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Friday, February 02, 2024






In November, we were doing the Europe leg of our touring for that year, hitting a few places on the mainland that we'd missed for years and years.  Our first ever trips east would lead us to all sorts of places - Hungary, Slovakia, Czech, Serbia - we'd land at Schipol and just drive east and east and east - they'd always be on the itinerary.  Over the years as people started having families and the deeper parts of life and age, we'd have less time to travel around, and stick to the fundamentals - the UK, and if we had time, some of Germany.   In 2023 we released a modest album at the beginning of the year and headed straight for England, then did the east coast of America, and found ourselves with extra time, so we toured across Canada for the first time in a decade, and by the end of the year we were back on the mainland.

Josh found us a nice place a bit north of Gracia in Barcelona, and it had a roof that looked over the full stretch and twinkle of town - a hundred miles away was the spire of the Sagrada Familia, that eternal construction, time crystalized in a never-ending piling of bricks. To the west you could make out the mist of Montjuic, the roving lights hitting the clouds in the darkness.  We dipped our toes into the still pool on the roof, it was freezing and I was just wearing my 'one day' t-shirt.

We designed these t-shirts (pictured above) for the album based on the title card from As Tears Go By, Wong Kar-wai - I was in the middle of a Maggie Cheung obsession while I was working on the album, even watching the weird shit like Green Snake and the Heroic Trio. The title card looked so bold, so striking, and I wanted to make a shirt like the punk shirts I remembered seeing as a kid at the Warped Tour - NOFX shirts that looked like the snickers logo, you know the ones. We only made like 30 or 40 of them, they weren't a hit - but I liked them, and I liked how my title looked as Hanzi, I could imagine them blown up in neon, above a bar or something. One Day.  I almost put it into the CD booklet.

We took the tiny European back downstairs with an older Chinese couple, almost squished together.  The man read the front of my shirt - "One Day" he said, with recognition and some slight disbelief, nodding.  I smiled and affirmed. I proudly turned around to show him the english on the back "FUCKED UP" - he laughed and said "Disgusting!"

I did a lot of talking and explaining about the album last year, sort of poking around my intentions with people in interviews but I never felt like I really got to lay out in full what the intentions with the album were.  Now that it's a year old and we're in the middle of the last leg of the tour, here I go:

When the album came out at the start of 2023 we hadn't done a record in almost five years, but there wasn't ever a point in that stretch that felt like a break.  After Glass Boys ("after glass boys" is gonna be the ongoing current in these post 2014 posts) we all almost went our separate ways. Jonah moved to England, Josh got a job, ect. It felt like we toured forever for Dose, but I'm only now just remembering that something else big happened that stood in the way of time.  The last bit of touring we did for that record was to Australia and New Zealand, towards the end of 2019.  Coming home from NZ felt like coming back to earth after an impossible amount of years like in cryosleep on a space ship - its so remote man.

I dusted off for a few days and tried to stretch into some time off at home, having been away for essentially a full year, or whatever it was. There and back, all that nonsense.  In Toronto I live alone, and had just gotten my party era out of my system with Dose.  I unpacked, did the laundry, went to the gym a few times, picked up my holds from the library, saw the family, etc.  The odd thing about not working a day job, is that your time off feels like the weekend, even if it stretches out over months and months.  Even after an album cycle, you've got little weekends to play - that feels like Monday, even if its six months away.  On weekends you rest, you get the groceries, you wait for the responsibilities to return, and the days start to blend together while you wait.  You can only take so many weeks of waiting for the spout to turn back on.

As it turned out, I was able to take roughly two weeks of it, before I called (texted [emailed]) our trusted engineer Alex Gamble (esq) to book myself a few days in the studio.  As fans of FU should know by now, we don't record our albums in a normal way, even before doing it in this even less normal way that we've settled on post-One Day.  Jonah moved to the UK about a decade ago, which splintered our ability to get into a practice space to jam out songs with any regularity, yadda yadda.  Since then I'd been waiting for him to get to town to book sessions, mostly to poke away at the various Zodiac projects, but after this tour I couldn't stand to wait around doing nothing for more than the few weeks I'd let myself sink into.

