||1997 : SKANKY BEGINNINGS
It all began one drunken evening in deepest, darkest Africa...
Fuzigish was originally formed in 1997, comprising of JP (Guitar and Vocals), Mike (Drums), Matthew (Bass) and Alistair (Guitar). The name was originally spelt "Fuzzy Gish" and no one seems to remember how the name arrived - it just did - and more importantly, people seemed to remember it!
Early days were spent playing at friends' open parties, Wings Beat Bar, Roxy's and Kebab Junction. The music was eclectic, to say the least, with a mixture of NOFX, Neil Young, AC/DC, Pixies, Metallica, Cypress Hill, Clash and a few originals, amongst others, making up the set list. As you can imagine, the band managed to confuse the audience and themselves with their music tastes - but whenever they played a good time was had by all. At the height of the rave invasion, Buffalo shoes and all, it seemed some people still enjoyed live music! The band was usually paid in huge amounts of beer and played two or three sets per night.
On one occasion, Matthew passed out into his huge Elk bass amp. At another gig at Kebab Junction, Alistair launched onto a table, mid-solo, lathered in Castle draft, and slipped and landed on his back. He didn't even miss a note! He did, however, have back problems for a couple of weeks.
1998 : END OF A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME
During the year Fuzi recorded at B-Sharp. They then released a 6 track E.P. and one of the tracks, "Driving" made it to No.1 on the Modern Rock Chart. An early version of "How Rude!" and "Louise" can be found on this CD. They also submitted one song called "Wish it away" to GTFO
Magazine, included on GTFO Vol.7.
Following a nervous interview with Barney Simon, Fuzi then toured down to Durban for an eventful show at Jamie's with Square Jaw. The power cut out during one song, the drum set fell apart and one of the guitar amps blew! They returned to JHB and continued playing gigs with Leek, MadCap, Ned's Nipples, Mao and Ethel My Love, to name a few. One evening they were invited to open for the Springbok Nude Girls at Roxy's, the biggest rock band in the country at the time.
The band was tight, but the music styles within the band were too varied. Alistair was slowly turning more to electronica and acid jazz and Matthew's attention was more focused on his future wife than the band. Jay Bones and Captain Rudabar wanted to play a strict punk/ska style like the bands NOFX,
Rancid and Sublime, but the other guys were not too keen on this idea.
Fuzi ended the year with a mainstage appearance after Wonderboom at Oppikoppi 98'. It was all very big and overwhelming, and they were asked to play again two days later on the Black Label stage. A menacing mosh pit ensued! After this gig the band split up indefinitely with no hard feelings.
1999 : BLOOD & BRASS
JP and Mike kept speaking of forming a new band, but who would they find to play? And what would they call it? Were they suckers for punishment?
Step in Malcolm and Ryan. Ryan met Mike on the dance floor, skanking it up at a "Dorp" gig at the now defunct Bob's Bar. They had a mutual friend - Malcolm - who had played in punk band "The Dixons" back in the Vans Warehouse days. In turn, the lads had seen Fuzi back in 1998 and Fuzi had
been to the parties at the Vans Warehouse - everyone kinda knew each other in a vague way.
Before they realised it, everyone was at the Megamusic Warehouse skanking out songs such as the never recorded "Agatha Buttworthy", "Gimp Boy" and "Shooting Star". "Bridges", "Fat Ska Beatin' " and "Scratching" were also written during these sessions, and the addition of a trumpet added a new dimension. It was strictly speedy punk ska songs, with the emphasis being on humour and sing-a-long choruses against galloping drums and fast-running basslines. A decision was made to keep the name Fuzigish because people had heard it before. Another decision was taken to give everyone nicknames - JP became "Jay Bones", Mike became "Capt. Rudabar", Ryan chose "Skankin' Daddy" and Malcolm opted for the porn-starish "Chest Rockwell".
Soon the band decided it was time to unleash their wrath upon the local punk scene....but what scene? At that time there were only three punk type bands in JHB - Ethel My Love, 85ers and Fuzi, and no one was organising shows. Jay Bones had an idea to have a big gig and invite Leek and Petflyz (from Pretoria) to come and play at a the punk party at a club called Hunters in Johannesburg. A mate of his at work, Toast, volunteered to do the artwork and suggested they call it Mad Circle, the name of a defunct skate Co. in the USA. So Bones organised the bands and everyone was keen, except Ethel who were playing a gig with local pop band Amersham. To this day I think they will always regret not playing that gig. The venue was packed and the cover charge was a steep R5-00. The bands were brilliant and the owner was chuffed! The legend of Mad Circle was created, a home for punk and ska in JHB over the next few years.
