They attempted to recruit guitarist Flynn, who cofounded Fang in 1981 and wrote the music on its Eighties records, but he demurred, choosing instead to pursue his most recent project, noise band Star Pimp. "I'm too controversial. It would have been more than he wanted to deal with," McBride posits. "The musical direction he had taken since he left Fang is much more ..." he trails off, in search of the appropriate -- and, perhaps, respectful -- term. "Eclectic," he finally resumes. "Our musical tastes have definitely diverged."

McBride and Levine eventually corralled Burnett and Langston (McBride once played with the latter in the teeny-punk band Shut Up), and after the Trocadero date, the foursome cut several songs for the B-side for a 45 on the indie label Man's Ruin, using the previously recorded soundtrack number as the A-side. Next step: that full-length album due out in April.

Fang appears to be fully assembled, purring smoothly -- or as smoothly as an old-school punk band can purr. McBride, on the other hand, remains a work in progress. To date he has not spoken publicly about Dixie's murder. When prodded as to that possibility, he grows silent, answering monosyllabically at first. "No ... not ... no," he begins, fumbling for the words. "Who knows. I don't know. I don't have any desire to. If I thought it would serve the greater good, then I might."

Same goes for speaking -- for apologizing -- to Dixie's family. He never has. "That's because through other people I know they don't want to speak with me," he explains earnestly. "No matter what I feel, if that's their wish, I'm not going to violate that."

As for his heroin problem -- the scourge that drove him to murder, the source of the first Fang's demise -- McBride took a gradual course to getting straight. At the height of his heroin addiction in the late Eighties, McBride says, he was blowing $1000 a day on the drug, supporting his habit by dealing LSD ("my bread and butter"). It also didn't hurt that "my heroin dealer lost his house and moved in with me," he recalls, "so it was like, 'Free dope!' But heroin just consumes you. Your whole life consists of getting money to cop, copping, and getting high.

"I kicked heroin maybe a month before I got busted [for murder, February 1990]. So I wasn't strung out when I got arrested. But I used off and on up until 1993." Meaning, of course, that he used heroin in prison: "I was never involved in any program [there], even though there is NA, but I never subscribed to that. It was just a personal thing. I lost interest and there were other things I wanted to do.

"I was still smoking pot for a while, but when my wife got pregnant I looked at the long scope of things, that I was going to become a father, and I couldn't tell my kid that I didn't want him doing something that I was doing. Because that's hypocritical. And also I was gone for seven years -- and some people I didn't see for probably eight. Just like at Turner's wake. A lot of people are exactly the same as they were ten years ago. I think life, to me at least, needs to be about constant change. You strive to change yourself."

Fang performs with Buzzov*en, Load, and Grass Patch Friday, March 13, at 9:00 p.m. at Churchill's Hideaway, 5501 NE 2nd Ave; 757-1807. Tickets cost $7.

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