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Monday, March 29, 2010



Hey, we're going on tour again for a minute in May. MAYbe you want to come check us out?

May 3 Lawrence Kansas (please no tornadoes this time, thanks) @ Jackpot Music Hall
May 4 Denver Colorado @ Larimer Lounge
May 5 Driving
May 6 Somewhere? (I think either Vanuatu or Cook Islands)
May 7 Las Vegas @ Bowling Festival
May 8 Pomona, CA Glasshouse
May 9 San Francisco, CA Rickshaw Stop
May 10 Scotty's Garage in Berkely
May 11 Anywhere NOT in Washington (State)
May 12 Victoria BC @ Sugar
May 13 Vancouver BC @ The Biltmore Cabaret
May 14 Edmonton AB @ Avenue Theater
May 15 Saskatoon SK @ Amigo's
May 16 Regina SK @ The Exchange
May 17 Winnepeg MB @ WECC
Then probably Thunder Bay and Sudbury or something

Hey, check out this old-style FU interview I did with Artist Advocacy (I think). Thanks to Erik Ziedses Des Plantes ("Eric Zines Of Plants"). It starts out kind of boring because we're just talking about FU specific stuff, but later on gets exciting because we're talking about the music industry (again) and like, trying to figure out whats the deal with punk? Anyhow, thanks for reading.

First off, how have things been with Fucked Up? How have your recent tours/shows been going?

Pretty good. We just did sxsw, and before that did a week and a half of shows in the parts of the midwest and east coast US where we're most comfortable. Things have been on autopilot for about a year - we've recorded a new single (Year of the Ox) but other than that we've been avoiding writing a new album and have just been concentrating on vacationing and doing little tours and random space filler things. Shows have all been pretty good. I'm sitting on the train heading north from Austin and I've got 3 or 4 songs without having to skip any songs on Ipod shuffle, so life is pretty good (Angel-gate by DJ Shufflemaster, Judy by C12, Trinity by Trust, Head over Heels by Tears for Fears, fyi).

In the time since The Chemistry Of Common Life came out, Fucked Up has seen some legitimate brushes with the mainstream, be it through Damian’s appearances on Fox News, or the fact that you all made a second appearance on MTV in Canada. As someone who has been involved with the music scene for years now, what has all of this attention been like for you?

It happened at such a gradual pace that there really isn't anything remarkable for us. It's like if you have a friend you haven't seen for a few years, and when you see them, their hair has gotten a lot longer or something. To you, it's a shock because you haven't experienced the change at a daily rate. For them, it's just hair growing in miniscule amounts everyday. I also think the pace of change for the way the music industry works has been almost as fast as how we've changed ourselves. If we'd been on MTV in the late 90s it would have been a really significant thing. Being on a station like that now is less remarkable, because the lines between "mainstream" and everything else are so much more blurred. Certainly from my perspective as a working indie rocker, all I ever really see is big indie rock bands in the media. Pitchfork I know is a lot more trafficked website than even Spin or Rolling Stone, which were music media monoliths when I was growing up (and had subscriptions to both of them), but it still for some reasons seems like more of an event if we're mentioned on one of these conventional media outlets, despite them actually being smaller than Pitchfork, which we're on all the time. I think "mainstream" isn't really even a useful term anymore. I would use "conventional" media, I guess. Is Animal Collective a mainstream band? Because they sell a shit load more records than a lot of the bands you see on MTV. And conventional media attention I feel doesn't really help us in a conventional sense either. Nowadays you need to play the media for its reverberations rather than for any direct effect. When we had our first article in the New York Times, there was a huge spark in the traffic on our website (like by 1000% for a few days), but it didn't really translate directly into record sales or anything tangible like that. Even though the article interested people enough to go to our website, it didn't mean that the average New York Times reader wanted to buy a hardcore album.

It was useful in that our appearance in convential media was itself a media event in the indie press, where it did actually started helping us. So it's this weird post-modern scenario where bigger indie bands will get conventional press, but conventional consumers won't really take a second look at those bands, or buy their records - but getting bigger press is a story that will help you with more indie press (like this interview question).

I was talking to my friend the other day who works getting commercial spots for bands on our label group (Beggars Banquet), who explained that when The xx got a big AT and T commercial spot, the company was expecting a lot of perks from the label, because they felt the ad had done a lot to help The xx sell records. What was actually happening was that The xx just getting that spot was a story in itself in the indie press, which in turn led more indie kids to check out the ad, to a greater extent than conventional consumers were checking out The xx because of the ad.
So basically, you can't really make a division between mainstream or anything else, because we live in a world now where a band getting a commercial is a bigger commercial for the commercial than the commercial itself.

Over the years, it seems like the mask of mysteriousness that surrounded the band has kind of receded. How do you feel about this? Do you feel like you have to be more selective about subject matter in songs now that more is known about you, or that you might need to streamline what you are trying to say at times?

I was reading the other day about this thing "mysterious guy hardcore" that we apparently invented, or did, or something, when we were first a band. At some point we just made the decision to do a 180 and be the most transparent band we could possibly be. Most of this is because Damian has been the face of the band for the last few years, and he is a really open person and likes being in the spotlight. It was fun to be mysterious, but it's also fun to do it this way.

Fucked Up’s songs have contained several outside references, whether they be literary, philosophical, or political. What concepts/authors/issues have been inspiring you these days, if any, and why?

