When Questlove of The Roots chose to introduce Michele Bachmann's appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon with a few chords from punk band Fishbone's "Lyin' Ass Bitch," he was going for an easy joke. But true Fishbone fans, while elated that the fading, three-decade-old band was experiencing a pop cultural revival (and new dowloads) were also aware that "Lyin' Ass Bitch" was one of the less political songs of an extremely political band.
Born in the late seventies when its members were still in high school in the San Fernando Valley, Fishbone always crossed boundaries. They were a black punk band that incorporated rock, funk, reggae, and ska. Many have noted the irony that an African American band that influenced white musicians like Gwen Stefani, Flea, and even Kurt Cobain is now virtually unknown, while its proteges have surpassed it. (This is the topic of a new documentary on the band called Everyday Sunshine that I plan on seeing.) Fishbone was alt rock before the term existed. Questlove and his bandmates would be among the first to acknowledge the debt they owe to Fishbone, with whom they have toured.