Despite their ominous name, Fucked Up’s genre blurring full length, Hidden World, released last October on Jade Tree, continues to garner attention from both diverse music fans and the mainstream media, most notably MTV. Late Night Wallflower spoke with guitarist 10,000 Marbles and he provided clarity on the chaos they caused at MTV studios, their relationship with the audience, apparent Heraclitian inclinations, and the impact the Internet will have on culture in the future.
You guys opened for Henry Rollins for an MTV special. How did that come about? Did he contact you with that initially?
It was some mixed up thing. We were supposed to be on MTV a month before but we couldn’t do it. They just back with us and said that Rollins booked a big tour with the Rollins band or something. It was just a coincidence. We didn’t set it up for him, MTV just got in touch with us to do it. A lot of weird indie bands do programs with MTV in Toronto. I guess it’s a lot different here than what MTV is in the states. Since he was speaking I guess they thought it would be good to have an aggressive band on so they got in touch with us to play. We only met him for like a minute and a half.
I thought it was an interesting pair up because I remember reading an interview where you said that you felt distant from the audience when you play, much like how Henry was when he played in Black Flag.
I mean I guess it would have been a good match like twenty years ago. But he is a lot different now. The whole reason he was there was that he was talking about his view of some tour he just got back from.
Oh, this was an interview and not a spoken word?
No, he does a TV show with him in front of a camera for a thousand hours, so, yea, he just came up and did an interview about what he has been up to. It wasn’t about music or culture. It was about him being in the Middle East.
When you guys performed on MTV the audience slamdanced which resulted in expensive damages to the set. Are you guys banned from MTV because of it?
I mean you got to figure that MTV?°¦they’re a big company and they know what they’re doing. We gave them fifteen minutes of really compelling television. They knew exactly what they wanted from us, and exactly what they were going to get. And that’s what they got. I think everyone surrounding the event sorta thought it was going to go really poorly, but, apparently while we were playing and things started to go awry, the Vice President of MTV stormed down the stairs and everyone that worked there thought he was going to try and shut us down but he was like?°¦ecstatic.
We were just making interesting looking television right? They were glad about what they got I’m sure. We’re not banned. We’re not interested in going back though because it would be boring to do the same thing twice.
I remembering reading somewhere where you guys said that you would do basically anything to make the band interesting. Currently, is there anything you guys are interested in doing?
We’ve always been interested in trying to do work with other mediums. I mean, its fun to make records but its fun to get people involved that know how to do things other than making records.
I dunno. We haven’t really thought about it. We deal with stuff like that on a case by case basis. If someone approaches us with some interesting idea then we’ll do it. But so far we have just been doing records and the occasional radio or TV thing.
You guys are doing a score for a film too.
Yea but stuff like that is a long way into the future. That’s still music but it’s a different way of presenting it I guess.
Ok, so I’m really interested in what I initially said about the feeling of distance felt with the audience. We kinda trekked away from that. Where do you think it comes from?
I dunno. I think there are certain types of individuals drawn to punk rock. Usually the type cast of the person is like an antisocial loner so I don’t think its really surprising that there’d be a sort of hidden animosity between people who go to shows, bands and the audience. I don’t have a specific disinterest in our crowd but I think just generally we all just carry a general disinterest to other people.
Do you think it’s just a mass of people being disinterested and stagnant?
Well that’s how we’re all like. We’re just these punks that don’t really get along but we’re smashed into this culture together. So when we go to a show it’s not like “oh, here are a couple of hundred of audience members” Its more like “here are a couple hundred people”.
Can you almost predict how the reactions will be when you play?
I mean at this point we sort of expect what’s exactly going to happen. That’s why we’re trying to play different types of shows. The last show we played over the weekend was this thing called Wavelength. Every Sunday for the last seven years there has been a Wavelength show where any type of band can arrange to play on the show and every year they have a big year end festival. We played that on Friday and there weren’t any other hardcore bands on it but it was interesting because there were a lot of people there and a lot of different types of people as well which is nice.
