Fucked Up… great name, great band.
The incredibly polite and talkative Damian (Vocals) aka Pink Eyes gave us the low down on shrooms, the internet and booking a one-way ticket to hell…
Alright, let’s do this man.
Definitely, how are you today?
Great, how are you doing?
Really well thanks. Where are you calling in from today?
I’m in Toronto…
Always good to be back home?
It’s definitely a nice change from the death march of touring, haha.
If I’m not mistaken, you’re gearing up for your annual run of Halloween shows through Canada yeah?
Yep, it actually starts tomorrow.
Do you have anything special planned for these shows that we should know about?
I’ve bought a giant priests uniform… well, it’s actually an Anglican minister’s suit that I’m going to wear on stage.
Yeah, I thought it would a minister on Halloween this year to ensure that there’s a place in hell reserved for me.
Haha, I like your attitude.
Well thank you, haha. Apart form that, tomorrow’s kind of the indie rock night, which is going to have all the people that we’ve collaborated with in the past and then the next night is more garage rock, and then the Saturday is all hardcore bands.
That’s a really cool way to do it…
Yeah, in the past we tried to mix it up and we realised really quickly that people don’t really mix too well sometimes.
And you definitely don’t want to do the same thing three nights in a row and burn yourself out…
Exactly man. We’re still going to keep playing the same set every night.
The reason we’re here is to talk about your new record, “The Chemistry Of Common Life”. First off, now that the record’s finished and out there for everyone to hear, are you 100% happy with how it all turned out?
Absolutely, like, Fucked Up… beyond the initial demo stage, everything is kind of a shock to us. The attention that this record is getting is beyond… it’s almost like… it’s just beyond anything we ever expected or anticipated.
We say that at every stage of Fucked Up, it’s like, “whoa, I can’t believe this is happening now”. So yeah, not to be like cheesy about it or anything, but every moment in Fucked Up beyond that first demo is a shock to us.
That’s great man. I interview a lot of bands and there’s definitely a lack of humility among a lot of people, so it’s really refreshing to hear something like this.
Well, I am living proof… like, I’m going to go to my school’s career’s day this year – coz they asked me to come in – and I’m going to be like, “I’m living proof that you do not need any talent to make it in the music business”.
I think the fact that your records are now getting a local release down here in Australia speaks volumes about the band, especially when there are so many “pop” records that can’t get a look in these days.
Its so weird to think that a band that has a 300 pound singer that is bald, and covered in hair in all the wrong places can somehow manage to sneak in. That’s not to say that we’re big or anything, but to even sneak in to the point that we have, you know, we’re permeating the music scene beyond the punk ghetto – and don’t get me wrong, I love that – but we’ve found some weird sort of, mainstream acceptance too.
A lot of bands try and avoid reading their own reviews. Are you aware of any feedback from your fans or critics about your latest album?
Absolutely. I’m a very large man with very low self-esteem. I love… any time I can read some sort of accolade I’m all over it. I’m like, “yeah, that’s my affirmation, I feel so good about myself”. But then once in a while you catch a bad one and it’s devastating, haha.
Luckily, so far with this record, it’s been a lot of praise, but I think the backlash will come, although at that point I’ll just be like, “no, no, I never read my own reviews”.
I was going to say it’s all been very positive to this point, so well done.
Yeah, until I start reading more bad than good I’m going to keep reading them, haha. I have a friend that’s in a band and every time he reads someone giving his band a bad review he writes to them and says, “you know, it’s cool that you have your own opinion but I want to beat the shit out of you”, haha.
Haha, are you able to say who that band is?
Oh yeah, it’s RJ from Sextent.
What a good dude.
Haha, totally. I mean, that wouldn’t really work for us but it works for them.
Taking into account the size of your band’s discography, have you been able to incorporate many of your new songs into your current set?
Oh absolutely. It’s such a reprieve to be able to play new songs because you get so much out of it. We don’t have a set list that we do every night, but there are certain songs that you wind up playing every time you play a show, so it’s good to have more songs to throw into the mix.
You’ve never wanted to become that band that when people go to your show and they’re just like, “oh, they’re going through the motions again”, you want it to always be a unique experience for everyone that’s involved.
Not only does it keep you from going completely insane but it also keeps people form thinking it’s a contrived show.
Especially touring in Canada and the US where you’re on the road nine or ten months a year, you don’t want people to say, “oh, I’ll skip them this time because they’re just doing this”…
Yeah exactly. Also, people are making sacrifices to see your band play, you know? They’re spending their money and they’re spending their time, and they could be doing anything else. So you want it to be as entertaining as possible for them. You don’t ever want it to be, “here we are, we’re just going to fake our way through it and get backstage”.
How does the new material slot in with that of your back catalogue?
I think it kind of all blends together. We’re lucky that early on we started going in the direction we are now, I mean, “Baiting The Public” was our first single and that had a long instrumental break in it. Luckily the rest of it is just three or four chord punk, haha, so we can blend them in really with each other.
It’s weird because we’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out which songs flow into one another when we play live, and a lot of the newer songs have already found their niches in our set. But you know what? The ones that really stand out (on our new record), as far as “Royal Swan”, or any of the instrumentals, we just don’t even play those live.
