January 1, 2007
DISTORT ZINE INTERVIEW WITH FUCKED UP
In the interview you did with me like four years ago, Pink Eyes said "For me I want Fucked Up to be looked at like the Nerves or The Melvins. A band that was never hugely popular but does have a lasting impact. The music that is ignored by one generation seems to shape the next.".... first, how did you feel about this at the time?
10,000 Marbles: That’s pretty much the way we still feel. Right now we're flirting with a new kind of popularity, but it's empty. It's less frustrating to know that you're opinions about your own band won't have to inevitably be based on other peoples reaction to it. theoretically, I would rather take kudos for Fucked Up when the band is over, because then my input into the creative process won't be influenced by what other people are thinking about it. We all read and hear things, and its like quantum physics - measuring the thing will affect its outcome, whether we like it or not, hearing things people think about our band is going to, in a small way, affect how we re-create the band. In a perfect world, if people ignore us while we're around, they won't be able to influence us. It's hard to still feel that way when you're in a semi-popular band though, because as soon as you get a taste you'll do anything to get more.
I felt that for a long time you attempted to protect yourselves from this by making up your interviews / reviews, but lately that's become a lot more difficult, right?
10,000 Marbles: Those early reviews and interviews we probably did for the exact opposite reason. It was like we were trying to project a simulacra of reaction onto our audience. It wasn't really that we didn't want people to pay attention to us, we just wanted trick people into thinking about Fucked Up how we wanted them to.
But by doing this you were controlling how you wanted people to think about you, and therefore controlling their reaction and your ability to "protect" yourselves from what might have happened if the MRR interview was done by some kid in SF asking you questions about anarchism.
10,000 Marbles: Yeah exactly.
I mean, the fact that you've attempted to protect yourself by doing shit like interviewing yourselves, but then admitting publicly that you've done this... anyhow, this extends to what I wanted to ask you about: neoism / anti-neoism... where did you first read about this shit?!
10,000 Marbles: A well-wisher pointed me to neoism. We're trying to find a new philosophy. We got bored with what we used to believe in
Ok, fuck, let's move back, what I really want to talk about through this interview is the idea of the cult band which is why I chose that original quote... could you talk a little about the "publicity" aspect of the band as late... for example, you've played CMJ festival.. you mentioned something on the blog about MTV, right?
10,000 Marbles: Well, our philosophy now is a bit more inward. The motto is sort of like "we'll do whatever will make our lives more interesting". We're sort of gambling the cult-band status a bit in order to stave off our own boredom. It's cliche to say, but in the end you can only really commit to things that you personally get excited by. It was fun in the beginning making up the myths and mysteries, because that’s what I was into at the time, but it does get a bit tired trying the same tricks every few months, plus we've run out of good ideas at this point I think. To go back - we're doing big music showcases and shit now because while we've always been into taking the piss, we're also a sort of semi-serious musical project as well. Anyhow - about the popularity thing - one thing that’s bogged me down about the band lately is the dissidence and sort of annoyance towards the people who are into Fucked Up. Whenever we play shows I get that Black Flag vibe, where I'm feeling like I hate the audience and can't really understand what sequence of events brought me onto a stage to play music for whatever bunch of cretins has been assembled. So the more popular you get it seems, less is the ratio of people you respect to people you wouldn't otherwise give the time of day. And it’s reflected back - you figure "if I'm not making music for these idiots, then who am I doing it for?". And if it isn't yourself, then you are fucked.
I always wondered whether using terms like "semi serious" / the myths are an attempt to avoid being accountable for taking your music seriously in the context of hardcore punk. Which a lot of people feel is... fucked up. You know what I mean? "fuck art", etc.
10,000 Marbles: Well. I sort of feel like one of the problems with punk is that it doesn't take music seriously. And that’s fine to observe about a cultural phenomenon, but if you are a musician in that context, where are you supposed to get gratification from? Our attempts to be recognized outside of punk definetely have something to do with being taken seriously as people who make music.
I agree... I think too much emphasis is put onto hype.
10,000 Marbles: Yeah, but look at how there was never really a strong musical critique culture developed in punk. Rock music has music journalists, indie music has always had a really diverse and well written journalism. Punk has always tried it seems to be non-literate.
Definitely... look at the MRR review section... there's no Lester Bangs or Richard Meltzers here... the closest we had was Kickboy?!! haha
10,000 Marbles: Exactly. It,s fine as a statement about the culture, but if you're trying to make music within that kind of a context its really defeatist. I got excited about good Fucked Up reviews for about 1 minute. The rest have just been like "this is amazing" or something. "Good if you like..."