The band continued writing and playing hard, including another Mad Circle gig, with Green Pepper Harry, and some exciting gigs at a few skate parks. Leek, Petflyz, 85ers and Fuzi were the regular names. One gig at at the Arena saw Ed Templeton and Mike Valely throw out decks and wheels, resulting in a riot. The Fuzi set was cut short after a fight between security, some stray jocks and skater punks. It was all about beer, fun, skating, and shouting out at the world...and then doing it all again the following weekend.
Some new bands soon emerged into the scene, including The Vendettas and Humphrey the Teacup. An interesting fact is that Jay Bones played guitar at the Vendettas first ever gig - a 21st party - where a "certain" party man set fire to the trees and pool. However, Jay soon left the Vendettas after a fight with their ex-guitarist made band practice a hostile situation.
Then in July, Jay Bones suddenly announced that he was moving to Cape Town with his girlfriend. For some reason, nobody seemed to really stress too much about this. During this time, Skankin' Daddy had a few guest sessions with the likes of Humphrey the Teacup and Leek. Jay got to hang with top punk bands like Hog Hoggidy Hog and Fungy Gone West down in Cape Town. Rockwell punched a fire at a dodgy party, breaking his knuckle. Rudabar and his cheeky sidekick Tricky Nicci worked extra hard at cultivating the perfect agricultural specimen and later declared "The ultimate job in the world would be as a hemp farmer!"
Jay returned to Johannesburg at the end of 1999, a wiser man, to begin recording the debut Fuzigish album "Skankers Union". The end of 1999 saw Fuzigish record two songs "Little Bird" and "Alien Love" at B-Sharp Studios.
2000 : SKANKERS UNION, HOW DO YOU DO?
The band began the year working hard on getting songs together for their first album. During 1999, Andrew Wright - frontman for Leek and long time friend of the band , had established a small indie label called Croakroom Records. "Little Bird" was subsequently included on Croakroom's first compilation "Taking on the World". In many ways, this compilation announced the birth of a growing punk, ska and hardcore scene in South Africa. It was then planned that Fuzi would release their debut full-length album through Croakroom Records in June 2000. There was no launch gig, marketing or huge hype, but the album slowly sold at gigs and at stores. In the punk circles, word got out and the web helped, as did Andy's constant support from the stage in-between Leek songs.
"Skankers Union" was the title of the album and it received some very good reviews. Written mostly by Jay Bones, the album lyrics seemed to focus on issues of personal growth and rule-breaking. Very uplifting and upbeat, the album is optimistic and contains Fuzi classics such as "Secret Police", "Scratching", "Fat Ska Beating", "Little Bird", "Skankers Union", "Bridges" and "How Rude!".
OneWorld had this to say about the album - "With the brass/guitar combination being extremely melodic, they can certainly expect a wider audience than the small but extremely dedicated punk fanbase in South Africa. Exciting and exhilirating, it is not mediocre music, but music to be moved by! ". Another journalist declared "Fuzigish are living proof that although two-tone, as a musical style, is more than 20 years old it still breathes, entertains, enchants and communicates its unique message throughout the world - as rude and healthy as ever. This is indeed music for us all. "
At the time Jay Bones was introduced to a keyboard player named Lord Zoltan. A lean lad with an obession for all things sci-fi, Zoltan was enthuastic to become involved with the band on any level. Soon he was recruited with the intention of playing "Little Bird" only. Well that all changed and soon Zoltan was playing in a few more songs than just "Little Bird" in the typical Fuzi set.
The band soon realised that a trip to the coast was in order. They contacted Brandon, a good friend and guitarist for Durban hardcore sXe band Crossing Point, and soon two gigs were organised - one at the Bat Cafe with Balaams Donkey and Burnt Out and a second with Still Thinking and Petflyz at Burn. The accomodation was organised by Rockwell. It was a huge building - 400 rooms and no tenants - they took the best two rooms and out of the 5 bathrooms, none of the toilets worked, but the unisex showers were enjoyed by all. At the Burn gig our good friend and Croakroom's treasurer, Helen, was run over in the circle and had to be rushed to hospital. Although Chest Rockwell remained injury free this tour, he did have hassles with his car!
