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"It's really cool on the road 'cause you have total freedom," says Gilley (well, except for the freedom to hotbox a hotel room without stuffing a towel in the door crack). "In some states like Montana or Idaho that you'd think would be really boring, we've met great people who set us up at their houses and buy us beer."
Minnix: "Fortunately, Chris doesn't like to drink, so we don't ever lose, like, the beat."
"Who drives the van?"
Gilley: "Whoever's sober."
It's two weeks after the September interview, and Fred Green is headlining a show at Rafters, playing a song called "The Kind." The first track on Dilly Wagon, "Kind" is delightfully schizophrenic, whiplashing back and forth between a deep, mellow groove and blazing bass breaks. Gilley flutters his fingers over his fretboard overhand-style, nailing each note in the rapid-fire bursts. The crowd is right with them--swaying for the grooves, jumping up and down during the fireworks.
The devotion of Fred Green fans is unparalleled among the followings of other Valley bands. They rarely miss a show, and customarily supply the band with gifts, whether it's a hug, says Gilley, or a "to-go bag."
An after-party at Gilley's Tempe pad following the Rafters show finds Urian--Fred Green Superfan--draped across a couch in the living room. Scores of blissed-out Fred Heads float past with bejeweled body parts and intricate skin art. "Tom the Dancing Bug invades your body and keeps out the chocolate bunnies from hell," Urian tells a reporter by way of introduction. His pupils look like hockey pucks.
A current of bodies moves toward Gilley's bedroom, and Urian flows with it. Inside, a solitary green bulb keeps the newcomers from tripping over the bodies on the floor, where white kittens prance from lap to lap. "General contractors will pay you to dress like ancient Egyptians and ride on Eurasian buffalo," murmurs Urian. "They'll drag their tail in your soup and lay their penis in your sandwich."
It could be time for Urian to disqualify himself from the bongathon.
Outside on the front lawn, dozens of young Fred Green fans hold intense conversations. Gilley stands among them, answering questions.
"Hey, Ben, who the hell is Fred, anyway?"
Without hesitating, Gilley spirals off an answer. "Fred could be a bud, a planet, a person's mind, or even a person, that you take into your soul." He pauses. "It's like a drug. There are so many ways to cook it."
Fred Green is scheduled to perform on Saturday, October 12, at Boston's in Tempe; on Friday, October 18, at Gibson's in Tempe, with Silly Rabbit; and on Saturday, October 26, at Club Rio in Tempe. Call for showtimes.