First off, we are planning our record release shows in Toronto for:
Oct 30 @ Sneaky Dees
Oct 31 @ Sneaky Dees
Nov 1 @ Sneaky Dees
There will also be after parties, and a larger all-ages show at some point during the weekend. Stay tuned for details.
We just did a string of interviews over here in the UK - here is one of them:
Hi so the new record has been announced for Oct 2008 and its called "The Chemistry of Common Life" - what does it mean?
The title comes from a book of the same name printed around the turn the last century, which was about the chemical properties of different types of edible and hallucinogenic mushrooms. Originally the title was going to refer to drugs and nature somehow, but now I'm having a hard time remembering how the title was connected to those ideas. It was also along the same lines as "Looking for Gold" was, using the alchemy-fascist metaphor to refer to the spiritual re-organization of society. It doesn't really have any practical value as an idea to me, but there is hierarchy and order at all levels or nature that I like to think about when I'm thinking about people and how we're all arranged socially and spiritually. And somehow at the base of that is this scientific order thats governing the smallest particles and molecules whose organization is what's governing everything at the top in the first place, and the idea was to try and stretch that elementary social cohesion all the way up to the top and try to make sense of how things run up here.
We sort of lost the trail on that idea and the song "ChemCom" is about the beginning of life on earth and how intense it is to think about the molecular division between living and non-living matter, and what it is. At the base of all life is this magical chemistry that is pure science that somehow turned the switch on at some point millions of years ago, but how did it happen? One idea is that these small pools of proteins got charged by lightning and turned into proto-living material, but how? It's hard to think of the start of life as a linear process, where these little particles joined together somehow into strings of proteins that somehow clicked on and joined together, all the way up to cells and then multi-cellular organisms, and then larger creatures and so on. Its just such an mind-bending thing to try and think about - everything in the universe is just these arrangements of particles, these relationships between the resulting molecules - of all the millions of combinations, somehow life happened, it could have been anything, but from somewhere life started. It just tells you that life isn't about properties really, or individuals. It's about the interaction between those single properties that makes things happen - it's not about like hydrogen, or oxygen alone - it's the interaction that makes water. It's heartening to carry it forward - it isn't about you, but about how you interact with the world and people around you.
We've always been interested in evolution, and Chemcom basically refers to the first evolution, from inorganic to organic. The insert art is crystals and rocks handing a baby over to trees and birds, its crazy.
What makes you want to write about those types of things?
I think life is the best idea anyone ever had - I want to pay tribute to it. A lot of people have wondered if Fucked Up became a religious band because we talk about god all the time, but thats not really the case - we are a bunch of people who don't believe in god but know that life would be a lot easier if we did. All the lyrics I write are about trying to find god in nature, like looking for these unexplainable and mystical processes that you can look at with a microscope, you know the memory stored in DNA, or the brightness of the sun - thats god I think and thats what's important for me to think about.
How was it recording the record this time?
It took forever. You never know your band is a cliche until after - it was the classic "take 6 months to record your album" scenario. We did bed tracks in January, went on tour in February, then I was globe trotting for a few months, then we started again in March or April, then we went to Texas for a week and I almost died there and was sick for two weeks when I got home and couldn't record...then we toured again and all the while were doing a day or two in the studio whenever we had free time...then we crammed as much recording in as we could between May and July because we had to...go on tour again. I started telling people that I would only go to my day job when I had free time. Meanwhile, I got a free Zune. Since we were recording sporadically and had no boundaries it was hard to us to decide that the record was finished. In June in Toronto there were two massive thunderstorms and we were mixing the last song on the record during one of them. We thought it sounded fine but then we heard this incredible thunderclap so we decided to set up a microphone outside on the train tracks so we could get a thunderclap on the record...these little snags that set you back.
We had a lot of new friends come in this time and that was great. There are a lot of great and strange bands from Toronto - LS Double D Cup, One Hundred Dollars, Final Fantasy, Jennifer Castle, Katie Stelmanis, Creeping Nobodies, we like working with different types of musicians.
You are on Matador now - how did that happen?
We signed to Jade Tree a bit in haste because we had studio time booked with no money and needed to find a label in like a week in order to get the studio paid for. Those guys were really nice and seemed interested in working with the band and doing their label. We did our part by recording a good album and doing a lot of touring, but as soon as the record came out they dropped off the face of the earth - the two main people behind the label got second jobs midway through our contract and we never at the office, and we started having trouble ever getting in touch from them, and also ever figuring out what exactly they were doing for our record. It became clear when we were on tour last summer that it was not a good fit for us to be on Jade Tree. The process of Fucked Up trying to leave Jade Tree took place between August 2007 and June 2008, when we finally signed a contract with Matador. Getting answers from them during that time was like pulling teeth, and we feel as a band that we lost 2 years on Jade Tree between putting out a record with no label support, and then wasting a year trying to get out of our contract.
