‘Do You Remember’ is a new feature where we’ll go back and try to remember an (almost) forgotten musician from recent history. We’ll try to research their background, discuss their peak, and then figure out what their doing now.
Do you remember LFO? They were three white guys who looked and sounded like they were in a boy band, except they refused to be considered one because they kind of rapped. Hardcore.
LFO formed about an hour south of Boston in 1995 when Rich Cronin, Devin Lima, and Brian Gillis came together with a goal of making crappy music apparently inspired by New Kids On The Block, Yvone Eliman, and Scooby Snacks. Originally known as ‘Lyte Funky Ones’, Rich Cronin once explained the name’s origin in an interview with Jacksonville.com by saying “‘When I started rapping, a lot of black kids I was around would make a joke and call me the Lyte Funkie One. Then later I hooked up with Brian and we just pluralized it.” After one of their friends told them of the legend of Lou Pearlman, a wealthy Orlando based manager who wished to create a music empire by assembling a slew of boy bands including the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC. One weekend, the trio drove down to Orlando, knocked on Pearlman’s door and showed him some demos. Next thing you know, the Backstreet Boys are a hit in Germany and LFO is opening for them all across Europe.
Founding member Brian Gillis (hardcore nickname: Brizz), eventually became frustrated being an opening act. He had a nickname that ended with Z’s, and he would not allow himself to be lumped in with the likes of Nick Lachey, Joey Fatone, and Justin Timberlake (all of whom ended up much more successful than LFO). Too much street cred was at stake. In that same 1998 interview, when asked about comparisons to the ‘teenybopper boy all-male bands’, Brizz foreshadowed future frustrations, saying ‘When we get up on stage, we don’t act like they do. We don’t sing lullaby songs to all the cute girls” (future single ‘Girl On TV’ is almost literally a lullaby to Rich Cronin’s girlfriend at the time, Jennifer Love Hewitt”).
Guess what happens next? Brizz (I feel at this point, you have to call him that) gets fed up with the direction of the group, wants to be more gangster, and quits to pursue a solo career. I wish I could tell you more, but it seems like YouTube and the rest of the internet has chosen to forget this brief moment in musical history, showing no trace of any of Brizz’s songs. I guess that’s your answer. Wikipedia says he had “multiple college tours” and a job in the music industry at a radio station. I don’t know if that is meant as a happy or sad ending.
So guess what happens next for old Brizzy. He gets replaced by some guy named Devin Lima, who has the brilliant idea to go simply by the initials LFO, getting rid of a name that alienated people, barely made sense, and was hard to remember. Next thing you know, a demo they recorded was leaked to a Washington DC and quickly started gaining airplay. The song, ‘Summer Girls’, eventually rose to #3 on the US Billboard Charts, and the band’s debut album sold over two million copies. Double fucking platinum for this garbage. You probably remember the song as ‘that Abercrombie and Fitch song’ due to the clothing brand’s prominence in the lyrics. It was that annoying. The song hit at Abercrombie’s peak as a trend, so the song was no doubt helped by young girls thinking “ohmygod! I’m wearing Abercrombie and Fitch…right now!”.
The song was full of lyrics that, while somewhat catchy in the realm of boy bands, are really just senseless non-sequiturs. “Stayed all summer then went back home/Macauly Culkin wasn’t Home Alone/Fell deep in love but now we aint speakin/Michael J Fox was Alex P Keaton”. It seems like simple formula of: cheesy line about girl + random childhood memory = clever? Not sure it really worked. “Call you up but whats the use/I like Kevin Bacon but I hate Footloose”. There is just no connection. I’ve thought hard. Personal favorite line: “When you take a sip you buzz like a hornet/Billy Shakespeare wrote a whole bunch of sonnets”. They managed to say “Billy Shakespeare” and simultaneously rhyme ‘hornet’ with ‘sonnet’. Just a big ‘fuck you’ to the English language and poetry.
So what happened next? The guys toured extensively for a year or two off the strength of their debut album, eventually opening for Britney Spears at her peak. They performed several times on Nickelodeon, which I’m sure would have infuriated Brizz if he wasn’t cleaning toilets at the time. Their second album, like so many others, failed to gain steam as the boy band craze seemed to die down. Eventually, Rich Cronin began to feel like Brizz, and decided to try and form another group that wouldn’t be considered a ‘boy band’. This, as you can imagine, completely failed. No one cared about the random guy from LFO anymore. It was 2003 and the world was fixated on Eminem, 50 Cent, and Beyonce. In 2008, Devin Lima released a record with a new band, Cadbury Diesel, that failed to gain any buzz as well.
The end of LFO’s story is relatively sad. It shows how instant fame doesn’t necessarily equal long term happiness, and how young impressionable adults can be completely taken advantage of by the greed of others and bad luck. Lou Pearlman was completely scamming all of his clients, and nearly everyone of his artists including the Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, and LFO sued him for misrepresentation and fraud. All of the cases ended in either victory or settlement out of court, and confidentiality agreements have kept any real details out of the public eye. We can assume that LFO was never sitting on a huge pile of cash – especially considering a double platinum album and a huge single.
While the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC were huge celebrities that, despite being owed much, much more money, still had enough cash to put up a real fight. LFO, with one hit song, may not have been so lucky. In addition, further allegations have been leveled against Pearlman. Many of his artists, including Rich Cronin himself in an interview with Howard Stern, have stated that Pearlman had inappropriate relations with many of his male clients, advancing many young men’s careers because of them. In 2006, he was convicted for defrauding over $300 million dollars from investors for more than 20 years in a ponzi scheme. He is currently in jail.
The band tried to re-united back in 2009, even announcing a tour and a new song, but it was not meant to be. They announced their break up yet again four months later. In September of 2010, Rich Cronin lost his five year battle with leukemia at the age of 36. As of 2012, Brad Fischetti apparently has gone bat shit crazy. He was last seen live tweeting from – i shit you not – abortion clinics. Based on his tweets, it seems like he sits with other protestors inside abortion clinics, essentially heckling patients and then posting their status’ on Twitter, while asking for support and prayers from his followers. I don’t really get it either, but it doesn’t sound like something sane people do. According to a tweet by Fischetti, third member Devin Lima is now a barber, but that was probably tweeted from an abortion clinic so who knows.
There is still absolutely no word on Brizz. I hope he just went back to school and became an accountant or something. If that’s true, then that makes Brizz the anti-Pete Best. He left a boy band right before they blew up and went Platinum, only to end up the best off of the group. If you didn’t know, Pete Best was in the Beatles only to be replaced by Ringo Starr before the group’s popularity took off.