Sometimes, acronyms can be fun, maybe not this time. The hard-core, yet humorously thrashy and trashy band SNFU is named after a vowel-less acronym for a term that describes business as usual in the military: Snafu. The meaning cannot be explained in a family newspaper. The band has its own definition, which can't be explained either.
What is clear is the fact that SNFU, on their "Wrong Turn Down Memory Lane" tour--their first in two years--will be stopping by the cavernous Anaconda Theatre in Isla Vista on Sunday night. And in the Several-Neurons-Fry-Utterly Department: Agent 94, Dead Surf Kiss and Porcelain Oyster will be opening--clearly a sonic onslaught sure to deafen all within a 12-block radius.
SNFU was born north of the border in Canada, lasted more than nine years, released three full albums, then broke up. But then five months ago, Cargo Records in Chicago released the band's fourth album, "The Last of the Big Time Suspenders," a compilation of outtakes, unreleased material plus some live tunes. There are plenty of bands with no albums, but here was an album with no band. But the ensuing clamor, somewhat obscured by the collapse of communism, resulted in the resurrection of SNFU.
"We were together from 1981 until 1989, which is quite a long time, then we just broke up to do different stuff," guitarist Brent Belke said in a recent phoner from his Vancouver home. "We ended on a high point, but we're all still in other bands at the moment. Then the record came out, and the pressure and the demand was there, so we're doing this 2 1/2-month tour. Basically, with this tour, we'll just see what happens. We're not making any big plans, but we have a lot of opportunities right now. And we've still got tons of T-shirts left over."
Fronted by the ever charismatic Mr. Chi-Pig, SNFU cranks them out hard and fast. Unless you have their records, the vocals could be in Mongolian since enunciation is seldom a goal when it comes to punk rock.
"We're a hard-core band," Belke said. "We try to be more melodic than an in-your-face thrash band, but we're still loud and aggressive. Hard-core, however, is a very negative word. People think hard-core is violent and overtly political. We're not a positive band, but we're not a negative band, either. We're a rock band."
Punk rock, whose demise has been predicted by critics and prayed for by parents, still exists. Just as Les Brown and his Band of Renown still tours for your grandparents, punk rock could well survive until those Mohawks turn gray or the parole board turns charitable. Can you imagine the Dead Kennedys in wheelchairs shrieking out a geriatric rendition of "Holiday in Cambodia"?
"The punk scene is probably dying, but it's more widespread," said another Belke guitarist, Brent's brother, Mike. "There are not a lot of hard-core bands anymore. We attract younger people now. The skinheads got into too much trouble and the cops arrested them all.
"The whole hard-core thing is more popular in Europe. We get treated a lot better over there. You get fed well and the sound systems are better."
But is driving around in a van full of T-shirts, in winter, better than the dreaded day job, to which the quintet has bid a temporary adieu when the tour began Dec. 6?
"We get to travel a lot, and that's cool," said brother Brent, who works in a guitar shop and a hospital when he is not on the road. "I don't mind it at all, but then again, we don't do it 12 months a year."
* WHERE AND WHEN
SNFU at the Anaconda Theatre, 935 Embarcadero del Norte, Isla Vista, 8 p.m., Sunday, eight bucks. For information, call 685-3112.