Saturday, May 15, 2010

FUgG (1995-present)

FUgG
Initially coming together as a side-project, the oddly-named and typeset FUgG have spent over 15 years entertaining audiences in bad attire with their unique blend of punk, pop and generally trashy rock.

Forming in 1995, Ronny van Dyk (bass/vocals), Adam Buckland (guitar/vocals), Grant Barkley (guitar/vocals), and Nathan Clark (drums), soon became local live favourites with their quick and quirky punk songs exploring common issues of male adolescence (share-housing, cars, sex, nightclubs, erections, etc...). Their outlandish live shows - which saw the members adopt fashion-blind costumes - provided a good-night-out-guarantee, making them a staple for venues and audiences.

Starting out playing the usual nineties haunts (Oxford, North Gong, Sunami, Youth Centre, UOW) the band were able to pocket enough proceeds to record their first demo (Call My Aunty) at Main Street Studios in 1995. With artwork part-influenced by Rolling Stones provided by Buckland, the 7-track demo demonstrated the band's deliberate puerility, together with a developing pop-sensibility.

As if to establish themselves as a serious commodity (if not serious songwriters) in 1996 FUgG released two versions of their next demo. Let it Beef (or it's vegetarian alternative Let it Bean) was another shot at punk-pop humour and featured a cover of Cameo classic 'Word Up'. Again, Buckland provided the artwork, this time designing two covers borrowing heavily from The Beatles' Let it Be.

Their comical reputation began preceding them, as they were soon invited to play alongside likemided bands further afield such as fellow cartoon punkers Nancy Vandal, Blitz Babies, and The Blurters. The band would go onto to release a split 7" with Nancy Vandal which in turn provided the opportunity for the band to tour up and down the east coast with Frenzal Rhomb.

In 1997 FUgG entered Powerhouse Studios and recorded their first EP, Drucked, with Russell Pilling. Self-released, Drucked received decent airplay on Triple J and Triple M who both picked up 'Distortion Saved My Teenage Arse', whilst the accompanying video was aired on Rage. The much-needed exposure enabled the band to play even further afield, venturing into the outer suburbs of Sydney, regular trips to Canberra and Newcastle, a couple of trips to Victoria and a spot at Brisbane's bi-enale and even a shows at Jindabyne.

It was around this time that Dillon Hicks (Zambian Goat Herders) offered his services as manager. Booking bands for the Oxford, and operating his own touring company, Hicks had the relevant contacts to open doors for the band.

Re-entering the studios in 1998 (again with Pilling, but this time at Damien Gerard Studios) FUgG recorded their Altar Ego EP. Again self-released, Altar Ego was superior in sound quality and musicianship, and again Triple J showed an interest as they added 'Pale Edwards' to their playlist.

In 1999 Noah Hampson joined the band as saxophonist after meeting van Dyk at TAFE, but by the turn of the millennium relations between the band and Hicks had become strained.  Despite Hicks' contacts, his involvement with the band was minimal and limited to a few local bookings, leaving the band continued to do the lions' share of the bookings.  As Hicks recalls "FUgG was pretty difficult to sell if you hadn't seen their live show. In the end, a band like that is really better off doing it for themselves." Which is exactly what the band did after parting ways with Hicks.

The pressure, however was getting to Buckland, who began missing rehearsals and gigs. Says van Dyk "Adam made a very conscious decision to completely wind the band down after the release of the Altar Ego CD, as Triple J did not pick up on his Beach Boys inspired single 'Yoko O.N.O.' which was the song we were pushing at the time. He refused to work on new material, pulled out of shows at the last minute and actively encouraged us to break up. Grant and I, realising what was happening and deciding we wanted to carry on, had already begun preparing Noah to take over on guitar as a stand by for the next show Adam pulled out of. When Adam again pulled out of a show (for the Kiama Blowout festival with Spiderbait), we had Noah ready to go and the show was played."

Hampson however, saw it slightly differently: "I was asked to fill in for a few shows on guitar when Adam was unable to make the shows. I guess this evolved into a more solid position when Adam decided to leave to focus on The Dodgy World.

"I always had a lot of time for Adam's contribution to FUgG" continues Hampson. "Adam was the member I felt I had most in common with musically so I felt ambivalent about joining the band to 'replace' him. In any case we had very different performance styles so I knew then I would have to find my own niche in the band and not try to 'be' him so to speak."

