Fu Manchu
Fu Manchu

Fu Manchu

About Fu Manchu

Southern California stoner rock outfit Fu Manchu exist in a world of their own making, dominated by extra crunchy guitar riffs, vintage muscle cars, and a sense of '70s-style cool that suggests a raunchier, more dude-centric version of Dazed and Confused. Led by guitarist and singer Scott Hill, the sole constant member throughout their existence, Fu Manchu's sound is livelier and more swaggering than that of many of their stoner peers (and with a less obvious devotion to marijuana), but their obsession with motors, old-school metal, and simple but massive guitar figures certainly marks them as part of the fold. Debuting with 1994's No One Rides for Free, Fu Manchu started hitting their stride in the studio with 1997's The Action Is Go, 2000's King of the Road, and 2001's California Crossing were definitive documents of their sound and outlook. While their output slowed in the 2000s, 2014's Gigantoid and 2018's Clone of the Universe showed them continuing to deliver to their fans after launching their own label.
Fu Manchu grew out of the West Coast hardcore band Virulence, who were founded in 1985 and issued an album, If This Isn't a Dream …, in 1989. The group's final lineup was lead singer Ken Pucci, guitarist Scott Hill, bassist Greg McCaughey, and drummer Ruben Romano. In 1990, Pucci left Virulence and Glenn Chivens became their new lead vocalist, and this lineup change coincided with the group pursuing a new creative direction. Changing their name to Fu Manchu, the band put out a single on Slap-A-Ham Records, "Kept Between Trees," in 1990, but shortly after it appeared, Greg McCaughey left the band and was replaced by bassist Mark Abshire, while Chivens also dropped out of the lineup and Hill opted to handle lead vocals as well as guitar. With the addition of Scott Votaw on guitar, Fu Manchu was back to being a quartet, and they resumed recording, bringing out three indie singles between 1992 and 1993. Eddie Glass replaced Votaw on guitar in time for Fu Manchu to release their first album, 1994's No One Rides for Free, issued by the Bong Load Custom label. The band's second album, Daredevil, followed in 1985, which introduced bassist Brad Davis, replacing Mark Abshire. Fu Manchu toured tirelessly in support of the album, and a string of dates opening for Monster Magnet helped expose them to a larger audience.
The third Fu Manchu album, 1996's In Search Of …, was their first under a new contract with Mammoth Records. It was also their last album with Eddie Glass and Ruben Romano, who teamed with fellow Fu Manchu alumnus Mark Abshire to form the group Nebula. With guitarist Bob Balch and drummer Brant Bjork, Fu Manchu was once again fully staffed, and 1997's The Action Is Go, the first album with this lineup, would be hailed by critics as a step forward for the band. In 1999, Man's Ruin Records compiled two out of print EPs onto one disc for the collection (Godzilla's) Eatin' Dust, and the group's next proper album, King of the Road, followed in 2000. 2001's California Crossing would be the final Fu Manchu album for Brant Bjork, and Scott Reeder took over as drummer (he's not to be confused with the bassist Scott Reeder, who played with Kyuss and Unida), providing the final piece in what became Fu Manchu's most stable and longest-running lineup. The group left Mammoth Records, and for 2004's Start the Machine, they struck a deal with the independent DRT Entertainment, jumping to the metal-friendly Century Media imprint for 2007's We Must Obey. After 2009's Signs of Infinite Power, Fu Manchu parted ways with Century Media and took a break as Scott Reeder agreed to sit in on drums for Social Distortion on their 2010 tour. It wasn't until 2014 that another Fu Manchu album arrived, Gigantoid, which was the first LP from the group's own label, At the Dojo. Four years later, At the Dojo delivered another studio effort, Clone of the Universe, and in 2019, they partnered with Roadburn to bring out Live at Roadburn 2003, an archival recording of their appearance at the Dutch festival devoted to heavy rock. ~ Mark Deming

    Orange County, CA

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