Fu Manchu still rocking hard and loud with new album

Fu Manchu (Scott Hill, second from left). Photo by John Gilhooley.

By Alan Brostoff

Fu Manchu has been rocking, hard and loud for a long time, since 1990. Scott Hill has been the consistent player in the band during all these years. Goldmine had a chance to sit down with Scott and talk about the new album, Clone of the Universe, touring, surfing and how they got a special guest star on the new release.

Goldmine: Scott, you have been playing since 1985. What keeps you going?
Scott: Man, I just love hearing loud, distorted guitar. That’s it. I love getting in a room. Turning it up and playing. I have been doing it since ’85 when we started with a punk band and I just love loud guitar.

Goldmine: When Fu Manchu started in 1990 in Southern California. What was the scene like back then?
Scott: Back then we were getting into bands like Monster Magnet, Tad, Laughing Hyenas, Soundgarden was around. A lot of that kind of music. Helmet was around, the heavier noisy stuff.

Goldmine: Were they the bands that influenced you?
Scott: Yea they did. We started as a punk band in 1985 and then around ‘88 we went and saw Mudhoney, Nirvana, Soundgarden and Tad and we were like “What the?” maybe we should be pulling out the old Black Sabbath and Blue Cheer records and give those a listen. A lot of the punk bands, we like were broken up and we started going to see other bands. I think it was Mudhoney in 1988 and I was like “Damn, that really, really good”. Even early White Zombie. They would play these little clubs and they were gnarly.

You new album came out February 9, Clone of the Universe, and has a special guest star playing. How did you pull off getting Alex Lifeson (Rush) to sit in?
Scott: Midway into recording the record, our manager is friends with his manager his personal manager, and they were both talking about what Alex has been up to. His manager mentioned that he was in the studio recording a bunch of stuff and then our manager said that we were in the studio recording right now. I’m not sure but I think our manager just asked if there was any way we could get him on the new record and I guess their manager went back to Lifeson. He said sure send me the track, and it was the 18 minute long song, and then he said he would do it and asked what we wanted. We were like “Oh god, do whatever, wherever, whatever you want to do.” We sent him a four track version of the song. We always record all of our songs on a four-track machine. So we sent that to him and he said he would come up with some stuff for it. He just did a bunch of stuff on it and we were floored. We could not believe that he agreed to do it.

Goldmine: Are writing the songs different for you now than when you started writing back in ’85?
Scott: When we first started I just played guitar. I didn’t sing or write lyrics. We had a friend of our singing, and we put out a 7inch and he did not want to do it anymore. We tried to find a singer and no one wanted to do it. So the other guys said to me “You’re doing it” and I was like ‘What? No no no, I don‘t want to sing.’ Next thing, I started writing. It’s a lot like the same way it used to be. Don’t look to us for any hidden message or political or religious. It’s just a lot of nonsense stuff that usually us in the band get. Other might not get it but it make sense to us. I’m into a lot of old SiFi stuff. We would write about muscle cars and skateboarding and stuff, but this new record is manly lots of local SiFi stuff.

Goldmine: You have had a strong following in the skateboard community. Do you and the members of the band still get out on your decks and ride?
Scott: No. No, I can’t afford to break an arm. I’ll cruise down the street and that’s about it. I still surf everyday but skateboarding, no.

Goldmine: Tour starting in February, both international and domestic shows, any stops that you are really looking forward to?
Scott: Everywhere we go. I just want to get out and play. I don’t care if it’s England or Chicago or Vancouver. It’s just about getting out to play. We just want to crank it up and play. Whoever will have us is perfect for that day. Wherever we end up that day, that’s the perfect spot.

Goldmine: Any favorite record store that you like to visit?
Scott: We used to stop all the time but now it’s harder and harder to find record stores. I know we used to play the Double Door in Chicago and there was a record store a couple of doors down from that place, maybe Waxtrax and we would go there. Any chance we get we still go into record stores. Southern California has quite a bit.

Goldmine: From the beginning you have continued to put out records and have stayed true to vinyl. Why have you continued to supply your fans with vinyl?
Scott: Getting a big record in your hand. I love the sound of vinyl. We usually put out a pressing of the new release and it sells out. I just love records. I grew up buying records in the 3rd grade, Hotter than Hell was my first record I bought and then punk music came out and I bought everything I could get my hands on. We will always release music on vinyl.

Goldmine: Any records that you are looking for?
Scott: I pretty music have everything. With the internet now a days you can find anything. From 1980-1987, just punk rock, hard core rock. I bought every hard rock record I could. Before that I was buying Deep Purple and Blue Cheer. I would like a very clean copy of Sir Lord Baltimore’s first record, if possible. I always find used ones but they are scratchy and stuff. I would love to find a very clean copy.

Goldmine: Anyone that you could write with or record with, who would that be?
Scott: Oh God, Lifeson’s pretty good. Everyone is a pretty big Rush fan. I’m a big Circle Jerks, Black Flag fan. If we could ever do a song with Keith Morris, singer. So many. For me, Greg Ginn, from Black Flag. Just so I can watch him play. He is my favorite guitar player of all time. I would just love to watch him in the studio playing stuff. My favorite ever. Their Damage record is my favorite record of all time. There is nothing heavier than Black Flag’s Damage.

Goldmine: Where is the best place for fans to pick up the new release?
Scott: Our website, www.fu-manchu.com if you like. We are selling out of all of the vinyl that we have recorded. Think this is our 13th record. We try to keep stuff pressed up.

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