the wayne fishell experiment
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the wayne fishell experiment

Atlanta, Georgia, United States | INDIE

Atlanta, Georgia, United States | INDIE
Band Folk Pop


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"Wayne Fishell's 'Experiment'"

ATLANTA’S WAYNE FISHELL creates a sound that is hard to immediately define. So hard, in fact, that he and a friend had to make up their own label for what he does.

“Everyone always asked, ‘Well, what is your music?’” says the Wayne Fishell Experiment’s titular leader. “And I determined that I couldn’t tell them, especially with this CD, because I really think that each song sounds different. That’s an exciting thing about this CD.”

And he’s right. One of the most exhilarating parts of the experience of “Optimistically Hopeless,” Fishell’s first album with the Experiment, is the way the songs swing from breezy folk-pop with album opener “Bar Fight,” to funky confrontation on “Tulip Walls,” into moody confessional with “Accidental Art.”

And that’s just the first three songs.

The album is a tour de force that defies easy classification, so Fishell and a college friend invented a genre-spanning label that is as unique as the music itself: "gay-acoustic-indie-folk-pop."

FISHELL HAS NO PROBLEM being labeled as a gay artist. In fact, there’s a reason he puts it first in his self-created genre.

“I don’t think it can do anything but help to have a niche audience,” he says. “I'm not going to mask my pronouns, and people respond to that. Even straight people will come up to me and say, ‘I don’t mind that you’re saying “he,” because I got it.’

“I refuse to write an entire album in second person,” he says. “It’s not the honesty that I want. I'm not going to not say ‘he’ just so that it can be palatable.”

Fishell wants to surprise his listeners with the sound and lyrics he works so hard to craft, but he does not want to lose their attention while they focus on piecing together his sexuality.

“I don’t want people to be surprised when they hear me [sing about a man],” he says. “I want people to know what they’re going to get ahead of time.”

THE WAYNE FISHELL EXPERIMENT marks the first time Fishell makes music as part of a collaborative effort, and it’s an experience he loves.

“I like it being more than me onstage,” he says. “I can’t make it sound like the CD onstage by myself.”

Joining Fishell on the album and onstage is gay percussionist big.peaches, aka Keith Miller, a veteran musician who contributes an unconventional element to the creative process.

“While it is my band,” says Fishell, “there is a lot of collaboration. Keith has added so much creative input to everything that we did.” When Miller suggested playing a wine opener, a pair of scissors, and an aerosol can in one song, Fishell agreed to give it a shot and had fun with the results.

“That’s where the ‘experiment’ in the Wayne Fishell Experiment comes from,” laughs Fishell. “I said, ‘If you can find a way to play a paperclip, and it sounds good, we’ll go for it.’”

Also joining the growing band is Jonathan Wagner, a straight guitarist.

Fishell is not only excited about being able to craft a live experience more like that recorded on the CD, but also for the camaraderie that a band brings to the stage.

“If you’re having a bad show, there’s someone else experiencing it with you,” he laughs.

Reviewer: Rob Beck - David Atlanta

"O-Fishelly Yours"

"[T]unes that take listeners from playful to haunting and a sexy voice that lends itself well to both."

Reviewer: Mike Fleming - Southern Voice, Atlanta

"Hit that Perfect Beat, Boy"

"[T]hose who hate the club-music driving beat should find this a relaxing, amusing trip down another avenue of queer music."

Reviewer: Anthony Glassman - Ohio Gay People's Chronicle

"the wayne fishell experiment"

"[The] sense of experimentation is inherent in the wayne fishell experiment. The band lives up to its name and its members are optimistically hopeful that their fans will agree."

Reviewer: Kim Urquhart - The Emory Report

"From 24-carat pop and bluesy rock to bluegrass and folk..."

Reviewer: Adam Deiboldt

There are a lot of singer/songwriters with a lot to say. But many times the veracity of the words is lacking, as if it's an act that fades into the ether much like the notes played. Wayne Fishell is an exception to this rule. On his second album, Fishell, who is openly gay, writes with an honesty that is rarely found in modern music.

The 10 tracks that make up Optimistically Hopeless range from 24-carat pop and bluesy rock to bluegrass and folk. Fishell's arrangements are basic but varied. He'll use a Beatles-esque piano part and then bring in a clarinet to offset a percussive, acoustic guitar section, as he does on "Racehorses." "Another Line Down" offers a beautiful pastiche of acoustic guitars and banjos that form a bed for his vocals - which are excellent too. Although the first couple tracks lack a bit of vocal authority, Fishell's timbre more than makes up for it later on in the record.

