:: Marquis Theater :: April 6 ::
By Joe Kovack
Simplicity doesn’t necessarily equal unexciting. For some bands, keeping it simple is exactly what brought success. Bands like The Ramones and Black Flag created their own sound by not trying too hard. They let their musicianship and creativity take the lead instead of flashy stage shows or overtly complicated songs. California surf/skate/stoner rockers Fu Manchu took a page from that book and have built a career on simplicity, and continue to do so 20 years after they first started.
Fu Manchu grew from the punk rock and hardcore scenes of the time, which were less radio popular but very much alive. It was this music that would influence a young Scott Hill to pursue music and eventually form his own band and forge his own sound in late ’80s.
“I was a young kid when I eventually heard Black Flag and the Circles Jerks,” Fu Manchu singer and founder Scott Hill said in a recent interview with The Marquee. “Then my friend and I took his Judas Priest and Deep Purple albums and threw them down the street to see if they would skip, ’cause we thought we were done with that stuff. We proceeded to buy every punk rock, hardcore album we could find from 1980 to 1987. Going to see those bands live, I would just study the guitar players and that definitely made me want to get a guitar and start a band,” Hill said.
It was the perfect recipe for a young kid who grew up listening to classic rock and found a new underground world of loud, heavy sweaty punk rock filled with energy and attitude. “Those songs were so basic and straight to the point. Not a lot of crazy parts going on. And to me, I always think we’re just a slowed down hardcore band,” Hill said. “Our songs are just straight to the point; get in get out. That’s what I love. I remember hearing those bands and thinking wow, I could probably do that. I mean, you definitely have to have some riffs that are catchy. But just find the right riffs and put them together, you know, that’s it,” Hill said.
It’s that philosophy which has kept Fu Manchu in existence since their first official release No One Rides For Free in 1994. Hill and company have created a brand of rock that straddles the line of the California stoner, surf and skate rock genres and embodies a little of each. It’s not flashy and there are no convoluted time signatures or complicated arrangements. Just straight up fuzzy rock for those sunny days skateboarding drained-out pools or hitting the waves with friends.
After a two record contract with Century Media, the band decided in 2009 it was time to take matters into their own hands. 2011 was the 15th year anniversary of their third album, In Search Of (1996), and with the help of management the band got the rights to re-release and press the album on vinyl. They decided to tour in support of the re-release and play the album in its entirety, a new venture for the band. “We never thought of doing that ever. Some songs we never even played live so it was like doing new stuff. It was cool,” Hill said.
“On In Search Of, there’s a song called ‘Bargain’ which is real mellow with no fuzz guitar. I didn’t really like it at the time and we never played it live. But since we played the whole record I had to play it, and I ended up liking playing it [laughs]. Our drummer we’ve had since 2000, Scott Reeder, he didn’t play on those albums originally, so he adds something a little different while still keeping it the same. We went out with the same guitars, amplifiers and fuzz pedals — all the same gear we played with when we did back then,” Hill said.
After the success of the In Search Of tour, the band played The Action is Go (1997) in its entirety for its 15th year anniversary in Europe last year and now are set to play it in the States this April. But they’re not just content in reissuing and playing old material. The band has been steadily writing songs for a new release to be self produced sometime by the end of 2013. “We got a lot of good heavy stuff we put together and recorded on a 4 track, “ Hill said. “If you show up to sound check you might hear some new stuff, but we won’t play any live. We’ll be playing the whole Action record and if people want we’ll come back out after and play some older stuff.”
:: Fu Manchu ::
:: Marquis Theater :: April 6 ::
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