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Fu Manchu

Fu Manchu

Rock band

For the Record

Shared Perspective

Tapped into Underground Youth Culture

Selected discography

Sources

The Santa Monica, California, based rock band Fu Manchu draws inspiration from Ozzy Osborne, early punk rock before it had an official name, drag races, bongs, wild guitar riffs, and the 1970s counter-culture. Comfortable with the labels heavy rock and stoner rock, drummer Brant Bjork summed up the bands philosophy for BAM magazines Dan Epstein by saying, It either rocks or it doesnt, man! Entertainment Weeklys Tom Sinclair described Fu Manchu as, Invoking the legendary thunder of Blue Cheer as well as the clanging cowbell boogie of Mountain (Fu Manchu) creates a near-perfect facsimile of circa-71 hard rock. The band is comprised of drummer Brant Bjork, guitarist Bob Balch, vocalist/guitarist Scott Hill, and bass player Brad Davis.

Fu Manchu released four 7-inch discs before a debut CD, No One Rides for Free, in 1994. in 1990, the band released the singles Kept Behind the Trees, Bouillabaisse, and Jr. High School Ring on Slap-A-Ham Records. Two years later they released Senioritis, Pinbuster, and El Don on Germanys Zuma Records,

For the Record

Members include Bob Balch , guitar; Brant Bjork , drums; Brad Davis , bass; Eddie Glass , guitar; Scott Hill vocals and guitar (left 1996); Ruben Romano , drums (left 1996).

Released Kept Behind the Trees, Bouillabaisse, and Jr. High School Ring in 1990. Released Senioritis, Pinbuster, and El Don in 1992 on Germanys Zuma Records. Released 7-inch compilation including Pick-Up Summer and Vankhana and 7-inch compilation including Dont Bother Knockin and Space Sucker in 1992 for Elastic. Released No One Rides for Free in 1994, Daredevil in 1995, and In Search Of,! in 1996. Re-released the 7-inch compilation including Asphalt Risin and Chevy Van in 1996. Released a 10-inch compilation including Godzilla, Module Overload, and Living Legend in 1996. Released The Action is Go in 1997.

Addresses: Record company Mammoth Records, 500 S. Buena Vista, Burbank, CA 915213790. Websitehttp://www.mammoth.com.

as well as a 7-inch compilation including Pick-Up Summer and Vankhana for Elastic Records, and another 7-inch compilation including Dont Bother Knockin and Space Sucker, also for Elastic. By 1994 the band was primed for No One Rides for Free, released on Bongload Custom Records. A year later, Fu Manchu released Daredevilon Bongload, followed by In Search Of in 1996 on Mammoth. A 7-inch compilation including Asphalt Risin and Chevy Van was also released in 1996, and in 1997 they released a 10-inch compilation which included Godzilla, Module Overload, and Living Legend.

Fu Manchu released The Action is Go in 1997, and BAMs Epstein wrote, Be advised that you also cant go wrong with The Action is Go [it] features 13 bowelblistering originalsas well as a cover of Nothing Done by Boston hardcore legends SSDwhich filter the single-minded riffage of Black Sabbath and AC/DC through a thick Indica haze. The Action is Go was produced by White Zombies J. Yuenger, and it differed from the bands other releases in that it was more focused, with a heavier rock sound and more unabashed experimentation. Guitarist Scott Hill told Epstein, J. helped us arrange stuff better. He knew the sound we wantedthe big, fuzzy, heavy thing. The band chose the title U from an old motorcycle film called On Any Sunday. Hill watched the movie repeatedly during the 1970s when he was young, since he used to ride motocross, and the title typifies the offbeat, irreverent wit of the bands members. The releases single Evil Eye was inspired by Hills experience at a figure eight demolition derby, where a brakeless driver had an evil eye painted on his car. Davis told Epstein, Its our first album where Im happy with all the songs on it. When I listen to it at home, I dont skip over any of the tracks.