It's hard to say, because we haven't been producing anything lately. I mentioned before that we've been on autopilot. We only really start collecting ideas and concepts when we're recording for a record. We've been on tour full time for almost 2 years straight at this point, and we haven't done a lot of creative work in that time. What I'm hoping is that all that time off is going to result in a massive outpouring of creative energy when we're forced back into the studio by our label this summer.

Chemistry was a sprawling album that experimented with a great deal of sounds, to great success, I might add. I know from reading Looking For Gold that your personal music tastes fly in every direction at once, so do you ever feel trapped by expectations to continue to produce things that might fall under the genres of “hardcore” or “punk?” Basically, what is the most frustrating part of your songwriting process these days?

A little bit. We'll always be a punk band, mostly because of Damian's voice, but also because thats just where our heads are at. We weren't ever so steeped into a genre that we would paint ourselves in a corner, and I think that has been our working definition of punk music, which means that we've always been able to go in almost any direction we've wanted. We just recorded Year of the Ox, and it has a string quartet that plays on about half of the song. The bside sounds like Simple Minds and uses a 808 drum machine, has a 4 minute saxaphone solo, 2 synth tracks, and the entire lyric is a paraphrase of a book from the bible. And both are still heavy enough songs that they couldn't be considered anything other than punk music. I know a lot of ink has been spilled trying to figure out if we're still a punk band, but that just isn't the sort of thing you think about when you are on the inside. I just write music once or twice a year, and then try to travel as much as possible with the rest of my time - whether that output is punk or not, is just not something that's part of my deal. I listen almost exclusively to electronic music, and have done so for almost the entire time that we've been a real band (Baby Ford "Oochy Koochy"playing now), so the internal vibe of the band is already so convoluted, if we had to decide on a style, it would just not be possible. The most frustrating part of the song writing process now is sort of deciding what direction to go in right now though. We're starting to write this new album, and we are a little stuck.

I know that bands saying "we're not really caught up on style" is one of the most annoying things you can read in a band interview, but people need to understand that like, but the time you are reading that interview, the band has been trying to write music for like 7 years, is no longer even really passionate about the kind of music they played when they started the band, and is doing their band full time, which doesn't mean sitting around in a studio being influenced by stuff 24/7, it means dealing with lawyers and agents all day and other shit that is so far from the creative process that you feel like you'd be making a bigger dent in the culture as a file clerk, and that pretty much the only instance in a bands history when they have time to think about what kind of music they play is, is when they are entering "visual/ghettotech" as a fake genre on their myspace profile in 2002.

You have a 7" coming out for Record Store Day this year that has several different covers that pay tribute to great record stores you’ve been to while on tour. Besides the stores featured, what other great stores have you had the chance to visit recently, and how have they contributed to your continuing love of record collecting (ie: any good finds you may have picked up, any additional insight to the culture of independent record stores and collecting)?

I have to honest and say that I am the last person who should be answering this question. I hate records and going to record stores is my least favourite part of tour. I think independent record stores are great, and I collected punk and soul 45s for a good chunk of my early adult life, but those days are behind me and the only thing I'm collecting now is dust on my record collection that I've been trying to sell for 2 years but haven't been in one place for longer than 2 weeks to be able to do it yet. I feel the same way going into a record store as the milkman walking into a supermarket - ie, how many bottles can I sell to this person, and what is this awful milk coming out of the speakers?

In a recent interview with Exclaim!, Ben mentioned that you guys are working on a new album, and that he’s pretty sure it’s going to be called David Comes To Life, and that it will be a musical. This is a concept I know you all have been kicking around for a few years now, just from following Looking For Gold. What finally drove you guys to work on it, and what can you say about it so far, in terms of sound, concept, etc.?

This is the real deal. It's going to be like any other rock musical - totally in service to the bloated rock egos of a group of people entering mid adult hood at such a frantic pace that only the pomposity of a rock opera can properly assuage the fears of tarnishing a creative legacy based precisely on the fact that not once have they ever let their fears get to them to the extent that they would commit such an obvious attempt at covering a creative void as a rock opera. Just kidding. It's basically going to be like our other full lengths - long, loosely self referencial, somewhat thematically linked. It will be called David Comes to Life, and if you've been paying attention, you've already heard 3 songs from it. We haven't decided on any concepts really, but what I can say now is that the idea is to try and make a more personal record. We hide ourselves behind songs about plants and religion and all that stuff, and this time we are going to try to make a record about normal things like loss, redemption, love and pain on a more human level than we've been able to do so far. The album will be seperate from whatever stage stuff we may be able to produce for it at some point.
If the album proceeds as mentioned, how will it be presented in a live setting? Any chance we’ll see actual on-stage acting?

Yeah, thats the plan. It won't be us, obviously, because we can't sing or act (ok Ben can)...but we're going to basically just try to write a collection of songs and themes that can easily lend themselves to other media, and then have someone else take it from there.

When Chemistry came out, Fucked Up did that 12-hour show in New York, and from recaps I’ve read, your set at SXSW this year was quite crazy itself, in terms of location/how the set actually went. What compels Fucked Up to stage such unique live events, when your regular live show has already garnered a pretty great reputation?

