Fleshdig was formed in 1988 from the ashes of John Bucher's regional post punk band called Xenoglossia in Iowa City. Bill Pigati replaced Bill Cooney on drums and Heath Hanlin replaced vocalist Ethan Richeson after he quit the band. Since the band known as Xenoglossia now had no original members save Bucher, they elected to change the band name. To round out the lineup, Jeff Wagner was added to replace Rob Shannon.
Fleshdig started rehearsing in the old Brown Street house in Iowa city in 1989, where house resident Judah Bauer was dropping tons of LSD and breaking his head open and having sex with the ghosts of prostitutes in that house. (Judah later became an actual bonified Iowa City rock star by hooking up with Jon Spencer and playing in the now and then very famous group, The Blues Explosion.)
The real rehearsals began in August of 1989, and were mostly in Fred Bailey's mother's basement. By this time Heath was perhaps dropping quite a bit of LSD and was already dropped out of college and out of the dorm. Jeff had also elected not to go back for his third year of college (where he had also taken LSD classes). Fleshdig practiced about 3-4 times a week, no kidding. 2-3 hour practices. We had a tight 35-40 minute set. The songs were somewhat borrowed from the jams that the last throes of Xenoglossia had produced.
Fleshdig's first show was at Gabe's Oasis in October, 1989 opening for Alternative Tentacles artists Nomeansno.
In May of 1990 Fleshdig parted ways with founding member John Bucher due to creative differences in songwriting. This was difficult, considering the band formed because of him. Fleshdig eventually found local wildman Tim Knight and recorded the second demo, Falling Out of my Skin, with him and his homemade speaker cabinet. Fleshdig continued to play shows, and once Tim quit, they found their third and final guitarist, Kevin Neal. He was playing in a band called Modus Vivendi, a Saint Vitus-like doom band from neighboring Cedar Rapids. With Kevin Fleshdig evolved quicker than ever, and finally recorded the third and final demo, Squirm, as well as compilation song "Breathing The Sand" (which appeared on an officially released compilation called 'The Iowa Compilation' or something similar). At one point Fleshdig got label interest from Red Decibel Records, but that never panned out.
Jeff Wagner quit Fleshdig in the spring of 1992, largely because he didn't feel like the music was going in a direction that he could control, a direction he wasn't super into, but also because he had a good job opportunity in Ames, IA.
Fleshdig's last show was in July of 1992, and the band, despite auditioning a few bassists, decided to call it quits shortly thereafter.
- Heath Hanlin – Vocals
- Jeff Wagner – Bass
- Bill Pigati – Drums
- John Bucher – Guitar (89-90)
- Tim Knight – Guitar (90-91)
- Kevin Neal - Guitar (91-92)
Baboon Silo Power
Falling Out of my Skin
Live Shows / Tours
Fleshdig played as far away as Boulder, Colorado, and also hit neighboring states like Wisconsin, Illinois, and Minnesota. We played with Nomeansno, Smashing Pumpkins, Das Damen, Helios Creed, Cows, Boozepig (our Madison, WI cohorts), Festering Rinyanyons (another bunch of great guys, from Dekalb, IL), Disturbed (the Kreator-ish Minneapolis band, not the newer nu-metal band), lots of local bands (Sludgeplow, Voodoo Gearshift), and other national and local bands.
Describing Fleshdig's sound was difficult then, and still is. It changed fairly drastically over those three and a half years. Band members all listened to completely different things. Influences came from '70s funk bands like P-Funkadelic and Bootsy Collins, stuff like Red Hot Chili Peppers, various metal bands (Black Sabbath, Kiss and Voivod mostly, but also stuff like Metallica, Slayer and Kreator), Rush, King Crimson, Faith No More, post-punk/alternative/hardcore bands like Bad Brains, Big Black, Pussy Galore and Nomeansno, plus emerging bands of the time like Primus and Mr. Bungle.
Fleshdig would sometimes cover other bands' songs too, like Public Enemy's "She Watched Channel Zero", Kenny Rogers's "The Gambler", Kiss's "Calling Dr. Love", Deep Purple's "Space Truckin'", Bad Brains's "House Of Suffering", Big Black's "Sleep", and Queen's "Dragon Attack".
Sometimes the "everything and the kitchen sink" approach worked well, sometimes it didn't. My favorite moments were "Blue Water, Savage Death" (written immediately after seeing Primus kill in a small club), early versions of both "Harness" and "Apothecarian Wisdom", and the 'Falling...' demo versions of "Falling Out Of My Skin", "Soul Fusion" and "Takuskanskan". I give props to pre-"Harness" whacko "Zeus's Training Cable". We might not always have been great, but we were always unique.
Fleshdig had an evil alter-ego band called Manwitch that performed cover sets, and would sometimes switch instruments for a pretty loose version of Black Sabbath's eponymous classic. Manwitch was spawned when an opening band at Okayz in Madison, WI didn't show up. We dug up some questionable and odorous props from the foul basement of Okayz. Heath wore a mop on his head and sang Paranoid.
Manwitch's finest hour came during Halloween 1991, when they dressed as the Scarecrow, Tin-man, Dorothy, and Cowardly Lion and played Sabbath covers all night in someone's basement. Heath ruined Jeff and Bill's dryer. He thought is would be a good way to dry straw. Sorry.
There seems to be some connection between Manwitch and basements.
Fleshdig drove a late 70s Brown Chevy Van with two Kiss Dynasty records taped to the back windows from 1991-2 without any insurance coverage and sometimes no spare tire or gas. Members of the band often debated over who had to drive for doofus fuel prioritizing, but most of the time Heath drove. Heath headed the committee to buy the wood and design and build/supervise the loft and the major construction was performed in the street in front of Johnny Anger's house in IC. "Anger" was his nickname because he was very, angry and liked to hit people without warning at times. Too much Bukowksi. Eventually this van would develope a "ticking" sound. It was assumed this must be a rod ready to break through the hood cover and to the stars above... but Kevin's dad looked at it and said it was a water pump... They sold the van for $300 to an Iowa City baker and split it 4 ways for a whopping $75 each, the most any member of the band had ever been paid for anything vaguelly related to our musical endevours... yippee! Go fat profits!
First Drive By Shooting in Iowa City
Members of Fleshdig, Bill and Jeff, lived at North __ (address please) where the FIRST DRIVE BY shooting in iowa city history was committed as an ill served practical joke on HMT (Heavy Metal Tom) by his sub-genius friend and zappa-disciple Muarez... who sought to play the old classic "Shoot the door with a shotgun, run away, then come back when the cops are there and act surprised"... parents of 2 of the band members saw the report on local news stations with a photo of the house and, predictably, were very very concerned... a few weeks later a 22 caliber hole was discovered in the door and another in the front stairway... this was the second part of the Muarez scheme to throw off the police by having this kid jeremny shoot the door when he himself would be in plain site downtwon with the hackie sack crowd on the ped mall as his "alibi"- Jeremy was acting in retriubtion for getting caught in the our old practice space stealing tools from this old mechanic guy. The band did not lie and say he should have been in the building with our pemission... duh.. big duh.. so he got mad and played tag-a-long to Muarez's scheme.. so young we all were...