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August 11, 2008 | by  | in Music |
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Fanucman

Another year, another Battle of the Bands. Some win, some lose, and some just get plain drunk. But where to for the winners? Does making the final cut really mean fame, riches, glory and a foot in the door to the music industry? Probably not. But in the case of last year’s BOB winners, Fanucman – the talented trio of Craig (guitar and vox), Jess (keyboard and vox) and Zack (drums and vox) – it wouldn’t matter either way. They’ve forged well ahead of student band-dom on their own steam with a quirky brand of music that is as hard to pin down as their name, to gain a footing as one of the most exciting new bands this city has seen in a good long while.

I had the pleasure of catching their standout debut performance at the BOB in 2007, a night which, due to the lucky chance of a few clued-up audience members, deservedly gained them the offer to play quite a few Wellington gigs. The first of these: local promoter Bernie Galaxy’s (of Vorticon Productions Fame) 10 band birthday extravaganza at Happy. Proving that they were more than just a one time wonder, Fanucman more than held their own among Bernie’s roster of seasoned Wellington performers, and they have gone on to do so across most of Wellington’s venues, gigging extensively with a pretty damn diverse range of Wellington bands. A year of playing and refining their material, at times performing up to 4 times a week, culminated in a North Island tour with Cherry’s Gemstones and Popolice.

The true test of a band is surely the potentially claustrophobic atmosphere of camping out and spending 24 hours a day together over a 10 date tour where they “could have ended up hating each other”. But luckily for Fanucman, they didn’t fight once. With shows ranging from huge turnouts in Auckland, intimate shows in rural backwaters where the whole town turned out, to a lacklustre empty Hamilton room, rigours of touring helped them get their stage legs and refine their dynamic, making them feel “much less awkward on stage”. On their return, they took a well-deserved writing break and returned to Wellington.

In tandem performing, Fanucman hit the studio over the last year to record their demo EP. I’m told it was meant as a rough cut of their initial tracks, as opposed to a polished recording, but I’d rather agree with Jess’ take that “Zack is the man, that’s why it sounds so good”. Entirely recorded “in the bedroom”, it is definitely lo-fibut beautifully produced, with Zack exactly capturing the nuances of the band, and the raw nature of the recording compliments the edgy nature of their music as opposed to coming off as bad production.

So what is their music really like? Well, it’s pretty hard to define, as Fanucman’s style transcends most usual genre distinctions, maintaining an original direction that embodies self-expression influenced melodies and arrangements as opposed to the standard style specific music that’s usually on offer. Maybe that’s because all three members are classically trained; though one of the most fascinating and appealing things about this band is their tendency to take the rules they’ve learned and break them, creating music that is totally out of left field. It’s dreamy psycadelic electro-style synth, reminiscent of warped carnival music, layered with beautifully trashy guitar and punctuated by drumming that serves as a third level of instrumentation rather than time keeping. Each song takes the listener in one direction before taking a massive u-turn while you’re left tapping your foot to where you thought it might go. Then just when you’ve caught up, off they go again somewhere else. But that somewhere else manages to retain is thoroughly bizarre, thoroughly different and above all, enjoyable.

This was nowhere more apparent than at their VBC Presents residency at The San Fran Bathhouse, their first set of shows since the tour and a showcase of their new songs. These new songs are killer, showing a definite musical progression and maturity in song writing, and a tighter stage dynamic. So what can I say? Fanucman are certainly a band to keep an eye on. They keep going from strength to strength and with a new EP of their latest material in the pipeline, I’d hazard a guess that they’ll continue to do so. Possibly the idea of success doesn’t seem so ridiculous after all… But for this band, it will be all the more deserved for putting in the hard grind themselves.

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