Metal Skull: Interview with Scott Hill of Fu Manchu: Knowing The Signs

As California’s Fu Manchu makes ready to enter their 20th year of existence (having formed as hardcore act Virulence in 1985 and had their first release as Fu Manchu in 1990), the legendary fuzz rockers continue to push their form and formula in directions heretofore unseen. Of course, the ‘90s “heyday” of stoner rock is long behind them and long behind the music industry, but arguably, Fu Manchu have never been more successful or established than they are today. They’ve influenced a generation of rockers and, signed to Century Media, have found an outlet willing to give them the creative freedom to expand their sound and incorporate more of their earlier inspirations. Rare is the band who, two decades later, are getting heavier with each new release.

Such is the nature of the band, though. Fronted by guitarist/vocalist Scott Hill, they’re an ever-growing presence in a heavy underground more than eager to have them among its leaders. Hill recently checked in while on the road in Texas to talk about new album, Signs Of Infinite Power, touring, and where they’re headed from here.

It’s hard to separate this album from the fact that you guys are on the precipice of 20 years as a band. Do you think about that? Do you have any reflections on the time you’ve been doing this?

I didn’t really think about it until management were bringing it up and the record label and stuff. I can’t believe we’ve been around for—next year will be 20 years. We’re still around and we’re enjoying it as much as we did when we started. That’s the main thing to me. If I didn’t like it as much, I definitely wouldn’t be doing it. I don’t really think about it too much. If I think about it too much, I might be like, ‘What the hell have I been doing all these years.’ We just enjoy playing live, that’s about it.

How have your feelings on it changed? Touring now can’t be the same as 20 years ago.

We started touring, a lot of heavy touring, in ’94. We were opening for Monster Magnet on their Dopes To Infinity tour. It’s easier now because we’ve got a bigger fanbase and we can get a little higher guarantees to help the tour keep going, whereas before, if you don’t make any money, it’s hard to get from city to city. It’s not easy to do, but it’s running smoother now that we’ve been doing it for so long.

You’ve been everywhere at this point. Is there a certain charm to it that’s dulled over the years? You hit the same venues, the same towns.

You know, we’re going to Austin today, playing Austin, and every time we go there, we know we’re gonna eat barbecue food before the gig. We look forward to stuff like that or going to New York or Boston or up to Seattle. We hit the same places, but we enjoy going there. We’ll play different clubs, switch it up a little bit, but we definitely have our favorite things we like to see when we’re out on tour.