Fiscal Stimulus were formed in 2008 as a trio. Three middle aged music fans, Ian, John and Pete, were trying to relive their youth at a punk rock concert in Ratingen near Düsseldorf. Old school punk TV Smith was playing a set with Vom Ritchie from the Toten Hosen on drums and was joined for a couple of numbers by talented singer songwriter Pascal Briggs on accordion. Guitar, drums and accordion is a relatively unusual lineup for punk rock and sparked no little conversation. Pete mentioned that he had recently inherited an ancient accordion, John confessed to a lifelong desire to be a drummer and that he owned a plastic drum kit, and Ian completed the trio by admitting that he had been playing guitar badly for a long time and had recently started to write songs. It's an omen they cried in unison. Let's firm a band.
Someone - nobody really knows who due to the red wine thing - came up with the name Fiscal Stimulus (2008 was the year of the credit crunch) which everyone immediately embraced; and a rehearsal in Pete's cellar-cum-games room was established for the next week. For this first session, Ian had bought a cheap Stratocaster copy, John had his plastic drum thingy, and Pete had a child's Bontempi organ and the sheet music for The Sound Of Music. Most memorably Ian and John tried to jam to a blues riff (which eventually became the now discarded Fiscal Stimulus Theme Tune) whilst Pete played Climb Ev'ry Mountain. Little else of merit happened that evening except a bottle of Venezuelan rum which Pete had been trying to shift for several years was dispatched.
But the Fiscal Stimulus name and concept persisted. Ian finished writing the Theme Tune and also wrote some songs for the trio including an accordion inspired folk blues number called Burger Van Of Love, though these songs were never played by the original trio. Pete left the band owing to having been sent to Manila. Then John was sent to North Carolina and the game was almost up. Undaunted, Ian continued writing stuff under the Fiscal Stimulus banner (Catsick On The Floor, Pies, Tonight's The Night...) None of which has ever been played with the band.
We are now in around 2012/13. A couple of things happen at this time. At a boozy session round Ian's, Ian and John play a version of Stay With Me with John on Vocals. Bloody Hell, you can actually sing a bit exclaims Ian's missus. At around the same time, an old friend of Ian's from Essex has been brushing up his guitar skills and is looking for people to play with Ian mentions that Fiscal Stimulus is still kind of there and why not have a bash sometime. The coming together was a bit of a baptism of fire. Ian had met a Belgian rock music lover and 'supporter' called Herman who was setting up a fully analogue recording studio based mostly on 60's retro equipment salvaged from studios that were going 'digital'. On a whim, Ian booked the studio for a day for the three piece Fiscal Stimulus with John as drummer and lead vocals, Mick on guitar, and Ian on bouzouki, guitar and bass. The band had never rehearsed together and John in particular was a bit reluctant to go and look foolish in front of some Belgian strangers who were used to working with real musicians. Nonetheless, plied with triple strength Belgian beer, they turned up at the studio and did it. One result of this shenanigans was a properly recorded single of the old Monkees song I'm A Believer and the Fiscal Stimulus 'accordion' song Burger Van Of Love. Other results were that Mick joined the band and John got a taste for it.
Ian and John started writing songs together and making stupid little videos with model vacuum cleaners - the first being Web Cam Girl, the second the strangely prophetic England Horror Show, written for the 2014 World cup. The band start practicing regularly. Not frequently, mind. But regularly. Sometimes even in a proper rehearsal room. Around this time Liar and Drinking Song are born.
The band play two House parties in Sürth to a small but enthusiastic audience of groupies. It's All About The Oi! and Dr Feelgood's Roxette are firm favourites. Although these concerts feature John as drummer/vocalist it's fast becoming clear that he will start to concentrate on vocals.
Fast forward to the end of 2015. Ian gets made redundant and thinks it would be a good idea to play a real concert. He has friends in a UK punk band called Hi-Fi Spitfires and also knows Benny a.k.a. Ego.T Supertstar and Ela, the owners of a small rock and roll club called Freak Show in Essen Steele. So on another whim, he manages to blag a support slot for the end of January 2016. The band decide it would be nice to have a proper drummer but have no idea how to find one. The tactic of randomly asking people if they are drummers looking to join a really amateurish band doesn't seem to be bearing much fruit until at a Stiff Little Fingers concert near to Christmas Ian's missus finds Bridget. Bridget has a real drum kit and access to a very nice rehearsal room. This rehearsal room becomes a hub of activity as Ian, John and Bridget learn the songs and make a short set list. Benny a.k.a. Ego.T Supertstar offers to step in at short notice on bass and Mick flies over 2 days before the concert to complete the 5 piece line up.
January 26 arrives. Shockingly under rehearsed (the band has only rehearsed once as a 5 piece) and very nervous. Final rehearsal and sound check are the same thing. The lads from Hi-Fi Spitfires are proper gents - lending the back line and drum kit and making the boys and girl from Fiscal Stimulus feel like they are a real band. The gig goes very quickly and goes down remarkably well. All the self penned numbers are pretty well received. Accolades include 'nowhere near as bad as expected' and 'alright I suppose'. Only the ill advised oom-pah cover of Leonard Cohen's Bird On A Wire leaves the audience a little bit shell shocked, and bit in a good way.
2016 and 2017: the band have a few more practice sessions - though these are few and far between as by now both Ian and Mick live in the UK. Freak Show itself has become the new home base as Benny a.k.a. Ego.T Supertstar, as well as Bridget, have now become full time band members. A few more songs (Torture, The Golf Song, Weekend) have popped into existence.
It's John's turn to do something on a whim. For his 60th birthday he organises a private party in Freak Show with a Fiscal Stimulus live performance and an acoustic support set from Ian and John unplugged. The band are slightly more rehearsed this time although the acoustic session could have been slightly more polished. Anyway a splendid time was had by all (the free drink probably helped) and one bloke even asked if he could get an album!
Fiscal Stimulus are currently waiting for fate to tell them what to do next. Whatever it is it will involve a whim and it will be scary.