Married with band

Fucked Up stick together for the music, not the paychecks. Plus: Fiction Family, RZA, and more
Fucked Up keep on
Photo by David Waldman

SONIC REDUCER They play together yet dislike each other — that's Fucked Up. Literally. The Toronto legends of hardcore — add as many "post-"s as you like to that descriptor — and their grew-up-together-but-grew-apart relationship may sound like the tale of so many other long-running rock bands, sticking it out for the big checks, groupies, coke binges, and Courvoisier. Instead the Fucked Up folks appear to be more interested in putting together albums that will stand up against the punk singles on Kill by Death and Dangerhouse that made major indents in their consciousness.

"We were obsessed with those records and wanted to put ourselves in that continuum," says vocalist Pink Eyes, a.k.a., Damian Abraham, 29, sometime TV writer, onetime-reality TV star ("There were some choice moments of me going record shopping juxtaposed with my wife eating a cheap hotdog on the street, me going to an expensive dinner and her going home and doing laundry," he says of Newly Wed Nearly Dead), and frothing, rabid record collector. Eventually, he adds, "we realized that as much as we don't get along and hate being on the road together, this is the most exciting, most creative thing that any of us will ever do. So we'll see how it goes."

For their trouble, the group managed to make one of the best rock, punk, or what-have-you releases of '08 with its second full-length, The Chemistry of Common Life (Matador).

But all that's natural, normal, and Fucked Up. "We've been a band a long time," confesses Abraham. He's known guitarist Mike Haliechuk, a.k.a., 10,000 Marbles, for about 14 years — since they were 16 — and grew up in the same neighborhood, played in bands, or shared radio shows with the rest. So does familiarity breed hatred? "A lot of us don't have any shared interests anymore," the vocalist says by phone on the way to a New Orleans show. "But we're still held together by this thing that is Fucked Up."

After all, "I'm diagnosed with mental problems," Abraham continues with the barest hint of mirth. "But I think there are several people who have undiagnosed mental problems. So we have a bunch of people who are undermedicated and one guy who is overmedicated. People who have crippling record-buying addictions and people who have crippling tastes in techno.

"We do all like sushi."

That search for commonality had to happen after the combo's first album, Hidden World (Jade Tree, 2006), which made Fucked Up "transition into a quote-unquote real band," explains Abraham. "Prior to that we did a band that was mainly putting out 7-inches and playing the odd show, but then we put out Hidden World and we had the responsibilities of touring and actually playing full-length shows! It wasn't just kids paying to see a show — it was kids paying to see us, which we weren't really used to before that."

With Chemistry the members all retreated to their corners to work on lyrics and music separately. "No one person's voice silenced any one else's," Abraham says.

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