Catching Up With Merrell Fankhauser
[MuzikMan] It has been since 1999 that we go together and did an interview Merrell. Can you update all of your fans on what has happened since then?
Merrell Fankhauser A lot has happened since 1999 that has made big changes in my life. I did a big concert with Willie Nelson on Maui in June 2000, and then went to Kauai where I met my 'Lady Love' and musical partner, Yoriko. We played as a duo at a resort on Kauai for four months and then she moved to California with me in April 2001. We started recording a Hawaiian Surf Rock CD that came out around November of 2002, titled Tropical Heat. As luck would have it, one of the songs, "La Perouse," a surf-instrumental, was used in a surf movie called “Shapemakers” that is now showing in California and Hawaii.
We have been playing for two years at various venues up and down the California Coast, getting great responses. We do a mix of Hawaiian, surf, originals and good old rock ‘n’ roll, and Yoriko’s hula dancing is featured in several of the Hawaiian songs. It is a big hit every place we play. We started doing a local TV show two years ago called “Tiki Lounge,” and we interview musicians and show their videos, then do a few songs ourselves. Every show is shot using our tropical background of tiki, bamboo bar, and torches. The show has become very popular and it is a big hit all along the California Coast, Hawaii, and Ann Arbor, Michigan! The air schedule can be found at our "Whats New" section at www.merrellfankhauser.com.
After the Columbia Space shuttle blew up on reentry, a DJ named “Rockin Robert Hutchinson" in Cincinatti, Ohio, decided to play my 1978 release, “Calling From A Star," as a tribute to the astronauts. Several other stations heard it and started playing it as well. It ended up getting airplay on about 150 stations across the country! I even got a commemorative thank you card from NASA! That is the biggest honor I could ever receive as a songwriter and artist.
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[MuzikMan] You have a new release out titled Return To MU on the Sundazed Label. I understand there has been some confusion on the label's behalf regarding the title and a few other things. Can you set the record straight so the music buying public is aware of what to expect?
Merrell Fankhauser Sundazed Music, based out of New York, released my long awaited CD, Return To MU. in June 2003. I consider it as one of my most important releases in 25 years. They did a fantastic job on the artwork and sound mastering and have it distributed everywhere …Wal Mart, K Mart, Wherehouse, Amazon.com, etc. The only problem is somebody in the Art Department or somewhere at the label decided to put "MU" the band as the artist on the spine of the CD cover, and then wrote a story about how this is by Merrell’s "Dormant Lysergic Band MU”! The band MU broke up over 25 years before this recording and we never recorded together again! This is a new Merrell Fankhauser solo release. This blunder has caused a lot of confusion in the music biz with the media, distributors and radio. It is amazing to me how a mistake like this can make it past everyone at the label? I hope that the Return To MU TV special that is airing will help clear this up.
[MuzikMan] For the folks unfamiliar with your history and background, Merrell, can you discuss the fascination you have with the Lost Continent of MU? This will help to also describe the atmosphere that prevails on the new release Return To MU.
Merrell Fankhauser I started studying the Lost Continent of MU theory in 1969 after finding a book by Col. James Churchward describing this now sunken continent in the Pacific Ocean. I always kept an open mind as to it being fact or fantasy, and after years of study, I do believe it is possible that there was a civilization known as Lemuria or MU. There is mention of it in North and South American Indian legend and it is a big part of Hawaiian and pre Hawaiian history. A good Hawaiian book to read is "Children of the Rainbow." After living in the islands for years, talking to old Hawaiians about it and exploring ruins, I concluded that this theory deserves more attention.
When Bill McEuen and I started talking about recording in 1990, I was a little shy at first about laying the MU trip on him, but when I did he was fascinated and even found a 150 year old book titled "Queen MU." The book is about a queen of the Lost Continent that left her Homeland Island in the Pacific when it was torn asunder by earthquakes and volcanoes. She landed in South America, where she taught the people there.
We came up with the title then for the CD, Return To MU, as I always wanted to better tell the story to the public with songs and with visual images, which also will be on the upcoming DVD release Return To MU. I think there are lessons to be learned from the story of MU for today. There is said to be a golden disc of knowledge believed to be hidden somewhere in the islands that tells the true history of planet earth. Such a disc could clear up many of the mysteries that separate people today, and dispel the idea that only one religion is right and possibly end needless wars ... I am still as fascinated by it today as I was in 1969!
[MuzikMan] In the nearly five years since we both began experiencing all the wonders of technology with the web, what have you found most valuable to you in getting the word out about your music besides the traditional methods?
Merrell Fankhauser The fact that I can email many people quickly and sometimes get an instant response is wonderful. The old days of typing a letter, going to the post office, then waiting for sometimes a week or more to hear back is gone. Also, meeting new friends and fans who visit my website is just great. The post office still plays a big part in sending those CDs to fans, masters and artwork to labels. However, the internet has definitely sped up the process.
[MuzikMan] What is in the future for Merrell Fankhauser and his music? Do you plan to tour anytime soon and if so where?
Merrell Fankhauser The future looks good, although the music biz as a whole has taken a big hit in the last few years. Thanks to all my fans and collectors around the world who buy my releases, I can keep going. Yoriko and I are almost finished with another new CD in the same tropical rock style as our last one, and we have started a new Surf-Instro CD that we hope will be completed in four or five months. We continue to do new "Tiki Lounge" TV shows and we look forward to playing in other states besides Hawaii and California, hopefully a tour of East Coast, and Japan will happen!