Robbie Fulks is an American alternative country artist originally from Pennsylvania but who is a longtime Chicago, Illinois resident. He has released 11 albums over a career spanning more than 20 years.
Fulks is known for his disdain of mainstream modern country and the country music industry, as exemplified by his scorching rebuke of Nashville titled "Fuck This Town." His live performances feature improvised rearrangements of his original songs, off-the-cuff musical humor, and covers of songs by Michael Jackson and Cher, among others.
His wife Donna Fulks is a Chicago voice over actress, and so is his son Preston, with occasional performances by his other son Tennessee. They have all been known to sing at his shows when present. His brother Jubal Fulks occasionally appears on his albums playing the violin.
As a songwriter Fulks is difficult to define. Many of his compositions are silly, funny or spoof songs, while others are serious country songs. One album, 2001's Couples in Trouble comes off more as an experimental rock album than as country. A good example of the alternative nature of some of his work is the song "Godfrey" ("the sickly, unemployed, amateur children's magician") on the compilation album for children The Bottle Let Me Down. His son Preston Fulks' artwork was also featured on the album. His music is described by many to be either alternative country or rockabilly.
Before beginning his solo career, Fulks joined the bluegrass band Special Consensus. Here he showcased his unique guitar playing, and appeared on the Grammy-nominated album Hole In My Heart, released in 1989. Fulks' solo debut, Country Love Songs was released on Bloodshot Records in 1996 to positive reviews. This album was followed by 1997's South Mouth, which cemented Fulks' retro-alternative image.
As fans had grown used to Bloodshot's rough and sparse sound, many were shocked by the release of Fulks' third album, 1998's Let's Kill Saturday Night, on Geffen Records. When Geffen disbanded shortly after the release of the record, Fulks found himself without a label, so he started his own company, Boondoggle Records (distributed by Bloodshot), and released an album of previously unreleased material called The Very Best of Robbie Fulks.
2001 saw the release of both Couples in Trouble, a dark, brooding, and decidedly non-country album, and, just three months later, 13 Hillbilly Giants, a collection of covers of classic country numbers both obscure and well known. In 2001, Robbie was also an inaugural member of the Independent Music Awards' judging panel to support independent artists.
Fulks would not release another album until 2005, when the release of Georgia Hard showed a return to his county roots. He also gained attention for a novelty single he wrote called "Fountains of Wayne Hotline", in which he imagined the power pop band Fountains of Wayne as having a hotline that struggling songwriters could call for help with their song structure.
In April 2007, Fulks released a 2-CD album Revenge! composed mainly of live concert recordings primarily of older songs, but including some new material. One disc, labeled Standing features a full-band sound, while the second disc, Sitting, consists of Fulks with little or no musical accompaniment. Standing opens with a tongue-in-cheek song studio track "We're On the Road" which describes life on tour and simulates a telephone call to Fulks from Yep Roc Records President Glenn Dicker, demanding a new record and denigrating the sales performance of the "path-breaking, not chart-breaking" album Georgia Hard.
In 2010, Fulks released his album Happy as a tribute to the recently deceased Michael Jackson, in which he covers a group of his songs.
The indie-rock band Silkworm covered Fulks' song "Let's Kill Saturday Night," as did Pinmonkey.
Fulks has been known to often tour in Sweden.
According to an interview in 2000, Fulks described himself as a libertarian.