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Fu Manchu

Fu Manchu

Interviewed by
Steve Newell
Friday 20th April, 2012 9:19AM

Auckland and Wellington’s bong sales have spiked 37% with news that stoner rock icons Fu Manchu are on their way back here for shows on April 27th and 28th. It’s been about a decade since the band’s last visit, and a well-timed tour with their classic In Search Of... being dusted off and given the retrospective live treatment recently. UTR jumped at the chance to talk to frontman Scott Hill about their upcoming shows, and what better time to do so than 4.20pm?

It’s been ages since you have been down this way, but what have Fu Manchu been up to recently? I hear you’ve been playing one of my favourite albums...

Yeah we just did In Search Of… all the way through. We went to Europe and did about six weeks [of shows] came back to the States and did five weeks then went up to Canada did about a week and a half. We’ve never done that sort of show before so it was really fun to do.

What makes that format of show work so well? It seems to be really fun for bands and for their audiences...

I don’t know. Our manager told us it was the fifteenth anniversary of the record and we thought that was cool but didn’t think anything else of it until the old record label said they were going to reissue it. We pressed it up on vinyl (it’s been out of print for a long time) and thought ok we better take it on the road and see how it is and set up all these tours before we’d even played the whole record through. It was good, some of the songs we’ve never played live before and like playing new stuff all over again – pretty fun to do.

You’ve got such a deep catalogue, did that make it strange playing that format?

Yeah, what we were doing was come out and play four or five songs from different records then play the record straight through and come back and play a few more different ones. It was fun, people knew what they were getting when they came to the show – if you wanted to hear In Search Of… all the way through you came to the show, y’know.

I don’t want to talk about those shows too much, but had to ask since that’s still one of my favourite records 15 or 16 years later. What’s the format of the shows you’re bringing down here?

We’re gonna be playing stuff from all the records. What do we have now, fourteen records? So stuff off different ones. First they were talking to us about maybe going down there and doing In Search Of… but I think it’s been so long since we’ve been down there people are going to want to hear different things. Who knows, maybe we’ll do a bunch of stuff and if people want to hear it maybe we’ll do the whole In Search Of… record as well but for now we’re just planning on playing stuff from all the different records.

It was a bit odd to think about how long I’ve been listening to some of your records for. What’s it been like for you personally to have had such a long career making music?

I’ve been playing in a band pretty much since 1985, playing hardcore punk stuff, morphed into Fu Manchu and then been going pretty much the whole time ever since. It’s fun, we all get along and we all like to travel and tour. Our main thing is to play live, you’ve got to play live, and that’s why we’ve been able to keep touring and playing for so long – it’s still fun to us.

Do you find your audiences are made up of long time fans, or are new people still finding the band?

Yeah definitely, with the internet and stuff people are checking stuff out more. Maybe someone hears the band name or whatever and they’ve never listened to us so they check out a song or two and like it. I definitely think there’s new people all the time, a lot of older fans which is good but a lot of newer people are coming I’ve noticed too. That’s always a good thing.

You’re a pretty compelling band to discover since there’s something a bit timeless to your sound.

Yeah, hopefully! You’d like to think that if someone gets into you they’ll stick with your band until the end. With us you’re not going to get a wimpy no-fuzz reggae record, you’re going to get a fuzzy heavy rock record and there will be a little variation here and there but for the most part you know what you’re getting.

Who are the guys that make up the rest of the band at this point?

The same guys that were there last time. It’s me and Brad Davis, Bob Balch and Scott Reeder. This lineup’s been around since 2000, 2001. We all get along really well, travel together well, like to play live and we hang out when we’re not touring. Yeah, it’s the same deal – we like to play live together and we can tolerate each other which is the main thing.

I guess once you get that right you don’t want to mess with it too much…

Pretty much! Once you’ve got your dudes you can hang out with in a tight van for six weeks straight you stick with it!

What’s next for Fu Manchu after your shows down here?

Once we get back we probably start writing a new record in the summer and then head to Europe to play The Action Is Go all the way through. We’ll play that record back home too and then hopefully the new record will be out in March or April next year and hopefully we’ll get back down to New Zealand and Australia on that one, we’ll see.

Speaking of records it was great to see the Fu Manchu section in Real Groovy’s vinyl bins the other day. Is vinyl a big deal to you guys?

We’re big vinyl fans and we make it a point that everything we release comes out on record, whether it’s a thousand or two thousand or three thousand copies or whatever. We just want it released, it’s cool our old record labels are letting us put stuff back out on vinyl that’s been out of print for some time so we’re happy to be releasing stuff back on vinyl. We’re probably going to bring a bunch of stuff down with us on vinyl as well.


Catch Fu Manchu in New Zealand....

Friday 27th April: Wellington @ San Francisco Bath House
Saturday 28th April: Auckland @ The Studio

Tickets on sale from here at UTR (see buy links below), Real Groovy Auckland and Slow Boat in Wellington.


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