On stage, Fucked Up have the energy of a kid on coke. Speaking with vocalist Pink Eye (aka Damian Abraham), Chris Jones discusses their numerous pseudonym, their recent album The Chemistry of Common Life, and their infamous live TV performance in January 2007.
Hey. So, firstly, what’s up with the aliases?
Travelling across the border from Canada to America they’re really savvy, and they learn to Google names and do further investigations. A national newspaper did an article about us once, and we were so stoked – but then we tried to cross a border and they searched us and found that we were in a punk band. We got detained, and they threatened throw us in jail. It also serves a practical purpose, it puts us in this punk rock continuum of fake assumed names like Joey Ramone and Sid Vicious. We wanted to place ourselves in that lineage of people in punk bands.
What was the first band you were in?
Urine Trouble, in 1994. I was in 10 bands before I was in Fucked Up.
Anyone from those bands end up with you in Fucked Up?
Jonah [Falco, aka Mr. Jo aka Guinea Beat, drummer] and I went to high school together, Josh [Zucker, aka Concentration Camp aka Gulag, rhythmn guitar] lived in my neighbourhood, Sandy [Miranda, aka Slump aka Laundry aka Mustard Gas, bass] and I used to do a radio show in college, and Mike [Haliechuck, aka 10,000 Marbles, lead guitar] and I are just friends from hanging out and going to shows together. The band came together because Josh was train hopping across America with Fucked Up, and he invited me to fill in on vocals. When we came back, I stuck around.
Who influenced you?
We’re all record collectors, we all like Poison Idea, The Melvins, Nirvana etc. We wanted to be in a band like them, bands with insane 7” discographies. We have 70 or 80 songs, which are spread over 50 odd releases.
That’s… a lot of releases. Ever thought of doing a compilation?
We did one in the early days called Epics and Minutes, and we’re going to do another one, of the singles that have come out since. I’m torn because I want people to be able to hear our songs but I don’t want something where you have to go on eBay and pay exorbitant amounts of money for one 7”. As a record collector I like the thrill of the hunt.
Do you think that the internet’s taken away the thrill of finding a really rare record?
Yeah, the obscurity has disappeared, but there’s always more to find. It’s so user driven, I might read a blog and they’d talk about a new type of music, or they may have coined a term that would describe a bunch of records, like dustbin glam, I gotta find all the stuff on that.
I know what you mean shoegaze is probably my favourite genre.
Or shitgaze, that’s the new one. Have you heard of that? It’s like Times New Viking or Psychedelic Horseshit, it’s like shoegaze but lo-fi. I have a horrible disease, I have collectoritis. My house is filled to the brim and my wife is pregnant. I have this room full of records, but that’s where my wife wants to put the baby stuff. I think we might have to get a bigger place.
You could make a cot out of old records…
Mmm, yeah, I could build furniture out of old power pop records.
How about the new album, Chemistry of Common Life – what’s with the name, for a start?
It’s from a 19th century book of mushrooms. We like the idea of something beautiful coming out of the profane. Mushrooms grow out of shit, but have these properties to open up your mind. The lowest refuse can do something of the highest consciousness. The lyrics are about energy coming out of chemical changes, minor things that lead to great things.
I’m afraid we’re running out of time, but finally, what happened on MTV?
It came from us trying to be something other people wanted us to be, and those people expecting something that they were not ready to deal with. They wanted us to be crazy but they were not prepared to deal with the consequences. Things got out of hand, I like to be crazy but I do not like it when people get hurt. It felt forced in the end.