California Dreaming

Fu Manchus dude-rock ethos

"We were in awe of those guys growing up—Alva, Tony Hawk, all of 'em," Hill says. "We never knew them personally, but we wanted to skate like they did. There's this book all about [Dogtown] that just came out which I can't wait to read called The Concrete Wave."

It's a kick in the head that such a whopping slab of Americana goes over so well in the U.K. and Scandinavia, where the murderous pagan recidivism and church burnings endemic to the cliquey black-metal scene hold sway. Fu are the toast of Brit mags like Kerrang! and Terrorizer and are taking Europe by storm.

"It's awesome over there. We started the tour in Greece, opening to, like, 800 people. We never play venues that big in the States," Hill rhapsodizes before chuckling. "I think they're mostly into our shoes. We all wear those old-style Vans slip-ons. I guess you can't get 'em over there."

With all that appreciation, is there ever the temptation to indulge a few perks, such as frisky young groupies? "Well, I can't speak for the other guys, but I got a girl back in San Clemente who I'm steady with," he says. "You can print that—she'll be real happy."

Europe may be golden, but it's Down Under where Fu Manchu is as hot as the sands of Maralinga. Makes sense. If there's a doppelganger of SoCal in the Eastern Hemisphere, it's Australia. "They loved us there," Hill says. "I can't wait to go back. Aussies are great people. When we go through there again, I'm gonna make sure I take a couple of days off for surfing."

The taciturn Hill is a tough interview, really—lots of responses like "yeah," "nah" and "cool." I try a little ska-baiting—a topic rumored to raise the group's hackles —but like the song from King of the Road, it's "No Dice." As the lulls in our chat grow longer, I launch into a rambling anecdote that ends up with me running over my brother's vintage '74 Nectarine Tri-Fin—a sweet board—with our mom's station wagon.

After I tell him this, a deadly silence hangs in the air, not unlike a stray fart in church. Much to my relief, a hearty belly laugh finally ensues.

"Awww, man," he says. "I was gonna ask if you wanted to sell it."

Fu Manchu play with Anthrax and Raven Mad at the Galaxy Concert Theatre, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, (714) 957-0600. Thurs., Feb. 3, 8 p.m. $18.50.
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