We're like how Nike isn't really a shoe company anymore, they just make ads. We're like the music version of Nike - we don't make music, we just try to make up ideas about how to present it in unique ways. We just do this because we have to. Not in a survivalist annoying way, but like literally. We are a hardcore punk band trying to be popular in a cultural environment where not only are the styles of music that are popular changing on almost a quarterly basis (shoegaze - shitgaze - wavves - chillwave - darkwave - wilsim publogy), but also that the entire cultural environment in question is itself quiet literally one long reaction to and kind of against punk music, and therefor as a cultural expression, about as anti punk and hardcore as a genre can get. About when we were writing Hidden World, we made a pretty conscious decision that we didn't want to be a big fish in a mostly small and stagnant hardcore world. We knew that almost every person who had ever done something important in indie rock (ie "the mainstream") used to either be in a shitty punk band, or grew up going to punk shows in the 80s, which meant we knew we'd hit the soft spot for a lot of people in useful places, but also that all those people had made their successes after giving up punk and moving on to more palatable projects, and that we couldn't really think of any hardcore punk band that had broken into the mainstream/indie world while they actually existed as a band. Punk has always been something that people love to name check, but also like to keep at a distance. A punk band can pretty much only be important if they've been broken up for 15 years. Either that, or they have to be punk in secret, like Husker Du. A broad faced punk band can only really expect a life of quarantine. Think about the defining tragedy of The Ramones, one of the most iconic and influencial American bands ever to exist. Even while a million people were wearing Ramones tshirts in every country on the planet, they existed under this constant sense of under achievement, because they just wanted to be legitimate rockstars, and all they were ever allowed to be was a popular punk band. This sense of failure of the Ramones project permeates like every interview they did. They were footnotes at their own last show, the bulk of the story about what famous guests they were able to conjure up, like Eddie Vedder or whatever. Can you imagine how frustrating that must have been? These guys that had watched on the sidelines for 20 years as their cultural output, that influenced everything that would become even remotely popular in music was relegated and marginalized?

Think about all the literature about punk and indie music - you had punk in the 70s, which created hardcore in the 80s after people got fed up with how mainstream punk was, which created post punk in the late 80s after people got fed up with how violent and insular hardcore had gotten, which created indie rock in the 90s after post punk bands realized they could be rich and famous if they just tweaked their sound a bit, which created the parallel mainstream of grunge in the mid 90s after the music industry realized it was the 90s and their power and influence was such that they could sell anything to anyone without even really trying, which created like I guess post-parallel-mainstream indie rock in the late 90s after people realized they were being had and that Kurt was dead anyways, and the Soundgarden was writing lame shit like Spoonman , but also created post-grunge like Staind and shit, but ALSO created lame-punk like Green Day (who were actually good) and The Offspring once record executives realized that kids were so disillusied by the record industry at this point that they could sell punk to them again as a marketable form of common disillusionment, which created I don't know, parallel-indie rock 2, in the early 2000s, when people realized how lame that was, to be tricked by punk AGAIN, but also that it was the same amount of kids trying to listen to cool bands, but this time we had the whole decade of the 1980s to learn about how to market indie rock so that this time indie people could do it themselves, so here we are in 2010 and pretty much every new new genre has been a reaction against punk in someway, so that a contemporary punk band trying to be popular in even a slightly mainstream way has like 19 successive genre movements stacked against it, going back almost 50 years to the inception of punk itself as at once a fake-genre created to sell disillusionment (and also Vivien Westwood tshirts) in the first place, but also pretty much the locus of every youth oriented music style that would follow,to this day, the reference point for almost everyone working in the music industry right now, and pretty much the exact place where western civilization switched from being a top-down centrally organized modern enterprise to the mixed media, post modern, consumer driven and at least somewhat youth-oriented organizational structure of today, and were the pattern of of perennial reactionary musical cyclus can be traced back to. The entire history of post modern youth culture has been one long turn against punk, and people wonder why we have to try so hard to be popular.

In the same interview with Exclaim!, Ben said that “Everyone in Fucked Up knows there is a expiration date on the band.” What would be the reasons for you guys to quit, seeing as how, at least from my perspective, your creative well is far from dry?

We won't, saying that is just one of the ways we are "creative". People like the concept of exclusivity. Think about how much more you would sit around the house if you didn't think your life was ever going to end. People only really get excited if they think something is about to disappear. This is one of the first things we learn - a baby (or a dog), only wants something if it's also wanted by someone else, or if its about to be taken away. This is how the economy works as well - it's called artificial scarcity. Think about the slight shudder of panic when you hear about something you have to rsvp for. It's more than likely something you don't even want to go to. But if there is a chance you may not get it, suddenly it's the only thing you can think of. Thats life. Thats how you should treat every relationship. Sorry, you might not see me again, we'd better have sex now. Oh sorry, we might never come to Newport Kentucky again, you should probably come see us this time. Hey well, you could buy that beanie baby tommorow, but I can guarantee you that the factory just stopped making them.

Finally, is there any part of Fucked Up that you feel is under-addressed? Feel free to talk about those aspects here.

If you can think of something about our band thats been under-addressed, I'd like to know.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Thriller Energy Drinks is now suing us because of this article. You can view the court document here. Please join the facebook support group here. Please send Thriller angry emails here:

HEY EVERYONE checking out this post after being refered here from metafilter, pitchfork, punknews, facebook tumbler, stumbleupon,, or twitter:


Also this one.