Again with the idea of masses of people, what would make the audience individuals? By their aesthetic? Or does it even matter the type of people who make up the audience?
Sometimes playing is fun and sometimes it isn’t. I don’t think its so superficial in what people are wearing or what part of subcultures their from. Its just something that happens at a show that makes it good or makes it bad. It doesn’t really matter who’s there. It depends on how much energy people have and how enthusiastic they are and how enthusiastic we are. A lot of things can happen in the band that can put you off playing as well, especially with our band.
The lyrics from Hidden World promote the idea of opposites colliding to cause a fulfillment of life. Where did that idea come from?
I think we learned that just from being on one side of the equation for so long.
Is this just with music or is it with your personal life?
Like politically. A lot of us spent our formative years growing up in activism and sorta getting burnt out on it. Often when you’re on one side of something, you get burnt out and you immediately gravitate towards the other side. So, having been through that I think that we learned its important and more fulfilling politically, personally, or whatever to be able to see both sides of something because you’re just going to get more out of it. You’ll learn and know more if you know both sides of something. I also read that instead of telling people what to think you want to help teach them how to think.
Well that’s what the LP is about. We’re just a band and it’s really not our place to be telling people what to do. A lot of times punk bands will have this really guilty responsibility.
Do you think that by not standing for anything you guys can pretty much do whatever you want?
Yea, but I don’t think there is really any problem with that. It’s not like we don’t want to make a stand against anything to avoid being hypocrites later. At the end of the day we’re just people that play music and our responsibilities to other people begins and ends with making music because we’re just a band. It goes beyond our boundaries, I think, for us to start telling people what to think about certain issues. It’s just none of our business. Like, I don’t want to put a record on and have them tell me how to think about a certain issue. I’d rather read a book about it. That way you can formulate ideas on your own terms. Its not so laid out like how it is in songs. Yea, in a lyric or even in an essay in a CD jacket, people are getting just a small snippet of an issue. It’s almost irresponsible. It’s just too simplistic.
Do you think that’s the problem with people that listen to music now? They get all of their politics from a CD.
Yeah but it’s not just with music though. It’s almost in every idea. Culture now is a snippet of everything else. If you watch TV and flip through channels, you’ll get pieces of hundreds and hundreds of ideas but you don’t really learn anything. That’s kinda how our world works now. I dunno if its useful to belabor, its just the way it is. You can just download songs. Like any record I wanted to hear or any song, I could go upstairs and download it in five minutes. Or like any book. Soon you’ll be able to read any book on the internet. I was reading an article where Google is scanning every book ever published. They said it’s going to take ten years finish.
I guess the book’s days are numbered. I dunno if I want to say that I have a problem with that. Somebody like myself would have every idea imaginable at my immediate disposal. It kinda makes me really powerful. But then it’s not really that exciting if you have all of the information at your fingertips. Plus, with the internet you can change the idea of what is real with a click of a mouse. But I like that. That’s part of the reason why I like being in a band, I can change what’s true about my band. It enables us to make up our own myths and our own history. We can become more of a perfect band or a perfect idea. In that way, our ideas about our band aren’t tainted by anyone else’s.
Earlier you said that you guys are people in a band and are constantly changing your outlook on life. What would you say is the current motto of Fucked Up?
Well the one we had before was, I think, “You can’t really be something until you destroy it” or “you can’t destroy something until you’ve been it” which is sorta how we wrote the LP. I think we got it from the Matrix. Now we’re getting a lot more opportunities so our new motto has to be “Do whatever makes your life more interesting”. Kinda like the whole, “Do art thou wilt” crap.
You guys are playing South by Southwest too.
Yea, we’re playing almost a whole week down there in March. Supposedly, that will make our life more interesting for five or six days. We’re playing with Turbonegro so it should be real cool.