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The Fuji Collective

Written by Jules Bibley-Hall on August 15, 2008

If you’ve ever been interested in anything funk, you’ll probably have heard of Fuji Collective. Having carved themselves a prominent spot in Sydney’s independent music scene through hard work, ball busting live shows and a strong faith and dedication in the grass-roots movement that is seeing Sydney’s music scene blossom. Blending psychedelic-rock, funk and a touch of metal here and there (look out for Das Is Miner Hamburger) The Fuji Collective are truly a band to be witnessed live in their six-piece prog-funk glory.

With all this hard work it seems appropriate that their band’s rehearsal space and spiritual home is deep in the heart of hard-working, industrial Marrickville. Dubbed the “band house” this former take-away shop is on a street filled with smash repair shops and bustling factories. From the outside it looks like nothing more than a run-down old building but inside it is filled with all things Fuji.

In the concrete courtyard under blue skies and low flying planes I sat down with three of the six members of Fuji Collective Tom Dodd (guitar), Max Schollar-Root (guitar) and Ty Wood (bass). Seeing the three of them chat and joke it is evident that the band are more of a family, or some sort of polygamist marriage.

“It can be pretty hard to get six people together to rehearse and record. It feels like I’ve been married to five people for the last five years now, we’re all starting to feel it a bit in different ways so yeah we’re beginning to change how we do things, we’re slowing things down a bit, having a few less gigs so there’s less pressure,” Tom tells me.

It’s not surprising with the band having just recently released their second album as many years. “It’s just because we’re writing that much material,” Ty explains earnestly. “And a lot more actually. But we’ve got to try to get it out, I mean finding time to record in amongst trying to gig and get out and about and work as well is hard.”

The album, the follow up to 2007’s Fuj, was recorded live at The Macquarie Hotel in Surrey Hills, and is surprisingly titled Live At The Mac. “We’ve just done our second album launch and we’ve got a few more gigs to follow it up. We supported The Bakery at the Landsdowne for the launch of their album The Bakery and the Beast.”

Not happy just sitting back, the boys have always been very involved in the recording and production of their albums. “It would be wrong to say we’ve recorded it ourselves. The first album was recorded by Max’s uncle and the second one by Pete [Holz] and James [Selman] from JMC as part of their final year project. But they were both kind of co-produced by those respective engineers and the band. We sat down for both albums with the engineers and mixed it up,” says Ty.

“With the last album – the live album – Peter Holz did a lot of the mixing beforehand, he did a really awesome job,” Max explains, with Ty adding “After he recorded it he went away and did the whole pre-mix on his own and got the sound pretty close to where we wanted it and then he brought it to us. It sounded great… It seemed almost too easy on the second album to get what we wanted. We suddenly had the album in our hands and it felt like it should have taken more effort.”

While the band are very serious about music as a business, friendship always comes first. “The business gets worked around to make sure everyone is happy,” Ty tells me. “The friendships are always the first thing because as a band if we’re not enjoying hanging out and playing music then what’s the point of doing it. I mean we’re six friends who love playing music and the fact that it has become – for want of a better word – a business and it’s rolling on, that’s where its at and behind that is really just us wanting to play together. We’ve always managed ourselves. The way we get around managing is by splitting up the tasks to the members of the band, there’s never been just one person who’s done it, hence Collective.”

In fact not only do the band share management duties, they even have a unique disciplinary model to ensure each member pulls his weight. “Well first of all “pants-down” came from playing pool where if you don’t sink a ball on the table while the other person sinks all their balls then you have to pull your pants down and run around the table three times,” Ty explains.

“So we took inspiration from that source, so now, theoretically if you don’t fulfil your responsibilities for the week then you’re supposed to pull your pants down and walk around the entire band house,” Max adds. “But we have eased up because it had got to point where half our band meetings were taken up by people walking around with their pants down.”

“But it kind of lost the deterrent that it originally had and kind of became funny. Now days we just make sure to do everything although there is still the theory that if you fail to do something three meetings in a row you have to take your pants down at the next gig. And currently the only person that that has happened to…”

“Is me,” adds Tom. “It was outside the Hub during the Newtown markets. It was definitely a good vibe to do it, I don’t think anybody noticed and those who did notice didn’t think anything of it. I mean its Newtown, its nothing out of the ordinary.”

No wonder they’re so popular there.

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