“Poison Idea / Negative Approach worship"
10,000 Marbles: I mean, it probably sounds trite for a musician to be lamenting this sort of thing, but I guess it answers the question of how we're trying to stick our music into more diverse areas now. I can't tell you how many times I've heard that. We don't sound ANYTHING like Negative Approach.
Np shit. You DID sound like LAST RITES... I insist... but maybe that's just because you both listen to BLITZ?!!
10,000 Marbles: I guess punk doesn't really put much value on the actual music, because in the end punk is only a vehicle for things like music. Rather than being wholly about it.
I think that shit is just a cop out so people don't have to actually express anything interesting with their music or their ideas.
10,000 Marbles: Well yeah. One thing we joked about a lot while we were mixing the record is how we hoped that Hidden World would "destroy punk". And then the other day I read a review about how the LP could be the "death knell of punk music"
Well, REFUSED said the same thing....
10,000 Marbles: They wanted to destroy punk?
Actually... damn, they said the opposite. I guess the joke is on me...
10,000 Marbles: We always said "to truly become something you have to first destroy it". Like in The Matrix. And I mean, the way we idealized the record towards the end was like this massive atom bomb that we'd drop on punk as a whole and hope to destroy it completely, forever. I think going back to the first question, my revised answer is that I'd like to be remembered as the band that put an end to punk.
Is this why No Pasaran led to Police led to Baiting? And the Baiting theme has been pretty consistent from then until HIDDEN WORLD?
no pasaran = punk as fuck
police = an iconic take on punk as fuck (almost a joke?)
baiting = anti-punk as fuck
10,000 Marbles: Baiting The Public was our ultimate punk statement. Baiting is supposed to describe our idealized version of what punk means. And yeah, the schedule of our releases sort of maps our cynicism.
I mean, Baiting is basically about manipulating and fucking with people, controlling them, which is decidedly anti-punk to acknowledge.
10,000 Marbles: Well I mean this politically correct conception of punk only materialized late in the game, I'd argue
Yeah... good point.
10,000 Marbles: I'd say if you could reconstruct it, "fucking with people" would be top of the list of what Punk is. I mean I've talked about this punk issue in a lot of interviews lately. My take is basically "punk" was created as a marketing ploy to sell abrasive records in the late 70s. And clothes. All this extra baggage got added way later. Like the politics, ect. None of that shit had anything to do with what it was meant to do in its inception. "Punk" I think was this label created to reel in this new and interesting subculture that had developed on its own. There were all these fucking crazy people, who existed within the history of crazy fucking wierdos, and all of a sudden they all became "punks", this unified mass instead of this fertile movement. And by giving it this name and this look, they were able to herd all these people towards whatever cultural symbols they wanted people to rally around.Which happened to be spiky clothes, being drunk, buying records and going to concerts. And I think it’s that simple.
Well, actually, "punk" had nothing to do with "punk rock" in its inception, if we accept what CREEM magazine / NUGGETS / etc. have to say,right?
10,000 Marbles: Yeah but I mean there is a difference between garage records from the 60s that sound like punk records sounded like in the 70s, and using words to define the malaise or attitude or whatever of this big segment of youth culture. I mean, there were records from the 60s that had distortion or whatever, but that doesn't have anything to do with what I'm talking about.
I'd agree with you there... which makes us suckers in some respects because we've taken this joke for real... but in some ways, I like the idea that some people take that and run with it, and try to do something with it. Lke, fuck, what else is there to do when you grow up in the city?!
10,000 Marbles: I guess. But it’s like all these people who go through life being really religious and then eventually they have a crisis and stop believing in god. And then they've got no core. So this wierd punk movement is like that, it has no center, so it’s just sort of whirling around on its own with no grounding in reality. It’s like a chicken for those few seconds after it's had its head cut off.
But there's a couple of things there. 1. shit, what the fuck do you mean by "reality"? 2. fuck, what actual music or social movement has a grounding in "reality"? But, anyhow, extending out of that philosophical black hole!!!
I'd like to ask about why you think these politics, etc., were "tacked on" later?
10,000 Marbles: That’s an example of people trying to put meaning into the hole. Like how religious people invent god to be the center of their lives. Punks invent politics to inject their lives with meaning in the same way. Or what have you. I mean, ALL people do this, in whatever situation they are in. Life is pretty meaningless unless you invent meaning so it’s not like its a bad thing. People aren't happy unless they feel that whatever they are spending their time doing is really important. So it’s like "why are you listening to that 7" - "because its political" or something, or "because no one else knows about it".
Sure. I agree. and, for those who shift from meaning to meaning there is definitely the phenomenon of the jaded individual, in all spheres, who blames the people who still believe in meaning they no longer accept for being the cause of the world's woes. The ex-political punk who blames PC punks for ruining punk. The ex-christian who blames the religious righteous for ruining their life. The devout PC punk who blames their parents / whatever.