We had to pay Jade Tree a lot of money to get out of our contract, and we feel like that money was essentially a reward to them for mismanaging their label and for being neglectful to their responsibilities to their roster. It is a shitty situation for us to be in, but we felt that putting out a 2nd album on Jade Tree would have been a worse option, so we left. We know that most other bands on Jade Tree have had to go through the same nightmare that we did, and that most of the roster from the time we signed has left and gone to other labels, and I know that there are a lot of bands that are angry with the label.
There is this great magazine article that has the guy who runs Jade Tree doing this trip over seas to see this football match - I read it and just thought, like, wow, all this time that I couldn't get a hold of this guy for 8 months, that's where he's at. All the money we had to give them to get out of our contract - that's where it's going. Life is frustrating sometimes.
It seems like a lot of your old fans aren't really into the way your newer music sounds.
Fair enough - I don't listen to the music I listened to 5 years ago either. It's nice when you have fans of your music who have been there the whole time, but I wouldn't expect anyone to love the same band for 5 or 6 years, because I know that I don't. People move forward, so do bands. Some people in the band were still teenagers when we started, and some of us are almost 30 years old now. I'm glad we have so many records that are so different. I know a lot of the friends we made when we first started lost interest in our band after the first few 7", and that's fine - those first few records are great, and they are still there if people want to listen to them. I think it would have been worse if we just tried to release 20 7"s that sounded like Police, because then we would have ruined those first few records as well. It's important for me to write music that I'm proud of, but also to take risks and challenge myself when I'm writing - sometimes with FU we just like to see how far we can go, not for the press or the hype, but just so we can know that we tried to make interesting music. Maybe it doesn't work, but I'm not the one buying Fucked Up records, so for me it's the process, not the outcome, so it's only important to me that I tried.
Since Hidden World you've added a third guitar player - why did you decide to do this?
Young Governor was our roadie the third time we went to the UK, and we'd already known him for many years. He learned all the songs during that tour and started to play live with us back in Canada. His first show was with Pere Ubu in Montreal last October. I had broken my hand and we taught him the set in case I wasn't going to end up playing, and he was also going to play the third guitar part when we did Year of the Pig for the first time. I ended up playing the Pere Ubu show with a cast because Gulag wasn't able to make that show so Governor played his part. The first show with three guitar players was the next day, and we did Year of the Pig, also with Simone from $100 on organ. He's played everything since then, it makes the stage look cooler and thickens the sound. We all have bruises on our arms now because we all bump into each other on small stages.
Matador just released the first single for the record, No Epiphany - it's a bit different. Are you guys a shoegaze band now?
I have demo versions of the entire record from when we were writing it - No Epiphany is called "Jonah Stooges", because that's what it sounded like before we did the LP version. People think we are these dipshit tricksters who have every move planned 2 years in advance in order to maximize how pissed off we can make everyone. We turned that song from "Jonah Stooges" to "No Epiphany" in like two steps in the studio as we were recording it - we had a fast take of it (that will be the bside of the 7" single version) and we decided to cut a slower version. Second, I found a phaser pedal in the closet and made up the guitar lead as I was recording it, and it became this weird. Oh also then we had the Vivian Girls sing on it, because we felt the way they use reverb on their vocals suited the music. The song is about the Sun, and I think the music sort of matches that - it's bright, gauzy. We aren't trying to "rip off shoegaze bands" - I have never even hear the JAMC, and I don't care.
What are you working on now?
We are working on Year of the Rat right now, trying to make it possible for it to come out before the end of 2008. I am in Spain right now, and we are going into the studio next week in London to record the first half. It will be similar to Year of the Pig, but a bit less cumbersome, some heavier parts. When "Chemcom" comes out, Year of the Rat will make sense. It's about greed. We're also going to record another benefit 7" to follow David Christmas, but this one will be called David Valentine and it will come out in February.
We are doing a lot of touring. I just rented out my apartment from July to January, and I don't know when I'm coming home. We all quit our jobs for the time being. We left and said goodbye but no one knows when we will be back. We are on the road now.
There will be a festival in Toronto in October, we are working on that. Halloween is on Friday this year, so that will be nice.