Interview with Fu Manchu: You Must Obey

Fu ManchuIt’s hard to believe, but upon issuing We Must Obey this week through Century Media’s rock imprint, Liquor & Poker Music, SoCal hard rock quartet Fu Manchu have reached the milestone of their 10th album. The full-length comes on the heels of the Hung Out To Dry EP released late last year. What began in simpler times (1994) with No One Rides For Free on Bong Load Records has carried the band across the world and down through such post-grunge rock classics as King Of The Road and California Crossing, each maintaining a sound at once laid back and driving, evident of the band’s Golden State home.

For We Must Obey, however, the band (Scott Hill on vocals/guitar, Brad Davis on bass, Bob Balch on guitar and Scott Reeder—no, not that Scott Reeder—on drums) have upped the aggression factor, drawing inspiration from their roots in the early west coast hardcore scene. Of course, it’s all channeled through the band’s signature fuzz-laden tone, which is even more present now than on their last offering, 2004’s Start The Machine, their first and only album on DRT Entertainment (Clutch, Powerman 5000).

They’ll be at the Knitting Factory in NYC on Monday, March 19, but when I spoke to Hill, the plans for the tour had not yet been finalized. He was excited, however, about the band’s shift in sound and louder, meatier direction.

What happened with DRT?

It just kind of wasn’t what we expected. When we first signed to them, it was a lot of, ‘Yeah, we’ll do what we gotta do to keep you guys out on the road and we’ll push the record.’ Then, when the record came out, we did a couple tours and it kind of fizzled out from there. It didn’t seem like a lot of help from the label.

At first it was cool, but we’re used to staying out on the road for a year or so for a record, and I think they were just kind of like, ‘Put the record out, get the guys out there on tour and see how it does.’ At least that’s how we felt.

So, at the end of a few tours, it really wasn’t as much support as we needed, you could say.

Start The Machine was your ninth record. One would think they’d be able to get a feel for your touring cycle.

Yeah, we can pretty much tour and be self- sufficient and stuff, but we do need some tour support sometimes. It’s just that we didn’t feel that we were getting the kind of support we needed from the label. They’re all cool and stuff, but at the end of the day it just wasn’t what we were looking for.

And making the jump to Century Media—were there other candidates there, or was it just like, ‘These guys have it down, let’s go’?

When we were talking with DRT, Century Media were talking with us as well back then. They wanted to sign us to Liquor & Poker, which was kind of a new label at the time—so was DRT—but we went with DRT because our friends Clutch were on that and they had good things to say about the label.

So we did that, and as soon as we got off DRT, we got contacted by Century Media/Liquor & Poker, and they have their stuff down when it comes to hard rock and heavy music in general, so it was a no-brainer just to go with them.