Revolver has teamed with Fu Manchu for an exclusive, limited-edition "Black and White Marble" vinyl variant of their classic album Godzilla's/Eatin' Dust. It's limited to just 500 — get yours before they're gone!
"People always yell for 'Godzilla' … Every. Show."
Fu Manchu leader Scott Hill laughs when he tells Revolver this fact, but he gets it. His band's glacial cover of Blue Öyster Cult's hard-rock staple has become an iconic stoner-rock statement since they first released it in 1997. And right about now — eight months into the global pandemic — Hill would like nothing more than to be onstage getting heckled to perform it.
This year was slated to be a big one for Fu Manchu, as it marks the 30th anniversary of their 7-inch debut Kept Between Trees. To celebrate the milestone — and the 12 fuzzed-out, riff-filled albums they've dropped along the way, from Nineties fan favorites like Godzilla's/Eatin' Dust and The Action Is Go to their latest, 2018's Clone of the Universe — Fu Manchu were gearing up to release three 10-inch records and hit the road for some extensive touring. But the continued impact of COVID-19 has forced them to put a pin in their plans.
"This year is our 30th year as a band and we had all these tours and reissues coming out and all of that … Now nothing," says Hill. "We're trying to move it to next year. But I'm not even sure if next year's gonna happen. But yeah … What can you do?"
Like the rest of us, Hill is learning how to navigate 2020's repeated gut punches and, in aptly optimistic Orange County style, rolling with it the best he can. He's still logging studio time to chip away at the 10-inches, and was pleased Fu Manchu were able to release their killer cover of Rush's "Working Man" this past summer as a tribute to the Canadian band's late drummer Neal Peart. (Peart died in January as a result of brain cancer, and Fu Manchu donated the proceeds of their cover to benefit cancer research).
To commemorate Fu Manchu's legacy of heavy riffing, we caught up with Hill for a walk down memory lane to revisit two of their early 10-inch vinyl releases, Godzilla and Eatin' Dust, which were combined to create one of the band's most popular full-length albums: 1999's Godzilla's/Eatin' Dust.
"It was a good time," Hill says of the era around the recordings. "[Kyuss drummer] Brant [Bjork] got in the band, we were coming up with a lot of songs. We were doing a lot of touring, selling a lot of stuff on vinyl. … It was a very productive time. … We were getting along really well, hanging out, surfing together. Brant was living in Palm Desert. I lived right at the beach and he always wanted to learn how to surf. So we're out there, pushing him out on six-foot waves and he's just getting worked, and we're laughing. It was good time."
Throughout our in-depth conversation below, Hill takes us back to the desert sessions where the magic happened and discusses getting fuzzy with producer Josh Homme, why they "fuck up" every song they cover, and the Fu Manchu song that unexpectedly soundtracked a Super Bowl commercial — and earned him mad props from his mom.
1997'S GODZILLA 10-INCH MARKED A NEW CHAPTER FOR THE BAND …
SCOTT HILL Yeah, we got Brant Bjork from Kyuss in the band to drum. We were on tour for our  In Search of … record and we weren't getting along, me and [bassist] Brad [Davis] weren't getting along with our drummer [Ruben Romano] and lead guitar player [Eddie Glass] personally and musically. They weren't happy, we weren't happy … Brant was the first guy I called and he was like, 'Yeah let's do it.' … I think we had "Module Overload" and "Living Legend" kinda written … and we had just started to do "Godzilla." Then we got Brant in the band and we immediately started playing and practicing those songs. Frank Kozik from Man's Ruin [Records] was like, "You guys wanna do a three song 10-inch?" And we were like, yeah, [that] would be a great way to introduce Brant in the band.
THE GODZILLA SESSIONS TOOK PLACE IN OCTOBER 1996 AT RANCHO DE LA LUNA IN JOSHUA TREE. THAT STUDIO HAS A MYSTIQUE TO IT FOR STONER-ROCK FANS. WHAT WAS THE VIBE LIKE BACK THEN?
We'd gone to Rancho de la Luna out in Joshua Tree … with Josh Homme, and he was like, "Hey lemme produce it." So we were like, "Yeah, cool." That was the first time we were out there. It's a cool studio in a house out in the middle of nowhere. We slept there in the studio, and had a good time. We all sat around Brant playing live. We didn't write anything in there. With Fu Manchu we always go in with stuff written. I can't bring myself to go to a studio and the whole time you're paying and not getting stuff done. [Laughs]
ALONG WITH PRODUCING, JOSH HOMME ALSO PLAYED EXTRA PERCUSSION DURING THE SESSIONS, RIGHT?