In 2000, there was a sudden boom of punk bands nationwide. Punk bands seemed to be in every suburb. Most of our gigs were at Hunters (later called Demolition), Boogy Nights, Thrashers, The Big Easy, Horror Cafe and any spot willing to be invaded by beer guzzling punk kids in the Gauteng area. One gig was played at a Tab in Alberton with metal, goth and alternate bands completing the bill. Fuzi played and a few friends skanked the pit. They were later paid with a crate of beers.
Then there was the Crocodile River Rumble. We all ended up playing frisbee and listening to "The Doors" booming through the huge PA, as nobody pitched up at the Festival! As Fuzi drove in, a big Land Rover loaded with drunks drove out - it was the guys from Not My Dog and they warned Fuzi "Turn back now - there's no one here! You'll be playing to Phil Wright...and that's all!" Welcome to Echo Valley. Cricket chirps and one-clap city! They played and treated it as a practice session that included a great intro from Phil Wright.
Towards the end of the year they played Oppikoppi and Woodstock 2000. The Oppikoppi stage was massive, and the distance bewteen the guitarists and drum kit was well over 5m. Fuzi was used to playing small pubs and clubs and when Rudabar the drummer counted the one break in, no one heard it and the band totally miscued! Afterwards they all spent the weekend running around the bushveld, getting dirty, drunk, burnt and watching some amazing musicians and DJ's.
Woodstock 2000 had one stage devoted to punk, hardcore and alternative music and Fuzigish was set to play on the Friday night at 7pm. When they got to the stage the crowd was chanting "Fuzi, Fuzi!". For some reason the stage was built on a slope with huge wooden stumps about 3 m from the stage projecting out the ground. As you can imagine, when the Fat Ska Beating began, chaos broke out and soon the organisers were begging the band to control the crowd. This was an impossible task! Jay just laughed and the band played. Stage problems aside, the show was great and memorable, with the crowd singing along.
As far as chart success went, something the band has never aspired to, they had a little fun with "Scratching" going to No.2 on the Modern Rock Chart and "Secret Police" actually hitting NO.32 on the TOP 40. They even enjoyed some daytime airplay!
Towards the end of the year a band called Five Iron Frenzy (USA) came out and a really insane gig with them was had at the Big Easy. The place was packed and perspiration was dripping from the ceiling. FIF were an excellent band and it was great to finally see some international ska!
Fuzi ended the year down in Cape Town. This was their first Cape tour and it was awesome. They contacted Matt from Hardcore band Neshamah and he helped them organise two stomping shows. The response to the songs was amazing and the gig at the Purple Turtle must be one of the best Fuzi shows ever. Three broken guitar strings later, the band was exhausted and had played every song they knew.
They played one more gig at The Big Tree. Too much partying had taken its toll and the show was a dodgy attempt! Chest Rockwell's rendetion of Glenn Medirios still haunts the Cape Town skankers to this day. If anything, the show displayed Fuzi's warped sense of humour and it even included a Skid Row cover! Afterwards Bones and Zoltan hooked up with George Bacon for an epic pre-New Year's warm up party at The Shack. Chest Rockwell managed to break his toe on this tour and Skankin' Daddy managed to drive all the way to Cape Town in a Sunbeam - I think the band was suprised to see him actually pitch up at the gigs.
2001 : BEER, SCOTCH & SOULFOOD = REHAB
Nobody was prepared for what a stressful and exciting year 2001 would be!
It started off with a bang for the Fuzi gang, and with the continued success of Mad Circle, Fuzi was booked solid between Pretoria and Johannesburg. The band headed off to play Oppikoppi Easter Festival alongside bands like Moodphase5 and NMD and then cruised to Splashy Fen (Natal). At Splashy they played in the main marquee after Saron Gas and before Boo! It was an important show for Fuzi - they played well under the circumstances. The sound was huge and Fuzi was beginning to appreciate a big stage and all it had to offer, but still felt more comfortable on a smaller stage.
During the year Fuzi took part in various shows such as "Rock against Rape" benefit and "Pun2uation", as well as playing at Leek and the Bouncing Uptones' launch gig. Jay Bones sang on the "Six Gun Brown" on the Leek album "Roll the Dice".
Woodstock rolled around in September and USA's new school punk idols "Strung Out" were booked to play. With this in mind, the organisers offered the band the lowest performance fee to date for any festival, with full knowledge that any band would play for free with Strung Out on the bill! Then Sept 11 happened and Strung Out cancelled. Rockwell managed to break his thumb 10 minutes before they played and still managed to get huge skanking basslines down.