I got my copy of the record a few days ago man, so I’ve tried to do as much research as possible, coz I know how much you guys put into the lyrics and themes.
That’s awesome man, really appreciate it!
Don’t mention it, it’s a great record.
Ah, well thank you very much.
The title “The Chemistry Of Common Life” is taken from a book, which covers topics like hallucinogenics. How does that tie in with the record’s lyrics?
I think it’s kind of finding the prophetic in the profane. You know, you have these hallucinogenic mushrooms – that in various cultures – have been used to expand minds and take people to different levels of consciousness, but the fact is, that psychodelic mushrooms grow out of shit, like literally, cow shit or sheep shit. So, the last thing anyone wants in the world is human or animal waste, but here they are and they contain the keys to this higher level of understanding.
It’s about finding the beauty in the waste, or trying to find something… like, looking down and finding the lowest form of life and seeing the excitement and energy within it, and that can be nature or religion. People that have been beaten down throughout history have turned to a higher power to find some sort of strength.
Wow, it’s awesome to hear something so in depth man. There’s so much superficial bullshit that gets churned out these days…
Thanks man. I mean, obviously, when you play live it’s a very visceral reaction… it’s all about the sight and the energy, but when you make a record – and not to be completely pretentious about it – but you want to make something beyond the music that people can spend some time with. Although it’s always a struggle to find a healthy balance between the two.
Do you choose a lyrical subject first and take it to the band, or do you wait to hear the music that’s on offer before choosing which topics you’re going to write about?
Writing the lyrics is split half and half between Mike and I. Basically, well this time anyway, we talked about it before and said, “let’s try and make this record about the sun”… that’s Mike’s idea by the way and man, it sounds so pretentious saying this now, but it’s about finding the light or the positive in the disgusting, sort of like the magic mushrooms growing in shit again, and just trying to find ways that people can deal with the world around them.
That actually ties really well into my next question. The cover art is a photo of the sunset aligning with the east and west streets of Manhattan, otherwise known as “Manhattanhenge”. How does that tie into the album’s overall concept?
It was actually just Mike’s girlfriend Mini that took the photo, and Mike just said can you take a photo of the sun rising, and we didn’t even know that it’s a phenomenon that only happens once or twice a year, we had no idea and lucked out and got that photo on that day, haha.
I guess it’s nature’s way of still triumphing over civilization, you know? No matter what we do in this world, at the end of the day we’re still only allowed to exist at the whim of nature. Tomorrow a meteor could strike the earth and we could all be wiped out, and there’s NOTHING we could do to stop that from happening.
So all these things… we have this world around us, traffic, our television, clothes, and all this stuff only exists because the world around us has to let it exist for this small period of time… but it could all end tomorrow.
Not to mention it’s a cool photo, haha.
Haha, exactly. We lucked out for sure.
You guys don’t have a MySpace page, is that your way of getting kids to dig a little deeper for information and learn about the band away from the internet?
I think for us, when we first started the band it was before the MySpace boom, and now we’re at a point where we are as popular as we are going to get as a band, like, there’s no way a MySpace page will help us, haha.
We were a fairly well-known, little hardcore band, so we were like, “these are all the people that are ever going to like us, so let’s not bother with a page”, and then people started making a big deal out of it, so we’re like, “well, we definitely can’t make one now”, haha.
If anything it’s a positive. I mean, if people want to learn about your band then they have to hit the pavement, go to a show, grab a flyer from a record store…
Exactly! It forces people to dig a little deeper, but at the same time I can also see the total benefits of having a page. People can check your music and see what you’re about, but again, you kind of exist within Rupert Murdock’s web, haha.
Once you wrap up this Canadian run you’re heading over to the UK for a string of shows. What else is in the pipeline for Fucked Up?
We’re putting out a record called “Year Of The Rat”, just before the Chinese New Year, which is kind of like the next step in the twelve-year series that we’re doing… only nine to go! After the holidays, I think in March maybe we’re coming to Australia, as well as New Zealand, China and Japan.
I think its safe to say there will be a lot of people looking forward to that.
Oh, you have no idea. I’m going to buy every record I can find… it’s going to be insane. I love a lot of Australia indie rock and punk… it’s going to be a bloodbath!
There’s a lot of great indie stores down here man, so you’ll have a field day.
Who are some bands that have caught your attention lately that you think people should be checking out?
There’s this band called “The Nodzzz” from San Francisco, and they’re just like this really great, kind of UK DIY sounding punk mixed with early nineties rock like Pavement. I’m really into that… it’s probably my favourite LP of the year actually.
“Cold World” is another band I’m completely enamoured with, along with “Mind Eraser”, this Boston band that I’m completely obsessed with, they’re just like brutality personified!
I know people say this all the time but it seems like a really exciting time for music.
For sure, there have been so many great records this year.
Oh yeah, there are a lot of bands in the last two or three years that have put out great records and really toured hard.
Excellent man. That about wraps it up, anything else you’d like to add?
If anyone has a “Fun Things” record and they want to trade it for rare Fucked Up records then let me know.
I’ll be sure to spread the word.
Thank you very much!
Thanks for your time.
“The Chemistry Of Common Life” is out now in all good record stores.