Hey this will be my last post about sxsw. But it's super long so enjoy:

We put on our own showcase to try and highlight the importance of actual bands and musicians at sxsw. Like every other part of the music industry, it's musicians and artists that are the oil in the machines of this festival. But all too often artists are treated exactly like that - as a simple combustible energy source to keep something much larger afloat. Like any other industry, there are producers and owners. The reality of music can be the same on as any factory floor, and there are the same economic units that get spread around - if you are in a band, you have a miniscule amount of power, and if you are an owner (a record label, a corporation, the sxsw company), then you have a lot more power. Bands often try to deny that they are part of any economic system - and in some cases that's true. But if your band has anything to do with sxsw, has released a record on any sort of record label, plays in any sort of club, then you are an economic unit just like any Walmart employee or Chase Executive, and at least a part of your energy as an artist should be spent trying to get more power.

For most people, and most bands, sxsw is a lot of fun. Even though we play 2 or 3 shows a day during the festival, and only get a few hours of sleep a night, our general attitude towards going is that it's like a holiday from our usual touring life. It's sunny, lots of our friends are there, we sometimes get free jeans and sunglasses, and generally it's one of the most chill(wave) times of the year. If your band has the right attitude, sxsw is a lot of fun.

It's also a great way to move forward with your artistic career, because it puts a lot of people together in one intense burst of activity over a few days. You might go down there a no one and come back signed to Mexican Summer Records. For a lot of bands, it can be the opposite. 2010 was our third time playing the festival, but the first time it didn't cost us $3000 of our own money to do. The expense is high, and is rightly seen by most bands as a sensible gamble, weighed either against a week of good times, or at a chance at moving forward with the business of being a band - money well spent to meet managers, agents or record labels. But it's still an expense, and while bands from all over the world are spending thousands of dollars to get to Austin, there are a lot of companies already there and with massive economic power (a whole bunch of those units I was talking about earlier) who are using these bands to varying degrees to get even more powerful.

Here are a few relatively innocuous examples. The first time we did sxsw there were these little packs of gum everywhere by this company called 5 (actually owned by Wrigley). I had never seen this gum before, or heard of this company. They didn't put on a showcase, they had just left thousands of packs of gum everywhere for people to grab, and I guess also chew. That year we travelled around the country and started seeing the gum everywhere. This is called passive advertising. There weren't any 5 gum billboards anywhere at sxsw that year, just all these packs of gum by this company that seemed to have come out of nowhere. Lots of cool people came down to Austin, got some free packs of gum, and then presumably went back to Williamsburg and started buying packs of 5 gum. Now you see the stuff in every super market. Same thing Sweet Leaf Tea. I had never heard of this stuff before we played FYF in LA last year. It was all over the place at sxsw this year, and now you can find it at Whole Foods. Same thing with Incase. I'm not saying that any of these companies are evil in any way, but I also don't remember any of them helping to pay for the gas we had to buy to get all the way down to Austin and back (actually it was jetfuel).

Another example is Thriller Energy Drinks. When we first started going to sxsw in 2007, this was just one sad looking guy handing these tiny cans to people out of a garbage can full of ice at the corner of Red River and 7th. I guess he was at one of our shows that year and wrote some ridiculous shit about us on his website. Since then Thriller has grown into a relatively successful energy drink brand, and his mostly gross ads were spread all over sxsw this year. He got in touch with us this year about co-promoting a few shows and asked us to play a few of the shows he was presenting. We think energy drinks are some of the most vile stuff you can put in your body and didn't really want to have anything to do with him as a person or his company. He was persistent in bugging us for the first half of 2010 so we finally let him shell some of his gross drinks at our official showcase. We were a bit stretched for cash and came into some problems really close to the date of our event, so we took some money from him, which we immediatly felt bad about. Really just a gross company, and even though we did help him promote our show, we wouldn't do it again. While all the companies we've mentioned in this article up to this point have been ones we've worked with on multiple occations, and hope to do in the future, and admire, we can say with force that Thriller Energy Drinks is a bullshit company and we won't be working with them ever again.

Same goes for sxsw as an organization (except that we do want to keep working with them). A festival pass can cost almost $800 a person. A band gets either wristbands or $250, which is enough to buy enough gas to get your van maybe 15 hours away from Austin, one way. Most bands are from outside that radius, and are well within the range of losing a shit ton of money by coming. In exchange, sxsw gets access to the best bands in the world, every club in Austin, and sponsorship money from all the coolest companies on earth. One of the more creatively heinous examples of branding I learned about this year was the Green Label Sound record label, which is a branding exercise of Mountain Dew soda. When my friend was offered to do a record with Green Label Sound for many thousands of dollars, I was happy to concede that it was a great deal for his specific band. Then I saw the giant 4 panel billboard for Green Label Sound right next to Stubbs on Red River St. Great for Chromeo, Neon Indian and the two other bands on the advert I forget ("great" in the sincere and non-facetious sense) and realized how maybe it was a bit more of a serious issue than I'd thought. Think of all the bands that had to blow their wallets apart to get to their one sxsw showcase, and all the partiers who had to pay to fly or hitchhike from Greenpoint or Plymouth to get to Austin in order to create the cultural critical mass that allowed Mountain Dew to greenlight a giant billboard in the epicenter of American indie rock. Think of why there is so much free beer and cigarettes and energy drinks at sxsw, and why every year there is even more, and why every year there are a dozen more huge shows presented by even bigger companies than last year. It's because you paid your money to go there and see these ads.

