Even living in a fairly large city, it’s a rarity that I am located in close physical
proximity to one of my favorite current bands. Lucky for me, FNU Ronnies
live here in Philadelphia (or at least most of them, or at least up until recently),
and not only do I get to attend as many of their live gigs as possible, I also get
to bump into them on stoops, smoking cigarettes and sweating or ostensibly
selling drugs. My initial understanding of the group, gained from Testostertunes
proprietor and Ronnies translator Richie Charles, is that guitarist/vocalist
Jim was initially home-recording some zonked-out punk rock as a carefree
aside to his duty in local rock group Mountain High. Through positive
reinforcement, he was urged to go out and start a real band to play these songs
and expound upon the original formula, for which he enlisted the help of Reaser
(bass) and Street Kyle (drums/electronics). Richie Records released their debut
7″, the type of ugly photocopied platter that bites back, and my brain was
instantly clogged with what I heard – proto-futuristic punk rock that is equal
parts ape and alien, Chrome and Dead Kennedys. Through their live shows, I
witnessed a band grow steadily more comfortable with their hatred of all
outsiders, busting up some drum pads at the perfectly wrong time, letting the
guitar feedback just a little too long, taking forever to set up their gear and
showing no remorse. Exactly what I was looking for. And most recently, they
dropped a weird tape on the MySpace-based label Skrot Up out of Denmark,
filled with three tracks that push things even further into the red, what with
perfectly spliced mechanical interludes, uncomfortable tension and guitar scum
that recalls vintage SPK. I was happy to be able to ask these guys some
questions, and while the answers might not be particularly illuminating (or
truthful), I think it’s a good taste of what the Ronnies are all about. They’re
hitting the road right now, sure to have some issues with SXSW and its officials,
and then heading west, so please catch them if you can.

How did you guys get together? I’ve heard that FNU Ronnies started as Jim’s
solo project, when did it take form as an actual band?

Jim (guitar/vocals): Picking each other off the floor at the some loser bar. And
playing our first gig at an exercise gym / coffee shop; no joke.
Kyle (drums/electronics): Jim was masturbating compulsively in his bedroom. We
gathered some friends and commenced and intervention with an offer to help kick-start a
band to play his quick jack tunes. We got offered a show within the first 10 minutes of playing
music together in Schooly D’s old studio, no joke.
Reaser (bass): I was found in a clinic teaching parrots how to give insults and when
one went to far I ended up in an ICU and decided to pursue other interests and found playing
bass to be the least dangerous of them. I’m still in recovery.

Where’d the band name come from, and what prompted the switch from Jim and
the Jerks?

Reaser: I was walking to lunch one day in Rittenhouse Park. Out of nowhere a bike
messenger ran me over. Got hurt real bad. A cop on the beat who witnessed ran the douche
down. Fucker, had no ID. But said his name was FNU Ran. Based off that we changed Ran to
Ronnies. Last name first name.
Jim: Now, as for Jim and the Jerks. I think Karen from Clockcleaner tried to name
us that. And the Jerks seemed already had been done… Now, if it was ‘Jim the Black Fag
Randy Sheep and the Fuck Jerks,’ we might have considered.
Reaser: Dyslexia is the new Scientology; it’s a secret “clear code.”

What’s your current status? You’re split between San Francisco and Philadelphia now, right?
Jim: Scavenging and trash-picken’ cultural possibilities for our grist-mill. I am
currently enrolled at Stanford pursuing nano-tech studies and moonlighting the streets
of Berkeley with crusties while drinkin thunderbird and eating frito pies.
Kyle: I got a job at a salt mine making sure the potato chip machine never stops working.
Reaser: I am currently working on a ship off the coast of Texas waiting for a proper
moment to return home.

Credit: FNU Ronnies

Do you feel any kinship to Philadelphia? Seems like you have kind of a love/hate, or
hate/hate relationship to the city.

Jim: Everybody in Philly, unless you just moved there and are naive, has that same
type of relationship with Philly. Keystones on mules are hard to budge.
Kyle: Bunch of phonies and 2 bit hacks trying to look fucking cool.
Reaser: We feel the runoff from New York and love to bathe and drink it then piss on DC.

What’s your favorite gig you’ve played? I thought you guys absolutely smoked at Pi Lam
opening for Los Llamarada, but I’ve also dug the more improvised/noisy stuff you did at
Deep Sleep opening for Sex Vid.

Jim: Llamarada show was great. Anytime we play with Drunkdriver is great.
Kyle: Pi Lam is always a good place, they supply the crowd. But playing with the
Zero Boys and The Mentally Ill in Chicago last year was pretty cool.

How did Zero Boys and Mentally Ill hold up?
Jim:Mentally Ill were fucking retarded. Drummer had what looked to be a stripper
girlfriend of the riped nubile age of 22. Singer, was buff dressed all in black and drove a
black SUV, got out of his vehicle walked up to me and shooked my hand with a firm grip
and says..”I’m blah blah, Mentally Ill.” 3 songs in and I was like, “these guys cant be serious.”
They seemed to blur the line between humor and serious retardation. By the end of their
set I loved em. Sloppy, messy and retarded midwest punk, thats how they held up. Zero
Boys were like a fine precision machine. Real tight, oiled and gay. Guitar player could have
wiped Yngwie Malmsteen ass clean. Most of them old but lots of steam. There’s some old
school punks still fucking killin it at an old fart age: Devo, the Weirdos, the Jabbers w/ the
Queers dude fillin for GG, at least within the last few years.
Reaser: Any show out of Philly is a good one! Albeit, would have to say getting
unplugged for an anarchist drum troupe singing rap songs was the best!

Please explain this unplugged anarchist drum troupe show/incident.
Reaser: Anarchist drum troupe??????????????????????? Mum’s the word.

The ‘Golem’ tape is way noisier and harsher than the ‘Meat’ single. Is this a new
direction for the band, or something you’re just exploring?

Jim:Just wanking, exploring, it was suppose to be a small pressing quick little
kinda fuckin’ off release. It was to come out on another label, but this kid flaked. Morten
from Skrot Up in Denmark approached us with a better opportunity with art-work included.
Trying to find a happy medium with all our ideas. Periodical table of inebriation of sorts.

Do you have any newer recordings, then? Is your newest material along the lines of
‘Golem’ or something more straight-forward?

Jim:We have a shit load of 8track recordings of various material, demos, a lot of
it is pretty straight forward wankery. Golem was an ad hoc spur of the moment improv, which
we have tons of recordings in that vein as well. All of it pretty low fi by lack of recording cash default.

What are you listening to lately?
Jim: BLOOD!, Golden Dawn, d.r. hooker, Claw Toe, the Coasters.. Lots of stuff from
tape trading in the mail, various comps. I can’t afford record collecting, so I like to trade in
the mail to listen and give out new stuff. Anybody who wants to trade hit me with a shout.
Reaser: The weirder side of 60’s psych (Fifty Foot Hose, Parson Sound, etc).
Kyle: Alice Cooper!! Too many to name.