Fuzi also featured in a few videos including Blunt Subversion and South African Wakeboard Safari.
Soon bad news arrived as drummer and long time compadre, Capt. Rudabar, decided to leave South Africa and work abroad for a while.The band tried to finish recording the second full-length album before he left but only managed 10 songs. He left and the farewell show played at Demolition was one of those amazing shows you never forget - the crowd skanked for over one hour! Hog Hoggidy Hog played a brilliant show before and KingSkaSA delivered sweet ska sounds of the underground after the bands. The Hogs slept over at the Gowrie Massive (Fuzi headquarters for 6 months). Unfortunately, there was no bedding and they had to share one mattress and one sofa.
Now Fuzigish had to find a new drummer?
They received a call from Robin Moier aka "Rob Dog", whom the band had met along the way, and he was amped to audition. He had played with Miss September and Super Clown before . Fuzi checked him out and discovered that he had huge potential as a punk/ska drummer, but just needed a bit of guidance in the styles of ska and punk. Soon he was hammering away at the skins and breaking sticks, all in the name of Fuzigish!
Another tour was organised to Cape Town during October. The first gig was at The Jam with Hog Hoggidy Hog. After a great gig, everyone went and hung out at Crazy Cats, where an unplugged session ensued late into the night. Chest Rockwell skanked phat basslines on a rented double bass, and Lee Lips and Slug Boy joined in for a huge brass section. Finally George Hog jumped onto the counter and stripped off all his clothes - the rest of the night has been censored!
The following day, the band played a gig at Boogaloos Skate Park at Century City to hordes of mad ass punk kids! Other bands on the bill included "New World Inside", "Aftertaste" and "Neshamah". Great bands made for an awesome all-ages show. The band then crashed at Jen's (Neshamah bass player) house and watched hardcore videos late into the night.
Returing to Johannesburg, they finished recording the "Southern Ska Stomper" album at the end of 2001. Fuzigish needed a rest and the band took a holiday during Dec/Jan. It was time for rehab! Skankin' Daddy got married to his long time girlfriend Nicola on 15th Dec. The band even got a chance to play several songs at the wedding!
2002 : SOUTHERN SKA STOMPING
The year began with intense practice sessions and loads of work. On the live show front, the band had been rather quiet, but behind the scenes the the Fuzi machine wheels were being oiled.
Production on the new album packaging began with illustrations being handled by Milo Marcer, a well respected tattooist in the area.
During January, the band played one show down in Durban at the opening of Gateway Skate Park. It seemed that the classy mall by the sea demanded a big party, featuring local bands and international skaters. The stage was set up behind the wave machine - a very strange place that seemed to distance the band from the audience. For a band bought up playing pubs and clubs, the whole experience was very alienating. An "us and them" scenario was apparent. The rain came tumbling down three songs into the set but the band played on. Luckily no one was electrocuted! The band headed back to JHB to get ready for their album launch.
The new album "Southern Ska Stomper" was released on the 9th March 2002 through (R)evolution Records at a dodgy bar called "Bohemian". The venue fits 150 people max! 387 crazed punk rockers pitched and within 30mins the floor tiles were no longer. The crowd skanked like never before. Fuzi could not have asked for a better launch party. "Southern Ska Stomper" is varied in style - there is the skanking rock steady madness of "Lonely Skanker" or "Down & Out", the straight forward punk anthems like "Fight the fight" and "Conspiracy" and the rockabilly stylings of "Blue Skies" and "Hill Street". All in all, the album is a bit darker in lyrical content and more technical from a musical direction. The band was happy with the results, if not a bit jaded after many hours hanging around the B-Sharp studio.
2002 : THE SKANK GOES ON...
So much has happened since the launch of Southern Ska Stomper, some things we can remember, some we never will and some things we've chose to forget.
Fuzi travelled all over South Africa, playing shows wherever people would have them. Some good, some bad, but every show worth it! In May the Fuz hit Cape Town and played with "New World Inside" (a new band signed to [R]evolution at the time) and the famous Hog Hoggidy Hog. The Jam always seems to rock out. We also played Bloem with Cape Town Punkers "Half-Price". Marcus the DFG, is a fucking maniac, as Rob Dog found out when he had to share a bed with him, Pete and Curb Dogs' dog?!?!