Shared Perspective

Original band members guitarist Eddie Glass and drummer Ruben Romano were replaced withdrummer Bjork of Kyuss and guitarist Balch before the release of The Action is Go in 1997. Glass and Romano wanted to give Fu Manchu more of a 1960s-era sound and Hill and Davis favored the heavy rock sound of the 1970s. Bjork and Balch were more in keeping with the vision Hill and Davis shared, and Bjork was a longstanding fan of Fu Manchu, harking back to when he was with Palm Deserts Kyuss. Bjork joined Fu Manchu during the middle of their 1996 tour with Clutch. Balch joined the band a few months after Bjork and, like Hill and Davis, he was from the El Toro/Mission Viejo area. Hill writes all the lyrics, but the bands songs develop organically from jam sessions. Hill told Epstein, Someone will bring a riff to practice, and well work on it from there. Once its pretty much arranged, Ill take it back and do the lyrics. I dont see how people can write lyrics first and then make the song around it. Hill favors a stream-of-consciousness approach to lyrics, which results in an impressionistic account of unusual things like Bigfoot sightings, demolition derbies, skateboarding, surfing, and kitschy television programs.

Fu Manchu members view their material and popularity as particular enough to appeal to a limited but appreciative audience, much like Ozzy Osbornes fan base. The band toured successfully with Osborne in 1997. Artists such as Black Crowes, Wool, Kyuss, Monster Magnet, Masters of Reality, White Zombie, The Melvins, and The Obsessed have either shared the stage with Fu Manchu or have gone to their shows regularly in search of a good time. Band members arent on a quest for fame so much as a quest for fun, kinship, and the opportunity to create their unique, heavy as an anvil rock. They have never failed to see the humor often found in popular culture. When discussing the single Grendel, Snowman with BAMs Epstein, lyricist Hill said, Usually the first line of a song makes sense to me; after that, its like, there it goes. Many of Hills lyrics have been inspired by his favorite films, as exemplified by Over The Edge, Viva Knievel!, and The Van. The Van, a 1970s teen film featuring Danny DeVito, inspired most of the lyrics for Fu Manchus songs.

Tapped into Underground Youth Culture

The Fu Manchu single Redline was included on the soundtrack of Roger Cormans B-movie Caged Heat 3000, and the Fu Manchu singles Push Button Magic and Trapeze Freak were featured in the film Citizen Ruth starring Laura Dern. Fu Manchus music also appears in the surf video Players. Channel One Skateboards in Huntington Beach, California, designed special edition Fu Manchu skateboard decks and other skateboard stores followed suit. The bands memorable and kitschy devil-over-two-demolition-cars logo inspired devil horn salutations from enthusiastic crowd members when the band performed live, and the band also has favored vintage car and van logos. Entertainment Weeklys Sinclair wrote, Lyrically, Fu Manchus songs [about strolling astronomers, burning roads, abominable snowmen] mean next to nothing, but the musics sheer goon density should strike a chord in the hearts of America. Fu Manchu has been savoring a good time, and the bands listeners have been going along for the joyride in a van, of course.

Selected discography

Singles

Kept Between Trees, Slap-A-Ham Records, 1990.

Bouillabaisse, Slap-A-Ham Records, 1990.

Jr. High School Ring, Slap-A-Ham Records, 1990.

Senioritis, Zuma Records, Germany, 1992.

Pinbuster, Zuma Records, Germany, 1992.

El Don, Zuma Records, Germany, 1992.

Pick-Up Summer, Elastic Records, 1992.

Vankhana, Elastic Records, 1992.

Dont Bother Knockin, Elastic Records, 1992.

Space Sucker, Elastic Records, 1992.

Asphalt Risin, Mammoth Records, 1996.

Chevy Van, Mammoth Records, 1996.

Ojo Rojo, Mammoth Records U.K., 1996.

Missing Link, Mammoth Records U.K., 1996.

Godzilla, Mans Ruin Records, 1997.

Module Overload, Mans Ruin Records, 1997.

Living Legend, Mans Ruin Records, 1997.

Albums

No One Rides For Free, Bongload Custom Records, 1994.

Daredevil, Bongload Records, 1995.

The Action Is Go, Mammoth Records, 1997.

Sources

Periodicals

BAM Magazine, November 6, 1997.

Entertainment Weekly, November 7, 1997.

Rocket, November 1997.

Online

AMG (All-Music Guide), http://205.186.189.2/cg/amg.exe

http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Alley/9338/fumanchu.html

http://www.themusiczone.com/fu.html

B. Kimberly Taylor

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