Fucked Up

It has been said that good things don't come easy. This could very much hold true for Punknews interviewer James Hepplewhite and his interview with Fucked Up's drummer, Jonah Falco, at 2009's Pitchfork Festival. After having his camera battery die during the taping, he attempted to finish up the interview by e-mail, only to have the first half lost to the mysteries of time. What remains is a unique, and candid look into a band that has attracted fans across all backgrounds and musical tastes.

Did your hand heal up? Here are some more questions. I hope the break is relaxing.

Hand is healed or healing anyways. Scabs now, but that's about it.

First, the question I was trying to get across was that Ezra from Vampire Weekend showing up at the 12 hour gig underscored two important things; first, my ingrained hardcore punk rock xenophobia and second that a background of punk and hardcore is more common in the independent music world than I believed. So, given that, what do you think it is about Fucked Up that a lot of non-punk/hardcore dudes feel comfortable collaborating with you guys and getting back into the old groove?

There's a lot of pretense for a potential Fucked Up listener to hack through. All the claims, accusations, legends, associations, etcetera, are way too time and energy consuming for someone to just leap straight into. But those things are also what draw attention to us. I think for the younger set who are only vaguely interested, we seem like a great spot to play polar bear club with the subculture, and of course we use that to our advantage. Some people come out loving the cold water and others rush back to a towel. For the older crop to whom "punk" is a wholly dead tongue and term (and I should be careful not to self aggrandize too much) I guess we represent some spark of otherly creativity that is presumably gone from a music genre that they may or not believe even exists anymore. Curiosity? Maybe a good impression? Concerning our collaborations, that's pretty much us taking a chance on some people's kindness and willingness to be involved in our circus and also a credit to our personal connections! Haha.

So did you actually alert the Chinese government that you guys were going to be playing punk rock and hardcore there? Because, from what I hear, it's a pretty tough place to get in to (or out of for that matter). How did that tour happen?

No, we did not, but it probably would have been really overkill to try and wade through such massive channels considering who we are. North America and Europe are a consumers market and it's easy to tour and be known there. China is still a frontier, especially for a westerner, especially the ones that live there. Our thanks are given to those people for making the tour happen. The efforts of two Americans: One born and raised in the lower east side of NYC, schooled in Montreal, and now running his own bicycle rental company in Shanghai. The other an [expatriate] martial arts champion of Idaho, amateur professional photographer, potential Chivas-China spokesman and an absolutely wonderful guide - brought us to Shanghai and toured us around. If the premise is that nuts, you can imagine what being in China as a "touring band" was like.

Are you actually still a student? On a slightly related note, are your parents less disenchanted with Fucked Up after 6 or 7 years?

Not really an active student at the moment, but that's probably for the best considering our schedule. Eh, my folks are fine I guess. No one's happy all the time, but I think they see what the band is up to and can live with the positive weighing out the "negative" or just ignoring what bugs them…family stuff, ya know? I think I prefer the tacit tension or non tension to the outright acknowledgment. Hahaha. I'm not sure I could handle something like Pink Eyes' dad making badges with the nude image of his son on them, or a pin that reads, "Old Fuck Head," that he wears. Call it humility or shyness maybe.

Any big news on the Rolling Stone/Camel lawsuit?

Plugging along as far as I know, talk to us in fifteen years, ha!

I know you mentioned in an earlier interview that you played some Metal Gear when you were younger. Did you play any of the current Metal Gear Solid series?

I think I was actually thinking of Metal the arcade game. Side scrolling, two kind of Cro-Magnon soldiers running around with giant bazookas blasting their way through planet earth. Manny’s Snack Bar (R.I.P.) was a great place to play.

Do you think the tensions in Fucked Up are any different from tensions in any other touring band, but magnified by a larger microscope and more interviews to vent in?

Actually that's not a bad interpretation of the tensions in a band. Of course things are magnified somewhat by virtue of the fact that they have an outlet to be magnified (constant press etc), but I wouldn't consider our tensions like many other bands' tensions. We're made up of two (once) best friends and essentially a group of total strangers. So part of the tensions came from getting to know one another rather than having previously established relationships going into the whole project. Now, while we spend more time with one another than anyone else (almost) it still kind of feels like we're, "work friends" and while it's great to see one another sometimes - and when you're on vacation maybe you wonder what, "Sally from accounting is up to" - in the down time you'd be fairly hard pressed to find any of us hanging out. Plus, since we can't always understand what the other might be thinking, things tend to get a bit psychological and personal, with no real limits or filter and that's more often than not an unstable and tense environment.

Also, Chris Colohan isn't doing anything at the moment, right? Is it about time to introduce a second vocalist to Fucked Up?

Actually, you should know the man is keeping pretty busy. He's playing drums in a band called Mature Situations, who are fixated on the hatred of the elderly. He's singing in a band called Burning Love, who share a bit of the Cursed sound, but perhaps feature a much more light minded and pleasure seeking version of a vocalist. And finally Chris is running a label called High Anxiety who have the distinct honour of releasing the Omegas (a new-ish band form Montreal) first north American release, among other local bands.

I know this question has been asked of Descendents and ALL, but now it's getting asked of you, since two of the bands you're in are superficially similar: Is there a point where you mine Fucked Up stuff for Career Suicide songs or a part from Career Suicide works well in a Fucked Up song?

Actually, it's interesting I've never really mined a Fucked Up song for Career Suicide, but I've written a few songs for Career Suicide that have ended up on Fucked Up records. Depends on the governing committee sometimes though. A few times I write songs for Fucked Up and they receive the judgment of, "sounds too much like Career Suicide" (which I never think) and so they go back to the drawing board, but not to Career Suicide. "Fixed Race," "Twice Born" are like that, and even "Royal Swan" - though not written for Career Suicide - was briefly intended for a Hungarian Ad agency that needed background music.

Finally, what's the new song that's gonna be on the Cherry Beach EP?

Two entirely new songs. The hope is that Cherry Beach comes out as a 2x7" in the near future. The music has been recorded for months and months and we're waiting on vocals…fingers crossed.

Have fun on the next tour.

Cheers from Colchester, home of Humpty Dumpty.