If you've ever seen Fucked Up live, then you know that between their gigantic, bald, half naked singer, their THREE guitars, and wall of sound attack, they put on one hell of a raucous show. But, despite the chaos all around him, founding member and lead guitarist Mike Haliechuk never seems to flinch. While bodies are flying all about (including his own) Haliechuk never seems to smile or grimace or sneer- he just stares nearly unblinkingly at the audience… like a Canadian terminator. Frankly, it kind of creeps me out! Just what is going inside that head? Haliechuk has been responsible for taking punk to a new level, writing songs about illegal police searches as well as the effervescence of the sun. He's been adamant in supporting local charities and has also been fiercely ardent in the concept of bands controlling their own destinies as opposed to being the subject of whims and record labels. But on the other hand, for years he spread mis-information about the band, released records in obscure and outdated formats… all while remaining 100 percent accessible via e-mail. Punknews interviewer John Gentile recently talked with Haliechuck in an attempt to clear up some of the mysteries still surrounding the band and we fear that he may have simply found myself to be a rat in a maze…
Your last LP, The Chemistry of Common Life, which won the Polaris Music Prize, was a great record! Genre defying! Experimental! For the next record, are you guys going even further out there?
We're doing a musical based on the tragic life of Davide, a Romanian child occultist. It's going to be very conceptual, and "out there".
The NY Times are big fans of you guys. So is Greg, the host of Fox's Red Eye. They often refer to you as "F-ed Up." Do you think that you are removing the stigma from usage of the work Fuck?
We feel that we have, yeah. My parents say it all the time now, and they say change always starts with parents.
Why do you credit "T. Leo" on so many of your early records? Is that Ted Leo?
Most people don't know this, but Ted Leo actually wrote a lot of our early songs. Thats why they sound so punk rock…after he stopped writing we started expanding the sound a bit, to where it is now.
There are rumors that you have splits with NOFX, King Khan, and another artist coming out soon. Could you clarify what you have in the works?
These records are coming out within the next few years: Year of the Ox on Merge will be out Sept 13. Year of the Tiger will be out a bit after that. We have a split with Sarena Maneesh, who are from Norway. Maybe a split with The Besnard Lakes, and a split LP with Mind Eraser. Also, a new LP. The King Khan thing you'll have to ask Damian about. The NOFX thing got canceled because they thought our songs were too long.
What the hell is that on the cover of your digital single "Here Lies Are?"
The insides of a fruit.
You've done one live release exclusively on Reel to Reel tape and many of your records are very limited runs. Why wouldn't you want to make your music as accessible as possible?
We do…75% of our music is and will always be in print. You can find our new CD The Chemistry of Common Life at most chain stores throughout American and Canada, but not Best Buy, because they returned like 500 CDs they had in stock in Canada because of our name. The limited things we do are usually live sets and songs that end up on compilations anyways. People assume most of what we put out is super limited, but I feel those assumptions are based on not really understanding our discography.
I really loved the Couple Tracks 7". But, when talking with someone at your San Francisco show, I was told, "I wish they wrote more stuff like they did before their first LP." Does it hurt that some of your fans aren't making the journey with you?
We don't really mind that people haven't liked our entire output - it would be weird if they did. I certainly don't listen to the same music I did when we started the band, so I understand that tastes change. People who wish we wrote music like we used to are in luck - because all that music still exists and they can listen to it whenever they want. Also live we still play songs from our first few practices ("Police", "Circling the Drain", "Nervous Breakdown", etc).
When Fucked Up releases a limited record, it can often be found on ebay for ten fold the selling price. What are your thoughts when you sell a record for 10 bucks and it sells on ebay for over 300?
It would be super annoying if that ever happened, but I don't think it ever has…generally someone sells a record for a lot, and then everyone else does, and the price kind of slides back towards reality. It was really annoying when that happened and we were broke, because we weren't into us being the only people in the world that didn't make money of [the band], but now that we are rich, we invite those people to our parties and make fun together.
Whenever I try to argue that Stevie Wonder is one of the world's greatest songwriters, all the punk rockers laugh at me! Can I get a witness?
In an earlier interview you stated "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. " Does this mean that Fucked Up is more of a project- a way of attacking what a band can be?
Nah, what I meant was that the Ramones seemed to be perpetually disappointed in their own success because they wanted to be huge rockstars. We don't want to be rockstars, we just want to make cool music and be kind of rich. Since we already do and are those things, I'd say we're closing in on the apex of Maslow's hierarchy. We're just a band now…we stopped being a band about a band a few years ago.
In your March 25 blog, you state that at SxSW, corporations are making money off all of the independent bands while those very bands may be loosing money. Are you criticizing that fact that corporations are making money off music, or are you criticizing the fact that corporations are making money off of a property right that belongs to the bands themselves?
I was saying that I had "weird feelings" about companies that generally haven't had much to do with music (like a car company or a soda pop company) becoming involved in the music industry. Copyrights are a separate issue.
On your records, you guys have done A LOT of collaborations. Who is your dream collaborator?
I don't have one.
Any last comments?
Nice and keep the goodness.