The members of Fucked Up star in an updated version of Upstairs, Downstairs. Naturally, it’s called Fucked Upstairs, Fucked Downstairs
Things have been going deceptively well for Toronto’s Fucked Up. First off, the hardcore quintet has been travelling the globe nonstop since the release of its raging debut, Hidden World, late last year. The epic album has garnered unanimous acclaim, even snagging the group a showcase on Canada’s MTV Live. But despite its good fortune, there are major problems in the Fucked Up camp. Big ones include the fact that the group’s members hate touring and, quite frankly, aren’t even that fond of one another.
"Everyone in the band is trying their best not to get on each other’s nerves," singer Pink Eyes (aka Damian Abraham) says, reached on his cellphone from a Nashville pit stop. "We’re trying to make it as comfortable as possible."
A generator-powered TV in the tour van helps reduce the irritation level between shows. On-stage, however, the slightest problem has been known to ignite intra-band brawls. A tiff between guitarist 10,000 Marbles (known to his mom as Mike Haliechuk) and the Fucked Up vocalist during a Cloverdale performance last February stopped the gig altogether, showcasing the volatile nature of the group, which includes bassist Mustard Gas (Sandy Miranda), guitarist Concentration Camp (Josh Zucker), and drummer Guinea Beat (Jonah Falco).
"Mike spat on me," Pink Eyes explains. "I threw a mike at him and said, ‘Fuck you’ and just walked off-stage. Josh went outside and asked what was wrong. I threw a Slurpee at him."
Fucked Up has been pumping out rage-riddled blasts of old-school punk and hardcore since 2001, marrying the ragged melodies of the Damned to street-tough vocals. Early singles blasted by in a blur, but Hidden World challenges the conventions of the band’s chosen genre by pushing many songs past the five-minute mark. Highlights include the pyschedelic-flared "Baiting the Public", in which feedbacking guitars and full-throttle drums act as a backdrop for lines like "I want to wreck your life/I want to hear you snap". Fucked Up continues to push itself on its upcoming 12-inch single "Year of the Pig", a song that defies hardcore’s basic rules with its 18-minute length. Focusing on the complex issues of sex-trade workers’ rights, the frontman felt a shorter tune would have been merely scraping the surface.
"It would be trite to deal with it in two, three minutes," he says. "It’s a fairly involved topic. Sex workers seem to be relegated to the lowest rung of society and are ignored until something sensational happens like the [Robert] Pickton case."
Pink Eyes hopes that the track and Fucked Up’s charity work with Sex Professionals of Canada (SPOC), an organization trying to create safer conditions within the industry, will bring the issue some attention.
"As a punk band, you want to have socially relevant lyrics," he continues. "Hopefully we can affect a minute level of change by supporting this organization and raising awareness."
Fucked Up plays the Ukrainian Cultural Centre this Saturday (July 7).