Humbert's Ferny Coipel on Healing and Their Musical Take on the Crying of Lot 49

From the ashes of I Don't Know, South Florida's most carnival-esque and eclectic outfit Humbert has been ambling along at their self-imposed snail's pace with a handful of releases to their name. They recently self-released an EP, Se Reparan Todos. It's the first in a quartet of EPs the band will be putting out in the coming year.

While prolificacy is not their strongest point, consistency surely is. A live Humbert event is an engaging and intimate musical affair. Their recordings rank as some of the better offerings from South Florida as renewed listening always yields deeper layers in their aural tapestry.

We had a chance to speak with Humbert's Ferny Coipel before their show at the Bubble (with free beer!) tonight. It was quite a revelation how the band utilizes Pynchonian paranoia as a packaging tool. He also admitted the influence of comedic pioneers Benny Hill and Bill Hicks.

New Times: It's been ten years plus a little change since Plant the Trees Closer Together came out. What are the band's thoughts on that and the immense artistic jump from 1999's S/T disc?

Ferny Coipel: Well in 1999, we were just coming out of being in I Don't Know. We could do as much or as little art as we wanted with that band. We released a circus opera and polkaed our way up and back the East Coast of the US. When we decided to end that, we were ready to just take it back notch and just guitar it up, hence Humbert started with the self-titled disc. Entonses, as a few years passed the art bullshit bug started itching us again so we hybrid art, tender noise, loud-y, fuzzy, and melody for Plant the Trees Closer Together. Now we released Se Reparan Todos which we feel is our most subdued artistic and understated release to date. Pero, our next one is already being recorded titled The Floating Legion of Joy, it will be a musical and artistic leap for us.

We are fucking stoked about it.

Have the trees actually been planted closer together or does Hialeah continue its fierce stance on the modern urban aesthetic of concrete patios?

If you must know, PTTCT has zero to do with Hialeah or tress or planting. It's a study on how words out of context can inspire or enrage.

Ha, ha, ha! Tell us about Se Reparan Todos and where the band is with the promised additional three EPs?

Se Reparan Todos is our three song EP that we just released. The title comes from an older gentleman that fixes religious statues in Hialeah. He picks them up in his old pick-up truck and has them caged up on the bed for safety. it's the image on the cover of the disc. His slogan/catch phrase is "se reparan todos." Translation: "they all get fixed" but depending on context it can also translate to "we all can heal;" the three songs on this EP are about healing. Healing from injury, addiction, life, etc... One of the things that can help the healing process is communicating. Writing down your feelings and purging.

There is something great about the feeling of an organic piece of paper and ink. Each EP comes with an envelope and a piece of paper so you can take a moment to write someone a letter and mail it to them. So many people under 30 have never written someone a letter, stamped it and mailed it. Not a bill, not a ticket, not a payment. Just a letter. It may seem simplistic but it's far from it. It's not an email or a text, it's a letter that you had to pay to mail and cared enough to write, rewrite and send. We have had several people use it to get back in good standing with someone they have done wrong, or some who have broken up as a mending tool.

Really if you like the music, great but if we can get you to take that step and communicate to make shit right with someone... Well then, we're happy as a Cuban on a raft.

There's some Pynchon in that. You guys have always had an eclectic style, we infer from your musical backgrounds. What influences individually and collectively have shaped the band's sound?

Over the years musically we've got the obligatory Beatles, then there's everyone and everything else. The Flaming Lips, ELO, They Might Be Giants, Weezer, Neutral Milk Hotel, Jellyfish, Barry White, Fiddler on the Roof, a brisk clear chilly day, Benny Hill, Andy Kauffman, Bill Hicks, Einstein, Gandhi, Stephen Hawking just to name a few... All of these and many more have a place in shaping our sound and our collective thinking.

What type of stuff are you guys into now? Any contemporary artists who tickle your ears?

I've noticed that our ears are being tickled more through our eyes these days. There are some great films out there that are tickling things all over the place.

To be completely honest, there is just way too much stuff to listen to. I am personally a bit detached from most of it because I'm bored of hearing music. I find myself gravitating toward either organized noise or touching movements in scores. I find it easier to take in and digest.

Any chance of a Humbert-scored film or theatrical production? There's something cinematic about the EP that we'd like to see paired with celluloid.

Well, that's part of the challenge we have placed upon ourselves with The Floating Legion of Joy; it has a lot of components from music, theater, film and print. I'm glad you think Se Reparan Todos has a cinematic quality. When we were tracking it we used a lot of visual references to get across the sound of each song. It was like "this needs to sound like Barefoot in the Park looks" or "this should sound like 2001: A Space Odyssey feels."

Thanks for that unexpected observation bro.

No sweat, it certainly feels it, and now I'll be going over those tracks with those films in mind. What are the immediate and long-term plans for Humbert as a band and for individual band members?

We've never really been long term thinkers, we just exist. It's the secret to continuing to exist. As far as band members go, Rimsky recently announced his planned departure from Humbert and Low Visibility and a bunch of other things that he feels need addressing in his life and that's a good thing. As for Tony, Izo, and myself, we will continue on our steady unhurried march toward doing what we love and finding a way to try and make sure we can help sprinkle some inspiration along the way.

Listen to Se Reparan Todos here.

Humbert live at The Bubble with King Switch, the Holstered, Dooms de Pop, and the Bell Ringers, 8 p.m., Friday, January 10, at 810 NE Fourth Ave., Fort Lauderdale. $5 entrance and free beer!

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Abel Folgar