Splashy Fen also saw the likes of the Fuzigish crew guzzling mushrooms and hanging with punks from across the country. We had a really amazing show on the Blunt Stage, headlining the Saturday night. Fuzi was skankin' it up on Old Brown Sherry. The stage was about 6ft high and with guys stage diving constantly we knew something was bound to happen, and then it did. Blonde Boy flew through the air and the crowd just seemed to disappear below him, almost resulting in him breaking his neck. We stopped half way through "Little Bird" and waited 10 minutes for the medics. He mailed us a few weeks later and wasn't going to sue. He said it was the raddest show!
We even landed up in Nelspruit with "The Diesel Whores", "Jimmy 12 Inch" and some other bands that won¹t be interviewed unless they change their shirts and wear their sunglasses in the dark. Strange. The Blue Moon is an amazing venue, we told oursleves that one day we would have a massive punk show there.
We played Durban twoweeks in a row, and the second week, tropical Durban was f&^%ing freezing. The cold had set in nationwide. On arrival at the Wavehouse we realised we had 40 minutes to carry, set up, tune, sound check, get back in the cars and drive to SABC for an interview. In the frenzy rush Zoltan drove into oncoming traffic thinking we were on a double-lane highway instead of a single-lane back road. The brights of an oncoming 12 wheeler will be inblazed into Zol, Rob Dogs, Pauls, Jay Bones and Cerven Cotter's retina' forever. We had an interview with Kevin Fyne (Later to DJ at the Wavehouse). During the interview a womans voice spoke down on us repeatedly through mounted wall speakers telling Kevin to stop messing around. So God is a woman after all. The interview was rad...or so Jay Bones told me. Afterwards SMS's followed offering free sex and accommodation. Back on the road to Wavehouse, Skankin' Daddy needed a shower....badly! So we headed out to a 15 minute away destination (Rob Dog's cousin's house). 45 minutes later we turned around, Daddy still stank! We were late for the show.
Back at the Wavehouse we raided the Flowrider showers. To the disgust of some dude with long blonde hair and a wetsuit, Jay Bones stripped off, kaalgat, and headed full force into the only remaining shower. Zoltan enters the record books at this point with the shortest shower in his life, only 23 minutes. In the VIP section we flattened the grub leaving only rib bones for the late comers. Nick the Fool was running back and forth bringing beers and more beers and well... more beers.
We hit the stage in 80 knot winds. Rockwell couldn't play the first 5 songs 'cause his hands were frozen. The sound was awesome! The Stage was huge. The crowd was incredible! We played hard and fast., The Captain and Nick The Fool were skanking, drinking and filming. We played 25 songs, ending with "Fight the Fight" with the whole crowd on the stage singing in union.
The bar was calling. We drank ourselves into a comer or maybe a coma?! Thank Jah Nick The Fool was driving. When we finally got to our accomodation, Rob Dog decided to jump of the balcony -3 stories into palm trees, crossed the beach and jumped into jellyfish infested waters. Rockwell landed up pissing on Rob's leg to stop the stinging.
The Jay Bay gig. Picture it. 12 July 2002. Johannesburg. 5am. 2 cars. One trailer. And the Fuzi Crew. On our way to a better place...Jay's Aunt in Port Alfred. A stop over was in need. Port Alfred was dead, but it's radder that way. Easy parking, 6 pubs and the sea. We had driven for twelve hours and needed refreshment, a pub crawl was called for! Rob Dog and the Captain cleaned up on the pool tables so we had a little money to get to our next destination.
The trip continued into Billabong country, Jay Bay. An amazing little town! The Boneyard was a rad venue to hold a punk gig. The Finkelstiens started the evening off with their MxPx/GreenDay style and entertained the crowd. They are the most healthy looking, wholsesome boys around. Nice lads with a rad PA that landed up getting stomped on by someone in "conspiracy". Unfortunately they did not want to play Kynsna so we had to cancel that show, 'cause they had all the backline equipment. A pity. So Knysna escaped the Fuzi fury!
We got to the stage and skanked a huge set. It was Skankin' Daddies B-day and the whiskies were flowing. Paul from "Brothers of Art" was skanking so much he landed up hurling behind the drums. Great show, great people, great town! So Jay Bones played The Boneyard in Jay Bay! Twist that tongue.
We crashed at Pauls (the same mad skankin' dude) house, right on the beach. Amazing! Thanks for all the help Paul, you are a hero, like Robert De Niro! Huge thanks must go out to Brothers of Art! In total we travelled 2700km's to swim in the sea!
