Q&A: Fishbone’s Angelo Moore Talks Upcoming Projects, Racism, and How He Defines Success

Aug 17, 2023 at 3:04 am
Q&A: Fishbone’s Angelo Moore Talks Upcoming Projects, Racism, and How He Defines Success

As lead vocalist and saxophonist for legendary ska/punk/funk/metal/reggae/soul/rock band Fishbone, (whom he helped form in 1979 and has performed with ever since), Angelo Moore has been called one of the greatest frontmen of all time due to his highly energetic and extraordinarily entertaining live performances. Also known as Dr. MadVibe, he regularly performs with his side-projects Dr. MadVibe and the Missin’ Links and Angelo Moore and the Brand New Step. LEO recently had the chance to catch up with the man himself prior to Fishbone’s August 26 performance at Old Forester’s Paristown Hall.

(This interview has been edited for length and clarity)

LEO: It seems like you don’t ever stop. You’re always on tour, making music or doing something. 

Angelo Moore: Yes, it appears that way, doesn’t it? We [Fishbone] are going be out until the end of August with George Clinton. In September, I got some gigs with Dr. MadVibe and The Missin’ Links. Then I got Brand New Step, which is another group that’s like electronic dance music and hip hop, r&b, reggae, and I’m doing a lot of rapping on there. We’re two albums deep now. And I got the Missin’ Links album presale coming out in September. It’s going to be a double album with artwork, lyrics and everything. It’s really goddamn good. Then I got my art projects; Avant Icons and Avant Presidents. I’m also putting a commercial together now for my soap, shampoo, shea butter, body oil; really good homeopathic stuff that hopefully will come out before the month is up. And then we [Fishbone] got [a tour with] GZA from Wu-Tang happening in November. And I’m going to be coming out with another book: “The Olegna Phenomenon,” about my self-journey to discovery; Dr. MadVibe’s journeys through Niggalonia and the land of Caucasia, [laughs]. Hopefully it’ll come out by the end of the year. 

Do you still enjoy being in Fishbone? 

Sure, I enjoy doing it. It’s still a lot of good music, and the purpose is still good. But I can’t get everything I would like to through Fishbone. That’s why I have my solo projects, I gotta do that. But Fishbone has made a pretty big legacy. 

Early in your career, a lot of people predicted that Fishbone was going to be a multi-platinum, arena-headlining band. Why do you think that never happened?

Well, you know, when you think about the subject matter that we’re presenting, and the issues that we talk about, and the society that we live in; which is a white privilege society, and the message that we’re bringing, and the color that we are, and the music that we play, it doesn’t necessarily make it easy for us when you’re talking a lot of truth and controversy. 

How bad was racism in the music business when you all were coming up?

Well, you always find out its bad way later after it’s too late; after you’ve been ripped off or been mismanaged, or have been forgotten or misunderstood. That doesn’t come along until way later after you sign the contract that locks all your music up, and then somebody’s got your music and they’re just sitting on it and not doing anything with it, when you could be doing something with it. 

Do you think Fishbone would have been bigger if it were a white band? 

Oh, of course. We’d be singing about some different issues, thinking about different issues, subject matters and experiences that go along with the society, which is white privilege that we live in. I mean, look at the Chili Peppers and No Doubt for example. They’re really good people. Hell, I grew up with them. But they’ve got the right complexion for the protection. Their stories — no matter how deep they may be — I’ve never heard them have to address any racial conflict or racial complications in their lyrics. When you’re talking about racial issues and stuff like that, it gets really touchy. And if you’re Black and playing rock and roll, that is automatically like “Don’t touch our music and don’t talk about the problems that we’re making in this society,” one of which is racism. And you’ve got record company executives that don’t want their kids to hear that because they don’t want them to be exposed to that, but that’s reality. Which makes me think of the school systems taking part of the history programs out of the school that talks about Black history of slavery and stuff like that; they don’t want to have that in there but they need to because that’s a part of our American history, and a big part of what’s wrong with a lot of people in our world today is stemmed from that. Nobody really thinks about that because that’s not right in their face. They can see a result that they don’t understand. But I ain’t scared. Shit, that’s why Fishbone has t-shirts that say Fuck Racism. That’s why we had a big fucking seven foot flag that said Fuck Racism. I used to swing that shit around and walk through the audience. 

Does it bother you that some of the bands you all came up with made it really big, but Fishbone didn’t?

Yeah, sometimes it does. Shit, I’m only human, [laughs]. But it got to a point to where I said I can’t let this fuck with me because that would’ve just fucked with me for the rest of my life. You just got to be appreciative of what you have. Just worry about yourself and make sure you have the right people, places and things around you that can make you happy and fulfill your dream. There are a lot of different definitions for success. Just because you’ve got a lot of money doesn’t mean you’ve got success. Success is in your heart. Being spiritually rich is another one that’s really important. You’ve got to be able to have those things to keep that happiness around you and in your heart. I’ve been sober since 2020, now I can make better decisions, clearer than I did before. I got the tools to learn how to deal with the bullshit, and make the bullshit into manure as opposed to keeping it bullshit. And I’m happy with my solo endeavors. Keeps it all fresh, and it keeps Fishbone fresh too. It’s fun to have an outlet for that.  

Fishbone plays Old Forester’s Paristown Hall with Parliament Funkadelic feat. George Clinton on Saturday, Aug. 26. General admission tickets are available for $45.50 through Ticketmaster.

For more information on Angelo Moore and all his projects, visit drmadvibe.com