Fucked Up have epitomized the last decade of hardcore, thanks to rock-operas and seriously pissing off MTV, now, despite their front man Damian Abraham hitting the milestone of being a father, they're in the process of making a new record and don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. I caught up with Damian over apple bongs (and disturbing his dinner, my bad) to talk Carly Rae Jepsen and why WWE Wrestlers won’t return his e-mails.
Noisey: Hey Damian! You’ve not visited us British babes in well over a year, what’s up with that?
Damian: I love coming here because it is legitimately like the first place we ever toured- it’s funny because we picked Mike (Haliechuk on guitar) up from the train station today and it was right across from a place called The Star & Garter, which we played like three or four times on our first trip over. I just didn’t understand why we’d always play on the third floor. British pubs are cool; coming here is almost like coming back to some forgotten place from your childhood.
We like to kick it old school, what can I say. So you’re a fan of the pubs but what else do you like when you’re touring over here?
I love Beef & Tomato Pot Noodles! There is nothing better in the fucking world than those, man!
Ewwwww, dude, you need to get on the roast dinners. Tell us about the Long Winter series you’ve just played back in Toronto. The first being was all-ages AND "pay what you can", how was that?
Doing an event like Long Winter was really special because I felt like it bought together a lot of divergent communities and rolling up it felt like the scene was a lot smaller than it is now. So, this was our way of bringing together a little bunch of scenes in Toronto and it worked out really well. At first I was like "Oh no, this is gonna be a fucking distasterrr" because, like a lot of people, I fear the unknown and there is comfort to be found in the conventional.
But it’s good to step out of comfort zones though right?
I agree! Although I’m not a person that always goes willingly. I was straight-edge for sixteen years before I started smoking pot, that’s how I cling to things, haha!
Ha. So, even though Fucked Up has been going for over a decade, do promoters and stuff still give you hassle?
There is a lot of stuff that I’m not offended by, but I realize that I don’t have the same experiences and outlooks as other individuals. And obviously "fuck" is a very banal, crude word… any problems that we have experienced we never ever foresaw us having, like getting on big American talk shows, our songs being used in commercials and how certain publications are going to censor our name. We just never thought we’d be big enough to get into those situations in the first place but those aren’t always the best things to happen anyway. I like to see it as a safety blanket or an umbilical cord that helps us from straying too far.
It’s a lot harder to probably be in a pop band where everything is semiotics; like how are the fans going to interpret the new haircut? It's still our weird fantasy made real. The level of “fame” we’re at too is so minor, imagine how it would be if everything was all dramatically “UGH, I CAN’T GO OUT MY OWN HOUSE!” Whenever someone has stopped me for a photo in the street, I’m more excited than they are, like “LETS DO THIS AND GET A COUPLE OF SET-UPS!”, which makes it everything I really wanted.
Ha. What’s the plans for the next release then?
We're working on a new record at the moment and I haven’t heard any of it...
Whut?! Do you guys enter the process separately?
Yeah, we realized over time what works for us and it’s very much a compartmentalized process, you know? I think when we made our first record Hidden World, we were all in the studio at the same time and it was real intense and a lot harder to try something new whereas since we’ve broken the process up a little bit more, we’ve been willing to try something weirder because you don’t have everyone peering over you so it takes a lot of the pressure off. I’ve realized throughout the years that there are a lot of complications, more when it comes to problems with labels and timings and agreeing on dates- which can be frustrating.
That seems to be happening across all genres at the moment, these huge, new artists have delayed releases like crazy...
I mean, hip-hop is going through the same phase rock & roll went through in the late 70s and early 80s. When people understand the conventions of a genre and it becomes more open, that’s a good thing. Rules get broken and people experiment more which is normally when the means of production falls into the hands of the artist too. Rappers are using Tumblr and all sorts of differentiating mediums now to leak tracks and mixtapes completely free, even just creating a Twitter presence now can be effective enough.
I’m really interested in the new generation of hip-hop; Kendrick Lamar seems to be the breakout star of this class and it’s interesting because, like you said about delayed releases, all these artists that got signed from having so much buzz and hype around them, like A$AP Rocky, Kreayshawn and Mr MFN eXquire have had their records put back like craaazy! It’s almost as if they had the most perfect marketing system figured out for themselves and then they can’t adapt to the labels and vice-versa.
I work at a mainstream media station back in Toronto and when I’m trying to get videos to play on air. I'm contacting labels like, "Come ON!" The music industry passes the book around a lot, like a slow-moving beast. It’s funny because technology has moved so quickly and the industry hasn’t quite caught up in that sense and seems to remain one step behind. But I want there to be a release that gets me really fucking excited and sweeps people up, you know? It’s crazy now to think that years ago you’d discover a band and be like “WOAH, these dudes are amazing and they have like three other records!”, whereas now it’s just like, “Here is the first demo that we put out last week...”
Yeah, fans discover new music that is so fresh out of the kitchen people stay on tenterhooks and follow artists through their progression, THEN journalists pick up on movements.
I really wish I could love artists like Justin Bieber or One Direction, genuinely, I wanna turn on the TV and be like “FUCK, that is an amazing song!” but I've just never been able to do that. It’s what I work around all day back at the TV station, too. I know tons of people that listen to phenomenal music and still listen to that side of pop. The first time I heard "Call Me Maybe" was like nails on a chalk board, I think it’s the pre-programmed drums; something about those just drives me crazy. But this is why I don’t judge or get embarrassed over anything and think "Fuck, thirty million Beliebers can’t be wrong. I don’t think anything should ever be named a "guilty pleasure".
...Not even your love for wrestling?
NO! I love wrestling! Punk and wrestling have ran away together for as far back as it goes, right? The Dictators first record "Go Girl Crazy!" has artwork that is basically just Handsome Dick Manitoba wearing a wrestling unitard in a dressing room and Richard Meltzer who was in a band called VOM is the Uncle of professional wrestler Dave Meltzer!
Dude, how do you even know these blood-line facts?
It’s my passion that will never be allowed to be bought into Fucked Up at any point whatsoever but we have a secret history with the sport. Daniel Bryant actually used our track "Generation" for his entrance music in Ring Of Honor, then he went to WWE and stopped returning my emails…
That sounds like a dream up until the non-responses...
It was, but no-one in the band cared except for me! I was so fucking obsessed and excited about it but then I thought CM Punk and me were also gonna be best friends but that never happened either. We have so many mutual friends that when I interviewed him for the TV show I do, I bought him presents- all that shit that in retrospect is creepy but I thought "...We’re gonna be friends so this won’t be fucking weird"
HA, someone call security! Thanks Damian!