Future Bible Heroes come to World Café Live

Future Bible Heroes: Claudia Gonson with Stephin Merritt (left) and Christopher Ewen. KIMBERLY BUTLER
Future Bible Heroes: Claudia Gonson with Stephin Merritt (left) and Christopher Ewen. KIMBERLY BUTLER
Posted: July 20, 2013

If keyboardist/vocalist Claudia Gonson weren't already here, you'd have to invent her. When pop's ultimate multitasker isn't busy being Stephin Merritt's longtime musical partner in Magnetic Fields, she's the singing go-between for him and instrumentalist/composer Christopher Ewen's Future Bible Heroes (FBH), a Brill Building-inspired electronic act who this year released not only the CD Partygoing, but also a box set of FBH's entire history, from Partygoing to the 1997 debut Memories of Love and 2002's Eternal Youth. Plus additional EPs!

Along with running the business affairs for all her bands and Merritt's various projects, there are Gonson's other duties.

"I haven't had a second to myself between looking after my 3-year-old, tour managing, and traveling/playing with the band," says Gonson, preparing for FBH's show in New York City while tending to daughter Eve. "I have lots of positive things to say about motherhood, and about touring, but not a whole lot to say about how great it is to handle touring with a small child. Then again, it's fun for her, which is fun for me."

For Eternal Youth, Gonson sang all lead vocals. For the other two albums, she shares with the deep, dark-voiced Merritt. The pair don't change up their voices per project or deal in character acting of any sort. "I sort of feel like I have my vocal style, as does Stephin," she says. "Certainly my voice has changed over the years, with age."

Her tone has grown cloudier and prettier, a cool, lush counterpoint to Merritt's croon. "I'm really enjoying singing on the new album," Gonson says. "It's super-fun to sing 'Drink Nothing But Champagne,' where we pretend to be Aleister Crowley and David Bowie. 'I'm a Vampire,' too, because I get to be a bitch-goddess."

On Partygoing, Gonson takes on an array of sorry states and vices that lyricist Merritt holds dear, including suicide ("Let's Go to Sleep and Never Come Back") and rampaging sin ("Satan, Your Way Is a Hard One"). Ask her if she favors one of Merritt's FBH depravities, and she shies away: "I wish I had something juicy to say, but not particularly. I certainly commit various sins, but they are rather benign and boring."

The biggest change in the Future Bible Heroes dynamic came recently, when Merritt decided to beg off from this summer's tour, suffering from acute pain in his left ear during high volumes. "With the Magnetic Fields," Gonson says, "we worked hard to keep our stage volume down, wore an in-ear monitoring system, kept the house speakers at a bare minimum, and used all acoustic instruments. This is impossible with FBH, who are an electronic band with fairly loud stage volume. We miss Stephin, of course, but it's good we are not giving him hearing damage."

As long as Gonson's daughter enjoys the proceedings, all is right with the world.


Future Bible Heroes, with Luxury Liners, play 8 p.m. Thursday at World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St. Tickets: $15/$25. Information: 215-222-1400, www.worldcafelive.com.

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