OMC – The Tragic Story of The Group Behind ‘How Bizarre’

Pauly Fuemana OMC

OMC’s Tragic Story, The Group Behind ‘How Bizarre’

Today on Rock N’ Roll Stories they take a look at the tragic story behind the group ‘How Bizarre.’  OMC was led by New Zealand native Pauly Fuemana. CHeck out the story below!

Best known for their hit song How Bizarre,
OMC’s hit track was inescapable in the mid

90’s..

It would be a number one hit in both Canada
and the United States and it would reach the

top 10 in over a dozen countries and resulted
in the group’s lone album selling millions

of copies worldwide.

In fact, OMC’s sole album would be new zealand’s
biggest musical export in history.

While How Bizarre was an upbeat song, OMC’s
career was not.

Drugs, gangs, lawsuits and health issues plagued
the band and that’s what were going to explore

in today’s video.

Pauly Fuemana would be the brainchild of OMC.

He would be born in the late 60’s to polynesian
parents in the impoverished auckland suburb

of otara.

Growing up in a difficult set of circumstances,
Fuemana was no stranger to the police, frequently

committing crimes, spending time in youth
prison and getting involved with gangs, Amongst

all the turmoil in Fuemana’s life he found
joy in creating music with his brothers and

sister.

By the 80’s Fuemana was performing with
an R&B group called House Party which included

his brothers Phil and Tony as well as his
sister Christine.

He would start out as a dancer before teaching
himself guitar and eventually singing background

vocals for the group.They would eventually
change their name to Fuemana and released

a 1993 album on their own indie label.

It would be the same year that Fuemana founded
a new group called OMC, which stood for the

Otara Millionaire’s Club, which featured
his brother Paul.

Little did they know, that in just a few short
years that name would ring true, but it would

come at a heavy cost.

OMC’s early music resembled the rap that
was popular in america at the time and while

their early shows attracted some big crowds
it was the wrong type of people.

According to billboard magazine Otara’s
Millionaire’s Club shows to see audience

members from US exported gangs including the
bloods and the crypts and it was at that point

that Fuemana decided to quit the group, take
the OMC name with him and start from scratch.

His new music would draw on more of his southern
pacific roots and he would tell billboard

in 1997 “we were doing all these gigs and
gang members started showing up.

In Auckland there is a very bad bloods and
crips situation.

I just decided to try and steer away from
that and go in another direction where i could

grow and get more into music that i wanted
to make.”

Helping Fuemana would be a producer named
Alan Janseen who produced an underground New

Zealand compilation record called “Proud”
highlighting artists from South Auckland.

OMC’s contribution to the record would be
the track We R the OMC.

Janseen and Fuemana would start writing songs
together with the pair coming up with 8 songs

in just 4 hours, one of which was How Bizarre.

Originally titled Duff It Up, the name was
quickly changed to How Bizarre.

Author Simon Grigg who wrote a book about
Fuemana would explain the origins of the song’s

influences telling The Star newspaper “It
has the Mariachi trumpets there which Pauly

got from listening to Herb Alpert records
when he was a kid,”.

“And the acoustic guitar is an Alan thing,
from hearing folk rock on the radio, and Pauly’s

vocal is almost a hip hop consciousness-style.

So it was all these elements mixed together.

“And Alan’s wife kept on saying ‘how bizarre’
about things, and we thought ‘that’s a good

phrase.’

You’d say something to her, and she’d
go ‘how bizarre’.

So it came from her” he’d say.

The day following that marathon writing session,
OMC was booked to play big day out festival

in auckland where they debuted the song live
for the first time.

It was a disastrous gig, as people would walk
out on fuemana, but despite their poor live

reception Australia seemed to love Paul with
Rolling Stone referring to Fuemana as and

i quote ”the marvin gaye of the pacific.”

By late 1995 OMC would issue their debut album
titled How Bizarre on local indie label Huh.

It became a massive seller in New Zeland moving
about 35,000 units.

The album would be distributed worldwide by
major label Mercury-Polygram Records and A

spokesperson from the label would tell billboard
“people here felt strongly about the album

and song, but international sales don’t
always translate because of the vast amount

of radio and retail outlets here.”