This is important for a lot of reasons, all of which have to do with you as an economic actor. Something that should be forefront in the minds of every band and every record label is how this is the most visual example of music money leaching away from the people most connected to music. You may have heard that the music industry is sort of falling apart. It isn't really a matter of there being less money in the pool - just that the money people have to spend on entertainment (which will always be somewhat of a constant) is just being diverted away from where it historically has gone (record labels and managers). The music industry is by definition an operation invented to divert money spent on music away from actual musicians - the problems that the music industry is currently facing have specifically to do with the fact that the money that would usually flow directly to the bigger economic actors is now going somewhere else.

Sxsw should be an example of where some of that money is going. While labels are trying to figure out how they can get their piece back, the question sxsw should leave for bands is how to get theirs, or to at least not throw it directly at hospitality and energy conglomerates in order to get to Austin and see your fans money go straight down the throats of Mountain Dew incorporated instead of into your pocket. And again, just to re-iterate - it's not like these companies are inherently evil or vicious. I kind of like Mountain Dew. It's just that they are way better than you at figuring out how to get peoples money, and while your job as an artists should mostly be about making great art, it should also be a little bit about how to be smart at if not making money, then at least not throwing an undue amount away just so someone else can make money at your expense. This is the crux of the matter - there is a big pool of money out there that everyone is trying to get - the music industry is panicking because a lot of the money that used to go from music consumers right to them, is now going to companies that are posted just on the periphery of music, letting bands and labels spend money making music, and then swooping in with music related marketing strategies aimed at getting some of that relatively free money.

Sxsw then can be seen as an economic battle ground. Our first time down there in 2007, the biggest buzz was about how sxsw was shutting down unofficial venues left and right, presumably because the money and the buzz created by those shows was flowing away from the festival, rather than towards it. The shows were mostly free, which made them irresistible to music consumers tired of needing to buy expensive passes from sxsw to check out cool bands. This is a pretty good analogy for what then started to happen to the entire industry - it became possible for fans who had spent most of their lives buying CD's (that they knew cost 50 cents to produce but cost $17.99 to buy) to download them on the internet for free, and record labels, who started seeing CD sales plummet, immediately starting trying to shut these sites down. While sxsw quickly learned to lay off the free parties and start using them to their advantage, the record industry has yet to figure out how to profit from "illegal" downloading. This year the focus of the festival was free parties only tangentially related to sxsw. Sxsw knows that it's never going to shut down every free party, so it makes more sense just to let them happen, and use the initiatives of the bands and labels and companies throwing these parties make sxsw as a whole more appealing.

So you might be asking at this point why we decided to put on our show as an officially sanctioned sxsw show. For a few reasons. First - we believe that sxsw provides an invaluable service to many bands. It is one of the genuine places where a band can become a success overnight. Just ask Freelance Whales or Wavves. For a few select bands every year, the ability to go from a small buzz band to a band with a record contract and an advance is very real. Second - it's really fun. We love going to sxsw and will probably continue to do so, even though we are locked into a record contract for the next 50 years and us going down there really serves no direct purpose. Third - had we just thrown an unofficial party it wouldn't have helped us make the point we wanted to make. As was discussed earlier, bands need to recognize that they are economic actors, and start acting like it. In 2007 we didn't know anything, and our official showcase was a mile away from any other show, no one came, and Damian was so disheartened that he spin kicked a stop sign after the show (I am not kidding). In 2010 we know a lot more and have spent the last 3 years learning about how to get as much money out of the music industry as possible without resorting to advertising and other lame shit (we even sued Rolling Stone for using us in an ad without our permission, remember? Ps we lost). This year our show was right in the center of town, we programmed five other amazing bands, lots of people came, I got in a fight with a the official sxsw doorman (which is pretty much the reason I'm writing this article), we got to help publicize a good cause (shirts for a cure), got good reviews on choice websites, and we made money, all because we set out to make decisions that would help us as a band, rather than help out sxsw or any other company. The point of doing a show within the sxsw framework was to show that it doesn't take a record label or a company to put on a concert at sxsw - you are the band, you should be the one calling the shots.

(Altamont [a shoe and clothing company] gave us $1000 to help out with our show, which we used to rent $1000 worth of back line for all the bands to use. As I mentioned, it's not about completely disavowing participation from outside agents, it's about using them to your advantage. If Altamont sells a few pairs of shoes because of our show, we're fine with that - we feel like we got what we needed out of our relationship with the company.)

For bands it should be about making conscious decisions. The first one is obvious - should you come to sxsw? The trip back can be a lonely one. Your assigned showcase was east of the highway, or west of Congress, and no one came. Every morning I walked from my hotel to the grocery store for breakfast, and along the way I passed a dozen clubs that had bands playing to no one at 11am. It's this overkill of content that sxsw is able to thrive on. Every year the festival expands because every band that's ever been written up on a blog feels like there is a signed record contract waiting for them on the off ramp of the I-35. Bands making bad decisions is part of why big companies are able to prey on the festival as a whole. Every company on earth could program a show at sxsw, because every band thinks the best way to get exposure is to play five shows a day for a week. The Black Lips were written up in The New York Times in 2007 because they played 12 shows at sxsw, because in 2007 no one had done that many shows, and it was a remarkable idea. At this point every band in America is trying to play as many shows as possible, and it's no longer interesting. Playing that many shows is just going to exhaust you, make your performances less interesting and vital because you are so tired, and just compound your disillusionment when your feat of strength isn't celebrated by every blog on the internet. It's about being creative and smart.