He did. He did some shakers, some tambourine. He might have played a guitar lick? [As a producer] he was full-on, like, "Hey what about this? Speed this up, or hey let's cut that part." He was hand's on twisting the knobs. At that time Brant and him were getting along well, they were fine. I've known Josh since the early Kyuss days, so I was cool with him. But yeah he definitely was hand's on as a producer.
THE MYTHOLOGY SURROUNDING THE SCENE WAS THAT WEED AND PSYCHEDELICS WERE REALLY INTERTWINED WITH THE CREATIVITY. WERE THEY PART OF YOUR REGIMEN BACK THEN?
Not really. [Growing up] my main music from like 1980 to '87 was hardcore punk rock. That's it. That's all I listened to. I put my Sabbath and KISS into the closet when I found punk in 1980. … I wanted to surf, all day, every day. I wouldn't get fucked up. I'd hang out with my friends and drink a little bit, but they're just getting wasted and not showing up. … At practice none of us really smoked or drank ... And in the studio, no, definitely not for me. I just don't want to waste time. ... If we didn't have to pay anything and had all these days to screw around, sure, it might be a different story. [Laughs]
WAS BLUE ÖYSTER CULT'S "GODZILLA" PART OF YOUR EARLY MUSICAL DIET BEFORE HARDCORE TOOK OVER?
Blue Öyster and all that was way before, like mid-Seventies. I grew up in Huntington Beach, it's like a surf city, a pier. … I grew up going down there and seeing older kids blaring that stuff, like Foghat and Deep Purple, Sabbath. I would hear that all the time.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO COVER "GODZILLA" ALL THOSE YEARS LATER?
I've always heard that song since I was young. I don't know what possessed me to want to do it at the time. I think it was just a riff. I'm always attracted to the riff. That's got an insane riff. One day I was over at Brad our bassist's house and I was just like, Hey can you figure out "Godzilla"? He's great at figuring songs out — I suck at it. So he figured it out and I was like, Whoa, shit, let's play that! Let's slow it down and make it real heavy!
YOU ACHIEVED YOUR GOAL. THAT SHIT IS DEFINITELY SLOW AND HEAVY.
[Laughs] If we're going to do a cover, we're going to fuck it up. We're never thinking, This is going to be better than the original! That's stupid. [Laughs] … And for some reason we always slow stuff down. Except we did a hardcore song, "Nothing Done" by SSD, and we sped that up. I don't get how that happened. [Laughs] But we always slow stuff down: "Chevy Van" by Sammy Johns, "Slow Ride" by Foghat, "Takin' It to the Streets" by Doobie Brothers, "Freedom of Choice" by Devo … we always slow it down. That's what we're into. I never want to play stuff faster for some reason.
IN 2018 YOU UNEARTHED THE ORIGINAL GODZILLA TAPES. THEY INCLUDED EARLY VERSIONS OF "GRENDEL, SNOWMAN," "STROLLING ASTRONOMER" AND "URETHANE" AS WELL AS THE THIN LIZZY "JAILBREAK" COVER, WHICH YOU EVENTUALLY RELEASED AS GODZILLA'S/EATIN' DUST + 4. WHERE WERE THOSE TAPES HIDDEN?
I store all our tapes at my parents' house in my old bedroom in the closet because it's nice and cool in there and they're gonna be safe. I was over there getting something and I saw them. I was like, What are these? Nothing was written on them except Man's Ruin. … I thought it was maybe going to be blank. But I opened it up and saw the track list, and it said "Grendel," "Strolling Astronomer," "Urethane" and the Thin Lizzy cover. And I was seriously stumped because I don't remember recording those at all. [Laughs] I called Brad and asked him if he remembered doing those songs during the Godzilla sessions, and he was like, "No … what? Holy shit."
WHAT WAS IT LIKE WHEN YOU FIRST LISTENED TO THEM?
So I got the tapes baked and I took the files to this studio and we put it up and played it. Everything was on there: guitar, drums, bass, leads, vocals. I was like, Holy shit! "Jailbreak" we had done a couple years later, and the version on the Godzilla's/Eatin' Dust is like way better to me because it's more raw, a little bit slower and not as tight. So me and Brad went into the studio to mix the songs and they sounded great. And "Grendel," we had recorded that song for our  record The Action Is Go but the version on Godzilla's/Eatin' Dust is a lot faster and I didn't remember that at all. It's more rocking. It was wild.
