunes

photo credit: José Goulão

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Oliver Chesler

"Hello my name is Oliver and I'm going to tell you a story." I have been recording music since 1989 under the name The Horrorist. I have released over 60 singles and 4 full length albums. To hear my music please go to:

5 thoughts on “Two million dollar Fischerspooner fiasco.”

  1. It’s interesting to hear a bit of his perspective on that insane deal they signed, but yeah,he comes off a touch offensively. At least, you can tell he feels pretty burned by the situation.

    I saw the rise of Fischerspooner from very close up and even played a small part in it. I released their Emerge single on Serotonin Records in 1999 and helped to hook them up with DJ Hell, leading to the deal with Gigolo that really kickstarted their hype explosion in Europe that eventually brought them to the Ministry deal. To me, it’s like the whole thing was one big art experiment, as if they partially were in it to see how far they could take things before it all collapsed in on itself (which it inevitably had to do). I’m amazed at how far it went, and it was pretty thrilling to watch, knowing them personally. I’m not at all saying it was one big stunt, they were honestly and genuinely creating their art and music. But I’m pretty sure there was a certain amount of “getting away with it” involved.

    About all that money – people should realize that it wasn’t all profit that ended up in someone’s personal account or anything, much of that was for touring, promotion, video production, album production, paying performers in the show, coreographers, designers, etc. When you put in perspective as a budget for a world-touring conceptual art, music and dance production, as well as a multi-album deal, 2 million is actually not so outrageous a sum. But the hype died out so quickly that Ministry Of Sound was not able to capitalize on their investment. Bad luck I’d say, but it’s no one’s fault, “gay performance band” and “east coast jewish american lawyer” or not.

  2. Thanks for the story John. Yeah this is one a hundreds of hype makes a big deal that doesn’t pan out in the music biz stories. The important thing is they released some good music!

  3. Thanks Oliver. And actually I have one little correction – the Serotonin release was actually 2000, not 1999 (which was when I saw Fischerspooner perform for the first time)

  4. Thanks for posting this, Oliver – it’s interesting to look back on the early days of FS with a bit of perspective now. Last I’d heard they were actually doing pretty well, but with more of a focus on crowd-pleasing dance songs than high-concept art, and I’m pretty sure they even had some hits on the EU dance charts in ’06 or ’07. Either way, a great Rock ‘N Roll Swindle, in the tradition of Jobriath, the Sex Pistols, Sigue Sigue Sputnik, etc.

    “Warren, press play on the CD player!” is still a great way to start a live show.

  5. hey oliver and john: cheers for picking up on this story; very much appreciated.

    I agree about the negative nuances in james palumbo’s quotes though must say overall he came across as a very passionate, likeable and even sensitive person (much to my surprise). I also thought emerge was a great track and still check out their new stuff immediately, with enthusiasm. a proper rock n roll swindle on their behalf:)

    oliver, we must meet up in person soon, been too long!


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