In America the first stations that helped
pave the way for the song to show up on modern

rock radio were KITS in San Francisco, KDGE
in Dallas and KNRK in Portland.

The success of How Bizarre on modern rock
radio in America took Fuemana by surprise

who told Billboard “i was in los angeles
for christmas and i heard and i would hear

this hardcore music coming on before how bizarre.

I remember hearing henry rollings just crank
out this song and then i heard mine.

What a mystery” he would say.

Author Simon Grigg would recall the song’s
success revealing “How Bizarre just didn’t

sound like anything else.

So when it came out a lot of people went ‘what
the f… is this’ because it just sounded

so odd,”

Following the How Bizarre’s success Fuemana
would be thrown into a massive global promotion

for the single and the album.

OMC would appear on the UK’s top of hte
pops, they would tour with U2, Cheap Trick,

Cher, Smashing Pumpkins and even opened for
bon jovi on an aircraft carrier.

At one point, OMC did three return trips to
the UK in just one month alone and in between

that time flew back to australia.

The song and album was estimated to generate
around 8 million USD in royalties.

OMC’s monumental success would also be their
downfall.

While Fuemana was on the road to promote the
album ,his friend and producer Alan Janseen

was back home in New Zeland and people at
the record label were trying to drive a wedge

between the pair resulting in Janseen suing
Fuemana in 1997 over royalties to the song

and album.

It would eventually be settled by a mediator,
but their creative partnership would be over

for the time.

Things went further downhill for Fuemana after
Polygram pushed him to record a cover of the

Randy Newman hit I Love LA For the 1997 Rowan
Atkinson film Bean.

The song was a commercial flop and Fuemana’s
relationship with Polygram only grew more

tense.

His brother Tony who toured with OMC as a
bassist would recall to Stuff New Zealand

“”There are a lot of stories about Pauly confronting
a lot of record label executives over there

[US].

And I know that most of those stories are
true,” “There were a lot of the physical ones.”We

had taken a 20-hour bus trip..

They wanted a TV interview at 6.30am.

Pauly asked them if he could just have a shower
and something to eat before he left,”

“They threatened to pull the concert that
night, if he didn’t [do the interview].

The rep said, ‘You have to be there at 6.30
or we will pull the plug on your show and

the rest of your shows’.

Pauly would end up throwing the rep through
the window of the tour bus.

Adding to that fact was that life on the road
was wearing on him and his grandmother passed

away, Pauly abruptly quit the tour and returned
home to say goodbye to his grandmother.

Polygram wasn’t happy with him and he lost
his recording contract by the end of the new

millennium.

He would never tour the world again or put
out another record.

In 2006 Pauly declared bankruptcy, losing
his home, and fancy cars.

He would blame his tour and the taxman for
taking most of his money, but those close

to him pointed to his generosity, as well
as lavish lifestyle for his money woes in

addition to signing contracts he didn’t
fully understand.

It was still estimated that by the late 2000’s
that he was making $50,000 a year just from

songwriting royalties.

While Pauly lost his money, his old friend
Janseen didn’t, instead rekindling their

friendship in the late 2000’s and Janseen
would support Pauly’s comeback.

In 2007 Fuemana released OMC’s comeback
single “4 All of Us”, but it proved to

be a commercial flop and Fuemana called it
a day soon afterwards.

In 2010 after years of declining health Pauly
would pass away at the age of 40.

Following his death, his family would reveal
that fuemana had been suffering from a chronic

degenerative disease similar to multiple sclerosis,
but his official cause of death would be pneumonia.

He would leave behind a wife and six children.

Following news of his death how bizarre would
show up briefly on the charts in new zealand.

In December of 2020 the song was in the news
again as it was blowing up on social media

app tiktok “How Bizarre” In late 2020
nearly 100,000 videos incorporate the song’s

lyrics –into their videos with the #HowBizarre
hashtag has generating nearly 1.5 billion

views.

That does it for today’s video guys thanks
for watching.

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We’ll see you again on rock n’ roll true stories.

Take care.