What's important to remember is that even if you are a small band with no label, or even just a fan of music, every decision you make at the festival has a ripple effect on the music industry, which you are a part of. If you are a band, and are offered to play the Dewars Pampers Ultra Soft stage, it may be a legitimately good decision to take part in, if you can get a good slot and play for a few hundred people, and maybe even walk away from the show with a cheque. But is it worth playing in the middle of nowhere to no people if the only meaningful economic relationship created by the show is between a few companies that won't pay you, and a few hundred people that are still asleep while you are playing? If you are a label, is it worth taking a few thousand dollars from a beer company to help pay your bands that day if they are just going to turn around and use those bands in a print ad without paying you? It all comes around in the end.

Thanks for reading, and apologies to 3rd year economics students who read this as pretty much a straight re-telling of Capital.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Hey, Year of the Ox has been recorded for a few months but we're still waiting on some low-level label drama to clear before it actually comes out. In the meantime, you can check out a video of us playing it live for the first time at CBC a few weeks ago. We're joined by New Strings for Old Puppets on strings and Anne-Claide from Duchess-Says, who sounds exactly like the singer from the amazing mid-90s french emo band Anomie, who were criminally under-rated. I wish I knew how to embed the video, but for now just check out the video right HERE. Also just in case you are about to go out, the video is like 17 minutes long and has a lot of French-Canadian commentary in the middle. It also has us playing Davids Plan, which you should GO BUY FROM INSOUND RIGHT NOW. You know yo are going there after this anyhow to buy the new Freelance Whales record.


Hi, another sxsw is over for us. It was a great time and we have a lot of people to thank. First and foremost Mark Beemer for being the entire reason we were able to come down, and for putting on his great Shirts for a Cure showcase. Thanks to Maggie for acting more like a roadie than any roadie we've ever had and helping us every day we were in Austin. Thanks also to Iron Age and Trash Talk, Chase, Gerard for picking me at the train station and letting us stay at his house and a million other things, also Sikander for similar reasons. Sean Carlson and Altimont for helping us put on our show case on Saturday, and also to all the bands that played (Private Life, Crystal Antlers, Titus Andronicus, Rival Schools and J Mascis) and also for the entire staff at Red 7 for being cool and helping us deal with maniacal sxsw door staff. Thanks to Claire Taylor for sorting everything out for us and also to Timmy for coming up with a cool idea that we kind of botched by being tired and distracted. Thanks also to that beerland security guy for getting me 20 waters.

Sorry to Todd P and everyone who attended his festival in Monterrey Mexico who wanted to see us. In 9 years of being a band, this was only the third show that we've ever cancelled (the first being on our first European tour when we were booked one night in Umea Sweden, and the next night in Rotterdam Holland [google map it] and opted out of the literally impossible drive to instead spend an afternoon at a Swedish water park, followed by a glamorous nights rest on the side of the highway [where we literally slept on the highway beside our van]; the second being last winter when we had to cancel a show in Omaha after driving 20 miles an hour through the most wreck-filled highway scene this side of Kuwait). Anyways, what I'm trying to say is we don't take cancelling shows lightly. We were excited to be part of a project that seemed adventerous and meaningful and would like to give Todd credit for even attempting such a project. However, as Saturday went on we started hearing rumours to varying degrees of veracity of buses turning back, lengthy waits for buses and we decided to hedge our bets and avoid what we felt would be an arduous journey. The specifics of the journey, we feel are not for the pundits or comment-leavers to speculate on. We fully understand that the uncertainty over the means of travel, and the thrill of the unknown were part of the appeal of this exercise. We've spent enough time on dark trains through China, seatbelt-less rickety vans in the Czech Republic and on vegetable-oil powered buses driving through the mountains of California, that facing relative danger can make the process sweeter and the memories longer lasting. However, after 4 grueling days in the hot and then the cold of doing 2 shows per day in Austin, uncertainty wasn't something we felt we were going to be able to deal with. Plus, with fixed return dates from various airports and train stations in Austin, we weren't confident in the persuasive power that "thrill seeking"would have in helping us refund our missed departures. We salute everyone involved, and see you next time, with seven league boots on.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Hi, as you may know, we love declaring things. When we first announced our SXSW appearance, you may remember that we decided that each year one band gets crowned king of sxsw. In 2008 it was obviously us because we played that crazy bridge show and told the NME that the bridge almost got destroyed and tons of kids got arrested. The year before that i think it was MGMT or Vampire Weekend, I can't remember. This year it's not gonna be us cause we're pretty played but we'd like to try and help everyone reading this blog from Djibouti and Malawi keep track of who this years "it" bands are. So - here's what ridiculous bands I'm hearing everyone talk about so far - WHO WILL WIN




