Leeds based (via Scunthorpe) four-piece FULC are a rare commodity – an English rock band who don’t sound like they have some strange fascination that involves metamorphosising into Americans. Originally formed at the back end of 1998, the current line up (Duane Walker – guitar & vocals, Rik Clay – guitars, Kris Kilmore – bass, Mark Cooke – drums) came together two years later. Since then, they’ve released an EP (‘The Fallen’), just about finished recording their debut album (‘Biting Insomnia’) and ran up several thousands of pounds worth of fuel bills due to their seemingly incessant touring. I caught up with them before their sound check at Derby’s Victoria Inn.
You seem to be constantly on the road. How’s the tour gone so far?
Duane: Great. It beats staying in bed for a living.
Rik: Playing live is just about the best thing in the world. If there’s a crowd and they’re up for it, what better buzz do you need…?
Duane:…even if it’s only one man and his dog.
Rik: It’s gone so much better than last year though. I mean every date we’ve played since the beginning of February has just been heaving, bar one in Bradford which we did at the last minute without it being advertised. I suppose that was more of a warm up really because we’d not done anything for two months.
Mark: The tour’s not been without it’s problems though. We’ve had things blowing up on us, people going down with food poisoning…
Rik: …I split my head open.
So have you ever played in front of one man and his dog?
Rik: I think the smallest crowd we ever played to was three blokes in some pub last year…
Mark: …but this tour’s not been bad at all. We seem to be attracting more and more people wherever we go.
Rik: And then there’s London. The last time we played there it was at Camden Barfly and it was just full of suits and industry people.
Mark: London’s overrated really.
Rik:…it’s just filled with people who don’t give a shit about the music but only care if they think it’ll make them some money.
Would you say that you’ve gradually built up a following through your live performances rather than had to rely on music press hype?
Rik: We’ve not had that much press to be honest but now we’ve got Ian Cheek working for us on that side things should pick up. We sent out copies of the single to a lot of magazines and radio stations but I think the general feeling was one of apathy – you can almost hear them saying “who the fuck are these? We can’t be arsed to listen to this” and then throwing it in the bin afterwards.
Duane: We’ve been featured on a few websites. I’d say that a good proportion of our fanbase has probably been built up via the internet.
Rik: I guess this is where we start to break off into the real world then…
You’re very secretive about the name “FULC”. Is there any chance of you sharing that with us?
Duane: It didn’t mean anything on the last tour and it still doesn’t mean anything on this one.
Rik: It’s something that originated from our past and it’s kind of grown into it’s own.
So what was so definitive about your past that made you want to name your band “FULC”?
Rik: Well, the name’s always been around since I started the band in 1998. It wasn’t originally called “FULC” but after Mark and Kris joined we decided to stick with the name. After a while, we realised that because the name had a certain element of mystery to it we’d started to establish a fan base – maybe they were intrigued by the name we thought, because musically we’d grown into a completely different band to the one that started out.
In what ways were you different?
Rik: Where do I start? There’s the dodgy covers band that used to play around Scunthorpe four and a half years ago…
Duane: …it’s at this point where Duane Walker distances himself from all prior knowledge! (Duane joined the band in November 2000).
Rik: We used to do covers of people like The Offspring, Green Day, the Manics…it’s embarrassing really but we haven’t done any cover versions for nearly three years.
Would you say that those three were your main influences?
Rik: No not really. I absolutely hate that baggy shorted punk thing – Offspring and Green Day are two of the worst bands in the world to be honest. As far as I’m concerned the Manics, Queens Of The Stone Age and Nine Inch Nails are where it’s at, but there’s a big mix of stuff from all four of us really, which is good because you tend to hear the best and worst bits of everything.
Duane: I think I’d go for Tool, Pearl Jam, A Perfect Circle…as long as it’s good guitar orientated music I’m fine with it really.
Mark: I’d go with what he just said…anything except skate pop punk and bloody ska really!
Although you’re currently based in Leeds, you all originally come from Scunthorpe. Did you move to Leeds because there was no scene worth talking about back home?
Mark: Funnily enough, there was a great band scene in Scunthorpe a couple of years back. As well as us there was Duane’s original band whose name none of us can remember, as well as one or two others who’ve since fallen by the wayside.
Rik: It wasn’t uncommon for local bands to be playing in front of 100+ people, and at the same time one or two kids were being turned onto asking their parents for guitars at Christmas rather than turntables or skateboards…
Mark: As for going back to Scunthorpe now…it’s unthinkable! Most of the bands who were around either just split or went to Uni and formed new bands with new friends, so the scene in Scunthorpe just died.
Duane: The reason we’re located in Leeds is down to University. Me and Mark both studied here…
Rik: …and I’m still officially at University doing a Media / Audio degree although I can’t honestly remember the last time I was there.
Mark: I quit my course because it seemed too much like hard work. I’m not even on the dole because I can’t be arsed!
Your debut album is set to be released in May. Is the finished product everything you hoped it would be?
Rik: Yeah very much so. We’re getting it mastered this Tuesday so we’re still making regular visits to the studio in between touring. I don’t mean to sound big-headed or anything but ‘Biting Insomnia’ is a cracking album. I think ‘The Fallen’ EP showed a one-sided view of us as a hard edged rock band, but the album contains one or two experimental numbers as well as some poppier songs. One of the first songs we ever wrote together, ‘Dolly’, which was on our first demo (‘Void’, a 3-track CD which started the FULC buzz in the first place) has been re-recorded for the album and will literally blow you away, I swear. We’ve only included two of the tracks from ‘The Fallen’ EP on the album, mainly because we don’t think it’s a fair representation of what FULC are about, and also because we don’t want to rip people off who’ve already bought the single – I mean, there’s nothing worse than buying an EP then buying the album four weeks later and finding all the tracks off the single are on it!
Duane: I think our music speaks for itself.
Rik: We’ve had bad reviews where people have said we sound like a local pub band but we’re not going away. We want to be around in ten years time, talking about the fifth album or whatever.
So is this the start of some ten year plan for world domination?
Rik: Yeah definitely, although at the same time we don’t want to turn into U2 either, where we just get to the point of releasing stuff because we feel we have to, as a sort of tour of duty. I think we’re writing music that’s gonna last, and yet I don’t think it will ever age.
Duane: I think the worst review was someone saying one of the tracks on the single sounded like Nickelback! I mean, we haven’t played the riff to ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ backwards and re-arranged the vocal!
Rik:Nickelback + Linkin Park = American Metal = MANUFACTURED COLD CALCULATED DRIVEL.
What about the lyrics on the album? Are there any specific themes involved?
Rik: Yeah there are but…
Duane:…I always say to people listen for yourself and make up your own mind. There are themes going through it but if a song means something different to everyone who hears it then so be it.
Rik: …but we don’t tell anyone to go and kill themselves cos we’re not that kind of band! I can’t stand that “Oh my father abused me when I was a child and we’re all sad now…”
Mark: Who’s that? InMe?
Rik: Well it’s the case with a lot of those nu metal bands isn’t it, you know all these fabricated whines about teen angst and death and stuff. Anything that might sell a few more records.
Will you be doing any festivals this summer?
Rik: We’re down for one at the moment. It’s called “Bloodstock” and it’s in Derby over the August Bank Holiday. We’ve been added to the bill as the band who will hopefully break away from that particular festival’s tradition of vampire teeth wearing goth and metal acts. We’re hoping to invite some kind of reaction from the audience, whatever that may be…