We booked four days at Candle Studios on the old Sterling Road, this weird industrial street that broke through the bridge at Dundas (rip) and snaked along the path of two train tracks. You'd walk by a huge chocolate factory where they make Kit Kats and shit like that, until you make it to the giant vacant lot that now houses Toronto's contemporary art museum.  You know what comes next - about a year after we recorded the One Day tracks, the loft complex that housed the studio handed out their eviction notices so that richer, more priviledged art-appreciators could eventually move in without having to live in the glare of any art actually being produced within their vicinity, once all the sweat and blood had been soaked out of the ground with the orange machines of industry.

I really loved that Mike Leigh film Another Year.  It was the gift of squeezing meaning out of the mundane, putting a shining spotlight on the everyday, the elevation of a daily struggle into something heroic and meaningful.  To me it's romantic, thats why we have art in the first place, not just so we can take big swings, but also to validate what we must do every day to muster the energy to take our chance.  The last song on Dose is "Joy Stops Time" - I had that Situationist pre-occupation with time in me, daily this, recaputilation that, every day every day.  

On tour you get used to living your life in segments. Today we're in Barcelona, tomorrow we've got to drive all the way to Milan (we truly just did this). You have to make peace with finding a little home for yourself to live in every day, in a different place, far away from your actual home. A day becomes a place, because the place you are in is just time - and it's limited. Your friends hear about the places you go and you don't understand the shutter - you get a glimpse, that's it. It's just one day - that's your home, over and over.  In order to not simply convalesce, you have to learn to grasp what you can from this day, before it trips over into the next one.  The van door shuts closed before it speeds off into the horizon.  It's hard to make plans for tomorrow when every day is yesterday.

After so many decades of this way of life, it starts to seep into my life at home. A month becomes a day, waiting for a tour to come. It's hard to plan things, to hold onto friendships, to build. But the fact of it is, One Day is all any of us really have. We wake up, we do the things we have to do, and then it all happens again, and the growth, the achievements are only build on all the other days behind us, incrementally pushing us over our walls. That's romantic to me as well. How we achieve, and how we live.

What could you do in just one day? I had become sick of waiting - not just to leave again, but for music to materialize in my life. I don't even really like touring - I'm not performative by nature and I have a lot of issues being onstage, being perceived. I'm much more comfortable inside of a studio where it's just me and Alex and sometimes Jonah.  But time is different in the studio. The song you write today rarely see's the light of day inside of a year, if you're lucky. Year of the Horse took five years to make, and after you hand in your album you are still looking at six or seven months before it gets released.  So I gave myself a day to make an album, divided into 4 equal segments. We'd track for six hours per session, with about an hour or two left from an eight hour day to do a bit of editing and fucking around.  Plus maybe 20 minutes for me to nap on the couch while Alex did his thing or ate lunch.

You set up and then have to play your instrument for a while so Alex can dial in a sound and fine tune the EQ. I put my hands on b, but low down the neck so it was on the a-string. B is a big chord for us. We use B chord a lot in our songs, it's been sort of our center. While I was warming up I found the opening riff for "Found" and off we went.  Over the four days I ended up with about 16 finished songs, with 12 ear-marked to possibly go on an album.

Did I consider doing the whole thing in one 24 hour go? Of course, and for a while. But I also considered the quality of the songs, and Alex's sanity and to a lesser extent my own. The convention would only stretch so far, and I tried to take it just that far.  This time, the idea was more important that it's exact execution. What could you do in a few days, in just one day, in an hour, in a lifetime? To me there is an equality in those questions, each of them matters as much as the other while you're inside.

So it's been a year, and thank you for going along with our experiment. I envisioned these "Day" albums a bit as a reaction to the sort of stuff we'd been putting out - long form, double album, big swing - I wanted a more modest approach, one that (ironically?) focused more on the music and the sound than the conventions, or the length, or the contrivances that have weighed down some of our weightier albums. We each spent a day with the music, and now we've been able to stretch that out into a lovely year with the album and with you. We'll be on this tour with heroes Superchunk for the next week, then we go home to come up with something new again.


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