There was a club near Boksburg called "the Purple Turtle" that seemed to be hosting loads of punk shows in 2002. Fuzi played there one friday night and as usual traffic was chaos during the Friday rush hour. Zoltan and Rockwell managed to sneak out of work a few minutes early and headed out to the East Rand. Jay Bones called Rockwell at 5:55pm. "I'm lost Rockwell. And there's an accident holding up traffic". Rockwell quickly changed highways to avoid the accident. Jay Bones was lost, 'cause the highway he told Rockwell to change to was in fact the highway he was on with the accident. Finally Fuzi were all sitting in McDonalds feasting on plastic food. Zoltan was the only one who knew where he was going. 7 cars in convoy - one is bound to get lost. Rockwell's girlfriend! "Where the fuck are you guys?" she yelled down the phone. Skankin' Daddy on his Vespa went back to her aid. Back in convey they entered Alsburg and finally found the club. "Why the hell didn't we just take the N17 and taken 2 rights - we would have been here hours ago".
The Purple Turtle in Jozi is a massive club - Fuzi hoped it would get full! Fuzi sound checked on an that L-shaped stag and then hit the bar. Skankin' Daddy drank milk, once again on detox. The Captain set up the merch stall and shit started selling. Kids (all over 18 - yeah!) poured into the club. First up, a guest appearance by "the Stevie Wonderfuls". A rad "Sperm Birds" cover and a super set followed. "Humphrey the teacup" punked up the show as only they can. It was the last night of their well renowned cover of "Just Finger"...."shallow waters". Next was "ill Audio". Rockwell looked up wondering why they had only played 3 songs, thinking that there was a CD playing already. He was wrong, they were still playing and they were skankin'! Awesome awesome band! If you get the chance go and check them out.
Fuzi played at 11pm, everyone had a great time on stage. One of the only shows were there were 2 circles going at the same time. Twin twisters! Nice to see Rob Dog's mommy sitting on the sidelines. Not so nice was Rob Dog's anger at some guy touching her arse! Jay Bones played with 5 strings throughout the set. The crew was skankin'! "Jah Guide" went out to Hansie. RIP. They vowed they wouldn't play "I wanna Riot" anymore.....but as usual they gave into the high pitched yelling from Roy the Bitch.
The owner was throwing free Jack down out throats....YAY! Daddy drank milk. Gareth (a guy with dreads) offered to drive Fuzi around on their next tour. Fuzi said "yes" until they landed up pushing his van down the road trying to get it started.
2002 : EUROPEAN TOUR
Oct 2002 saw us embarking on a 7-week tour of Europe and the UK. This would prove to be a true test for Fuzigish (and as we found out later it was more than just a test) but we really wanted to do an international tour and get onto the international tour circuit. The Tour Promoter turned out to be a guy on crack (Mark Veresco is his name so steer clear!), he lied about a stack of tour dates and sent us all over Europe, back and forwards, not knowing himself what the fuck was going on and most of the clubs we arrived at didn’t even know we were playing there on those nights. So we got real fustrated but to our credit we stuck it out!
Anyways it wasn’t all bad, in fact it was really awesome because we got to see places and countries that most people only dream of seeing and experiencing. The shows we did play rocked (We played 20 of the 44 shows that were organised), and we sold loads of merch and made stax of friends. We also learned a shit-load about touring, what to do, and what the fuck not to do! It was definitely an amazing experience.
We were the support band for “The Selecter”, and they proved to have pretty big heads except for the session guitarist “Tobby” and the drummer. Luckily they weren’t the only band we toured with, and we landed up playing with some super bands including “Skirtbox” from the UK, "The Shandon" from Italy and the crazy ska crew called "Regatta69" from the USA.
The highlights of the tour – Sleeping in the van, visiting Venice, Austria under snow, meeting “Strung Out” and getting a shit-load of free merch, Amsterdam, Christiana (we won’t forget that day in a hurry), meeting “SKAladdin”, the white cliffs of Dover, the great Beer (Stiegel was especially good), The Stubnidz (The ship we stayed on that nearly sunk), all the people that looked after us and gave us a floor to sleep on and all the fucking rad bands we played with. We met so many people and really got a chance to see Europe at the same time.
The lowlights of the tour – Lord Zoltan informing Rockwell that he was going to leave the band when we got home to sunny SA, getting searched on the border bewteen Austria and Italy at 1am in in the morning with snow plummeting down, dealing with Marc Varesco.
