Chopped: The Fumes

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Chopped: The Fumes

Steve Merry has his head in the bonnet of his F-100 attending to a leak in the water pump, as we begin to chat about the imminent return of The Fumes. It’s been six long years since the release of their second album Sundancer, and with a newly expanded three piece line-up and third record Bloodless slated for release in November, Merry is excited to be back in the game. Stepping away from the public eye and working on different projects since 2009, there have been constant questions of when the follow up would be released. Now, The Fumes have an answer.
“We have been working on this thing for years mate,” says Merry, the band’s guitarist/vocalist. “Other shit seems to get in the way these days, but we are finally back with a new record and at the moment it’s just with Ryan [Hazell, bass player/producer]. We have been working on it for a few years now and with a few false starts with release dates, we are pretty much there. We’ve been playing shows and we are pretty fucking excited to get rid of it and out there into the world.”
Having played a few East Coast shows in recent months, including a gig with The Beards, the new tunes have been getting a work out in the live set. The initial response from fans has been incredibly positive. The Fumes started out in the mid-2000s, and the music scene has changed quite a lot since then. Despite excitement to have a new record out, Merry is unsure about how much success to hope for.
“I have absolutely no idea how this is going to go,” he says. “I’m not that involved in what’s happening right now in the Australian music scene and life is pretty darn busy that’s for sure. Things stick out now and then and I prick my ears up. Where are we going to fit in with what’s coming out at the moment? I don’t know. I’m definitely older than kids playing out in the scene today. I know that much. How about I ring you when the record comes out and we see what you think of it [laughs].”
In the past, The Fumes have toured all around the world, and Merry actually lived in the US for a period of time working as a carpenter. Along the way, the band have encountered all sorts of craziness, both on and off the stage. One of the most bizarre experiences came about when Jim Diamond from The Dirtbombs produced their second record Sundancer.
“I mixed Sundancer with Jim over in Detroit in his ghetto studios. It’s right in the middle of the city and we had finished work for that day, and it just so happened The Black Crowes were playing at the venue next door. We were talking about Rodriguez and listening to Coming From Reality and next minute he asked if I wanted to meet him. We went down to the brewery and drank some beers and ate some pizza. To be sitting next to the sugarman himself and talking about music was quite a moment. It was like meeting Darth Vader.”
There are quite a few stories circulating that Merry learnt how to play blues guitar off the late, great legend Bob Brozman. Although it was just a jam session, Merry says it was another a pinch yourself moment.
“I was hooked up to buy a resonator guitar through Brozman from some carpentry work I did in the states for a mate. I hung out with him and had a few jams. He’s an interesting dude and to watch him play was pretty amazing. He’s a lunatic on the guitar and it was like looking at an abstract artwork by Picasso or Dali.”
Written by Tex Miller
THE FUMES are playing Chopped 2015, which goes down from Friday October 2 – Sunday October 4 at Newstead Racecourse. The lineup also includes C.W. Stoneking, Fireballs, Steve Smyth and more.