10,000 Marbles: Yeah and I mean that’s exactly what I'm doing. But I don't think anyone "ruined" punk. I just don't think it ever had any meaning.
Is FUCKED UP trying to RUIN PUNK by investing it with meaning, then?! Making little gestures like the Black Flag "wreck the cops" mean in people's minds "baiting the public" etc.?
10,000 Marbles: Nah, I mean essentially I'm just talking shit here. We aren't trying to give meaning to anything.
Well, your lyrics certainly aren't "meaningless". You have an obvious intellectualism behind a lot of them, if you'll forgive the term you're suggesting in a lot of ways that punk gestures are loaded with meaning, and you want to manipulate that meaning like, even the name was an attempt to fuck with people, you know...
10,000 Marbles: Yeah but I'm just trying to put meaning into my own band. I want my band to be about real things and be associated with real concepts, but we don't really care what goes on in our general vicinity.
You said earlier when you play that you often look out to these cretins you wouldn't give the time to... describe what makes these people idiots, and what makes you wanna distance yourself from them. Because, this is seriously something most bands wouldn't dream of saying, punk or otherwise... "you gotta love the fans", etc.
10,000 Marbles: I guess I just don't feel like I can relate to them. I mean, it’s an easy thing to happen.
What do you imagine to be the daily concerns of a typical FUCKED UP listener, and how they differ from you?
10,000 Marbles: I don't really have many friends or anything, so eventually everyone in the world has the same face to you, it’s all just this congealed mass of "other people". So I could be playing hockey against them, serving them, playing shows for them, whatever it’s all the same. I mean I see people slam dancing or something, and really taking some stupid band really seriously, and I can't really relate to why someone would want to do that, anymore. Which is ridiculous to say, because I'm actively cultivating it by writing and releasing music. But I never said I was cohesive.
Of course, but I guess you've done interviews, read reviews and talked to people who like your band, and I was just asking what you felt their interpretation of what you were doing was... and whether that was part of why you'd feel so contemptous towards them...I mean... if all they hear is N.A./ P.I, etc. and, then extending back further, what the fuck do these people actually hear when they listen to N.A. and P.I.??!! Anything more than "loud music"? but, shit, that could go on for a while...
10,000 Marbles: I kind of feel that if people understood 100% what we were trying to talk about, I would still hate them. probably some wierd freudian performer-audience relationship i'm acting out here.
Ok, so I know this is probably something you've talked about for the past month solid, and I could probably interpret this my own way, but I gotta ask this: tell us about why you decided to call the record HIDDEN WORLD.
10,000 Marbles: Because it's got so many connotations. It was originally going to be called "Crusades" but it sounded way too melodramatic. I thought of "Hidden World" in relation to the whole game that goes on just underneath of what is immediately visible, in all sorts of realms. And then I was reading an E O Wilson essay, and came across the words "Hidden World" regarding the biology of ant colonies, and that nailed it.
So, each song on the record seems like an attempt to explore a certain realm, right? I mean, let's start talking about the song "Crusades": this seems to be about religion, the religious mentality, what it actually means to devote yourself to belief... right? Is Crusades an exploration of the Hidden Worlds of the faithful?
10,000 Marbles: It isn't just about religion, it’s about the process of committing your life over to ANY belief, whether it’s god, politics, punk, ect. I'm not really interested in chastising religion specifically, so I tried to make the metaphor in that song as broad as possible. It's about closing your mind to just one perspective or way of thinking,
Sure, I used the word "religion" loosely, I can see that the use of christian metaphor is probably the most convenient approach... anyhow, the closing lines of the song about being reborn again, is the idea here that commitment to belief on this level will perpetuate itself no matter what the actual focus of that belief is... just the devotion to belief above all else? I can't really word this right, I'm sure you get what I mean... devotion to something separate from yourself is a constant, the only thing that changes is the object being focused on.