Thursday, March 18, 2010


Hi, just got a minute to add to this. A lot of people who read this blog might not really know who Bruce was. Back when we were still a cool punk band we did our first real tour out of town in California. We'd just done a fake interview in Maximum RocknRoll and were benefiting from a lot of hype on the west coast. Our new best friend Scotty Karate from Tankcrimes records booked our whole tour without having ever met us, and we played a string of 3 or 4 shows in a row that still rank as some of the best and craziest Fucked Up shows that have ever been, and have a lot of our best memories as a band from that short trip. It would be quite reasonable to credit our early relationships with a lot of these people, bands like Born/Dead and Deadfall, and MRR as being formulative in what kind of band we would become. The reviews we got for our early records in MRR by people like Mike Thorn and Bruce Roehrs helped give us the riduculously arrogant sense of confidence we'd carry over to the dark side as we tried to conquer the wild world of indie rock (in the name of punk, or course). Bruce pretty much was the first guy outside of our small group of friends to really back us, and to write about us. We do a lot of press and inteviews now and when we search for record reviews at 3am on google, a lot come up, but still none were as formative or important to us as the ones Bruce was writing from day one, and continued to write for us after a lot of our early backers had moved on (to Sex Vid).

That Bruce was into our band is obviously a footnote to a footnote in the grand scheme of things, but it was helpful to us, and he was important to us as well. Six years later we would still count on seeing him every time we played in the Bay Area, and would still count on him being the most lively and vital person in the room. RIP.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Sunday, March 14, 2010


Hey, don't forget, we're playing SXSW. We think we're going to have a lot of fun this year. I'm taking the train there, we aren't renting a car, we only have one show later than 7pm, and it's all for a good cause! (just kidding). Anyhow, here are the two shows I'll tell you about now. We're playing a few more, but you'll have to find out about those on your own.

Friday March 19
@ Red 7
All Ages, Donation


We play at 3.50

Saturday March 20
@ Red Seven Outside
Fucked Up Showcase

Friday, March 12, 2010

What He Said

Thanks everyone! More later.

Friday, March 05, 2010


Monday, March 01, 2010



Holy shit so check out what I just found on the internet:

A lot of people talk about how we've "progressed as a band" or whatever, and it's easy to just write those people off either as n00bs or po3ers or both. Because you and I both know that what we've actually just done is have Jonah write the same songs he's been writing for 8 years but instead of record 15 of them in one weekend, we take 9 months to record 13 and don't leave the studio until every song has as many guitar tracks as can possibly fit into a protools machine. Thats pretty much what I thought until I was reminded of what we actually sounded like in 2001, the year we became a band. Think about how long ago that is. Tear It Up and Hatebreed I think were the most popular hardcore bands that year. Depending on what month this was recorded in, 9/11 hadn't happened yet. I was 21 years old. Josh was maybe 12. Damian had just joined the band. We all still went to shows regularly, and none of us listened to any weird french techno at all. Me and Josh wrote a zine. Damian had hair, and wore Ralph Lauren. Jonah was fat. There was no such thing as a blog, or facebook or even myspace (I don't think). The Revelation Records Message Board was still kind of the number one site to learn about new hardcore bands, or atleast shit talk them. We made tapes. We had 0 7" singles out.

Despite seeming like a bygone era utterly disconnected to how we live our lives today, one thing bridges the gap - Fucked Up. And now there is proof of how crazy we sounded back then. This live recording, our first (of three) at the CIUT studios in Toronto, is so old and dusty that I had to look up my own band on to see if these tracks had already been relaesed on CD (they haven't, but the first three are on Epics In Minutes [I think]). This session is so old that we play like 6 songs that never even made it onto any Fucked Up Record, and the ones that did got re-named. It is so old that we hadn't even written Police yet! This session is so special and crustily dilapidated that I feel like in order to properly present it to you, the modern and au curant Fucked Up fan, it needs to come with its own play by play cliff notes, so that it doesn't completely blow your mind with it's utter nonsense and make you not want to think about our band ever again.
Ok, download the mix right now HERE and don't start reading these notes until you are listening.

Ok I have no idea what this song was about, but the title comes from and HP Lovecraft short story. We weren't horror or literature fans really back then, but we were totally into the idea of urban paranoia so much that pretty much every song in this set sounds like the insane ramblings of an urban planning dropout turned homeless beggar, which is pretty close to the kind of person I was in 2001. Damian was still Damian, and so was still even then an expert in putting a stick in my craw. Here we were on our first radio session ever about to play the most revelatory political hardcore the world had ever seen and he's making a reference to some dumb band Simon and Ewan had for one summer before either of us started going to shows.
Often I would write lyrics and music at the same time, and Damian would change the lyrics when we started practicing. This song very quickly became "Red" which was about his girlfriend at the time. He got the title from that Red White and Blue film trilogy. This song actually appears on Epics in Minute somehow.

As you can see from the first song, in 2001 we were a fast-hardcore band. This song stood out for us because it was not fast. Thats pretty much it. Also we still play this song almost 10 years later.

What did I saw about urban paranoia before? This song got it's name from the movie that the guy did before he did Memento (which was the one he did before Batman), which was about someone being paranoid about getting following around some bleak urban setting. This song later appeared on our split with Haymaker and changed names and lyrics. Don't bother looking it up tho, because all the song titles on the Haymaker split are fake.

Hey, another song we still play 10 years later! It's crazy how our musical tastes or career aspirations haven't changed at all since then. I think that also means that we've been playing this Black Flag song 10 times longer than Black Flag ever did.