We arrived home very tired, skanky looking and broke. Hey and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! We still had the South African leg of the tour to do, so after a few days rest we started the tour at the opening of the [R]evolution Shop in Rosebank. The tour took Fuzigish ,New World Inside and the KFD Skate Team across the country along the coastline. We even got to play George for the first time, at the local skate park.
We hit Cape Town and had some rocking shows. Touring was taking its toll, the team was weary and Skankin' Daddy decided to leave Fuzigish. We had to finish the tour with “Lee Lips” from “The Hogs” on trumpet for our last show. We stayed at Rudy's place and had a really cool time.
The end of 2002 saw us headlining the Flux Festival in Kwazulu Natal on New Years Eve. Skankin’ Daddy and Lord Zoltan played their last show with Fuzigish, and the party rocked. “The Hogs” joined us on stage and security couldn’t get us off. A riot nearly broke out when we play Rancid's classic “I wanna Riot”. Duh! It was a great gig!
So it was a sad ending to 2002, to lose two friends that had been such an important part of the band but they had made their decisions and stuck by them. A new chapter was about to dawn. Fuzigish had travelled the world and now understood the rigours of touring. This left Fuzigish with new challenges for 2003 and we were ready! (..or so we told ourselves)
2003 : TOUR, TOUR AND TOUR AGAIN
2003 was a great year for Fuzigish. A change is as good as a holiday and the band now comprised of Jay Bones, Rockwell and Rob Dog. Lee Lips was there to help us out on trumpet, well he more than just helped us out, fucking rocked the party that rocked the party!
Paul from [R]evolution managed to get “Frenzal Rhomb” here for a South African tour in March and Fuzigish was to be the support act. We all got involved and helped out with the tour. The tour rocked beyond belief and we realised that Auzzies weren’t so bad after all. For the tour we released the split with Frenzal called “The Unwanted Traveller” and it featured the single “Dave”, as well as re-recorded versions of a few older songs from both “Skankers Union” and “Southern Ska Stomper”.
Working with Lee Lips, being from Cape Town, proved difficult and we had to get someone to help us out on a session basis in JHB, that’s when “Jevon the Rude chef” came along. After one practice he had every trumpet part down, and we realised that work with "The Chef" would be easy going. His first show with Fuzi was down at the Mystic Boer in Bloemfontein. For a guy that had a classical background, he seemed to take to punk/ska pretty damn well! Soon he was skanking with the kids and drinking with the men.
June 2003 saw us touring Australia with Frenzal Rhomb. The tour group was Jay Bones, Chest Rockwell, The Rude Chef, Rob Dog, Nick the Mongoose and Paul Speirs. This was definitely one of the greatest and most enjoyable highlights for Fuzigish in the last 7 years. The tour was amazing.We travelled from Cairns all the way down the east coast to Sydney, playing in towns like Rockhampton, Tawoomba and Maryville, as well as on the Gold Coast. We sampled every beer we could and in the end Coopers Green was the winner.
We also got a chance to do some tourist stuff. On the way down the coast we stopped off at Magnetic Island and swam with Manta Ray's and Turtles. That day we also played the SA vs Australia Beach Cricket World Series. Needless to say a bunch of punk rockers playing cricket is very amusing and after frightening everyone else on the beach we all headed back to the mainland for cocktails and shrimps on the barbie. We met the amaizing rocker Wordy. He did the sound for Frenzal. What a classic, he had worked with Men At Work and The Living End to mention a few and all his stories were great. Nigel was the tour manager and he ran a tight ship that saw Nick the Mongoose working long hours. I hope Nick forgives us one day.
Frenzal Rhomb and the Blue Murder team really looked after us and we ended up recording 15 demos for the new album with Jay from Frenzal in the producer’s seat and Lindsay on backing vocals and hand-jobs. These became known as the sic sydney skanking sessions, and were recorded in a slighty intoxicated state. We managed to play along some classic bands such as "The Hard-Ons". These guys were raw rock power and had the hair to prove it. They mentioned that they had played with some South African bands in UK and never wanted to repeat the experience! We hope we helped improve there impression of the bands from here!
All in all the tour was a success and great way to see OZ. We came back and carried on working on the new album. We played a few shows in and around JHB and took it a little bit easy, after all we’d done two international tours in under a year, as well as travelling all over South Africa. We had played shows in Durban, Pretoria, Grahamstown, Port Elizabeth, George, Witbank, Umhlanga, Bloemfontein and Nelspruit. During the year we also played our first ever unplugged show at the Bassline (RIP) in Melville. That was interesting...