LET'S TALK ABOUT EATIN' DUST. THOSE TRACKS WERE RECORDED IN LATE 1998 AT ANOTHER ICONIC DESERT SPOT: MONKEY STUDIOS IN PALM SPRINGS. HOW DID THE VIBE COMPARE TO THE GODZILLA SESSIONS?
It was another house turned into a studio out in Palm Springs. Chris Goss from Masters of Reality owned it. So we were like, fuck, it's got to be gnarly if that guy owns it. That studio was really cool. Another house with great sound. There's a pool in the backyard. There's some picture of Bob jumping from the fence like eight-feet high into the pool. We were like, Woah, maybe we shouldn't be doing that. [Laughs] We went in same room — we wanted to keep it real raw and live. Brant [would] hit the sticks four times, we'd record the song. Then we'd all look at each other, like, Is that cool? Yeah, okay … and we'd do the next one and not even listen to it. That one was real raw, we didn't want to overthink things. I don't think there's really any overdubs.
"MONGOOSE" WAS DONE DURING THOSE SESSIONS, BUT A LATER VERSION OF THE TRACK GOT PICKED UP FOR A 2008 TOYOTA SUPER BOWL COMMERCIAL. I'M CURIOUS: WHAT DOES SUPER BOWL EXPOSURE DO FOR A WORKING BAND?
[Laughs] This is wild, because we did "Mongoose" on the Eatin' Dust session and it was like way different than what we did on [2001's] California Crossing. The label Mammoth really liked the song. They heard the Eatin' Dust sessions we did for Kozik and were like, "Fuck we love those songs! Why didn't you save them for us!" [Laughs] … When we were doing California Crossing years later the label really liked "Mongoose" and asked us if we would think about re-doing it. We never really did that before because we always had a lot of songs. But we were like, "Yeah we'll do it." We had been working with [producer] Matt Hyde and he had these suggestions to try some different stuff so it was different. So we did it and I remember a couple months before the Super Bowl, our manager going, "Hey Toyota might want to use that song in a Super Bowl commercial." And I was like, "What? Really?" And he was like, "Yeah, but it's a long shot." I don't give a shit if our music is in a commercial, or a dentist's office. I never cared. [Laughs] We got a lot of shit for that but I was like, I don't give a fuck.
So I totally forgot about it. It was me, my wife and mom — we went out to eat dinner somewhere and the Super Bowl was on. We were kinda watching it, but my back was to the TV screen and all of a sudden I heard the riff. I really didn't process it, but my wife Nickie was like, "Hey, that's your song!" I turned around and it was the Toyota commercial playing "Mongoose" and I was like, Holy shit!
It was great because my mom was there, and I was like, "Hey, look!" [Laughs] She's freaking out, and I'm freaking out. … People are calling me and our manager and the band dudes were like, "What the hell!" Because [Toyota] didn't even tell us. [Laughs] … I don't know if it helped record sales but I'm sure someone somewhere was like, Hey that's a cool riff I'm going to look into that. Who knows?
WELL, AT LEAST YOUR MOM WAS SUPER STOKED.
That's the main thing! Me being a jackass, playing guitar for five hours at home when I lived there when I was younger [and] look what happened! [Laughs]
GODZILLA'S/EATIN' DUST IS ONE OF FU MANCHU'S MOST POPULAR RELEASES AND A DEFINITE FAN FAVORITE. LOOKING BACK, WHAT'S YOUR IMPRESSION OF THE ALBUM NOW?
People always yell for "Godzilla." Every. Show. [Laughs] … Sometimes, when we're in Europe or places we don't get to a lot, we're like, "Yeah, we're doing 'Godzilla.'" We played Mexico City last year for the first time and people were freaking out and we're like, "Yup, we're gonna do whatever they scream out."
I remember when Brad figured "Godzilla" out I was like, Oh, that's such a great riff … It's such a fun song to do. The only thing is I wish I would've sung it better. I think when we were in the studio I was a little hesitant. … I was like, Oh shit, I don't think I'm going to do justice to the BÖC vocals and people are going to be bummed. 'Cause I never wanted to be a singer, ever. I just wanted to play guitar. But our singer left after the first 7-inch and the band was like, "OK, you're doing it." There's live versions of it where I sing it a million times better. But I still like it — it reminds me of having a really good time in that studio, hanging out, all of us staying in that house, they're cooking dinner, hanging with Josh [Homme], trying new stuff, trying to get it as fuzzy as possible.