"Quick" was the name of a zine that me and Josh wrote in the late 90s that was influenced by trash collecting, train hoping, John Zerzan and the like. It was 90,000 words (seriously) long and had articles about why The Matrix was the most important film of all time (from an urban-paranoiac-anarcho-primitivist perspective). We were so super punk back then that this song was actually about robbing banks (you can tell by listening to Damian singing the first verse "sayayayaya sation, syayayaboavation, sayayayayanation"). We were so punk that these were the quotes that were supposed to precede the song in the liner notes for whatever record this was supposed to end up on:

“I have no doubt that anyone who passes an hour in the cage of constraining relationships feels a profound empathy for the passion of crime” – raoul vaneigem (traite, page 31)

“Whenever I put on my face-mask, I feel the heat of the proletariat. Nor does the eventual risk offend me: it fills me with a feverish emotion, as if I were waiting for a lover” – Toni Negri, Terrorist

I have the lyrics as well, but I am not going to print them because they are too embarrasing.

This song became "Last Man Standing" and is actually pretty good considering it was written in 1998, when human-kinds influence by bandana-thrash was at it's all time perigee. As has been stated before, this song was written for my old band Rxxxxxxxxx, but was rejected and became a Fucked Up song. The original title refers to the original concept, which was a metaphor for the human race being asleep in the face of oppression, paranoia and all that other stuff. Here is the extent to which we were still kind of a trash band in 2001: the song was entitled "slow" on our setlists when we played it, as in "all our songs are so fast, the one that is marginally less fast is so different conceptually that we have to make a specific note of it by referring to it as 'slow'". The liner notes for this song were to come with the obvious Baudrillard quotes (our favourite guy back then) and made reference to this POEM:

by Robert Louis Stevenson
From breakfast on through all the day
At home among my friends I stay,
But every night I go abroad
Afar into the land of Nod.

All by myself I have to go,
With none to tell me what to do--
All alone beside the streams
And up the mountain-sides of dreams.

The strangest things are there for me,
Both things to eat and things to see,
And many frightening sights abroad
Till morning in the land of Nod.

Try as I like to find the way,
I never can get back by day,
Nor can I remember plain and clear
The curious music that I hear.

The "Julian from the Strokes" thing refers to when Damian was backstage at the first Strokes show in Toronto and the singer (Julian) was so nervous that he (nervously) "made out" with Damian just before going onstage for some reason. This song dealt with something we hadn't covered for a few songs in the set - urban paranoia. The lyrics concerned a theoretical (yet alluded to the realness of their existence) cabal of doctors determined to keep people diseased and paranoied so that they could "control us". We were so paranoid we even had songs about being paranoid about being paranoid. The lyrics contained some lines about the nature of depression that Damian didn't want to sing, so this song was eventually replaced with "I Hate Summer" in our setlist. Also note that this song was directly influenced by the song "Tunnel Vision" by Negative Approach. In fact that one song I would say influenced the entire 2001-2002 period of Fucked Up before we got a sense of humour about ourselves and started printing our lyrics in Cockney Rhyming Slang on our inserts. The funny thing about this song is Sandy was really uncomfortable playing it because she didn't really know how to play bass yet (as you can hear on this recording though, the rest of us were veritable Stravinski's on our instruments). She was nervous (some might say paranoid) because this was the only Fucked Up song that started on bass, and put her in the spot light. During this session you can hear her making no less than NINE false starts of the song (you have to listen to the tail end of the previous song to hear them all) before I finally just go "fuck it" and start playing the bass part on guitar.

We played the song at our first show, this set and I think thats it. I had just been arrested for a minor protest related violation of the supposed "peace" (in our society, I guess) and was pretty paranoid, as I may have mentioned before. This song alluded to the fact that every time I heard sirens, I thought perhaps that they were "coming to get me", or some such thing. As I've tried to explain, we were like really super punk back then. I have the lyrics open in another tab here, but I don't even want to glance at them because I will cringe so hard my face might tip right off my head.

9) The Achilles List
I have no recollection of this song at all. It's notable only because at the end you can hear Ben Cook make his Fucked Up debut when he grabbed the guitar from Josh and did a pretend guitar solo. This song also contained a "breakdown"

Other notable parts of this session:
-Damians high voice
-The sheer amount of songs about urban paranoia
-I think Damian joined the band a week before this session was recorded and is making up 50% of the lyrics on the spot. He is formally known as "Canadas Best Rapper" in this country.
-Jonahs relative lack of skill on the drums. Also his "piccolo" style snare sound.
-The rules we had for our live sets during this era began to get tarnished during this specific set. Those rules were: No stopping the music, and; no talking during the set at all.


Hey here are some new show listings. Not all of them have all the details, sorry!

First one is we're playing in Toronto again NEXT WEEK.
Wed March 10th El Mocambo Downstairs
*insert price info here*
FUCKED UP (1am) TROPICS (Midnight) some other bands

Vivian Girls are playing the same night at Wrong Bar so the shows are gonna kind of be staggered - Molested Youth plays at 10, Male Bonding at 11, and then Vivian Girls at midnight. So unless you really like Vivian Girls AND Tropics, yr alright. Plus im lookin for this really weird french techno song that just came out is gonna be doing a DJ set after we play.

Fri May 7th Punk Rock Bowling Thing Las Vegas Sunset Station Ampitheater

We are gonna do a tour out of this one, so look for us if you live in Middle America or Canada.