Long before making a name for themselves as founders of one of the ‘90s definitive stoner rock bands -- Fu Manchu -- guitarist Scott Hill, bassist Mark Abshire, and drummer Ruben Romano literally learned to play their instruments together in an obscure So-Cal hardcore band named Virulence.
Together with singer Ken Pucci and, briefly, second guitarist Jim Alfaro, the teenagers began rehearsing in their parents' living rooms and garages in 1985, diving into the bustling hardcore scene all around them, and worshiping the likes of Black Flag, the Circle Jerks, and Bl'ast!, among others. Local shows and several cassette demos helped garner the young group a small following, but it wasn't until much later, in early 1988, that Virulence were offered a record deal from Alchemy Records (home of the Melvins, Neurosis, Poison Idea, etc.), by which time Abshire had departed (replaced by Greg McCaughey) and their sound had evolved from the pure speed bursts of early hardcore to a more dynamic and varied style featuring elements of indie rock and sludge. This hybrid sound was captured in the summer of 1988 for the band's debut album, If This Isn't a Dream…, then released one year later to little acclaim, but by then Pucci had elected to attend college, so Hill and Romano reconnected with Abshire and decided to start from scratch as Fu Manchu. Over the years, Virulence's lone album largely faded from memory, but their entire recorded legacy -- also including demos and live tracks -- was eventually dusted off by the owners of Southern Lord Records and released on CD for the first time in 2010 as If This Isn't a Dream… 1985-1989. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia, Rovi