It was less than a week before Halloween and The Empty Bottle was filled with more morbid dolls than usual and an adult crowd ready to rock to three electronic punk bands. The opener was Dendrons, a Midwest band that considers themselves a rock n roll experiment, and to close the night was UK duo The KVB. Sandwiched between the two was Numb.er, pronounced as NUM-ERR, as in to feel nothing, more. At least that is how project head Jeff Fribourg describes it, the Los Angeles photographer and visual artist who birthed Numb.er aftering departing from his former band, Froth.
Numb.er’s darkwave and sonic sound revolves around Fribourg’s love for synthesizers. That night at The Empty Bottle they played songs from their most recent album “Goodbye,” which L.A. Record’s Bennette Kogan describes as “a literal farewell to musical trends that can often make a local scene feel uninspiring. It’s not my intention to sound cynical: the fearless gloominess and unfiltered personality of this record speaks for itself.” This tour has been an opportunity for the group to bring their genre defying sound from city to city, and an opportunity of inspiration for Fribourg and his work.
WLUW’s Allyson Klein talked with Fribourg before the show about his music, his work as a visual artist, and what’s up next for Numb.er after their tour ends this month.
Allyson Klein: From what I understand, Froth started off as a joke and you never expected it to go anywhere. Now, you’ve discovered your love for making synth music and you’re on tour with Numb.er. How has your perspective on being involved in the music industry changed?
Jeff Fribourg: Tour is crazy, I mean it’s great. I personally come from a background that I do not like playing live. I know a lot of people I talk to, playing music is what gets them going. With me, I just like to record, and I like to make art. That’s my whole part of it. When it comes to touring, I am more excited to make merch that I am to soundcheck.
AK: Do you spend a lot of time doing basement/bedroom work outside of your professional work, and if so where does that inspiration come from?
JF: I generally start making something for myself and then someone needs something, I will show them that, and I will readapt my personal work for other people. I find that works really well for me. Also, sometimes someone will commisson me to do work for them, not really knowing what they want, and I will show them something I have done, so I get to either create a whole package and universe from the ground up, or they do have an idea and I have to adapt to that. Recently someone wanted something that was similar to the 90’s way of Acid House scene and so I worked with another graphic designer, so it was really interesting to adapt and learn new things- I find it really fun to work with other people. Everything that is out is what I have created, everything at home is stuff that I wouldn’t show.
AK: Any certain way you would want to describe your music or what you want people to experience when they see you live?
JF: When I am on stage I do not look out or interact because I am trying to give my best at every moment and filter through my own emotions without letting the audience take an effect on that. Whether it be one person or 1,000 people or nobody, ya know? When we play live it really is kind of like a real live walkthrough of my thoughts and that is how I like to keep it, and keep it interesting for myself to play live. I get to start a process. It’s not about having fun, it can be really fun, but I do not put that forward, creating a performance.
AK: You seem to be very busy with making art and touring, meaning you’re being challenged in many different ways. Do you ever doubt yourself or question what you’re doing?
JF: Everyday is definitely a struggle, but I feel like that’s life. And that helps me move forward- if everyday you can check something off the list, then alright, cool, I’m still moving. On this tour I had to have a surgery, after a show I had to go to the hospital, and I was like, “sh*t is this it?” At the same time, I went to the hospital- I’m ok. I had the surgery- I’m ok. I made it to the next show… What else? Let’s go.
(Fribourg had surgery on his tooth after a show in Fort Collins. Shout out to Modern Dentistry Clinic in Colorado and his surgeon who continuously checks in with him during his tour to see how he’s doing. By the way, he rocks the missing tooth look.)
AK: I saw that your last show is in mid-November. What’s next?
JF: We are ending this tour in L.A. and then we might play a friend’s residency at The Echo. Echo is our home, we are so grateful to have them. Really cool group of weirdos in L.A. having a legit venue for people to take advantage of- it’s really special. We played our first show ever there. We started this tour there and we are ending our tour there, it’s definitely home.
I am also going to do an art show for a single that is coming out- it’s called “Price.” The B side will be “We Hide,” which will be a reimaged version of the last song on “Goodbye” that came out last May. We are going to do 100 seven-inches, and a friend and I are going to do real expansive packaging – all hand screen printed, stamps for the center label and stuff of that nature. We will have an art show for that, and I am not sure if I will play, I might do an electronic set. We will see.
We have another record that we recorded a month ago that should hopefully be out soon. That will be called “Information.” I am excited for this next record because I am going to do a hotline. You will call and it will say, “Thanks for calling the Numb.er Information hotline. Press 1 for more information, press 2 for,” ya know, “false information.” I’m not sure. I am making stuff up for the drop down menu at this point. It will be another way to listen to it, that used to happen in the 90’s with hardcore bands so I decided it would be fun.