The real stars of this album are the lyrics. Whether Fishell's lambasting an ex-lover, reveling in the fantasy of rock star life as a Vegas-style entertainer or imagining what a conversation with God would be like, Fishell's lyrics are always top notch. They're conversational, confessional, but also well written and relatable in a way that few dialogued lyrics are these days - no matter who you are, what gender, what ethnic background. Fishell doesn't hide the fact that he's gay either, but because of his writing ability, his lyrics end up being able to take on a much more universal tone.

Overall, Optimistically Hopeless is a fairly diverse record with some excellent tunes on it, but its biggest success is showing how universal our human condition is while letting the listening get to hear some good music in the process. - Southeast Performer

"The Wayne Fishell Experiment — Optimistically Hopeless"

As a gay acoustic folk pop group, [the wayne fishell experiment] have few peers (at least in the mainstream). Fishell writes and sings about life as a gay man, which must be difficult when some stiff in a suit in Washington D.C. is deciding who you can marry (while some of their fellow bashers are hiding their own secret gay life ironically enough). But despite the lyric’s subject, it doesn’t isolate his potential audience (I’m quite straight and thoroughly enjoyed each track), which is precisely what Fishell was going after. Upbeat pop numbers that will make you tap your toes and scramble for the lyric sheet so you can sing right along.

Reviewer: J. Sin -

""Lyrics are what really stand apart""

Fishell and bandmate Keith Miller call their sound "gay-acoustic-indie-folk-pop."And it is all those things, but their songs' thoughtful, cryptic lyrics are what really stand apart on this gentle CD.

Reviewer: Nancy Ford - OutSmart Magazine

"Indie Knocks Up Folk"

(translated into English by Wayne Fishell)

Reviewer Michael Prenner

Wayne Fishell and Keith Miller have actually managed something that very few gay musicians do: they've made a guitar-album completely free of irony and kitsch. The lyrics are inspired by relationships between men, and the music from bands like REM. On this album, you don't just hear camp fire songs, but also blues, country, and uncontrollably melodic pop. 10 gay songs - but not one bit of camp.

German text:
Wayne Fishell und Keith Miller haben tatsächlich geschafft, was nur wenige homosexuelle Musiker schaffen: ein völlig ironie- und kitschfreies schwules Gitarren-Album. Die Texte wurden von Beziehungen unter Männern inspiriert, die Musik von Bands wie REM. Denn hier erklingt nicht nur die Lagerfeuerklampfe, sondern auch der Blues, der Country – und hemmungslos melodischer Pop. Zehn Songs, die schwul sind – aber kein bisschen camp. - Du&Ich - Germany's largest GLBT publication


The wayne fishell experiment released their first CD, "optimistically hopeless," a 10-song LP in 2007. Three tracks are streaming currently on the band's website (; five songs are streaming on the band's MySpace page (; 2-minute clips of all songs from optimistically hopeless are available at

Wayne's first CD, a solo project called "going down," has been played on Sirius OutQ radio since 2003.

The band is currently writing and recording songs for their upcoming project, "ear drops for the audio soul." A live recording of songs from the upcoming CD as well as from the band's first CD are available for download (for free) at the band's website (



Atlanta-based band the wayne fishell experiment brings the musical art of gay-acoustic-indie-folk-pop to the world. Their music doesn't easily fall into one category or another; in a recent quote in David Atlanta, an Atlanta weekly GLBT magazine, the reporter stated that "[o]ne of the most exhilarating parts of the experience of [the wayne fishell experiment's CD] 'optimistically hopeless' is the way the songs swing from breezy folk-pop with album opener 'Bar Fight,' to funky confrontation on 'Tulip Walls,' into moody confessional with 'Accidental Art'...And that’s just the first three songs."

The band wants to make sure that its songs are engaging musically, and as an out-and-proud singer-songwriter, Wayne Fishell strives to write lyrics that everyone will connect with, regardless of sexual orientation, without shying away from singing "he" or "him."

Wayne was selected as Reader's Choice for "Best Male Musician" for The Southern Voice (Atlanta's premier GLBT weekly newspaper) in their 2005 and 2008 "Best of Gay Atlanta Awards;" he was Editor's Choice in 2007. An article on the band was also be featured in the December 2007 issue of Du&Ich, Germany's largest GLBT magazine (the article, along with a complete translation, is available under the blog section of the band's MySpace page).

As a songwriter, Wayne is greatly influenced by the artists that make up the thriving independent music scene in Athens/Atlanta, Georgia, specifically by Hope for Agoldensummer (Claire Campbell was one of the producers of optimistically hopeless, and all members of HFAGS, past and present, played on the CD), Tin Cup Prophette, Bain Mattox, Count Kellam, and Stereo Campbell.