Volume 91, Issue 51

Thursday, November 27, 1997

Mike the Knife


Fu Manchu karate-chops to the top

By Tim Merrill
Gazette Staff

So you're sitting out in the van in the high school parking lot during the dance with your buddies. Somebody throws in a tape and you crank up your newly-installed cassette player. Suddenly, you feel like your head is a giant amp, as the thundering vibrations blasting out of the tape deck begin to buffet your skull. Slowly you begin to move your head to the rhythm and before you know it, the entire van is rockin' out to the bad-ass grooves.

You wonder why you've never heard your big brother play this Ted Nugent record before and suddenly rise out of your bong-induced stupor and realize that it's not 1976, it's 1997 and you're not listening to the Nuge – but the sonic transmissions of Fu Manchu.

Fu Manchu hails from Orange County, California, an area primarily known for its punk rock and soon to be known as the breeding ground for one of the best rock bands to kick out the jams on the West Coast in a long time.

With the release of three records (No One Rides For Free, Daredevil, In Search Of...) and a number of singles, Fu Manchu has just embarked on its first headlining tour to promote a smokin' new cd, The Action Is Go. Snger Scott Hill says the tour has been going surprisingly well.

"When we went out, we'd usually tour with Corrosion Of Conformity, Monster Magnet and a couple other bands. We did a tour with Clutch, before we recorded. So far things have been really good and a lot of people have been showing up at the shows."

The release of the new album and the tour have proven to be a fresh start for Fu Manchu with the addition of new members Bob Balch on guitar and Brant Bjork, legendary drummer for the now-defunct Kyuss. When asked how they were able to snag Brant from Kyuss, Hill explains, "I've known Brant for years and he produced our No One Rides For Free record. He wanted to join the band for a long time and then he quit Kyuss. When things weren't working out with our drummer, I called him and asked him if he wanted to play with the band. I didn't even have to hear him play – I knew he kicked ass."

With the new line-up, Fu Manchu seems to have hit the nail right on the head, sounding tighter and louder than ever before. In the words of Hill, "With the new line up, I think this is the heaviest record we've put out so far. With the new record, it just came out of practice with Brant and Bob. We were able to write 20 songs from practice and we've got a little more amp under our songs, so that's probably why it feels like it's got a little more energy."

While often labeled by the press as a "stoner" or "space rock" band, Hill doesn't agree with description.

"Some call it stoner rock, or whatever, but I've always seen us as a straight ahead rock band. I mean, it's fuzzy and loud and that's fine, you can call it whatever you want to. I'm into just about every major rock band to come out of the '70s, but we're not a retro band. I'm just into the cool bands at that time."

Speaking of cool bands of the '70s, Hill mentions Fu Manchu recorded a cover of Blue Oyster Cult's "Godzilla" as a 7-inch single on artist Frank Kozik's label. As far as for seeing Fu Manchu live, the group presents a "wall of noise" guaranteed to wallop you like your mama's backhand.

All amps will be cranked to the max, all ears will be pinned to the walls and all audience members will be drowned out in a sea of bottom-ended grooves and wah-wah pedals. Tonight's Fu Manchu show at Call The Office is guaranteed to scramble your eggs.

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997