Pete Conran (The Surprise Arm, The Radio Shack 5) joined as keyboardist soon after and with the new line-up solidified, FUgG set about recording their first full-length at Studio Arts in Mt Kembla. Released by High Beam Music - a local label better known for their stoner and garage rock releases - the resulting Art Brut managed to retain the energy the band had become renowned for, but the maturity in songcraft and lyricism was immediately evident. 'I'm Psyched Tonight, Mike' was lifted as the first single and soon became a crowd favourite with it's obvious party theme.

Meanwhile van Dyk started to lend his talents to numerous side-projects, including the Archie Wah WahsHeliotrope, Relic and The Merchants, as well as helping out with Buckland's Dodgy World.

Mid-way through recording album number two, FUgG were playing the Bat and Ball in Sydney when they were spotted by Mental As Anything, who were on their way to a gig of their own. The chance meeting resulted in the Mentals offering to re-record the songs already laid down for the No Left Turn Unstoned album at their own studio in Annandale.

Again scheduled for a High Beam release, the band prepared a single for 'Cheap Set of Wheels' complete with re-recordings of 'Lost a Friend' (from Art Brut) and 'Distortion...' from Drucked. Unfortunately neither the single or the album saw a High Beam release due to what van Dyk calls "technical problems" and "shambolic handling" by the label. High Beam owner/operator Jeb Taylor regrets the problems stating, "FUgG were just one of those bands on the schedule at the wrong time and unfortunately it meant they got stuffed around a bit." The "wrong time" as Taylor diplomatically puts it, was the time when the label was struggling financially. High Beam closed it's operations shortly after, leaving other bands with scheduled releases scratching their heads.

With the release of No Left Turn... in limbo, Clark was offered a drum-seat with Richie and the Creeps featuring Richie Lewis (Tumbleweed) and Lax Charisma (Hee Haw). Clark didn't leave without a few parting words though, claiming he'd been mistreated and ripped off by the band.

Finally, after significant delays, the band self-released No Left Turn... in 2004 with many considering it the band's finest moment with strong, pop-oriented hooks and a clarity in production missing from previous efforts. Shane Jerome filled the position left vacant by Clark and the band began gigging again, headlining Kemblastock, and winning a band comp at the Palm Court which financed their next recording at 313 Studios in Coniston.

Buckland returned for two shows in 2008, after which the band was placed on indefinite hiatus, where it remains to this day.

Buckland went on to form Dodgy World, Sweet Sweet Bulbs, and has since built himself a reputation as a strong solo performer.

Barkley relocated down the south coast of NSW and is currently recording a country album as Grant Barkley and the Never Ending Bend.

Van Dyk went on to form MUSK - a Sydney-based glam rock outfit with members of Nancy Vandal and Crapulous Gee-Gaw.

Clark currently plays with The Sandcasters, while Hampson continues to play in the jazz-influenced Ate.

Conran recorded an electronic album Welcome to the Black Hope, and can often be seen behind the mixing desk at local shows.

Jerome had stints in The Chargers, and went on to perform in the Buddy Holly Tribute Show. He currently plays in covers band, Plagiarism.


Discography:
1995: Call My Aunty (demo) (download)*
1996: Let it Beef/Let it Bean (demo) (download)*
1997: Selling Your Faeces For Fun & Profit (split 7" w/ Nancy Vandal) (download)*
1997: Zen EP (download)*
1997: Drucked EP (download)*
1998: Altar Ego EP (download)*
2001: Art Brut (download)
2004: No Left Turn Unstoned (download)
2006: Speakhole EP (download)

Miscellaneous:
1996: Toybox Sessions (download)
2006: Damien Gerard Sessions (download)
Pete's House Sessions (download)

* nb: As per the band's request, recordings up to and including 1998's Altar Ego are not available as complete downloads. You can however download the remaining tracks from Nomaster Studios for a limited time.

Big thanks to Ronny van Dyk, Adam Buckland, Pete Conran and Noah Hampson who assisted greatly with this piece. Additional thanks to Dillon Hicks and Jeb Taylor for their contributions.

2 comments:

  1. Hi, was wondering if you had contact details for Fugg? I was hoping to interview them for Duderocket.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. hey luke, thanks for dropping by. best thing would probably be to email me (steelcitysound@gmail.com) and i can provide an email contact for one or two of the guys in a less public way. cheers.

    ReplyDelete