Jay Bones went to France, Belguim and the UK on holiday to hang out and use his Voyager Miles. Before he left we started recording the new album and hoped that it would be out in November of 2003. This didn’t happen.
Rob Dog was asked to leave the band in Oct 2003. This was a difficult time for us. Rob Dog was a big part of Fuzi and a good friend. We were trying to finish the new album and we were booked for another European Tour! That’s right folks, 3 international tours in one year! We auditioned 3 drummers and Lee (ex Ignorance Is Typical) blew us away. So we left for Europe with Jay Bones, Rockwell, Lee(Drums), Lee Lips(Trumpet) and Nick the Mongoose (Tour Manager), this time a little wiser than the last Europe tour.
We played Switzerland, Austria and Germany. We sold all our merch, covered all our costs and many people from the last tours shows were there to see us again. The tour was a breeze with the help of SKAlladin and Drei Fleischen....and then we had an accident. I think The Mongoose was just getting us back for the hard manual labour he endured in Australia, but it still remains a mystery as to how he did not see those stop signs. It was in Chemnitz on a monday evening, and we were getting ready to play "The Subway to Peter". The van was totaled and everyone was a bit stressed but we just put our trust in Jah and The Mongoose! Luckily no one was hurt and we continued the tour.
We did not miss a show, and this resulted in the legendary ride in the oil guzzling van called "Black Beauty" with the anarchist Uli, from Chemnitz to Potsdam. I think we might have got carbon monoxide poisoning that night and I'm amazed at how they let a van like that on the road in 1st world Germany. Mucho thanks Uli - anarchy is alive and well! We played in the dingiest club in Potsdam and met all the guys from Drei Fleischen. We then got a guided night time tour of Berlin. What a day.
Stand out shows included an amazing show at the Beerhuble in Bern. It was SKAladdin's launch party and the venue was packed with about 900 people. Skaladdin had an amazing set, while we drank all the beer. A week later Fuzi played in Lucern with the crazy swedes "the Liptones" and Skaladdin. That night was chaos and the audience called Fuzigish back on to stage three times. We ran out of songs but did an impromptu version of the cures "Love Cats" and then finsished the night with our new version of "Fight the Fight" called "What the F&%$!".
We had such a good time in Switzerland mainly due to our hosts SKAladdin. We stayed at the drummer, Marc's place. His amazing mom ensured that we had lots of cheese, choclate and coffee. Luckily the singer (Marco), guitarist (Pete) and merch man/ webmaster / translator (Dinkel) all lived next door to Marc -as they are all brothers! So we managed to sample the great Siwss dish of Racklet at there house. Switzerland is indeed the Cheese capital!
In Germany the band played the legendary "Wild at Heart" bar in Berlin. This is the European equivalent of NY's C.B.G.B's. With pictures of US. Bombs littering the walls from a show they played there a couple of years back, Fuzi felt honoured to play the amazing rock n' roll pub. The place is a rock n' roll sanctuary and Elvis would have been proud. Jay Bones and Lee Lips ended up having drinks and sharing stories with the backliner from psychobillies "The Necromantix" and drinking way to many Mexican Assholes. They should come with a warning!
The followng day we ate at a famous punk-rock pizzeria and that evening we returned, bloated, to La Bim, the coolest club in Halle and re-united with our favourite host Katte. The show was great, and this time no spaghetti was thrown on the ceiling! Afterwards, as usual, foosball was the order of the night until about 4am. Needless to say we were better than before, but still got an ass whipping!
We came back from the 3-week tour tighter than ever and loaded with on-the-road stories, more than enough to bore any salesmen to death! We played Mad Circle in Jozi on the 5th Dec, and then headed down to “Mercury Live” in Cape Town for a show on the 15th Dec with The Rudimentals and Hog Hoggidy Hog. The show was sold out. The Cape Town crowd is always amazing, singing back and skanking to the beats. There were also a shit-load of Gautengers in town including “ATFN” and the “The Kiddiefiddlers”. Even the Durban punkers were in CT with "Mr Smug" and "Curve Dog" representing the banana tribes. It was a true gathering of the masses!
It was a great end to a very successful & chaotic year. We still owed a few people money, but we had something to look forward to...2004!