10,000 Marbles: Yeah, I mean, the metaphor is the plant world, and in nature all life is the struggle to perpetuate itself onto the next generation. The purpose of any organism is solely to pass its genes into the future, irregardless of if those genes are the best or not (obviously the best ones are the ones being perpetuated). But these political games, religion, points of view, you can see how in society they mirror the same process - as soon as an idea takes hold, the people who believe in the idea will expend their political energies in order to send that idea deeper and deeper into society and culture. So the song is supposed to be about how people can get so carried away by their own viewpoints that they get insidious and hard to control, and people aren't really trying to move them along because they think they've got the best idea anymore, but just that they find themselves behind the idea, regardless of what it is and what it means. In the end of the song I tried to take the biological metaphor to it's logical conclusion - when a particular gene gets too strong or insidious it becomes endemic in nature - like alien plant species that colonize the entire terrestrial environment because they've quickly eliminated all their competition - so instead of having these healthy waterway areas for example that are rich in biology and different kinds of species, you just have this one kind of plant, and the elimination of a rich ecosystem. The comparison is that as ideas in society get stronger and stronger, they choke the life out of other ideas, so you get these ridiculous polar opposites in culture, like in the US where there are basically 2 primary political ideas, left wing, and right wing, which is totally fucking absurd. I mean there are millions and millions of free thinking and interesting humans in the United States but the whittling down of ideas has happened on such a massive level that there are only two ideas that have been strong enough to survive - left and right. So crusades is supposed to be how dangerous it is to try and get rid of opposing viewpoints, even if you don't agree with them.
Would you be able to define what the Fucked Up crusade is, then? Would you be able to define it? Are you attempting to develop an idea to choke the life out OF others? Or an idea that would, to follow the biological metaphor, enrich and strengthen the ecosystem of ideas, the process of engagement with ideas? That seems to be what, on most levels, FU are trying to do, from the confusion and obfuscation of the early records to the bold tome that is HW...
10,000 Marbles: Thats a good point. That’s why I've always said we aren't a political band, and we don't want to tell people what to think. I've always been careful not to talk in any specific terms - like, I don't want to tell people WHAT to think, I'd rather tell them HOW to think, you know? I'm not interested in singing about like slavery, or racism or whatever, because it isn't really my business getting involved in people’s opinions. I guess on one level it comes down to censorship - like I'm not into racism, but instead of like criminalizing racism, I'd rather just let it become overwhelmed by opposing viewpoints. And I want people to get involved with the FU project specifically to get ideas involved that I wouldn't have been able to think up. i mean here is another metaphor - ideas can be like trains that you just get on and ride them where ever they go. I don't just want to give people tickets to get on these trains, I just want them to know how many trains there can be, if you look hard enough.
Anyhow... was the title CRUSADES dumped before the artwork / design was finished? I wanted to ask about it's significance to the HIDDEN WORLD theme.
10,000 Marbles: Yeah Crusades was long gone at that point. It's funny about the art, it looks really great and cohesive but it was actually a real rush job. Jade Tree gave us pretty strict deadlines and we had to get everything in at once. So while we were mixing down the last few songs I was still getting rough sketches on email in the studio. I sort of threw a few ideas at Jay 3 weeks before it was all finished and told him ultimately what one to go with. The artwork relates more specifically to Two Snakes obviously and Crusades. It ties into Hidden World on the surface because it's sort of got this inviting vibe like the woman is saying "Yo come join me in the Hidden World" but it's not really about that. The middle artwork is more a mash of a bunch of different ideas discussed in the record.
Where does the woman tie in, then?
10,000 Marbles: It was supposed to be a sexless figure, like the combination of a woman and a man. Like the whole front cover is supposed to represent the union of opposites.
She seems a little less inviting and more statuesque.
10,000 Marbles: Yeah but I mean with the path between the snakes.
Sure... I thought it was a river! haha. Have you ever read Demien? That's what I thought of.
10,000 Marbles: I read it when I was a teenager, but can't remember anything about it. The piece could be like "if you can manage to survive these two battling view points and not get wrapped up in either side, and take your own course, you can join this naked woman in the hidden world" or something, haha.
OK, so Demien basically talks about all this shit, and I thought you’d defintely read it as you talk about Abraxas... but I guess you are quoting INTEGRITY there!
10,000 Marbles: Yeah the abraxas and goat/lamb shit is from the Integrity 10".
Before I forget, what's the deal with the symbols on the archway? are there any specific meaning behind the patterns there?
10,000 Marbles: The symbols and the archway are totally the artist. He also told me he hid a "bunch of anuses" in there too.
Final artwork related question before I ask you more on that point and TRIUMPH especially... the overlapping circles is overlapping ideas and the space where they overlap is the hidden world?
10,000 Marbles: Yeah - it's a gnostic symbol - you know that jesus fish? I read somewhere that if you extent the points where the fishes mouth would be, it makes these two circles that overlap. The gnostic idea was that heaven and earth where these two spheres that where at war for humanity. And in the center where they meet, that’s the earth and human kind. So its the same deal – it’s supposed to be how there is a richer life when you don't stand to one side and don't commit yourself to one sphere or the other. The other cool thing is that the overlapping part is also a Vesica, which represents fertility in the obvious symbol of the vagina. We're gonna do a record later that’s obsessed with vagina's and wombs and motherhood and shit, so it will be a cool tie in.
Distort Cult Hardcore Punk