Fu Manchu frontman Scott Hill has never been a fan of the label "stoner rock." But that hasn't stopped scores of music journalists and metal fans the world over from ascribing said tag to his Southern California fuzz-rockin' combo.
Not that Hill minds being lumped together with like-minded rockers Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss, Monster Magnet and Fireball Ministry. He just doesn't dig on labels, period. Fu Manchu, he claims, have always "done what we wanted," regardless of what anyone wants to call it.
"The first time I heard the phrase 'stoner rock' was in 1994," he recalled. "We were playing in Texas, and a journalist from England came over, and we're doing the interview, and he mentioned the term 'stoner rock.' ... To me, 'stoner rock' means, like, the Grateful Dead — hippie garbage. I've just never been into that mellow, hippie kind of stuff. But now it seems to be associated with a heavy guitar and fuzzy-sounding guitars, and in that respect, whatever, that's fine; it's kind of what we are. But it's kind of a lame term.
"You never want to get labeled anything," he continued. "But as long as it's not associated with hippie, mellow nonsense, we can deal with 'stoner rock.' It's better than a lot of the things we could be called."
Back in late February, Fu Manchu released their first album in three years, We Must Obey, which they co-produced with Andrew Alekel (Weezer, Rancid). Hill said the Fu began writing material for the effort in 2005, at the conclusion of the band's touring cycle in support of 2004's Start the Machine. The disc features 11 tracks, including "Knew It All Along," "Between the Lines" and a cover of the Cars' "Moving in Stereo."
To Hill, We Must Obey is pretty much typical Fu Manchu, but he does think the record sounds more aggressive than anything they've attempted before.
"I think people will be a little surprised by that," he explained. "I grew up as a kid listening to 1980 to 1985 punk rock and hardcore stuff — that's my main deal. I still listen to that stuff, every day, all day. I think some of those influences are coming out on this record. But people who have been into us for a while, they'll like the slower, heavier stuff on this album. The fuzz tone's in full effect, it's just a more aggressive record for us. But our sound is still there."
Earlier this year, Fu Manchu shot a video for "Hung Out to Dry" that will see the light of day once it's fully edited. Hill said the clip will feature Fu Manchu performance footage interspersed with "some old, '50s-type sci-fi mind-control stuff." Making the video, he said, was something of a challenge — as it always is.
"It's difficult to pretend like you're rockin' without the amps plugged in," he joked. "All you can do is think back to when you were a kid trying to play air guitar in your bedroom and capture that feeling."
After a successful headlining run — the band's first in three years — last month with Valient Thorr and Artimus Pyledriver in the support slots, Fu Manchu headed over to Europe, where they'll be gigging through June 3. After that, Hill's not so sure what the Fu will do — a spokesperson for the band's label said it will tour the States this summer but that those plans had yet to be finalized. Hill wants to spend the rest of the year on the road.
"We'll tour for as long as possible, and then we'll come home and record another one," Hill said. "We're always coming up with riffs and songs all the time, so as soon as we're done touring, I'd like to get back into the practice space, play, lose our hearing for five months, put out a record, and do it all over again."
The rest of the week's metal news:
Black-metal legends Emperor, who toured the U.S. last summer without guitarist Samoth (he couldn't get into the country because of visa issues) will return with their complete lineup for three final North American reunion shows: May 30 in Chicago, June 1 in New York and June 3 in Los Angeles. "The visa problems last year were a bummer," Samoth said. "Even though the U.S. dates last year were a success with massive support from our ever-loyal fanbase, we felt that we should return again as a full band to complete what we set out to do." ... After they return from their European tour, New York death-metal band Immolation will make another destructive round of their home continent. Dates start September 27 in Toronto and run through November 18 in New York. Suffocation and Skinless are also on the bill. ... Goofball Swedish grind band Birdflesh, who have been around in one form or another since 1992, will release their first proper studio disc, Mongo Musicale, July 17. The album track "Mongoloid Wannabe" can be heard on their MySpace page. And "After Ski Obliteration" can be downloaded right here. ...
The thrash-metal documentary "Get Thrashed" will make its West Coast premiere Saturday at the Silver Lake Film Festival in Los Angeles. Director Rick Ernst, associate producer Rat Skates — who used to play drums in Overkill — and former Exodus singer Zetro Souza will take part in a Q&A session after the screening. "I'm so excited to be a part of 'Get Thrashed,' " Souza said in a statement. "There's finally a film that makes you feel a part of that magical time. I'm psyched to see the film, interact with the fans and catch up with old friends." Members of Anthrax, Testament and Dark Angel are also expected to attend the screening. ... Alabama Thunderpussy found themselves with a bit too much downtime recently, so for some reason they worked out a cover version of Whitesnake's hideous hit "Still of the Night" and posted it on their Myspace page. What's next, Slayer covering "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida"? Oh, wait, that already happened. ... Ex-Biohazard guitarist Billy Graziadei will produce the new album by Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, hardcore-metal band Cold World. The record, Dedicated to Babies Who Came Feet First, will be recorded at Graziadei's Underground Sound Studios in South Amboy, New Jersey, this month and will include "BoomByeBye." ...
Sacramento, California, hardcore band Killing the Dream will enter a Baltimore studio May 28 to record the follow-up to their 2005 album, In Place Apart. Ex-Jawbox frontman J. Robbins will produce. ... Female-fronted Dutch goth-metal band Autumn will release their Metal Blade debut, My New Time, May 29. Arno Krabman produced the album at Graveland Studio. Tracks include "My New Time" and "Satellites," both of which can be previewed on their MySpace page. ... Boston metal band Till We Die will release their debut album, Pressing On, June 26. Tracks include "Ride," "UPS" and "Pressing On." The band's next tour will launch May 12 in Haverhill, Massachusetts, and run through June 8 in Springfield, Virginia. Till We Die will return to the road September 14 in Cedar Falls, Iowa, to begin a tour supporting Powerman 5000 through October 2 in Boston.