Although it never recorded a full-length album or toured outside Washington state, Seattle band Malfunkshun is often cited as an important band amid the grunge family tree. Now, 16 years after the death of singer Andy Wood, Malfunkshun is reactivating.
An anomaly amid bands playing back-to-basics rock'n'roll, Malfunkshun featured the white makeup-faced Wood alongside his guitarist brother Kevin, who shredded like Yngwie Malmsteen, creating a punk/speed metal hybrid. To craft new Malfunkshun music, Kevin and fellow surviving member Regan Hagar have pacted with singer Shawn Smith (Satchel, Brad) and bassist Cory Kane.
"I have a stack of Andy's lyrics that I've been hanging onto for the past 15 years or so, since he died -- I never gave them up," Wood tells Billboard.com. "And they're all from the early '80s, when Andy was about 14 through 16. I always wanted to make songs out of them."
After Wood and Hagar initially decided to work together on the project, Wood reached out to Smith. "I called Shawn the day before the session, and he said, 'I'll do it.' He told me he had a dream about Andy right before I had emailed him to come in," he says. "The whole thing is like a gift from Andy - and Shawn did such good interpretations of these lyrics."
An album's worth of tunes was recorded, mixing new versions of vintage Malfunkshun songs such as "Love Child" and "My Love" with freshly penned cuts like "Another You," "Friendship Ring" and "He's a Mover." Also featured is a rearrangement of "Man of Golden Words" by Mother Love Bone, which Andy Wood formed post-Malfunkshun with future Pearl Jam members Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament.
Although the recording is completed, the group is in search of a label to put out the album, which also goes by title of "Friendship Ring." Once the album is released, the quartet plans to launch a supporting tour. "We definitely want to tour and support it as much as possible. Me, Shawn, Regan and Cory are going to go out as a four-piece," Wood says.
Wood also assures that the group's original over-the-top approach remains intact on the new recordings, and that his brother would have approved. "Malfunkshun was always into the fast, shredding guitars," he says. "It's true-to-form as far as Malfunkshun goes -- it's a continuation of that same vibe. I miss Andy being there, but I feel that his presence is there. I know his approval was there."